For a long time, New Haven, Conn., was not a place you set out to visit unless you were somehow connected to Yale.

In the late 1990s the university, city government and local business community joined forces to break down town/gown barriers, strengthen the city’s economy and image, and revitalize the downtown. A decade and a half later New Haven is a welcoming place, full of activities for those who enjoy the arts, architecture, collegiate sports, history, or fine cuisine.

Shopping, too, is now a draw, with boutiques and funky shops along Chapel Street and upscale chain stores on Broadway, near the edge of campus. And New Haven pizza is still outstanding. Go to Pepe’s, where the pizza madness began in 1925.

In early October I joined a subsidized press trip to this city of 125,000, established in 1638. Downtown New Haven is organized around a classic New England green, where three early 19th-century churches still welcome worshipers.

Nearby is Yale’s Mead Visitor Center, housed in a 1767 clapboard house, the oldest in the city and once home to Jon Pierpont, a founder of the university. The public is encouraged to drop in and take the free hour-and-a-half tours of campus that run twice a day.

The campus and city center are visually intriguing, with varied building styles and a smattering of distinctive outdoor sculptures, including works by Alexander Calder and Maya Lin. On the old campus, the Gothic-style stone structures are modeled after Oxford and Cambridge residential colleges.

From the outside the Beinecke Library, housing Yale’s vast collection of rare books, is a rectangle of many recessed boxes, but step inside to marvel at how sunlight filters through these squares made of 1.3 inches of Vermont marble. Be sure to eyeball Yale’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

In New Haven I stayed at the sleek, two-year-old boutique hotel, The Study, on Chapel Street on the campus fringe. The hotel atmosphere is “collegiate chic” and luxurious. It makes the most of its location across from the Yale School of Art and Architecture by exhibiting student work in its own Aisling Gallery, right off the lobby.

The renowned Yale Repertory Theatre is half a block away. Just beyond are two of the university’s renowned and well-appointed museums, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Center for British Art, where I spent an enjoyable afternoon touring the exhibits.

It’s kind of heady, this concentration of culture in just a few blocks, where the public is welcome to spend a few minutes or several days. The museums are open six days a week, and admission is free. The Peabody Museum of Natural History, where admission is charged, is another Yale gem, its Great Hall of Dinosaurs a big draw.

In the last decade, downtown New Haven has seen a large influx of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Our guides made sure we ate well, experiencing farm-to-table cuisine at Heirloom, homemade pasta and Italian pastries at L’Orcio, and down-to-earth goodies at Claire’s Corner Copia.

Restaurateur Claire Criscuolo celebrates 35 years of her caf?his year, goal since graduating from nursing school has been to serve healthy and delicious food three meals a day, using local and organic ingredients as much as possible. Her Lithuanian coffee cake is to die for. Some people fuel up at Claire’s before a Yale home football game, held in a gigantic 70,000-seat arena about a mile away. For others, pre-game tailgating is but another art form.

The wealth of cultural attractions in a city center easily explored on foot makes New Haven an appealing urban getaway. Getting there from Maine was easy. I took the DownEaster from Portland, transferring to another Amtrak train in Boston for a total of four and a half hours of train time. early afternoon I was heading toward the classic town green to discover the charms of this resurgent New England city on a mission.

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer and editor in Brunswick.