12 Things To Do With Family In West Haven, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson


West Haven is a vibrant coastal city located just minutes from downtown New Haven in Connecticut. With its prime location on the Long Island Sound, affordable attractions, and quaint small-town charm, West Haven makes for a fun and relaxing family getaway.

From beaches and parks to museums and seasonal events, there are activities the whole family will enjoy. This article outlines 12 of the top things to do with family while visiting West Haven.

Beaches

West Haven is home to several scenic beaches that offer the perfect oceanfront spots for families to relax, play, and take in the beautiful Long Island Sound views.

Savin Rock Beach

Savin Rock Beach is one of West Haven’s most popular and lively beaches. This long stretch of sand features a promenade lined with various eateries, arcades, mini-golf, and ice cream shops that families will love exploring together. The beach itself is great for swimming, building sandcastles, beachcombing for sea glass and shells, or simply laying out a blanket and enjoying the sea breezes.

Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months for added safety and peace of mind. After working up an appetite frolicking in the waves, refuel at one of the Savin Rock restaurants like the popular Stonebridge Restaurant that overlooks the sparkling waters of Long Island Sound.

Bradley Point Park Beach

For a beach that offers more solitude and gorgeous scenery, head to Bradley Point Park Beach on the east side of town.

This small beach tucked within a 10-acre park provides a relaxing setting with lush green spaces and walking trails in addition to a sandy beach. Families will love exploring the rocky tide pools and scenic views. Picnic facilities are on-site when you get hungry after a beach day.

Parks

In addition to beaches, West Haven has some spectacular parks that guarantee fresh air and family fun.

Painter Park

For stunning panoramic views of New Haven Harbor and Long Island, head to Painter Park located on Captain Thomas Boulevard. This park offers something for all ages with large open fields for sports like soccer, baseball, frisbee, kite-flying, as well as a playground and splash pad area.

Visit the Pollinator Path to spot butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees flitting through vibrant gardens specifically designed to nourish pollinators. Bring binoculars and see what birds, boats, and wildlife you can spot along the shore!

Green

West Haven Green is the quintessential New England town common located in the heart of downtown West Haven. The Green spans just over 6 acres and has been the heartbeat of the city for over 375 years. Today, community members and visitors gather on the lush lawns to soak up some sun, read under the trees, or let kids burn off some steam.

At the center stands a prominent white gazebo that provides the backdrop for summer evening band concerts and other community events. Surrounding streets offer quaint local shops and eateries to explore when you work up an appetite.

West Haven Farmers Market

For fresh fruit picking, pony rides, farm animals, and u-pick flower fields, head to the West Haven Farmers Market. Families can meet the friendly farmers that grow West Haven’s delicious fruits, vegetables, flowers, eggs, honey and more. In addition to produce shopping, special events and activities cater to kids, like free crafts projects using natural materials like leaves and acorns led by Green Village Initiative.

Grab a homemade pail and try your luck apple picking in the two pick-your-own orchards brimming with crisp apples waiting to be plucked straight from the trees. Kids go crazy for feeding the plump pigs, silly goats, chickens, and meeting the pony. It’s great fun for the whole family while supporting your local food system! Open mid-June through October.

Museums

West Haven has a fantastic military museum and local history museum that provide interactive and educational experiences for visiting families.

Bradley Point Military Museum

Gain insight into West Haven’s rich military history at the waterfront Bradley Point Military Museum located on Beach Street. Cutting-edge interactive exhibits using Google Earth technology guides visitors through pivotal conflicts West Haven citizens participated in spanning from the Revolutionary War to present day.

Other highlights include military artifacts like uniforms, equipment, weapons, letters, maps, photos, and more collected over the past 60 years. Kids enjoy the hands-on learning, like trying on reproduction WWII helmets, sitting in a Huey helicopter, or viewing recorded interviews with local veterans from their military service.

West Haven Museum

The West Haven Museum offers intriguing exhibits that showcase what life was like in this community spanning early Native American inhabitants like the Paugussett tribe to the 21st century. Visitors can view artifacts, photos, clothing, and other historical items from ordinary citizens, notable figures, and local landmarks.

Kids can try their hand at old-fashioned games and create arts-and-crafts inspired by the different time periods highlighted. Special events and ever-changing exhibits give locals and tourists incentive to return again and again.

Seasonal Events

Throughout the year, West Haven celebrates the changing seasons by hosting fun community events families will look forward to attending each year.

Savin Rock Festival

You know summer has officially kicked off when the annual Savin Rock Festival hits the sandy shores of West Haven in June! For over 30 years running, this lively weekend celebrates Savin Rock’s heyday as a bustling 20th century amusement resort.

Families delight in amusement park rides, outrageous carnival games, music concerts, dance performances, food trucks dishing up classic carnival bites like fried dough and ice cream, and the annual road race. Make sure to stake out your spot along the parade route to see local groups, musicians, and colorful floats cruise by. With kids’ activity areas, artists/crafters booths and fireworks, the Savin Rock Festival offers non-stop family fun and entertainment.

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

Once Thanksgiving ends, the West Haven Green gets a dazzling makeover into a magical winter wonderland. Each year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, the Town hosts an official Christmas Tree Lighting celebration to ring in the holiday season.

Families bundle up with mittens, hats, and scarves to come down to the Green as darkness falls for a sparkling tree to illuminate while Christmas carols fill the chilly air. Enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and cookies afterwards while kids frolic and take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus who make a special guest appearance by fire engine.

Arts and Entertainment


West Haven also delivers plenty of arts, culture, and entertainment for families looking to expand their horizons together through thought-provoking exhibits, rousing theater performances, concerts under the stars, and more.

Yale University Art Gallery

Just a short ride over in New Haven, families can view impressive collections showcasing artistic genius spanning ancient times to the present day at the Yale University Art Gallery. Wander spacious galleries filled with exquisite paintings, enlightening photography exhibits, dazzling decorative arts, whimsical masks, stunning silver pieces, and touchable sculptures.

Creative art hunts and hands-on workshops cater specially to kids and families to make the experience engaging for all ages. Stop for a rejuvenating lunch break at one of the onsite eateries.

Long Wharf Theatre

Known as New Haven’s flagship nonprofit theater company, Long Wharf Theatre located downtown consistently delivers compelling live stage performances in two venues. Fascinating plays and intimate contemporary works provide thought-provoking entertainment perfect for mature families and teens.

Easy parking, comfortable spacious seats, and concessions like beer/wine, snacks, and coffee make for an all-around enjoyable experience. Ask about kid-friendly productions and family discounts offered periodically.

Food Scene

No family vacation is complete without sampling the local flavors! West Haven’s dining scene offers delectable dishes from romantic waterfront restaurants to classic diners to ethnic eats that will leave bellies satisfied.

Stonebridge Restaurant

For the best sunset views in West Haven, make reservations at the ever-popular Stonebridge Restaurant perched overlooking the Long Island Sound. The surf and turf menu highlights fresh catches from the sea along with aged prime cuts of steak.

Kids gobble up the crispy coconut shrimp, mac and cheese, grilled chicken tenders, and hot fudge sundaes. Attention to detail and superb service create a memorable fine dining experience the whole family will cherish.

Soul de Cuba Cafe

Take your taste buds on a Cuban vacation at family-owned Soul de Cuba Cafe serving homestyle Cuban cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Authentic specialties like roasted citrus chicken, Cuban sandwiches loaded with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, along with flaky empanadas have patrons swooning over the flavors. For Dessert, kids demand the fluffy Tres Leches cake made from scratch. The friendly staff make everyone feel like part of the family.

Conclusion


With its small-town charm, gorgeous shoreline setting, and wealth of family entertainment options, West Haven makes an idyllic vacation spot for making memories to cherish for years to come. This guide outlined 12 of the top sights and activities for families, but even more awaits to be uncovered. So pack your sunscreen, grab the kids, and start exploring the many treasures this vibrant Connecticut coastal community has to offer!

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