Mystic Seaport, Conneticut
This article is about the Mystic Seaport area, as shown on the map below.
Before visiting, however, I recommend examining the comprehensive Visit Connecticut Website (www.ctvisit.com). After you arrive, be on the lookout for the free Mystic County Official Visitors Guide, mark it up, then follow the shores and country-side for magnificent views and interesting things to do.
I recommend staying in any hotel in Areas 1 and 2, near the intersection of Interstate 95 and Highway 27. Here you’ll find plenty to eat (including a large grocery store with excellent prepared food), “Olde Mistick Village,” which is a charming re-created village, and the famous Mystic Aquarium, all within walking distance.
Area 3 is the Mystic Seaport Museum itself. This is a huge park filled with tall whaling ships that you can explore, numerous museums (small and large), and hands-on boat building exhibitions. It is within walking distance from Area 1 and 2, but considering that you’ll stand for a long time at the museum, driving to and from is a better idea.
Area 4 is Mystic’s real “old town.” It is a stroller’s delight, filled with shops, restaurants, and wonderful views of the Mystic River.
An old tug boat greets you at the museum’s entrance, followed by a lovely plaza, a museum book and souvenir store, an art gallery, and the ticket gate. Note that the entire outdoor area supports wheelchairs and walkers, although some multi-floor galleries only have steps.
Once you are in the museum, stroll along its coastal and interior avenues. Climb aboard its tall ship, weave in and out of its special exhibits, see movies, relax, and perhaps draw.
The museum is built on the footprint of Mystic’s original whaling community, with each small building featuring displays related to its use the 1800s. Also check out newly built exhibition halls, and a children’s play area (which is popular for adult selfies).
If you love gardens, you’ll be impressed with heritage plantings. Take photos and discuss them with experts.
Love to draw? You’ll find plenty of inspiration here! To show examples, I enjoyed drawing gardens and ship figureheads from a nearby exhibit.
There are many things to do in Area 2 that could take all day to explore if you wanted to see everything. They include dining, shopping, seeing a movie, and visiting a nationally-recognized aquarium. I particularly love the Olde Mistick Village, a new complex that replicates an 1800s village center. Here you’ll find flower-lined walkways, benches, ducks galore, a music gazebo with live entertainment, restaurants, and shopping (local crafts, baked goods, fudge, imports, and souvenirs).
The true “old” city of Mystic, however, is in Area 4, with shopping areas on both sides of the Mystic River.
We ate at Margaritas Mexican Restaurant in an arts area near Water Street and Steamboat Wharf. In the same complex is the lively Voodoo Grill, a New Orleans-style eatery which features a charming outdoor dining area. Across the street are several more restaurants, most with outdoor seating overlooking the Mystic River.
There are even more restaurants along Holmes Street, but be warned that when the nearby W. Main Street Bridge is open, traffic can be backed up for an half hour. Should you want to eat at one of many Holmes Street restaurants, I recommend that you study a map, park a few blocks away, and then stroll to a desired location. Keep in mind that walking is much more pleasant than being stuck in traffic.
- Mystic Seaport (Area 3) – www.mysticseaport.org
- Olde Mistick Village (Area 2) – www.oldemistickvillage.com
- Mystic Aquarium (Area 2) – www.mysticaquarium.org
- Mystic Diner & Restaurant (a large family restaurant in Area 2) – www.mysticdiner.com
- McQuade’s Marketplace (a huge grocery store that features excellent prepared food in Area 2) – www.mcquadesmarket.com
- Margaritas Mexican Restaurant (Area 4) – www.margs.com
- Voodoo Grill (a taste of New Orleans in Area 4) – thevoodoogrill.com
- S&P Oyster Co. (fine dining in a prime location on Holmes and E. Main in Area 4. Expect to wait for seating during dinner hours, especially if you want to sit outside.) – www.sp-oyster.com
- Visit Connecticut: This is the home of the excellent Mystic Country Official Visitors Guide, as well as other state guides. Be warned, however, that the site does not perform well on an iPad Air. Try to access it on a standard computer. – www.ctvisit.com
About this article
Written by Karen Little on July 16, 2016. Photos by Karen and Phil Little. Please request permission to copy! All rights reserved by Karen Little and Littleviews.com.