With the lull and smell of the seaside in the air, sail boats every which way you look and a rich maritime history, you and your family will become instantly hooked on the town of Mystic, Connecticut. Mystic is a seaside town in Connecticut with a a slate of things to do for families with children of all ages. It’s easy to get to – just a 2-1/2 hour drive from New York City – and full of options for everyone. Whether you’re an adventurous family who likes action and things to do or a more mellow family who likes to spend the day at the beach or a family that likes to take in an area’s history, Mystic has something for everyone. Here are a few places you and your family shouldn’t miss:
The Mystic Aquarium [55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic; 860/572-5955] is a great place to kick off a weekend in Mystic with the kids. Beluga whales, sea lions, penguins, barracudas, sharks, jelly fish – the Aquarium has it all. Every which way you look, there’s information, guides and even personal tours that you can arrange to get the best experience possible. Tickets to the Aquarium are $29 for an adult, $21 for a child age 3-17. Or you can combine the ticket if you know you’re going to the Seaport for a combination of $50 and $32 for youths ages 6-17. If you live in or around Mystic, a family membership is a great value at $169 for a year. Be sure to give yourselves an entire day, if possible, as there is much to see. There is a cafe where you can stop for lunch.
The Mystic Seaport [75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic; 888/973-2767] is a museum that preserves the nautical history of the 1800s. You can board the oldest whaling ship in the country, visit a 19th century recreated village, ride a steam boat, watch experts restore antique vessels or visit the planetarium. They even have a children’s museum. You can take a steam boat ride, take a horse and buggy ride or the kids can make their own toy boats to take home. You can also go inside a replicate of an 1800s grocery store, school house, church and and old house. There is a variety of eating establishments inside the premises and you might want two days to explore the Seaport in its entirety. It’s a terrific experience for both kids and adults. Adults are $24, Youth (6-17): $15, 5 and under: free.
The Olde Mystic Village is a unique collection of 60 shops and local artisans with hand made crafts and interesting shops. Built in the shape of an old colonial American village, the shops are centered around a lovely duck pond and waterwheel.
The Mystic Drawbridge is located in downtown Mystic. It’s a 21 ft. long drawbridge that brings its 230 tons up every hour and creates quite a spectacle. It brings traffic to a halt every hour.
The Dubois Beach in Stonington is one of the most picturesque beaches in Connecticut. It’s small, just 265 feet of the Long Island Sound, but ti’s serene and lovely and the perfect afternoon for a mellow family day out.
As for accommodations, Mystic has many options, from budget to deluxe, but if you are looking for a good in between option, the Residence Inn Marriott [40 Whitehall Avenue] is a solid one. It’s centrally located, very close to the Aquarium, the Seaport and the Olde Mystic Village. It’s a very nice, clean hotel where you can easily get a suite fit for a family, a kitchen, high speed Internet and hot breakfast in the morning. They also have an indoor pool and jacuzzi where you and your kids can rest at the end of a long day out.
For food, you can’t leave without having a meal at Mystic Pizza [56 Main Street, Mystic; 860-536-3700] If your kids love pizza, they’ll love Mystic Pizza. If you’re a fan of the 1980s movie with Julia Roberts, you’ll appreciate walking into the restaurant that inspired its fame. It’s all located downtown, and a stroll after dinner will be necessary to take in some of the town’s boutiques and local shops.
A weekend in Mystic can be quite satisfying for every member of your family…from history to boats to pizza to whales to local artisans. During the summer, you can visits its beaches; in the fall, you have fall foliage. It just might be time to start planning a trip to Mystic.
Disclosure: I was the guest of many of the locations mentioned in this article. The folks at the Residence Inn, the Seaport and the Aquarium were kind enough to grant me access to facilitate this review.