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Why Stay in New Haven This Summer?

The Area’s Best Summer Festivals, Events, and Activities

It’s the eternal struggle for the college student in May…head back home or stick close to the university for the summer? Our vote: stay in New Haven! We absolutely love this city in the summer. Many Yale students don’t realize how much there is to do and see when school’s out—from events and festivals to food to fun in the sun, this area of Connecticut is absolutely hopping in the warmer months. Below is a list of our favorite New Haven summer activities…and it merely skims the surface!


Festivals are a quintessential part of summer—especially in New Haven. Wandering around outside on a sunny weekend, soaking up sunshine, listening to local music, tasting all sorts interesting fare (is there any better food than festival food?)…all in the company of lively, like-minded, high-spirited crowds. New Haven’s festival season is not to be missed!

  • May 13-29 (Weekends): Robin Hood’s Faire Springtime Festival
    Calling all 12th century Anglophiles! Expect plenty of period clothing, costume contests, games, themed vendors, great food…even an entire weekend dedicated to our fair, furry friends!
  • June 3: New Haven Food Truck Festival & Dragon Boat Races
    Spend a perfect Saturday afternoon on the historic Long Wharf waterfront enjoying a wide variety of New Haven street food, live musical performances, and much more!
  • June 3-24: International Festival of Arts & Ideas
    For almost a solid month, New Haven is overtaken by the most exciting, innovative, thought-provoking lineup of performing arts events in the country. Free concerts on the New Haven Green; award-winning circus, music, and theater performances; spoken word happenings, lectures, conversations, and tours…. June is the time. New Haven is the place. Be here, or be square!
  • June 24-25: Connecticut Irish Festival
    Come out and celebrate all things Ireland at New Haven County’s oldest Irish festival. There’s a 5K road race and a traditional ceili for those with energy to spare, as well as all sorts of cultural exhibits, contests, shopping, and entertainment. And food, of course…all the corned beef!
  • July 14-16: Guilford Art Center Craft Expo
    This year, the Expo celebrates its 60th anniversary! Head to historic Guilford Green and peruse the extensive array of handmade crafts by artists from all over the country.
  • August 4-6: North Branford Potato & Corn Festival
    Aside from the obvious, this ever-popular festival features carnival rides, craft vendors, potato sack races, corn shucking contests, tractor shows, and dozens of food vendors. Don’t miss the breathtaking fireworks display Saturday night!
  • August 19: 43rd Annual Milford Oyster Festival
    35,000 oysters of 19 different varieties from 8 East Coast states. 2 locations for beer and wine, including a new craft beer garden. 2 headlining bands, 1 of which is (of course) Blue Oyster Cult. Need we say more?

The Great Outdoors

Who wants to stay inside, when the weather is this warm and inviting? Not us! New Haven is so conveniently located near ocean and mountains, alike, that adventure calls all summer long.

  • East Rock Park
    A mere 2.5 miles from Cambridge Oxford, this park is perfect for an afternoon getaway. Hiking, biking, boating, bird watching, swimming, picnicking, rock climbing…. Clamber up to the summit of East Rock to check out the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, or make your way to the clifftops for spectacular views of the city and Long Island Sound.
  • Sleeping Giant State Park
    This unique state park, only 20 minutes from downtown New Haven, is filled with hiking trails, picnic areas, a hidden cave, and even a castle. Don’t forget your camera!
  • Gillette Castle State Park
    Speaking of castles…. American actor William Gillette (best known for playing Sherlock Holmes) designed this impressive medieval-like fortress in 1919. Take a tour around the stately interior, and admire the magnificent views of the Connecticut River from the extensive grounds.
  • Lake Wintergreen
    Beautiful and calm, Lake Wintergreen—located in West Rock Ridge State Park—is a perfect destination for those wanting a relaxing kayaking, fishing, or hiking experience.
  • Ocean Beach Park
    Feeling the need to dip your toes in the Atlantic? Music, ice cream, a boardwalk and observation deck, and (of course) the beach await you at this New England gem. Be sure to check out their website for all sorts of entertaining events throughout the summer season.

A city filled with culture and rich with history, this is just a small sample of what New Haven and the surrounding area has to offer. Check out some of our favorite “things to do in New Haven” websites for more ideas on how to fill those long, glorious summer days:

Atlas Obscura

Lonely Planet

INFO New Haven

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