Spring in New England conjures up visions of cherry blossoms, daffodils a plenty, and the return to shore visits for beach walks. We were invited down to New Haven, Connecticut to stay with The Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale and experience “The Elm City” for the first time this past weekend.
After living in Connecticut for six years, when I hear New Haven, my mind automatically goes to the Ivy League and pizza. That may sound funny, but all I’ve heard since moving here is “Have you tried Frank Pepe’s yet?” (which kind of makes me giggle), but this trip I’m happy to report to our friends we got it done!
So, here’s our spring weekend away in New Haven with visits to Yale, shopping, and some delicious dining…
Arriving to the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale
The Omni New Haven at Yale is located right in the heart of the downtown and offers on-site valet parking for your stay. Everywhere we wanted to go was walkable from this hotel. It’s a great location if you are wanting to be close to all the museums, shopping, and some really great restaurants.
After spending the weekend here, it was evident that this is the town that Yale built. The Old Campus is surrounded by a city that envelopes it with restaurants, bars, hotels, and shopping. We didn’t need our Jeep the whole time we were here and popular districts were just a stroll from the hotel.
We stayed in a two room corner window suite and had amazing views of the green and campus. It was tastefully decorated with a few nods to Yale in the decor. Our suite had a king bed, 2 separate full bathrooms, 2 televisions, and a lovely living room with a sitting area and desk. Other room details included a Nespresso maker in each room, 2 mini refrigerators, and plush luxury robes.
Amenities at the Omni New Haven also include:
Ripple Float & Wellness offers spa experiences including massage, floating tanks, cryotherapy, and infrared saunas. This is great add on to your stay for a little relaxation and a health boost.
The hotel’s restaurant located on the 19th floor, John Davenport’s at the Top of the Park, has full views of the New Haven Green and Old Campus from it’s floor to ceiling windows. Bar 19 adjacent to the restaurant is decked out in Yale decor and a great stop for a cocktail. We dined here our first night and the food was great and it was lovely to see the views as the sun set over the campus.
Extra Hotel Notes: The hotel has a fitness center and pets are welcome too. The hotel staff was so friendly and helpful. We both were impressed with their attention to detail and thoughtful service.
Our Weekend Itinerary
We arrived on a Friday night, and checked into our lovely suite. After freshening up, we headed up to the 19th floor for dinner and cocktails at John Davenport’s. Topher ordered the Crispy Duck and I had the Salmon with Saffron Dill Sauce. For dessert, we split the Skillet Cookie with Espresso Ice Cream. That was a delicious treat! We had champagne in our room, so we headed back to our suite for after dinner drinks and settled in for the night.
Saturday morning we got an early start and grabbed breakfast sandwiches and coffee from Morsel’s in the hotel. This little hotel cafe is open in the morning and has an assortment of breakfast options, a coffee bar, and a Yale gift shop.
First, we headed out to tour Yale’s Old Campus with our morning sips in hand. I must say, we both were in awe of the architecture and history all around us. I snapped so many photos of the buildings, I must dedicate a post to just the architecture at Yale. Walking amongst these 300-year-old Gothic structures was like being transported to another time. The planning of the campus and the intricate detail on every building was really something to behold. It really is a marvel and so worth the trip if you love spying architecture and are into historical places.
We toured inside Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library which upon entertaining, I was struck with instant Hogwart’s vibes. It feels like Harry, Hermione, and Ron could be just around the corner in this grand cathedral style Collegiate Gothic entrance. You must stop and study the windows, they are truly spectacular with images in glass depicting rare books and texts, many of which are housed in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library.
The Yale Center for British Art and the Yale Peabody Museum are undergoing renovations, so we will have to return to visit once those are open to the public again. The Yale Art Gallery is open if you want to have some museum time this spring. We didn’t have enough time to dedicate to it this trip, but I hear it’s worth the visit and the collections and exhibits you could get lost in for hours.
Once we got our fill of amazing architecture, we walked over to the Chapel Street Historic District. We weaved our way through little walkways between buildings passing The Owl Cigar Shop, record shops, and more restaurants. It is like a time capsule each street you turn down here.
We took a break and had lunch at the counter of Atticus Bookstore. This is a popular lunch spot for a quick bite with sandwiches and a full coffee bar. Tables are filled with students meeting up amongst the books.
After lunch, we popped into The Graduate Hotel New Haven because I wanted to spy the interiors and we grabbed a coffee from their coffee bar. The interiors were a treat and a perfect balance of preserving the past and adding a splash of well-executed design full of color and pattern bringing them into the present. Antiques, old phone booths, and lots of Yale memorabilia adorn every nook and cranny. Underneath The Graduate, is Old Heidelberg, a local watering hole that has been preserved, restored, and reopened since closing in the 90’s. With games, free popcorn, and a full bar it makes a great spot to meet friends for drinks.
After lunch, it was a short walk over to the Broadway Shopping District. We first popped into J. Press, one of the original Ivy League outfitters. For over 100 years this business has been a fixture in New Haven. For anyone that loves the Ivy League style of dress this is the place to visit. From tennis sweaters to rugby shirts in every color to tweed dinner jackets and Oxford shirting, this shop is flush with those staples. The upstairs houses a full suit shop with custom tailoring. A real treat and bonus is it is like a tiny museum with Yale trinkets, an old cash register, and the photographs and articles that adorn the walls. The history of J. Press is fascinating too, and I feel like I could dedicate a whole post about it.
Once we shopped this gem of a store we popped into L.L. Bean, J. Crew, and Fat Face. Unfortunately, Barbour and Patagonia that once graced these streets became casualties of COVID and a down-turned economy, but the Shops at Yale are hopeful for new shops to grace these spaces soon. With a huge investment in the Bio-Sciences and new constuction happening all around, it’s a good sign of things to come.
Topher pulled my arm as we meandered back down Chapel Street to grab a cup of ice cream at Arethusa Farms and I couldn’t resist the temptation. My favorite scoops are the cherry ice cream and the sweet cream with dark chocolate ice cream. So devilishly good!
After a day of exploring Yale and the historic districts, we walked back to the Omni to relax a little before dinner. There are so many dining options that we were told are a must to try. New Haven definitely has a ever-growing food scene and if you crave it, chances are there is a restaurant that has it.
Since this was a nice weekend away together, I made a reservation at The Union League Cafe. This French restaurant is well-known for its exceptional dining and it’s a romantic spot in the city to enjoy an amazing meal together.
The blazing fireplace, large windows, and old world charm interiors create quite the cozy atmosphere. We dressed up a tad for dinner here as most patrons are in dinner jackets and business casual attire. This restaurant is just a five minute walk from the hotel, so it was easy to get there and back at night. It did not disappoint. Everything was done so well. The atmosphere is elegant yet comforting at the same time. Our favorites from our dinner include the Escargot Appetizer and the Scallop Entree. You can’t go wrong ordering those, but I imagine everything on the menu is divine. We finished our night out with a decadent dessert and French press coffee service.
Sunday was our check-out day, so we opted for the breakfast brunch up on the 19th floor at John Davenport’s. It was pretty extensive in breakfast selections and a nice spot to take in the views of the campus below before making the trek home. We ended up sitting next to a lovely couple visiting their son at Yale and chatted them up a bit.
We checked out, but on our way home we had one more stop on our first New Haven visit. PIZZA. We had servers, bellman, and store clerks all list off their favorite New Haven pizza joints. Bar, Modern, and Nolo’s were mentioned just as much as Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s. Every person we encountered offered up their own personal favorites in a very specific order.
For our first trip, we decided to start with the original Frank Pepe’s. Frank Pepe’s is synonomous with New Haven. They put New Haven style pizza on the map, so what better place to begin, right? The coal-fired brick oven and special dough recipe make a unique texture and taste. We brought home a pie for the boys and Topher and I sampled it for lunch and we both enjoyed it. So, after six years of people telling us to try, we tried it!
New Haven Highlights this Trip
We’d like to thank the Omni New Haven at Yale for the warm welcome and lovely stay. Their hotel staff was so friendly and helpful. Thanks for making our first trip to The Elm City a great one!