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Best Parks in New Haven

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Marsh Botanical Garden is situated within the precincts of Yale University. Its name pays tribute to Othniel Charles Marsh, who bestowed this property upon the university. Beatrix Farrand planned the landscape of the garden that houses a wide variety of plant species. Faculty, students, nature lovers, researchers and many other visitors head to this botanical gardens that has four greenhouses, perennial beds, seasonal plants and much more.

Also known as Mount Carmel Park, the Sleeping Giant State Park lives up to its billing as an untouched wilderness with 1,465 acres (593 hectares) of sweeping semi-arid expanses. The gateway to Connecticut's countryside, the park is named after the Sleeping Giant traprock mountain that dominates its surroundings from an impressive elevation of 522 feet (159 meters). The grounds are riddled with a superabundance of hiking trails and picnic areas that add up to 32 miles (51.44 kilometers) of outdoor recreation. The park's southern shores are home to some of its most complex ecosystems, thanks to the life-sustaining waters of the River Connecticut's tributaries, which is also a popular fishing zone swarming with trout.

An easy drive from downtown New Haven, this park is a beautiful respite from the harried city pace. As you meander along the curved, tree-lined roads up to the summit, you will be greeted by a spectacular view of the city, Long Island Sound and the New Haven Harbor. There is a prized bird sanctuary, picnic and playground facilities, and if you are in the mood for a brisk walk, there are 10 miles of hiking trails. Enjoy the great outdoors right in the city.

Take a 20-minute drive east to Hammonasset to enjoy year-round shoreline vistas and a boardwalk for long walks and relaxation. Offering 1000 acres of campgrounds (550 sites), parks, beaches, walking trails, bike paths and fields for kite flying, Hammonasset is the quintessential pleasure destination. Meigs Point Nature Center offers fresh and saltwater aquariums and live reptiles and amphibians to touch and enjoy. Pack your in-line skates or bike, the park is grand.

Long Island Sound is a unique estuary where salt water from the sea mixes with the fresh river water, creating a biodiversity of different species of flora and fauna. The Lighthouse Point Park attracts public to this ecosystem, where fishing and boating are among prime activities. Birdwatching, picnics, swimming, carousel and a kiddie playground, are other reasons to visit here. The lighthouse has quite a history and the renovated tower is definitely worth spending some time on. Moreover, Fantasy of Lights, Hawkfest and Paddle Day are events the whole family can enjoy. Opens daily at 7am.

The New Haven Town Green is one of New England's oldest, completed in 1638. Portions of the Green were used as a cemetery until the 1820s when the Green became overcrowded and headstones were moved to the new Grove Street Cemetery; however, the bodies were not dug up and between 5,000 to 10,000 still remain. The 16-acre public park is a popular site for concerts and picnics, and an overall excellent gathering place for locals and tourists alike. The Green is also the location of a memorial to the Amistad captives. Along the Green there are three churches built in the 1810s: Center Church, United Church and Trinity Church.

Located just along the point where the Quinnipiac River curves to empty into the Long Island Sound, the Quinnipiac River State Park is a pleasant place to head to for a leisurely stroll. Located in the North Haven area, this park comes equipped with benches and excellent lighting, as well as a magnificent view of the river and facilities for fishing, boating and hunting.

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