Along the Milford coast, the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center (1 Milford Point Rd., Milford, 203/878-7440, www.ctaudubon.org , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun.) is located on a protected tidal estuary that’s home to a rich variety of bird species. An elevated boardwalk along the marsh leads to a 70-foot observation platform with expansive views of the shoreline.
On the northern edge of New Haven  proper, East Rock Park (Cold Spring and Orange Sts., 203/946-6086, www.cityofnewhaven.com ) has a dozen hiking trails through its wooded hills. A monument to soldiers and sailors caps the crest of East Rock, which offers views down to Long Island Sound. A nature center on the property also teaches about local flora and fauna.
You can say you bested a giant at Sleeping Giant State Park (200 Mt. Carmel Rd., Hamden, 203/789-7498, www.ct.gov ), which offers 32 miles of moderate hiking trails, including a popular climb up to a stone observation tower on the giant’s left hip.
The 91-foot gaff-rigged schooner Quinnipiack is known as the flagship of New Haven . Through the nonprofit Schooner, Inc. (60 South Water St., New Haven, 203/865-1737, www.schoonerinc.org , 6–9 p.m. Wed. and Fri.; 1–4 p.m. and 5–8 p.m. Sun., $25 adults, $10 children 12 and under), it makes trips out into the sound for history and natural-history tours.