For me, Ikea is not one of those places where you go just to quickly pick up one or two little things. For starters, if you live in central Connecticut like I do, it’s probably a good 40-minute drive for you. Second, you pretty much have to walk through the whole store (even if you take the shortcuts) just to find those things. And last, you have to deal with that crazy checkout area whether you are buying one thing or 100 things. So I usually save up my list of items I need (ok, want) from this store, then make one or two trips a year.
Since Boo arrived though, I’ve found that sometimes it’s nice to take a little drive with the family just for the heck of it. Honestly, car rides are one of the only times hubby and I can carry on an uninterrupted conversation while Boo snoozes in the backseat. (Plus, my day trip to Putnam, CT went so well last month that I’ve been feeling more confident about escaping that Hartford area radius.)
When we were trying to think of somewhere to visit over the long weekend, Ikea seemed like as good a destination as any, and then I wouldn’t have to wait a whole year to pick up a few nifty food storage containers and that extra shelf I’ve been wanting for the upstairs bookcase. Of course, 40 minutes there and back with a 20-minute Ikea errand in the middle (Boo isn’t much for shopping these days so 20 unfussy minutes would actually be a gift) seemed like a lot of consecutive car time. So, we decided to visit a few of our favorite places in the surrounding city of New Haven too. I’m not an expert, but I did spend a few years living there, so consider this my insider’s guide to a fun day in The Elm City with your wee one.
Here was the plan:
10:15-11:00 Naptime in the car
11:00-12:00 A visit to the Yale Peabody Museum
12:00- 12:30 Pick up lunch from Romeo and Cesare’s
12:30-1:30 Playtime at East Rock Park
1:30-2:15 Sweet treats at Claire’s Corner Copia
2:15-3:15 Errands at Ikea
3:15-4:00 Naptime in the car
And here’s what really happened:
This is the time we were supposed to leave for New Haven. Earlier that morning, I had checked out the Glastonbury Library website to see if the library offered free or discount passes to the Peabody Museum. As luck would have it, they do have a pass for reduced admission to this museum, and it’s a pretty good deal too: $5 off admission for up to 4 people. Since admission is $9/person, that amounted to more than half off. So then came the dilemma: we were already running late, Boo was clearly going to be ready for his nap a little earlier than we had expected, and if I had to stop at the library to pick up the passes, well, the whole precisely choreographed time-line could fall apart. Then I thought, I really needed to do this for the blog, to show people what it was like to use a museum pass. So after much hemming and hawing, I decided to call the library to see if they even had the pass available (once upon a time you could reserve a library museum pass in advance, but now they are given out on a first come, first served basis). Well, one quick phone call later I realized all that heartache had been for nothing because it was Columbus Day and the library, along with most of the other state and local town offices, was closed. Duh. So the museum pass experiment would have to wait for another outing, but I highly encourage you to take advantage of these passes from the Glastonbury Library. They are available to anyone with a CT library card (from any town!) and can be checked out for two days, meaning that you can avoid that pre-outing rush to the library by picking up your pass the day before.
This is the time we actually pulled out of our driveway. Miraculously, Boo had managed to keep it together until we got him in the car. Five minutes into the ride, he was out. We usually take this drive down 91 South for some reason around this time of year, and I have to say I was a little disappointed by the foliage. It wasn’t nearly as pretty as in previous years. But according to the Yankee Foliage website, I guess I was about a week early for peak leaf peeping.
We arrived in New Haven and after taking the wrong exit off the highway again (we always do that), we meandered our way through the, um, slightly rougher part of town. Fortunately, since we have made this mistake so many times, we knew exactly where to go. (The museum website suggests that you take exit 3 off 91. Or click here to get your own directions from Google maps.)
A few minutes later we were turning onto Whitney Avenue. The Peabody Museum is on the corner of Whitney Avenue and Sachem Street, but the entrance to the Museum parking is actually a little ways down Whitney, past the museum. There is a light at the intersection where you turn into the parking lot.
The lot is very deceptive in that it looks HUGE.
Then you realize that the part of the lot that is open for parking to regular ol’ museum visitors without special passes or permits or anything is eensy weensy. Follow the signs carefully. The museum parking area is the part of the lot all the way to your left after you enter the lot from Whitney.
The area is demarcated by these hard-to-see chains.
There is an automated ticket machine at the entrance to the museum parking area. Parking is $3 with paid admission to the museum (get your ticket validated inside the museum). Parking is free on weekends (and apparently also on Columbus Day). SIDE NOTE: On weekends, parking is FREE in all Yale lots. However, some of them require key cards to enter (like the ones near the Museum). Click here for an interactive map of the Yale campus. To get a better look at the area around the museum, zoom in between the “Science Hill” and “Hillhouse” labels. Alternatively, here is a printable campus map. Look for the “P” to indicate additional public (but not necessarily free) parking areas and garages.
I swear I saw a sign somewhere that said if the lot is full to park on Whitney, but from my experience, Whitney is full of no parking signs. Alternate parking is probably easier to find on Sachem Street where there are plenty of metered parking spaces. But be sure to bring your quarters though. The two-hour limit is $1.50 per hour…in change.
Since I’m sure a holiday like Columbus Day where most public schools are closed is a super popular day at any Museum, I wasn’t surprised that the museum parking area was full. We were just about to scrounge around the car looking for quarters for a meter when a really nice couple let us know that they were leaving in a minute if we wanted to wait. Did we?! Of course!
This space was along the yellow curb in the parking lot, so I can’t tell you that it was totally on the up and up for us to park there, but let’s just say all the other cool kids were doing it too, and none of us got a ticket (that I know of).
We got a still sleepy Boo loaded into the stroller and headed for the Museum.
I promise that you can’t miss it because there is a huge dinosaur statue in the courtyard.
The ramp up to the main door is right around the corner on Sachem Street. It was a little narrow, but we fit Boo’s bulky ride through just fine.
Once in the entrance, the admissions desk is to the right. You can also find museum maps and an audio tour out here in the vestibule.
By the way, you’ll notice that these two little kids are looking up. Don’t forget to look up when you enter the building. Surprise!
The elevators and restrooms (with a changing station in both the men’s and women’s rooms) are to the left.
So, the Peabody Museum has this sort of strict attitude about the use of photography in the museum. It’s fine for personal use except in certain, designated areas, but the water gets a little murky when we start to get into press/promotional/published usage. I tried several times to contact the museum about this blog and my desire to use some photos of the museum (I sent an email, I left a voicemail, and I even inquired in person while we were there, so I feel like I covered all the bases), but no one bothered to get back to me. So, out of respect for their policy, and because I feel like it’s a bit early in this blogging adventure to risk a lawsuit, I am only going to post a few pictures here that don’t really show you very much of the exhibits (the exact wording the website uses when referencing the photography policy is “in the exhibit halls”). I feel like that is probably what their policy is aimed at protecting, and we are more concerned with showing you the lay of the land anyway. (I mean, the whole point is to get you to go see the exhibits for yourselves, right?) If someone from their PR department ever gets back to me with permission, I’ll update this post with more interior pictures.
The museum has both permanent collections and rotating exhibits. When we were there, one special exhibit was “Invasion of the Bloodsuckers.” You know, in case you have ever wanted to see a life-like model of lice enlarged to 300 times their normal size. (I swear my head has been itching for days at just the thought of it.)
Arguably the most notable permanent attraction at the Peabody is The Great Hall, which is where the giant dinosaur skeletons are located. There are also some giant turtle skeletons that are really neat. You can’t miss this exhibit as it is straight through the lobby and to the right.
Initially we had planned to take Boo around the museum in his stroller, and that is definitely an option because of the open floor plan and wide doorways. However, it soon became clear that Boo wasn’t going to be able to see much of anything from that low vantage point. So hubby volunteered (okay, I drafted him) to tote Boo while I wheeled the empty stroller. You know, I’ve got this beautiful, useful Maya Wrap hanging on the coat hooks at home and why I can never remember to stuff it in the diaper bag just in case is beyond me. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now: just because you can use a stroller, doesn’t always mean you’ll want to.
After the dinosaur exhibit, we toured the Hall of Mammalian Evolution, which also had plenty of interesting things for Boo to look at. I could tell he was getting antsy though, so I wanted to check out the other floors before he got too fussy. We bypassed the second floor since the map makes it look so small.
Of course, later I come to find out that one of the museum’s prime spots for kids, the Discovery Room, is located on that floor. The website does indicate that it’s mainly for children ages 5-12 (quite a bit beyond my Boo). Still, it would have been nice to at least see it. Oops.
Up on the third floor (FYI-really small elevator, but we did manage to get the stroller inside), Boo was ready to run. Fortunately, this floor offers a vast expanse of wide, open spaces with very few obstacles. It was a great place for Boo to do a little of his own exploring. Another plus: plenty of benches for taking a break. We were able to give Boo his lunch right there in the Birds of Connecticut room.
We also wandered through the rest of the third floor rooms, which included more dioramas, an exhibit on Connecticut Native Americans, and a collection of Egyptian artifacts that includes a real mummy. After about an hour and a half in the museum, Boo was ready to go and we were ready for our lunch. (Note: there are no food options in the museum, so make sure you pack a few snacks for the wee ones.) There were certainly a bunch of exhibits we were not able to get to that day since we were operating on toddler time, so $18 did seem like kind of a lot to pay for such a short visit. Next time we will definitely take advantage of those library museum passes to knock ten bucks off that total. Then it’s a bargain.
Back in the car, we headed over to Orange Street en route to one of my favorite places to grab a sandwich, Romeo & Cesare’s Gourmet Shoppe. To get there you go straight out of the Peabody parking lot (across Whitney) and the first light you come to will be Orange Street (which runs parallel to Whitney).
Turn left on Orange and continue straight for a few blocks. The shop will be on your right at 771 Orange Street. There is usually plenty of street parking.
The hardest part about coming here for lunch is trying to make your way to the sandwich counter and back out the door without buying a dozen other things. Everything looks so wonderful.
I always get a roast beef sandwich with provolone cheese, lettuce, onions, and mayonnaise on a sub roll. It’s delicious, it’s gigantic, and it’s only six bucks. You can order your own combination or choose from a bunch of different menu items. And they have delicious hot food options as well.
I tried to take some pictures of the food myself, but I could never do it justice. For mouthwatering photo’s of their gourmet selections, visit their facebook page.
I’m pretty sure you can hike up to where that tower is way up in the distance on those red cliffs there. Although, that’s probably not something you would want to do with a stroller…or a baby. Just a guess.
This section of East Rock Park is at the corner of Orange Street and Cold Spring Street, which is where we parked our car.
The park is filled with great picnic areas. There are park benches, picnic tables, and even a covered picnic area.
There do appear to be restrooms there, but they were locked on the day we went. There were a couple of porta-potties near that building though.
We ate our sandwiches on a bench. They were delicious as always.
There’s also a basketball court and two swingsets. We were planning to take Boo over to the smaller section of the playground, but then I noticed that the footing was sand. Since we still had a few stops to make on our adventure, I wasn’t ready for him to get filthy quite yet. It was okay though, because all he wanted to do was run around in the grass anyway.
We ended up spending a lot longer at the park than we had anticipated. It was such a lovely day and Boo was having such a great time, that before we knew it it was after 3:00. Okay, time for a quick reevaluation. We still had to go to Ikea, of course, so it looked like Claire’s was getting the boot. I was really sad about this because they have the most amazing desserts and I soooooo wanted to use the blog as an excuse to taste test their latest creations. But alas, we had to keep Boo on some semblance of a schedule. But I couldn’t just leave you totally empty-handed, so I hopped out of the car to snap a few pictures of what I was missing.
A peek at some of those scrumptious desserts. To see more luscious dessert pictures, visit their facebook page. They have an all-vegetarian menu, and their breakfast/lunch/dinner is amazing too.
Claire’s, at 1000 Chapel Street, is on the corner of College Street and Chapel Street. It’s located on the opposite end of the Yale campus from where the Peabody Museum is located (but closer to Ikea). If you are looking at this Yale map, find the big blue rectangle that is the New Haven Green. Claire’s is catty-corner across the street from the bottom left corner of the New Haven Green.
This is a neat area too because of all the little shops and restaurants. It’s too bad Boo no longer naps in his stroller because I would have loved to do some browsing.
We pressed on to Ikea where, among other errands, we had the very important task of retrieving one of Sparkles’s shoes that she had lost on her visit to Ikea a few days before. You know you’ve found a wonderful place when not only does someone find a tiny silver baby shoe in that behemoth of a store, but they actually take the time to turn it into the lost and found. We love Ikea shoppers!
Ikea errands completed, including a short stop in the Ikea cafe for a cinnamon roll snack, we finally got on the road back home. On cue, Boo zonked out in his car seat. Hubby and I had some nice, quiet time to chat. And, of course, I started making my mental list of all the things I need to go back for at Ikea.
170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT
(203) 432-5050 (Recorded Information)
Get directions here:
Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m.
The museum is closed on:
New Year’s Day
Senior citizens 65 years and over $8.00
Children ages 3 through 18, College students with ID $5.00
Group admission* $4.00
*See museum website for specific details about “group” admission
The Peabody Museum offers FREE individual admission on Thursday afternoons from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the months of September through June.
The Glastonbury Library (or your own local library might have them too) offers passes that save $5 per person for up to four people. Call the lending desk at (860) 652-7719 for more information.
771 Orange Street, New Haven, CT
Accepts all major credit cards
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/romeoandcesare
Get directions here:
Monday-Saturday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Taken from their facebook page, which is correct; I called to confirm. Their actual website says something different.)
From the website: The 425-acre park is located on the New Haven / Hamden border. The park is roughly bounded by Livingston Street, Davis Street, State Street and the Mill River. It is administered by the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees.
East Rock Ranger Station: (203) 946-6086
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
See website for additional rules and regulations.
1000 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT
Get directions here:
Monday-Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Accepts major credit cards
A stroller for navigating the city streets or the museum
A wearable baby carrier for a better baby view in the museum
Snacks for the wee ones while in the Museum
Change for the parking meters (just in case)
Small outdoor toys for the park
Museum passes from the Glastonbury Library for discounted admission
We’re not done with our tour de farms yet! Plus, we’re going back to Rose’s Berry Farm to check out their fall festivities. Trust us, you won’t even recognize the place!