Mystic is a quintessential Connecticut coastal town that is historic, charming, and bustling with tourists. Step on the deck of the Charles Morgan, the last of the American mighty whaling fleet, check out what lives in the waters around Mystic at the Mystic Aquarium, have a look at the workings of the Mystic River drawbridge, explore native flora and fauna at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, get married, have a romantic dinner, visit the beaches, and admire the works by local artists at the Mystic Art Center on your weekend getaway or day trip to Mystic.
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Mystic Seaport is the living museum of America’s maritime past. Located on 19 acres on the banks of Mystic River in Mystic, it includes a recreation of a 19th century Connecticut coastal village, a shipyard, several exhibit halls, storage for a large number of historic artifacts, and over 500 historic ships and other watercraft such as America’s oldest commercial ship, the 1841 whaler the Charles W. Morgan.
Stroll through the village, which will transport you to the mid-1800s with stories from historians, musicians, storytellers, and craftspeople who will bring to life the hard lives of those whose destiny was linked to the sea. Stop by the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard to watch the traditional shipbuilding techniques that have been kept alive over the years as the craftsmen work on restoring and maintaining the museum’s collection of watercraft. A place of learning and a nostalgic reminder of the past, Mystic Seaport is also a fun place to browse and enjoy yourself. You can let your imagination run wild and simply have a good time – there is always something going on by the water.
75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 888-973-2767
2.Charles W. Morgan, Mystic, CT
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The crown jewel of the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Charles W.Morgan is the last of its kind. After five years of meticulous restoration, this magnificent tall ship, once a part of the 2,700 vessels-strong whaling fleet, sailed on its 38th journey. It spent more than 200 years on the world’s seas after being launched in 1841 from the New Bedford, Massachusetts shipyard of Jethro and Zachariah Hillman.
It sailed from Arctic waters to Cape Horn and survived hostile natives and even the Hurricane of 1938. Instead of hardened sailors, the decks of the beautiful historic ship are now receiving millions of tourists who learn an important story of America’s maritime heritage.
Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT, Phone: 860-572-5315
3. Mystic Aquarium
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There is so much sea life to see in Mystic Aquarium, but seeing beluga whales from behind a 20 ft. long underwater window as they swim slowly in their one-acre habitat filled with 750,000 gallons of water will take your breath away. Don’t miss the African penguins, seals, sea lions, shark and ray touch pools, exhibits with jellyfish, Return to the Titanic and the Deep Sea 3D movie presentation. Read more
The Mystic Aquarium in Mystic also organizes a range of fun events such as family overnight visits, Cocktails with the Whales, learning workshops, and so much more.
55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-572-5955
4.Mystic River Bascule Bridge
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You might have to wait for some time on Route 1 while the bascule bridge over Mystic River in Mystic goes up to let some large ship pass and then back down to let the road traffic continue its flow. But, take your time and have a look at the mechanism that makes this possible.
All machinery is exposed, and when the system was built in 1922, it received high praises for its ingenuity. Electric motors lift the bridge span; its mobile span is 85 ft wide and 218 ft long. It weighs 660 tons and uses two 230-ton concrete counterweights. The bridge stays open for about five minutes and it opens and closes about 2,200 times a year.
U.S. Route 1 over Mystic River, Groton - Stonington, Mystic, CT 06355
5.Olde Mistick Village, Mystic, Connecticut
© Olde Mistick Village
There were no shopping malls in the 1720’s. What they did have were charming, quaint village streets with beautifully maintained shops selling all manner of lovely and desirable things. Olde Mistick Village is a reconstruction of one such village, promising a delightful shopping experience even if you don’t actually buy anything.
Just strolling along the cobblestoned streets lined with trees filled with flowering pots is a pure pleasure. There is even a duck pond you can sit by and relax after browsing the shops. Some of the best Mystic restaurants and cafes are also in Olde Mistick, but you can also just grab a hot dog and munch on it while sitting on one of the many benches and watch people pass by. Time seems to slow down in the Village, making it a perfect place to spend your day.
27 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-536-4941
6.Historic Downtown Mystic
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While it is rich in history, there is nothing old about the Historic Downtown Mystic. It is a thriving, lively neighborhood stretched along both banks of Mystic River with a charming drawbridge that adds a unique appeal.
It has more than 80 shops of all kinds, including restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors, souvenir shops, and just about any other service you can imagine. It has nice coastal community vibe and is popular among locals as well as tourists, who flock to Main Street in large numbers. There is always something going on, from little pirates’ parade to holiday concerts and community events.
Along Mystic River, Mystic, CT 06355,
7.Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
© Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center is not only an environmental education center, but also a beautiful, lush, green space where local residents and visitors can spend time hiking or watching wildlife. The center is situated on 350 acres of mixed woods, wetlands, and meadows and is intersected by ten miles of hiking trails.
It is not unusual for visitors to spot bluebirds in one of the meadows or bullfrogs and painted turtles in the pond. In the summer, the wildflower garden is filled with colorful blooms, while the woods provide pleasant shade in the heat of the day. Some of the birds like owls and hawks cannot be released and live in spacious outdoor enclosures.
109 Pequotsepos Rd, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-536-1216
Next read: 25 Best Things to Do in Connecticut
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8.Mystic Arts Center
© Mystic Arts Center
The seeds of Mystic Arts Center were planted by Impressionist painter Charles Harold Davis who settled in Mystic in 1891. His presence attracted a number of other artists who formed an art colony, and the rest is history. From the art colony to the Mystic Art Association to the Mystic Art Center, the institution grew in reputation and in its number of permanent artifacts.
Today, the center’s Schuster Gallery contains a permanent collection of more than 250 artworks. Three additional galleries offer exhibits of local and regional artists. The Center also maintains a number of artists’ studio, helps with the sale of selected artists’ artworks, and organizes art classes, seminars and art camps for all ages.
9 Water St, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-536-7601
9.Argia Mystic Cruises
© Argia Mystic Cruises
Exploring the area around the coastal village of Mystic is best done on the water – you can enjoy the scenic coastline, beaches, nearby islands, and the many boats that make it their home here. Argia Mystic Cruises take guests on an exploration in a true maritime tradition, on board of ARGIA, their 18-feet schooner where guests can learn about maritime history from knowledgeable staff while lounging on the spacious wooden deck while the crew is manning the ship as it glides peacefully through the water.
The schooner can comfortably accommodate up to 49 passengers. Passengers are offered complimentary lemonade and snacks, and they can also bring their own food and drinks. The trip begins and ends by passing under the Mystic River Drawbridge, one of Mystic’s most popular attractions. The
15 Holmes St # 7, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-536-0416
10.Poet's Lounge Sailing Charter
© Poet's Lounge Sailing Charter
Fisher’s Island Sound, about a mile off shore, is arguably one of the most popular sailing destinations on the East Coast. The 7-mile long island acts as a buffer from the unpredictable and often wild swells of the Atlantic Ocean, allowing for a peaceful and calm oasis. Poet’s Lounge Sailing captain Darin Keech takes his guests aboard his classic ocean racer the 1972 Ericsson 39 for an unforgettable trip of two, four, or six hours.
You can take a short two-hour trip to Fisher Island or relax, stop for a swim, or have a picnic during a four hour trip. Alternatively, you can enjoy a full day of sailing out to the open ocean, snorkeling inside the calm waters of Fisher’s Island Sound and even stop for a nice meal at a dockside restaurant. Your captain will keep you safe and ensure you are having fun at the same time; he can even entertain you with his ever-present guitar.
Pearl Street, Maxwell's Boat Yard, Mystic, CT, Phone: 860-287-7956
11.Oyster Club, Mystic, Connecticut
© Oyster Club
Oyster Club is exactly what you would expect from a picture-perfect Connecticut seaside restaurant; it’s a historic clapboard house with rustic but chic interiors and features a large zinc bar and charming outside deck under the trees. The food is so fresh you can probably watch it being brought in from the boats.
You can try fresh oysters from the raw bar, and they also boast a great wine selection, local craft beer and imaginative cocktails. Chef James Wayman uses produce from local farms and fruits of the sea to create an interesting menu with a subtle global influence. The menu changes daily and part of the fun of going to the Oyster Club is finding out what the Chef is going to feed you.
13 Water St, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-415-9266
12.Extra Virgin Oil Store
© Extra Virgin Oil Store
If you have ever been to a Greek or Italian olive market, you know that there are thousands of varieties of this delicious fruit. You can eat them, pickle them, or turn them into oil, but what you or any good Chef do with that oil is a bit of an art. Extra Virgin Oil Store offers you the taste of an enormous variety of oils and vinegars that are pure or mixed with fruits and spices.
This elegant store in Olde Mistick Village is lined with bottles and jars of delicious olives, oils, and vinegars from Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Greece, and they offer you samples to help you decide which one is right for you. All products are certified pure and natural, gluten-free, sugar-free, salt-free, and GMO-free.
OldeMistick Village, 27 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-536-1916
13.Fields Of Fire Adventure Park, Mystic, CT
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Fields of Fire Adventure Park offers more than 50 acres of fun in lush, rugged woods where adventures take place both above and on the ground and where kids and adults can get their adrenaline pumping and have the time of their lives. The aerial adventure park has five exciting elevated trails that wind through the forest, with 70 platforms, zip lines, and obstacles.
The adventures are adjusted to different ages and level of experience. There is even a night climb on Friday, when everything looks a little more dramatic. The paintball parkis huge and professionally designed, and it is able to accommodate up to 70 combatants – imagine what kind of a birthday party that would be!
715 Noank Ledyard Rd, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-449-4628
14.Denison Homestead, Mystic, Connecticut
© Denison Homestead
Homestead and Pequotsepos Manor are big parts of Mystic history. The beautiful manor was built on the 160 acres of land granted in 1654 to Captain George Denison for his military services. The original manor burned down and was replaced in 1717 with the current home, where six generations of Denisons lived. The house was converted into a museum in 1946, and its lovingly restored and preserved rooms filled with original period furniture are now open to the public.
Denison Homestead organizes a range of activities such as House Tours run by costumed guides and Archeology Family Days during which kids and their parents can hunt for articles from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center is located on the Homestead lands.
120 Pequotsepos Rd, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-536-9248
15.Seaside Shadows Haunted Tours of Mystic
© Seaside Shadows Haunted Tours of Mystic
When you visit a place with as much history as Mystic, you can expect a ghost or two. Local expert on all things paranormal, Courtney McInvale Reardon offers two tours for those who are not afraid of things that go bump in the night – a Seaside Shadows Downtown Mystic tour and the Mystic Moonlit Graveyard Tour. You will learn about a giggling ghost who visits diners, an 1800’s practice that keeps spirits out of people’s homes, and other stories.
The tours go through Mystic downtown between the restaurants and shops around the famous drawbridge. The cemetery tour takes guests through the Whitehall Burial Ground where the famous ghosts of Whitehall Mansion were seen. Whether you believe in supernatural beings or not, you are sure to learn a lot about Mystic history and have some spooky fun. Read more
Mystic River Park, Mystic, CT 06355, hone: 860-754-8923
16.Fearless Flyers Academy, Mystic, CT
© Fearless Flyers Academy
Fearless Flyers Academy is an indoor school that teaches the art of acrobatics. If the areal ballet of the performers at the Cirque de Solleil once mesmerized you and you’ve since dreamed of flying through the air like a bird, Fearless Flyers Academy offers you a chance to learn to do exactly that in their gym in Mystic, Connecticut.
You do not have to have any previous experience, and they accept ages 4+, children and adults. Come to one of their free shows where you can watch experienced gymnasts and try flying trapeze, lyra, aerial fabrics and tightwire-walking. You will learn to fly with Flying Trapeze; Areal Fabrics will teach you to use flexibility and strength to dance with fabric in the air. Trampolining is fun but also improves aerial awareness and gives you a good workout. It is also something fun parents can do together with their kids.
Building 9, 800 Flanders Rd, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-245-4154
17.Peace Nature Sanctuary, Mystic, Connecticut
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Stretched along River Road is Peace Nature Sanctuary, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled parks in Mystic. Originally owned by explorer and writer Mary Jobe Akeley, it was used as a nature summer camp for girls. When Mary died, the land was converted to a public park maintained by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.
The park is tranquil and shady, and replete with native plants. The best time to visit is May when the native pink slippers bloom, and all 400 of them bloom at the same time. A lovely well maintained trail offers great walks or hikes and wonderful views of the river.
18.Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Mystic, CT
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Victor Norman founded the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in 1946 with a goal of offering excellent music and bringing symphonic music to younger generations through educational and outreach programs. Today, the orchestra has about 75 members and performs from September to April with six subscription concerts featuring exceptional guest soloists. Subscription concerts are always performed at the historic Garde Arts Center in New London.
The Friends of the Symphony sponsor a series of free lectures that precede the concerts. The orchestra also performs additional concerts and plays for the Eastern Connecticut Ballet for their annual presentations of "The Nutcracker" as well as gives concerts at the Mohegan Sun, which are performed in the Grand Arena.
289 State St, New London, CT 06320, Phone: 860-443-2876
18 Best Things to Do in Mystic, CT
- Mystic Seaport, Photo: Courtesy of Dan Kosmayer - Fotolia.com
- Charles W. Morgan, Mystic, CT, Photo: Courtesy of Andreas J - Fotolia.com
- Mystic Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of Luna Vandoorne - Fotolia.com
- Mystic River Bascule Bridge, Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Jethani - Fotolia.com
- Olde Mistick Village, Mystic, Connecticut, Photo: Olde Mistick Village
- Historic Downtown Mystic, Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Jethani - Fotolia.com
- Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Photo: Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
- Mystic Arts Center, Photo: Mystic Arts Center
- Argia Mystic Cruises, Photo: Argia Mystic Cruises
- Poet's Lounge Sailing Charter, Photo: Poet's Lounge Sailing Charter
- Oyster Club, Mystic, Connecticut, Photo: Oyster Club
- Extra Virgin Oil Store, Photo: Extra Virgin Oil Store
- Fields Of Fire Adventure Park, Mystic, CT, Photo: Courtesy of lisovoy - Fotolia.com
- Denison Homestead, Mystic, Connecticut, Photo: Denison Homestead
- Seaside Shadows Haunted Tours of Mystic, Photo: Seaside Shadows Haunted Tours of Mystic
- Fearless Flyers Academy, Mystic, CT, Photo: Fearless Flyers Academy
- Peace Nature Sanctuary, Mystic, Connecticut, Photo: Courtesy of Pakhnyushchyy - Fotolia.com
- Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Mystic, CT, Photo: Courtesy of Bits and Splits - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Enrico Della Pietra - Fotolia.com