Photo Credit: Mystic Seaport/Facebook

Among all the jewels that Connecticut sports in its variegated crown, the town of Mystic — the world-famous home of the Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport-The Museum of America and the Sea — is unarguably among the brightest.

Getting There

Mystic is conveniently located both for local Nutmeggers (Connecticut residents) and visitors from further afield. Mystic is one hour away from Hartford (55 miles), two hours from Boston and three from New York. It can be reached via Interstate Highways 91, 95 and 395.

What To See

Mystic Seaport – The Museum of America and the Sea
75 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-0711

The Seaport is a conglomeration of historical buildings covering 17 acres that have been relocated from various New England sites to this simulated 19th-century sea-faring village. They exhibit architecture, occupations, crafts and costumes of the era. The 400,000 annual visitors make their way through the village streets, on foot or in a horse and buggy, past genuine working maritime trading houses and businesses. They encounter Museum representatives dressed in 1800’s period garb enacting roles, singing sea chanteys, demonstrating skills and educating them about the period. Here, at one of the nation’s foremost Maritime Museums, board the tall ships, stroll through the gardens, watch interactive displays of life at sea and enjoy exhibits and art collections. This is where history is reiterated in realistic visuals. The Mystic Pass Card is a great deal that is an economical way to maximize the Mystic experience. It will be on sale through October 2012.

Must-see exhibits are:

Preservation Shipyard – Restoration of historic vessels is carried out at the Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard using traditional methods and tools. Shipbuilding methods are demonstrated and the visitors’ gallery offers a complete view of carpenters’ shops, tools and repair areas.

Maritime Gallery – This gallery showcases contemporary marine art by award-winning artists. View the grandeur of ships at sea, seascapes and sailors that bring 19th-century voyages alive.

Australia Beach – Fronting the Ames Fish House, “educators” inform visitors about the marine environment and species. Blue immigrants, Green Crab, European Common Periwinkle, Dead Man’s Fingers and the Asian Shore Crab are some of the marine specimens visible here. The Australia Coasting Schooner exhibit is next door.

Children’s Museum – For kids up to seven years old, the museum provides a complete experience of the sailor’s life. They can follow in their footsteps by swabbing decks, handling cargo, cooking in the galley kitchen, sampling the bunks and trying on sailors’ garments. Story time with seasonal tales is held year-round.

Treworgy Planetarium – Learn how seamen navigated by following the stars, planets and heavenly bodies visible each season, explicit in the lobby exhibit. The Planetarium was designed by Armand Spitz in 1960.

The Daily Activity Schedule, presented at the entrance, lists all of the activities and demonstrations taking place that day as a guide to visitors.

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Mystic Aquarium
55 Coogan Blvd
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-5955

The Aquarium is a hands-on learning experience for all ages. Foxwoods Marine Theater Show stars the California sea lions Coco, Surfer, Boomerang and Jetty. The new “Shark Encounters” exhibit, Jellies Tank, the Ray Touch Pool and the Whales Up Close program are endlessly fascinating encounters.

Olde Mistick Village
27 Coogan Blvd
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-4941

In keeping with the era, this unique shopping precinct is set out in New England Colonial style amidst landscaped gardens with attractive features. Non-chain, boutique shoppes and stores sell unusual items, globally sourced and exclusive to the Village. Shopping, entertainment and dining can be enjoyed in the beautiful, peaceful atmosphere.

Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
109 Pequotsepos Road
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-1216

Founded in 1946, the institute (a wildlife reserve, museum of natural history and learning center all in one) follows its stated mission “to inspire and nurture appreciation and scientific understanding of the natural world and foster a personal environmental ethic.” The center is open year-round, running programs and outdoor activities for all ages.

Where To Eat

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream
2 W Main St
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-7978

Dating back to the same period, Mystic also has a tradition of great ice cream. This enterprise has been known by different names since its beginnings in the 1800s and its passage through several hands. What remains constant is the quality and excellence of the homemade ice cream and candies using the finest, pure ingredients.

Latitude 41° at Mystic Seaport
75 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-5305

This destination restaurant offers a unique experience with a choice of several dining rooms, a classic tavern with a warming fireplace or balmy al-fresco meals. Enjoy New American gastronomic creations for every taste that utilize superior ingredients and support local farmers. Latitude’s culinary philosophy is based on “consistency, creativity, innovation and inspiration.”

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Bina Joseph, a resident of Glastonbury, CT is a freelance writer covering all things travel-related in Connecticut.
A passionate veteran of the travel industry, Bina has visited more than 40 countries, giving her a unique, global perspective. Her work can be found at