The coastal Connecticut city of New Haven, which fronts Long Island Sound, has a vibrant gay scene that revolves heavily around Yale University.
The second largest city in the state, with a population of 130,000, New Haven is steeped in history and has a strong arts and cultural scene. Visitors can browse the fairly funky shops around Yale University's Gothic-inspired campus (especially along Chapel Street and the blocks just off of it), or visit three outstanding museums: the Yale Art Gallery; the Yale Center for British Art, which contains the largest such collection outside of Britain itself; and the Peabody Museum of Natural History.
New Haven is also a terrific theater town; many shows have their pre-Broadway runs at the Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Shubert Performing Arts Center.
In 2014, the city organized its first New Haven Gay Pride event in some years. The week-long event is now held every September.
New Haven Gay Bars
Any time of the week, the city's only full-time queer hangout, 168 York Street Cafe (168 York St., 203-789-1915), draws crowds, especially on Friday - the restaurant here serves pretty tasty American fare, too. Bi-level Partners Cafe (365 Crown St., 203-776-1014) is another lively spot, with a video lounge and pool room downstairs and a dark and seductive dance floor up. Another mostly straight venue, Bar Nightclub (254 Crown St., 203-495-8924) is always gay-friendly and draws a trendy collegiate crowd.
And just down the street, Empire Nightclub (formerly Gotham City, 130 Crown St., 203-909-8639) is a large dance club that's the site of the New Haven Gay Pride after party; the club also gay nights on Saturdays.
New Haven Gay-Friendly Restaurants and Cafes
New Haven has one of the best selections of ethnic eateries in New England, including Japanese food and inventive sushi, at Miya's Sushi (68 Howe St., 203-777-9760). Another exceptional spot for pre-theater drinks, sublime contemporary American fare, and a sexy crowd is Zinc (964 Chapel St., 203-624-0507) - pan-seared monkfish with crispy polenta, Swiss chard, and a smoky yellow pepper sauce is a typical choice. Another favorite is Pacifico (220 College St., 203-772-3239), which lies directly across from the Shubert and serves creative Latin American fare.
In a somewhat similar vein, Soul de Cuba Cafe (283 Crown St., 203-498-2822) is a great spot for hearty and delicious Cuban fare (the restaurant has a sister locale in Honolulu).
Great veggie fare can be had at Claire's Corner Copia (1000 Chapel St., 203-562-3888), and the Cafe at Atticus Bookstore (1082 Chapel St., 203-776-4040) is a cerebral spot for breakfast, sandwiches, coffees, and other tasty light choices. In the city's Little Italy along Wooster Street, Frank Pepe Pizzeria (157 Wooster St., 203-865-5762) is credited with introducing the pizza pie to America - it still serves delicious thin-crust pies better than anything you'll find in New York City.
Also check out our Guide to Gay Bars and Gay-Friendly restaurants in Hartford, which is just a 45-minute drive north on I-91, and the Guide to Gay Bars and Gay-Friendly restaurants in New London, Mystic, and Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun area.