Just before the Quinnipiac River flows into New Haven Harbor, it winds its way through the town of North Haven.
Naturally, New Haven and Yale will be on your radar in North Haven, but the town has its history, and you’ll get a glimpse of it at the 300-year-old town of Greene and the North Haven Historical Society .
The 200-million-year-old Metacomet Ridge also runs through North Haven, and the surrounding landscape has weathered over time, leaving behind the towering cliffs of Peter Rock, nearby East Rock and the Sleeping Giant.
Now that you’re in Greater New Haven, you can’t leave without tasting the local “pizza” or a bottle of Foxon Park soda.
1. Quinnipiac River State Park
The Quinnipiac River runs 38 miles through Connecticut from its headwaters in Plainville to the Port of New Haven.
In North Haven, a 6-mile meandering river is protected by the 320-acre Quinnipiac River State Park.
Here you can hike the forested floodplains of the river looking for deer, wild turkeys, great blue herons, owls, ospreys, otters and the occasional bald eagle.
On the floodplain of the river, the forest floor can occasionally become muddy in winter and spring.
The park includes the 4-mile Quinnipiac Trail, a 24-mile Blue-Blazed hiking trail that begins in Prospect and ends at North Haven on Banton Street.
2. Peter Stone Park
An important natural landmark in North Haven is the 114-meter high basalt peak Peter Rock.
This belongs to the epic basalt fault Metacomet Ridge, which starts not far south of Long Island and extends 100 miles north to the Massachusetts-Vermont border.
Like many of the peaks on the 200 million year old Metacomet Ridge, Peter Rock has steep cliffs and offers exhilarating panoramic views, in this case Long Island Sound, New Haven Harbor, Quinnipiac Estuary and the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge.
The summit is about three-quarters of a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, guaranteeing a decent workout.
Volunteers from the Peter Rock Society help maintain Peter Rock Park’s walking trails, which are primarily accessible from Middletown Avenue.
3. North Haven Township Greenbelt
Just like 300 years ago, everyday life in North Haven is centered on this sloping meadow in the heart of town, scattered with mature trees.
The Old Centre Cemetery here is home to North Haven’s first meeting room, with headstones dating from 1723 to 1882. The green space also features memorials to the Civil War, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and 9/11. Sitting in the southwest corner on a Quincy granite base, it’s hard to miss the Civil War-era 32-pound Rodman gun.
On the west side of the green is the Town Hall, designed by local architect Solomon Linsley in the 1880s, and on the northeast corner is St John’s Anglican Church, in its current form dating back to the 1830s.
4. New Haven
America’s first planned city and home to Yale University is effortlessly close to North Haven and needs to be on your agenda.
In terms of local economy, architecture and culture, Yale has a place in the city.
The university is home to world-class institutions such as the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art.
A tour of the central campus will give you an inside look at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which holds priceless printed works, including one of the world’s 49 surviving Gutenberg Bibles.
Yale has also injected a youthful energy into New Haven, featuring Howe, Church and Crown Streets, with global food options from falafel to pad thai.
5. Sleeping Giant State Park
The northern border of North Haven has a strange protrusion in the landscape.
The Sleeping Giant belongs to Metacomet Ridge, a basalt formation measuring 2.75 miles long and 1.75 miles wide.
It’s like a giant lying on its back, and you can see the head, jaw, chest, hips, knees, and feet.
The highest point is the left hip, 225 meters high, and is topped by a stone observation tower built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.
Like other peaks on Metacomet Ridge, Sleeping Giant has a microclimate that supports plant life not usually seen in Connecticut, with oak savannas on dry, hot upper ridges and chestnuts growing on the edge of arid cliffs Oak and Eastern Red Cedar.
6. The Great Hunger Museum of Ireland
Nearby Quinnipiac University is responsible for this museum, which documents the Irish Famine/Great Hunger of 1845-52. The museum has pieced together a vast collection of famine-related artifacts, art, and literature to decipher the economic, social, political, and historical causes of earthquake events in 19th-century history, while outlining the consequences that are still felt today.
In addition to the contemporaries of James Brennan, James Arthur O’Connor, and Daniel Macdonald, among others, Jack B.
Yeats, Alanna O’Kelly, Robert Ballage, Brian Maguire, Rowan Gillispie and Eamon O’Doherty.
This is the largest artistic assemblage in the world related to tragedy.
7. Walton Brook State Park
Partly located in North Haven and Wallingford, this 100-year-old park has an interesting past and was originally established as a motorway rest stop for motorists.
Wharton Brook State Park is nestled among wooded dunes, and much of the attention is on the 96-acre Allen Brook Pond, which houses trout ready to swim in the warmer months.
At the water’s edge, you’ll find picnic tables and gazebos with grills, on a first-come, first-served basis.
In the summer of 2018, the park was hit by a tornado that damaged woodland and destroyed trails, but renovations were completed in early 2019.
Greater New Haven is known for its Italian-American heritage, which has spawned a geo-restricted style of pizza.
Apizza shares many similarities with authentic Neapolitan pizza in that it uses a thin crust and is baked on high heat in a coal-fired oven.
One of the quirks of New Haven-style pizza is that “Original” is served with just tomato, oregano, and a dash of Romaine cheese. If you want mozzarella, you usually have to.
Authentic Apizza is also sold whole, not sliced.
One well-known local restaurant is Grand Apizza North at 448 Washington Avenue, which also sells a range of local craft beers and Foxon Park sodas, the latter known for being made from East Haven’s raw cane sugar.
Worth mentioning are the Inferno Apizza (411 Universal Dr N), Luigi’s Apizza (323 Washington Ave) and the Olde World Apizza (1957 Whitney Ave in neighbouring Hamden).
9. Dongam Park
New Haven’s famous park is just outside the southwest corner of North Haven and is named after a 200-million-year-old basalt peak that climbs to 100 meters near the southern end of Metacomet Ridge.
On top of East Rock is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, built in 1887, with a front view spanning New Haven, Long Island Sound and Long Island.
There are many nature trails in the park, many passing through ridges and taking you through a landscape created more than a century ago by brothers Donald Grant Mitchell and Olmsted. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available in the winter, while the Mill River is a great place for kayaking in the summer.
10. North Haven Historical Society
The North Haven Historical Society is located near Broadway’s Town Green in the North Haven Cultural Center (1938). This stately Georgian Revival building was originally the town library, and now the Historical Society shares space with the North Haven Arts Society and Studio 27 Gallery.
You can visit on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to learn about the town’s past and browse artifacts from prehistory to the mid-20th century.
Architectural elements, furniture, maps, books, portraits, photographs, china, cookware, period clothing, household items, farm implements and antique toys are on display.
11. Rosa Bianca Vineyards
This picturesque family run vineyard in a rustic barn 5 minutes east of North Haven in Northford has plenty to do in summer.
From dry to sweet, Rosabianca Vineyards produces Italian-style varietal wines blended with white grapes such as Pinot Gris and Muscat and red grapes from Dolceto, Sangiovese and Primitivo .
The winery is open Friday through Sunday, and for $12 tastings, you can sample five pre-selected wines (two whites, two reds, and a red wine blend). Check out Rosabianca’s calendar because something happens most weekends, whether it’s food trucks, painting classes, yoga or live comedy.
12. Paddy’s Rose Garden
Over 50 different rose varieties are grown in this fabulous free garden below the east slopes of East Rock in Hamden from April to October.
The two-acre garden was built in 1922 as a gift from William Scranton Pardee, a descendant of the Morris family with ties to the New Haven area dating back to the 17th century .
A conservatory and visitor center are embedded in the garden, and one of the prettiest features is the gazebo often used as a backdrop for wedding photos.
13. Foxon Park Beverages
A minute or two south of Peters Rock Park is the headquarters of a soft drink company that dominates the local market.
Founded in 1922, Foxon Park Beverages is a throwback in many ways.
First, the company used natural cane sugar instead of corn syrup, as all soda brands did in the early 20th century.
Sodas also come in capped bottles, which is the way most lovers prefer.
Foxon Park has 17 different flavors, many of which are traditional like Coke, Root Beer, Orange, Cream and Grape, and some more left-handed like Holly Birch.
You can visit them Monday through Saturday at 103 Foxon Park Blvd to buy a box or two.
14. SMS Nord Paradise 12
Following renovations over the past few years, Cinemark Studios in South North Haven has been hailed as the best in the greater New Haven area.
Feast your eyes on sleek design, crystal-clear sound and a state-of-the-art self-service kiosk, while the auditorium features spacious and comfortable reclining seats so even tall people can stand up while enjoying the show.
If you want, you can order a coffee at Starbucks and even have a glass of wine or beer.
15. John Grover Wyman Park
Kids in North Haven will be amazed at the rides at this local park.
Equipment at John Grover Wyman Park is made almost entirely of wood, and there are a variety of bridges, platforms, and small towers to explore, as well as swings, slides, and sandboxes.
During the summer months, an ice cream truck stopped like clockwork.
For seniors who get out and exercise, the park has bike paths and a softball field, with plenty of picnic benches in the shade.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in North Haven, Connecticut (CT)
Lowest price guaranteed.