After Hanover, we continued on our northeast road trip to New Haven, Connecticut! It would be almost a striaght shot down I-91, which would allow us to make stops in Northampton, Amherst, and South Hadley. (Admittedly, this was the least romantic part of our anniversary trip… you might even consider it too academic.) Visiting Smith College in August is what encouraged this trip, so I wanted to see more of the area around Northampton! Our final destination was to be Yale University, home to one of my favorite people in admissions, one of our students, and one of the most beautiful college campuses I’ve ever visited.
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Northeast Road Trip to New Haven – Where to Stay:
Where to Stay in Northampton along I-91
Hotel Northampton (Northampton, MA) – This hotel is all about the location. It’s easily in the middle of Northampton, so you can walk anywhere. Walk to Smith, walk to the cute downtown, walk to the library, walk anywhere and everywhere. The hotel itself can be like stepping back in time, and at times, it does feel old. I had a queen room overlooking the town, and it was comfortable enough. There was a fluffy floral comforter on the bed, and I slept like a baby. The bathroom was pretty dated with a basic tub/shower combination, but it was well lit.
I struggled to find outlets to be able to plug in my laptop and charge my devices. That was definitely less than convenient. The water in the room was $4.00/bottle, but I never saw anywhere convenient to pick up any so I paid the price. (I’m not sure what happened to the pictures of the room – this is the problem with carrying too many cameras and switching out memory cards. Sigh.)
Where to Stay in New Haven:
I booked the New Haven Hotel because I thought it would be similar to the Hanover Inn and The Charles. To some extent, it was. It wasn’t as luxurious as those hotels, but the room had similar, cozy touches. I loved that it was decked out with pictures of the campus and Yale blue accents. We watched Gilmore Girls on the DVD player and stocked the mini fridge with water. Service was okay; it seemed like the hotel was empty.
There is not a restaurant on site, but they have a small market (similar to what Courtyard/Residence Inn offer) with drinks and snacks. They didn’t offer valet parking, but there was a garage across the street. You had to use your key to access it, and the skybridge was closed after 5:00 so it wasn’t exactly convenient. Since the weather was good, it worked out just fine.
It was a short walk to Yale, and we felt safe. I’ve heard a lot of things about the safety of New Haven, and while I noticed a bit of it during the drive back from Frank Pepe’s, I didn’t notice it immediately around Yale. It looks like there’s gentrification going on around the hotel, so I think it will be more “happening” soon.
Northeast Road Trip to New Haven – Where to Eat
Somehow I ended up with ZERO pictures of our food.
I have no idea how that happened.
I resolve to do better!
Viva Fresh Pasta (Northampton, MA) – Everyone will find something to eat. Everything is fresh. Roasted garlic cloves, olive and herb dipping sauce for bread, chicken piccata, fresh pasta with your choice of sauce… Everything was good. Wine is good, too. 🙂
Herrell’s Ice Cream (Northampton, MA) – Anything with hot fudge. You can’t go wrong.
Frank Pepe’s (New Haven, CT) – There is an annex at the back of the parking lot. Same pizza, less wait time. The menu is simple. It’s pizza and a small selection of salads. Go for the pizza. Pizza is served on large pieces of butcher paper. The Foxon Park Root Beer is tasty with fresh pizza. Service is friendly enough. Great pastries are next door. There will be a line there so don’t forget that you can skip the wait at Pepe’s by going to the annex.
What to Do in New Haven
This gallery is gorgeous and houses one of the largest (and possibly best? Jury is still out on that according to our docent) university collections of art. We did a free tour and the docent, a graduate student, showed us pieces that related to what she is studying. Side note: one of the coolest programs at Yale is the fact that they allow students to curate their own exhibit from the Yale collection. How awesome would that be as an art student!?
We really wanted to visit the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, but it was closed for renovations. We settled for Sterling Memorial Library instead. You could also hit up the impressive Yale Center for British Art or the Peabody…. but if you’re into music, I recommend the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments. Yep, that’s a thing. I find Yale’s architecture absolutely beautiful, so we walked from one side of campus to the other and back again. And again. And again.
Northeast Road Trip to New Haven: What to Do along I-91
Smith offers a smaller and less intimidating museum than the Yale collections. Make sure you wander over to the botanical gardens! Fun fact: Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park, designed the Smith College walkways. They curve through campus naturally and are designed for optimum relaxation. They never requiring the walker to pick a specific direction. Our tour guide was more eloquent than I am, but I loved the concept.
Unexpectedly houses the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library! (Side note: Did you know that presidential libraries offer passports?!) As an avid collector of passport stamps, this greatly excites me! I wish I had known this earlier!)
Unexpectedly impressive! Amherst has the most beautiful views of the Massachusetts countryside. With more time, a trip to Wilder Observatory should be on your agenda. Similar to Hanover, I think the skies would be impressive.