Non Life-Threatening Things to do in West Haven

Liana Teixeira

By now, most of you have probably heard not-so-great things about the city in which the University of New Haven resides. A few standard comments I’ve heard in the past few years have been pretty negative for the most part. “West Haven? More like Waste Haven,” “There’s nothing to do here,” “The beaches are gross,” and—the inevitably obvious comment—“Wait, UNH isn’t in New Haven?”

I know not being in walking distance from New Haven can seem a bit unfortunate at times, but these little remarks about how terrible West Haven is really breaks my heart.

I moved from New Haven to West Haven when I was in fourth grade, and I have been in West Haven schools my entire life. I am proud to call myself a Westie and live in “Connecticut’s Friendliest City.” For me, this is a place I call home. I’m sure if I went to any of your hometowns and called it nasty names, you would defend it until you were red in the face. So, hopefully you get where I’m coming from.

Another issue that people have mentioned involves safety. Apparently, some believe West Haven is prone to extreme violence and crime after sunset, and that they should stay on campus during this time to avoid getting mugged or killed. This claim gets an A+ for exaggeration, but fails when it comes to giving an accurate portrayal of West Haven.

Yes, we have crime and occasional violence, but what town doesn’t? Last time I checked, each city or town has at least a police department, meaning that crime exists everywhere. Newsflash, there’s even crime on campuses—that’s why we have campus police to keep us safe. No one should feel scared about walking around West Haven at night. Obviously, there are places you would not want to explore alone, such as dark alleys or woods, but that falls under common sense.

If you find yourself bored on a lazy, Sunday afternoon and don’t feel like catching the shuttle to downtown New Haven, do not forget that there are actual FUN things to do in West Haven with no immediate risk to your health and/or safety (amazing, right?).

Firstly, there are the beaches. Yes, we face Long Island Sound, and yes, the breakwall tends to send large amounts of seaweed and other icky things to the shoreline, but if swimming in the water makes you want to gag, there are plenty of other activities to do at the beach. Near Bradley Point Park, there are volleyball posts available for outdoor games. Walking the stretch of boardwalk is also a beautiful sight at sunrise or sunset.

Speaking of Bradley Point, did you know you can walk out to Bradley Rock at low tide? Trust me when I say it’s an amazing view. Just remember to wear shoes, because the route is littered with shells. You could also hang out in Old Grove Park or walk a little farther and grab a bite at Stowe’s Seafood.

The soccer fields on Kelsey Avenue are also a great place to play sports. I can personally attest to it being the ideal location for ultimate Frisbee games. Less than 100 feet away is Painter Park. If you want to channel your inner child, or just get away from the hustle and bustle of UNH, Painter Park is the place to go. Although it is near a somewhat busy road, the nearby woods transform this location into a relaxing sanctuary.

When the winter months begin, the Edward L. Bennett Ice Skating Rink at West Haven High School offers public skating days. Woodlawn duckpin bowling on Platt Avenue is also a crowd-pleaser. For all you history buffs, check out the Savin Rock Museum, the Veterans Memorial, or tour the Ward-Heitmann house, the oldest structure in West Haven.

If you have never explored the length of Campbell Avenue, I strongly suggest you do; there are various specialty shops and historic restaurants. One of the best hidden gems of West Haven is B & B Flower Farm on Jones Hill Road. They have horse stables, as well as fall vegetables and fruits for purchase. A small store is adjacent to the farm, where you can buy handmade crafts and knick knacks. Oh, and did I mention they have an ice cream shop, too?

There are definitely some I am missing in this list, but I think I’ve rambled enough to the point where I sound like a tourist brochure.

So, I’ll leave you with this:

Though a majority of UNH students come from different states and countries, remember that West Haven is your home for four years. Think of it like you would a group of classmates. Imagine that you could have every class with the same group of people for four years and never speak to any of them. You would graduate without knowing who they are, their stories, the lifelong friendships you could have formed. You’d always wonder what you missed along the way.

All I can really say at this point is to give West Haven a chance. In the end, there will undoubtedly be something we dislike about the location of our college. Some prefer more close-by entertainment, while others would settle for a quiet, rural setting with minimal traffic. We just need to make the most of it.