Touring Connecticut Universities Last Updated: September 2021
Students, scholars and beyond – Connecticut is home to some of New England’s -- and the world's -- top universities. So, it’s no secret that people travel from far and wide to visit these spectacular schools. Whether you’re touring to attend, visiting a student, or simply interested in the university’s history, we’ve gathered ideas to get the most out of your visit to just a few of the state’s most popular schools. From nearby restaurants and hotels to can’t-miss attractions, these spots may even become your go-to spots once you’re accepted!
Yale University – New Haven
Yale University in New Haven officially began in the early 1700s and became Yale College in 1718, named after Welsh merchant Elihu Yale, who had donated generously to the school. Today, it is a well-renowned ivy league university set in a vibrant city.
New Haven is a favorite in the ongoing battle for "Pizza Capital of the World". So, you can't miss joining the debate by grabbing a slice from the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, named the nation’s #1 pizza. Other noteworthy pizza shops that add to New Haven's accolaide inlcude Sally's Apizza and Modern Apizza. Discover even more culinary history at Louis’ Lunch, the birthplace of the hamburger. Looking to explore further in the foodie scene? Try a Taste of New Haven Tour to sample local fare and flair.
Arts and culture are king in New Haven, which is home to many museums, galleries, and live music venues. While you’re there, check out Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Center for British Art, and Long Wharf Theatre.
Love a leisurely stroll? Explore the New Haven Green, Lighthouse Point Park, or even the Shops at Yale.
Below are more spots to stay, eat, and play while visiting Yale University.
UConn (University of Connecticut) – Storrs
In 1881, Charles and Augustus Storrs donated money and land to start an agricultural school. Today, UConn is one of the nation’s top public universities.
While the main campus is in the heart of some of Connecticut’s richest rolling farmlands, don’t be fooled – there’s plenty to see and do in Storrs. Explore Downtown Storrs, where you’ll find an abundance of shops and restaurants, concerts and events, two nature preserves with over three miles of hiking trails, the internationally-renowned Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, and much more.
Get active on your visit and try rope courses, ziplining, and even outdoor axe throwing at Adventure Park at Storrs, then end the day with a university classic: UConn Dairy Bar. If you’re in the area, you simply can’t miss an award-winning ice cream from the university’s own dairy cows.
Below are more spots to stay, eat, and play while visiting UConn.
Wesleyan University – Middletown
When Wesleyan University was founded in 1831, there were only 48 students and tuition was $36 a year. Today, the school has 46 departments, 45 major fields of study, approximately 2,900 undergraduate and 140 graduate students – and is steps away from lively downtown Middletown.
Historic Main Street is filled with unique shops, restaurants, and cafes. Take your own foodie tour and try Northern Italian dishes at Amici Italian Grill, classic diner favorites at O’Rourke’s Diner, vegan delicacies at It’s Only Natural (ION), and finally indulge in dessert at NoRa Cupcake Company.
While in Middletown, get a taste of nature (and gorgeous cascading falls) at Wadsworth Falls State Park or cruise the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound in style with Connecticut River Cruise & Charter.
Below are more spots to stay, eat, and play while visiting Wesleyan University.
Quinnipiac University – Hamden
Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University began as the Connecticut College of Commerce in 1929, but today is a nationally recognized university with three campuses and approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Since Hamden is known as “The Land of the Sleeping Giant,” while you’re there explore its namesake, Sleeping Giant State Park, two miles of mountaintop resembling a sleeping giant. You’ll find multiple treks to choose from: one trail leading to a magnificent skyline view of Quinnipiac, and another leading to a castle-like observation tower. For a more leisurely stroll, visit Pardee Rose Gardens and discover 50 varieties of roses, peaking in June and July, plus annuals, perennials, and herbs in bloom April-October.
When your post-hike appetite kicks in, try QU staple, Eli’s on Whitney for mouthwatering American fare and a hometown atmosphere. Or grab brunch, lunch, or dinner at Mikro Depot, where you’ll also find a fantastic selection of beers and cocktails. Looking for more brews? Try (and hang out at) No Worries Brewery or Counter Weight Brewing, which also offers food trucks and a great outdoor seating area.
Below are more spots to stay, eat, and play while visiting Quinnipiac University.
Fairfield University & Sacred Heart University
Fairfield is lucky enough to be home to not one, but two great universities.
Fairfield University was founded in 1942 after the purchase of adjoining estates and originally instructed just 303 male students. Today, it is a coeducational university with over 5,000 students and is regarded for educational excellence.
Sacred Heart University was founded by the second bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1963 with the intention of serving the community regardless of race, sex, creed, or religion. Today, Sacred Heart is one of the fastest growing Catholic universities in the nation.
While visiting one (or both) schools, explore the charming coastal town of Fairfield which is dotted with beaches, restaurants, and shops. Enjoy waterfront views at Lake Mohegan or stop for a walk by the ocean at Jennings Beach or Penfield Beach.
Explore Fairfield’s foodie scene and try tapas at Barcelona Wine Bar, pizza at Colony Grill, Italian cuisine at Centro Restorante, Mediterranean dishes at Toto Restaurant, sushi and other Japanese entrees at Akita Asian Fusion & Japanese Steakhouse, or treat yourself to a photo-worthy ice cream creation at Milkcraft.
Below are more spots to stay, eat, and play while visiting Fairfield University or Sacred Heart University.