12 Things To Do in West Haven, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson


West Haven is a charming coastal city located just minutes from New Haven, Connecticut along Long Island Sound. With its beautiful beaches, historic attractions, and fun recreational spots, West Haven has something for everyone.

From spending a relaxing afternoon at the beach to learning about local history at museums to playing a round of mini golf, this guide covers 12 of the top things to do in West Haven, CT for visitors. Keep reading to discover the best attractions and activities in this vibrant community.

Explore West Haven Beach and Boardwalk

As one of the top attractions in West Haven, the beautiful public beach offers visitors over a mile of sandy coastline along Long Island Sound. Stretching from Sandy Point to Bradley Point, the beach has designated areas for swimming as well as concessions, restrooms, shower facilities, andChanging areas.

The beachfront also features the Ocean Avenue seaside boardwalk which is perfect for taking a relaxing stroll while enjoying refreshing ocean breezes. The boardwalk runs parallel to the sand and offers stellar views of the Sound. Have fun searching for seashells along the shore or sit back and watch boats sailing by.

West Haven Beach is an ideal place for swimming, building sandcastles, playing games like volleyball or frisbee, or simply working on your tan during the summer. The convenient location also makes it easy to stop by for gorgeous sunrises and sunsets year-round.

Learn about History at West Haven Museum

The West Haven Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting artifacts and information related to the history of the city and its community. Visitors can explore exhibits showcasing various historical periods and how the culture of West Haven has transformed throughout the centuries.

Popular displays include its Native American heritage, period dress and artifacts that reveal life in the colonial era, and how industry shaped the landscape. The museum also housescity records, photographs, postcards, store signs, and other ephemera that provides insight into how residents worked and played during different eras.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum has space for rotating exhibits focused on more specialized aspects of West Haven history. Recent themes have highlighted jazz culture, minority communities, architecture and historic preservation, and more.

Stop by this hidden gem to immerse yourself in the unique historical narrative of West Haven and gain perspectiveon the key people, places, and events that influenced its growth.

Mini Golf at Putt U Mini Golf

For family-friendly fun, head to Putt U Mini Golf in West Haven. This entertaining spot offers an 18-hole mini golf course thats suitable for all ages and skill levels, from beginner to advanced. The professionally-designed landscaping features waterfalls, bridges, caves, and more along with creative obstacles at each hole.

In addition to mini golf, Putt U has plenty of games and activities everyone will enjoy like giant chess and checkers, shuffleboard, air hockey, and more. Kids can expend extra energy in the jungle gym playground while parents relax at umbrella-covered patio tables.

Putt U Mini Golf makes for an ideal activity with visiting grandchildren or as a group outing with friends. Enjoy some friendly competition on the whimsical course then celebrate with tasty snacks and ice cream from their concessions stand after playing a round or two. With affordable prices and memorable fun just minutes from downtown West Haven, Putt U is a must-do attraction.

Shop and Dine on Campbell Avenue

Campbell Avenue serves as West Haven’s primary business district, offering visitors an appealing selection of locally-owned restaurants, boutiques, salons, galleries and services. Strolling along Campbell Avenue provides a taste of small town charm combined with trendy vibes thanks to chic storefronts, outdoor dining patios, public art displays, and more.

Popular stops include Bagel Corner for freshly baked bagels and cream cheese spreads, Olympia Diner for all-day breakfast classics, or Bull and Bear Tavern for craft cocktails and pub grub. Bibliophiles can lose themselves for hours inside Blue Hedgie Bookshop tucked away on a side street while fashion lovers will covet clothing and accessories from Millie & Me Boutique.

Campbell Avenue also hosts many of West Haven’s beloved annual events like neighborhood arts and music festivals, Sidewalk Sales Days with discounted deals at retailers, and the Halloween Stroll for families. Visitors staying at nearby hotels find the central location convenient for sampling West Haven’s culinary and creative scene.

Relax at Painter Park

For gorgeous gardens and scenic views of New Haven Harbor, head to Painter Park located off Ocean Avenue. These stunning grounds once belonged to artist Theron Richmond who inherited property from his father Sea Captain Edward Painter in 1895. After Painter’s death, the City of West Haven acquired the estate and turned it into a public park featuring the original homestead along with lush gardens showcasing over 85 varieties of roses.

Visitors adore strolling along the meandering stone walkways viewing vibrant rose beds, water lily ponds, perennial gardens, scenic wooded areas, and stone statuary accents. The park also contains a charming wedding and event venue inside the historic Painter home, making it a popular spot for romantic ceremonies and photographs.

Painter Park delivers welcome tranquility amid 20 acres of natural beauty with blooming flowers, tall trees, and ocean vistas providing an oasis for relaxation in West Haven’s city center.

Catch a Show at Savin Rock Roasting Company

For comedy, live music, and performing arts entertainment, Savin Rock Roasting Company serves as a beloved cultural hub and event venue. The building originally opened in the 1930s as a neighborhood grocery store and soda fountain and still retains its retro charm and tin ceilings. Eventually converting into a coffee shop and eatery, the venue also began hosting regular open mic and improv comedy nights that proved widely popular.

Now known as a prime event space and entertainment venue, Savin Rock draws impressive bands, singers, magicians, hypnotists, clairvoyants, and all varieties of performers from across Connecticut and beyond. Their monthly calendar overflows with concerts, stand-up comedy, group art lessons, dinner theater murder mysteries, psychics fairs, trivia nights and more. Visitors looking to experience West Haven’s arts scene need only to stop by Savin Rock Roasting Company for a guaranteed good time whether as audience member or performer.

Go Wine Tasting at Paradise Hills Vineyard

Named one of Connecticut’s most scenic wineries, Paradise Hills Vineyard occupies a gorgeous 160-acre estate with commanding views of the countryside and Long Island Sound. Their sprawling property allows room for over 10,000 grapevines including classic varietals like Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and more.

Visitors can sample award-winning wines at the elegant tasting room bar then purchase favorite bottles to enjoy outdoor picnicking at umbrella tables on the patio. Groups can reserve the window-lined event room for private celebrations or attend one of Paradise’s signature Wine & Paint Nights, Sangria Sundowner Evenings, or Summer Jazz Series concerts.

In addition to wines, the vineyard’s kitchen crafts artisanal tapas plates and cheese boards making it an ideal spot for a leisurely afternoon. With its beautiful scenery and delectable drink menus, Paradise Hills Vineyard encapsulates why Connecticut makes such an appealing wine region.

Ride the Shore Line Trolley Museum

The Shore Line Trolley Museum maintains one of the oldest and largest collections of vintage trolleys in the country, making it a don’t miss attraction for transportation enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Visitors can explore exhibits showcasing how trolley systems transformed early 20th century society with interactive displays recreating notable events like the great trolley park era.

The most exciting exhibit allows guests to board impeccably restored trolley cars from various eras to ride along a portion of preserved trolley track. Costumed guides provide narration to immerse passengers into different time periods as buildings, ads, and attractions recreate the sights seen through windows during each ride. Kids thrill at ringing bells and clanging signals while hearing stories of bygone trolley routes.

By preserving transit history including rare vehicles from across the country, the Shore Line Trolley Museum provides opportunities to enjoy living heritage across generations of trolley fans in West Haven.

Practice Yoga at Bare Bodhi

For healthy movement infused with peace, visitors should visit Bare Bodhi yoga studio on Orange Avenue. This serene space offers daily classes suitable for all levels whether beginner, intermediate, or advanced student. Their skilled instructors guide students through postures designed to build strength, flexibility and balance with options for gentle, hot, or even candle litrestorative practices.

In addition to traditional yoga flows, Bare Bodhi holds special workshops featuring stand up paddleboard yoga atop the peaceful Veterans Lagoon. Students unable to attend studio sessions may choose virtual classes livestreamed directly to their homes as well.

With Buddha statues, strings of twinkling lights, and zen decor throughout, Bare Bodhi exudes soothing vibes for calming minds and strengthening bodies. Their retail section also supplies popular yoga gear brands ensuring students look as stylish as they feel after class. For an authentic yoga experience in West Haven, visit this highly-rated studio.

Tour Yale University Campus

Due to West Haven’s proximity to New Haven, visiting the acclaimed Yale University campus makes for an easily accessible activity during your stay. Guests can join a variety of free one-hour tours showcasing Yale’s extensive grounds and architecture led by knowledgeable student guides.

Notable highlights include Connecticut Hall built in 1750 as the first structure on campus, the awe-inspiring libraries of Sterling Memorial and Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts, and the immaculate Gothic inspired chapels and law buildings surrounding the main Green quad. Visitors also appreciate viewing the University Art Gallery’s trove of cultural artifacts as well as the fascinating natural oddities on display at the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Student led tours provide insider perspective on customs and traditions plus fun trivia as they walk through Yale’s story over three centuries of academic excellence. Going on campus also allows glimpses of future leaders studying within storied halls and straddling centuries of intellectual history.

Explore Lighthouse Point Park

Lighthouse Point Park occupies 44 acres of lush gardens showcasing native forest greenery and diverse wildlife just waiting to be explored. Interpretive walking trails wend through the property allowing visitors to spot birds and animals while reading about coastal ecology. Pristine beaches attract swimming and sunbathing during warmer months as well as rock hounding for semi-precious stones.

Other park highlights include an offshore breakwater and pier along with the Five Mile Lighthouse offering scenic vantage overlooking New Haven Harbor. On clear days, guests can even glimpse Long Island far in the distance. Two playgrounds give kids room to expend energy while historic military fortifications and gun batteries provide opportunities to immerse in wartime history.

Whether hiking forested trails, building castles in the sand, or picnicking under the pavilion, Lighthouse Point Park promises refreshing outdoor adventures just minutes from downtown West Haven.

Attend Savin Rock Festival

Each May, the city hosts a beloved community music festival celebrating West Haven’s history as a prosperous 19th century shoreline resort. Throughout the 1800s, Savin Rock brimmed with hotels, casinos, rides, shops, and entertainment venues attracting thousands of visitors at the peak of tourism season. Today the Savin Rock Festival commemorates this lively era with carnival rides and games, ever-popular food trucks featuring classic shoreline treats, and multiple stages showcasing talented music acts and performers. Artists slated for 2023 appeal to diverse tastes ranging from rock bands and country stars to hip hop dancers and circus entertainers.

The Savin Rock Festival also features a marketplace selling handicrafts, home goods, artwork and other unique creations from over a hundred Connecticut vendors. Don’t miss the electrifying fireworks display over the harbor at dusk! By honoring West Haven’s heritage blended with modern diversions, the Savin Rock Festival remains the city’s premier annual tradition for all ages.

Conclusion

With beautiful beaches perfect for seaside fun plus historic and cultural attractions, West Haven provides visitors of all interests an ideal recreational getaway. From active pursuits like mini golf, yoga classes, and harbor side parks to learning opportunities at museums and galleries or simply savoring delicious meals, this community overflows with enriching experiences. Local events like the annual Savin Rock Festival also showcase treasured traditions while spotlighting West Haven’s emerging creative spirit.

Next time you plan a Connecticut escape or staycation, consider these 12 top things to do in West Haven for memories tailor-made for any taste that will keep enticing your return. This vibrant shoreline city continues growing into an increasingly popular destination that retains quintessential New England coastal charm through every season.

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