New Haven, Connecticut may not appear as the first city that comes to mind when planning a trip. But the students at Yale University need fun activities for between classes and on the weekends. And like everywhere else, you can still experience plenty of excitement during the COVID era. Even as COVID (hopefully) starts to wind down, keeping activities like these in mind can’t hurt. So, take it from the students of one of the world’s leading institutions who like a good time. But they know how to keep it safe, too.
Read on for the 10 best COVID-friendly activities in New Haven, as ranked by the undergraduates studying at Yale. Trust them, they attend the second-best school in the world.
The most obvious COVID-friendly thing to do involves staying inside. But if that remains the case, you need something to keep you sane, especially after two years indoors. A favorite game of Yale’s fencing team during their down time, Yu-Gi-Oh, consists of a collectable card game inspired by the magna franchise of the same name. Specifically, it’s based upon the fictional game Duel Monsters, an important plot point of the series. Want to cool off from studying (or fencing)? Here’s how to do that without wandering outside during a pandemic.
“I love Yu-Gi-Oh! I play it with my friends nearly every weekend!” Yale University senior and fencer Andrew Yang said.
If Yu-Gi-Oh doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, other indoor card games exist as well. Some inspired by anime, others not. And of course, you can always play video games. Or you could pick up a book. You attend Yale, after all.
9. Old Campus at Yale
The oldest part of Yale University’s campus also acts as the primary residence hall for the school’s freshmen. If you attend, more likely than not you will live here as the institution requires living on campus for all first-year students. But don’t worry, this part of campus isn’t considered dark, gloomy or stuffy. When the warm weather comes around, students often enjoy a game of frisbee at a minimum of six feet apart, of course. And just think of how many important, influential people lived there at one point or another.
8. Book Trader Café
Again, with staying a minimum of six feet apart from each other expected of the customers, Book Trader Café provides students their much-needed caffeine. If you didn’t drink coffee in high school, you almost certainly start in college. After all, the late-night studying requires it. And if you need to pull a quality all-nighter, you need quality caffeine. Plus, this small, lovely establishment sits just a short walk away from Yale’s Art Gallery (more on that later).
7. The Clay Date
With appointments required for Mondays and Tuesdays, The Clay Date easily keeps itself from getting overcrowded. Thus, you and your date can feel safer while pursuing activities here. And what unique activities they offer! With clay-building, pottery-painting and mosaic-making, you and your date can have a blast! As long as you both don’t mind getting a little messy, that is.
“My girlfriend and I absolutely love The Clay Date. We never had a date like that before, but it worked out well,” Yale junior Maxwell Yee said.
Imagine what a cute story you could end up telling people. Especially if this serves as a location for a first date. You can share with everyone that when you two first met, you got covered in clay and goop. Not only that, but you tried to make a flower vase and instead ended up with something that looked like a tombstone. Now we call that artistic talent.
6. New Haven Green
Located in New Haven’s downtown district, the New Haven Green presents a splash of nature in the middle of the city. While it often serves as a location for a relaxing walk or picnic, the area also hosts several festivals. Obviously hanging around massive crowds is not recommended right now, but when things return to normal, get ready to have a blast outside! Fun fact: the New Haven Green got designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Taking a stroll in this park means you literally walk on a piece of history.
“The food trucks at New Haven Green are the bomb and the festivals are pretty fire too!” Yale senior and fencing team captain Nicolas del Vecchio said.
Everyone needs a place like this to study at. Being indoors all the time doesn’t prove good for you. Getting out of the library offers a good change of pace. Heading outside not only improves your brain, but your studying too. Get an A by going to the Green.
5. Long Wharf
Who doesn’t like the waterfront? The boats, water, breeze and seafood; even if you don’t like all those things, you most likely enjoy at least one of them. Want to take time between classes to pretend summer started at the beach? Here’s your best chance to do so. Don’t forget to bring your sun block!
“I love walking to the Long Wharf and eating at the various food trucks there,” Yale University junior Kira Daniels said.
Who doesn’t love a beach city? Even those who can’t stand the sand (such as this author) like beach bum vibes. The water always smells refreshing, along with the boardwalk setting. The fried food might not prove good for you, but who cares? Every once in a while you need to treat yourself.
4. Chapel Street
Another entry on our list happened to receive the name of a National Historic Place. Students love hanging out around Chapel Street in New Haven. The restaurants provide the non-fast-food taste that you find yourself craving during your undergraduate years. It also houses some impressive churches and the Yale Repertory Theater. A night on the town in New Haven most likely includes at least a bit of time on Chapel Street.
“The outdoor dining on Chapel Street makes me feel safe and the food is still delicious,” Yale senior Mati Zeff said.
When you hear the words “college town,” Chapel Street serves as this university’s ‘town’. Here you might find yourself stumbling out of bars. No college experience feels complete without that. On that note, a short visit to Chapel Street won’t cut it either. But don’t worry, the area remains safe.
3. Wooster Square Farmer’s Market
The other type of food you miss out on while at college: a home cooked meal! While you won’t cook as well as your parents, you might surprise yourself at how quickly you can teach yourself. And the secret to a great homemade meal requires fresh ingredients. No better place to get those than a farmer’s market. Wooster Square offers plenty to do, but you should definitely check out this outdoor grocery store that opens nearly every Saturday.
“I try to make it out to the farmer’s market every Saturday, even in the snow. It’s that amazing,” Yale senior Mila Collizza says.
Some things just can’t come out of a can. Peas, carrots and green beans are better fresh. And sometimes the regular supermarket doesn’t cut it either. Cut out the middleman; buy your veggies straight from the source.
2. Yale University Art Gallery
The oldest university art museum in the Western Hemisphere and one of the coolest things that either Yale or New Haven offers. Itching to gaze upon true masterpieces? You don’t need to go all the way to New York City for that. You can enter the museum for free Tuesday through Sunday. Inside, you need to wear masks and show proof of vaccination. Thus, you can stay safe and save money! What more could you ask for?
1. East Rock Park
East Rock Park remains by far the favorite spot amongst most of the students surveyed. New Haven Green homes a great city park, but with a willingness to go further from campus, East Rock Park provides some beautiful sights. Some areas can make you forget your studies and feel lost in the woods, in a good way. Whether you like to bike, hike or see the views, East Rock serves as the best way to get out of the city. Don’t fall too much in love—you still need to study.
“Hiking in East Rock with my friends and teammates is the absolute best!” Yale junior and fencer Sophia Zhuang said.
New Haven homes one of the world’s most prestigious universities. But even geniuses need to have a little fun. They can’t stay in lab or the library all the time. This small Connecticut town features plenty of non-college activities. Maybe having some fun doing the things Yale students love can make you smarter.