Unlike most larger cities in the U.S., New Haven is the epitome of a vibrant ‘urban forrest,’ merging a bustling urban city feel in a natural, eco-conscious setting. Personified by its sprawling parks and dedicated preservation programs, 20 percent of the Elm City is made up of open or ‘green’ space, utilized by its residents all year round. In fact, New Haven has designated 17 percent of the City’s 21.2 square mile area for parks that serve as year-round playgrounds for those who seek fresh air in a downtown atmosphere, as well as the occasional off-road adventure. So whether you’re in the mood for a stroll on the sand at Lighthouse Park or a picnic with friends on the famous New Haven Green, there’s plenty of scenic parks to choose from.
Pro tip: for the best panoramic views of the city, a hike to the top of East Rock Park is well worth breaking a sweat.
Opened to the public in 1966 Edgerton Park was bequeathed to the City by Frederick Foster Brewster whose estate was named Edgerton because of its proximity to the city’s edge. While the main house was demolished as directed by Brewster, the carriage and gate house, gardens and greenhouse remain. The property is maintained in cooperation with the Edgerton Park Conservancy, which hosts gardening lectures, workshops and a public reference library all year round. Mark your calendar for some of the park’s most popular events, including @the Connecticut Folk Arts Show, @New Haven Craft Brew Races and ongoing @Shakespeare In the Park performances.
For a brief 73 years, light beams from the lighthouse at Lighthouse Point extended welcoming, comforting arms to ships and sailors returning from voyages from the four corners of the world. Today the LightHouse is dark, but the tower remains, greeting ships (and morning runners) from around the world to New Haven. A little New Haven trivia: Did you know the Lighthouse Park Carousel is one of less than 100 vintage carousels still in use today?
Edgewood, one of the treasures of the City of New Haven. The park offers countless ways to enjoy nature and the outdoors: from walking, jogging, bird-watching or cross-country skiing to tennis, relaxing by a pond, swinging at the playground or skateboarding at Coogan Pavilion, Edgewood has something for every age group and lifestyle.
West Rock Nature Center
West Rock Nature Center consists of 43 acres of upland woods and fields at the northern base of West Rock Ridge. The property contains in excess of 300 different plant species, many of which can be observed along interpretive trails that have been strategically located.
East Rock Park has been a beloved playground for locals and travelers alike for its array of trails and activities. The highest point is accessible by foot, bicycle or car and affords sweeping views of downtown New Haven, New Haven Harbor, Long Island Sound, and surrounding communities.