New Haven visit in 24hrs. Can it be done?
Car2Go is celebrating its third year in Brooklyn and I've been a long time user of their service. It's basically a "one way rental", with about 500 smart cars scattered all around Brooklyn and Queens. You can use the cars to leave the immediate area, and it's roughly $85 for a full day rental and includes gas. I've found Car2Go to be great for eliminating my travel time to pick up and drop off a traditional rental car, saving me about 4 hours in total. New Haven Connecticut is almost a perfect location from NYC for a 24 hour visit. It's only about 70 miles from the city, so it's easy and fast to get there.
Having previously worked in Connecticut I was familiar with one of the back roads, the Merritt Parkway, which is a much more pleasant drive than the Interstate. Grabbing my camera and departing at 7am, we were on our way. While street parking in New Haven is a pain at $1.50 per hour, we found a centrally located garage that cost only $3 up until 4pm. That should give you enough time to figure out if you want to use your hotel valet, or use your car again, to drive to some of the more distant locations. We ended up keeping it there all night, and the maximum charge from Saturday to Sunday is $13. That was $10 cheaper than our hotel.
Get started properly
Starting off the day with a breakfast like this will really get you pumped up. Even if it means taking a break from my new breakfast diet. First, let me say, after you arrive in New Haven, don't let your GPS navigate you through the city. It will try to put you back onto 95 or 91 to simply travel one exit. Use your common sense of the grid system. After arriving around 9am, we parked in the neighborhood of The Pantry, our first destination. There was a small wait of 6 people in front of us, but it was worth the wait. We popped up to the counter, and got to peek inside the kitchen. While not the most efficient operation, the food makes up for any wait time. Bonus: Great coffee.
What's all this about Pizza?
We were disappointed when Frank Pepe's pizzeria was too crowded for us to be able to reasonably wait. Our backup choice? Pizza House, and it should have been my first choice all along. This pizza reminded me of old school Pizza Hut pizza from back in the day. The crust has more air and crunch to it, with a buttery taste. Slices are small and are about $2 each and the interior is like being transported back to 1965. Walking over to this spot is pleasant and provides some local flavor of New Haven natives. I wish we had saved the time walking all the way over to Frank Pepe's, however my pre-dessert was the saving grace.
Before departing the farmers market, I made sure I grabbed one of these delicious apple cider donuts that were fresh and hot out of the oven. This was the single best and tastiest item of the entire trip. I now wish I had purchased an entire bag of them.
Squeeze in some culture
The Yale museum is definitely a nice little treat and is totally free. No one is pestering you for a "suggested donation". Just enjoy it. It was really nice and I got the feeling I was back in London from a recent trip in January. Most of the museums there are free and Yale holds up that tradition nicely. Great quality works that give pause for reflection. On beautifully sunlit days, the environment truly enhances the art.
Early Happy Hour
An early happy hour can be found at Barracuda Bistro & Bar, and is probably the best value that we had found during our entire stay. $5 drinks and $4 appetizers that are more like full servings. The staff and customers were so very friendly, which seems to be a running theme in New Haven. The people were the most pleasant surprise of getting away from the stresses of New York city and Brooklyn.
Wash it all down
A pre-dinner cocktail was in order at the top of the Omni hotel, which has a nice and quaint (but not too high) view of the Connecticut campus landscape. You'll think you are in an episode of Newhart. If you can afford it, dinner here would be something very special. Tonight it was just a drink before heading over to "BAR" for dinner. This was another attempt at experiencing the elusive definition of New Haven pizza.
I always get a little anxious when I see a line outside of place, but the hostess had us seated in less than 5 minutes. Our waiter was equally attentive and provided a nice recommendation for the beer flight and pizza. I must say, it was a bit messy but the taste was excellent. Overall, I wouldn't say the pizza was the highlight of the trip, but BAR was a nice way to close it out. The atmosphere is a bit loud but manageable, and perfect if you are with 4 or more people.
After some restful sleep, back on the road again by 7am. We arrived home, right around 9am and parked our mini-car on our block, with only steps to walk home. We were berated by our cat Merry, when we entered the front door, I didn't even think she would notice that we were gone. I was wrong.
Click here to read more of my detailed Yelp reviews related to this trip. All photos taken by the author.