I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is one of my favorite places in all of Connecticut. I loved it as a kid, I loved it as a teenager, and I continue to love it as an adult. If you want to spark an interest in science, nature, and history in your child, all it takes is a trip or two to this amazing museum. Check it out the next time you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, or when your kids have off from school for an easy way to kill the boredom.
There are no other museums in Connecticut like the Peabody: It’s got a little bit of everything, making it an intriguing place for kids and adults.
When you walk in, you’ll enter The Great Hall of Dinosaurs, featuring fossils (including an impressive brontosaurus), footprints, and the famous mural by Rudolph Zallinger. From there, you’ll proceed through The Hall of Mammalian Evolution, where your children will marvel at how different today’s creatures used to be. From mastodons to giant horses and sloths, the hall puts evolution into terms that children can understand. The first floor also houses an exhibit on human evolution, a hall dedicated to Native American culture and artifacts, and an exhibit on aboriginal art and culture.
If ancient history isn’t so much your kid’s thing, then head to the second floor to find the Discovery Room, full of touchable specimens, hands-on activities, and live animals from around the world. Exhibits here include a live, tropical leaf-cutter ant colony, a touchable 100-million-year-old fossil, and so much more. Touching is completely encouraged, making this a great spot for hands-on learning.
The third floor brings with it a range of exhibits, including ones dedicated to ancient Egypt, the birds of Connecticut, natural habitats in North America, and the Hall of Minerals, Earth, and Space. Personally, the dioramas and habitat exhibits were always my least favorite, but the third floor was a must-see for another reason: Meteorites! In addition to a number of smaller stones, the museum houses the Red River Meteorite, which was for a long time the largest meteorite housed in any museum. Being able to touch something that hurled through space before crash-landing into the Earth is an awe-inspiring moment for children and adults.
That’s the rundown. In addition to these permanent exhibits, there are regular temporary exhibits and events throughout the year. The “big picture” behind the museum is to bring nature and history up close and personal to patrons; by doing so, the museum has spurred interest in the sciences for years. It is, hands down, the one place in CT that I encourage everyone to visit (whether they’re a native or a visitor).
If You Want to Visit
The Yale Peabody Museum is located at 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven. It is open from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday through Saturday, and from noon to 5pm on Sundays. Admission costs $13 for adults, $9 for seniors (65+), $6 for children between 3 and 18, and is free for children under the age of 3.
Don’t forget: This is New Haven, so parking can be a little tricky. He museum has a visitor parking lot (located at 221 Whitney Ave) where parking costs $5 (free on weekends), but space is limited. Worst case, you may need to find parking in one of the area parking garages or on the street. As long as you remember when you need to feed the meter, street parking is fine. But be sure you get to your car on time: New Haven meter maids are ruthless, and a parking ticket will likely cost you more than your entire trip to the museum did.
After Your Visit
The Peabody is a six-minute drive from Pepe’s Pizza in no traffic and maybe 15 minutes during rush hour. After you’ve gotten your fill of natural history, head to Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana to get your fill of what I believe is the best pizza in the country.