New Haven Parks to Explore this Summer

Walkable, loungeable, explorable, that’s New Haven. Our city is made of more than 2,000 acres of vibrant green parkland, and there’s no soul inside on the sunniest summer days (which, by the way, have arrived). New Haven has a park for every kind of explorer, whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to read, a pier to fish from, a splash pad to send your children into, a skatepark to wipe out on, or just a sunny spot to catch up with friends over a cold seltzer. 

Choose a park, any park, and choose your summer adventure. Here’s your guide to a bit of New Haven’s park culture. 

New Haven Green

The beating heart of our city, the New Haven Green, is 16 acres long and made of nine symmetrical squares separated into quadrants by manicured pathways. The park has quite a storied history, which you can read about here. Painted with flowering elm trees, the green is home to local farmer’s markets, year-round live performances, reunions, ceremonies, and life-changing moments. 

What do I need to know?

The park is accessible by bus, car, bike, or foot. Throughout June, the New Haven Green will be home to several free event programming through the International Festival of Arts and Ideas; more on that here

East Rock Park

East Rock Park (the featured image of this post) has something for everyone, from ball fields to basketball courts to canoes and rowboats on the Mill River. Whether you’re walking over or biking through, East Rock Park is a local favorite, with more than 10 miles of trails and two picnic pavilions. Additionally, families can let their children run free at the park’s fenced-in playgrounds in College Woods and at the south end of Rice Field, the latter of which features a spray pool.

What do I need to know?

East Rock Park features a stunning view of the Long Island Sound and is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Pardee Rose Gardens

Located in East Rock Park, Pardee Rose Garden and Greenhouse is home to an array of blooming flowers. One of New Haven’s most popular photo-opp spots, visitors are sure to see a blushing bride or newly engaged couple toasting to their love among the petals. The 2-acre Rose Garden is home to Connecticut’s finest display of roses, more than 50 varieties in total. Don’t believe us? Come see for yourself. 

What do I need to know?

Roses reach their peak bloom in June and July, so plan your visit soon. The garden is open daily from dawn till dusk. 

Edgerton Park

Opened in 1966, Edgerton Park is a sparkling green jewel in the crown of New Haven’s parks. Originally owned by Eli Whitney, the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a vibrant piece of the local community. The park features a collection of commemorative benches and trees, community gardens and greenhouses, an award-winning fountain, and more.

What do I need to know?

Edgerton Park invites New Haven locals to join in summer volunteer days, assisting the groundskeeper with planting, weeding, and park beautification. This summer, volunteer days will be held on June 17, July 15, August 12, and September 9. Join the Volunteer Email List here for updates from the groundskeeper.

Lighthouse Point Park

One of New England’s most famous parks, Lighthouse Point is home to one of the only remaining carousels in existence, a freshwater splash pad, a vintage penny press, daily concessions, and of course, a lighthouse. The lighthouse is made of sandstone and brick and features 74 winding steps up to the lantern. If you haven’t seen the lighthouse yet, make that a summer bucket list item. 

What do I need to know?

Lifeguards are on duty all summer long, and beach wheelchairs are available on a first come first serve basis. Parking is free for New Haven registered vehicles, and $25 a day for non-resident vehicles. 

Barnard Nature Center

The newest addition to the New Haven Parks System, the Barnard Nature Center located in the West River Memorial Park, and is home to a brand-new state-of-the-art classroom, greenery roof, and park rangers office. Here, visitors will find exotic amphibians and reptiles, often visited by local school children. Beyond its exotic inhabitants, the nature center neighbors a basketball court, soccer and rugby fields, canoe and kayak launch sites, and hiking trails. 

What do I need to know?

The nature center is accessible by a walking bridge that stretches over one of the busiest roads in New Haven.