What to do in Hamden

HAMDEN, Conn. — As a college hockey fan, the Frozen Four is obviously an extremely exciting time of year. The anticipation, the quality of the teams, the coverage — it’s all fantastic. What can sometimes get lost in the mix is the day off. The day off can be used in a number of ways.

This year’s women’s D-I Frozen Four is in Hamden, Conn., and is hosted by Quinnipiac. As a Quinnipiac University graduate, and an honorary Hamdenite for four years, here is how you should spend your Saturday, or really any free time you have in south central Connecticut. My only warning is that you bring an extra pair of pants that is one size too big, or put an extra knot in the belt, because there is some great food you’ll want to try.

5. Get in the car and head over to Frank Pepe Pizzeria on historic Wooster Street in New Haven. It’s only a 15-minute drive, but be prepared to wait in a line when you get there. It is one of the hottest pizza spots in the Northeast. May I suggest the “White Clam Pizza,” or just the classic cheese. I’m a simple man, what can I say?

4. Sidestreet Bar and Grille. It is the college town bar and grille. If you get there on a weekday, head over around 4 p.m. for happy hour. They’ll serve up reasonably priced drinks and crispy, sauce-covered buffalo wings. But if anyone asks, Eli’s on Whitney has a much better Happy Hour … we don’t want it to get too crowded at Sidestreet. Also, bring a sense of humor; you’ll understand when you read the menu.

3. Lounge on the Adirondack chairs and take in the view at the Rocky Top Student Center. The York Hill campus at Quinnipiac is just a few years old and the view and architecture at its Rocky Top Student Center is tremendous. After the amount of eating you’re bound to do, you’ll need a minute or two to digest.

2. Alright, now that you’ve rested up a bit, it’s time for another sandwich and a friendly challenge. There are two fantastic sandwich shops in town, but if you ask anyone there is really only one — it just depends who you are talking to. Everyone has a side, so pick yours. You are either with Ray and Mike’s or Corner Deli. If you are wondering, this author says there is a Ray and Mike’s “Irresistible” and then there is everything else.

1. Hike the Giant. The Sleeping Giant State Park houses some simple trails that give great views of Long Island Sound, along with a different view of New Haven and Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel campus. If you are looking for a simple hike, just take the Tower Trail from the base parking lot. If you are looking for a view of the QU campus and a bit of a challenge, then take the blue trail. It’s not Mount Washington, but the view is very unique to Connecticut.

There you have it. Just like any college town, you’ll find great places to eat, a laid back atmosphere, and this weekend, some top-notch hockey. Enjoy your stay in Hamden, and if you are from New Jersey, go to the Quinnipiac Admissions office and ask for Al Carbone … He’ll let you in for free or he’ll just tell you how much he loves the town and how he’ll never leave. You might feel the same way after you try the food.