Mystic is the perfect spot for a family day or a Connecticut weekend getaway. It is full of history and has a small, quaint downtown on the Mystic River, the nation’s largest maritime museum, a living history museum, and a world-class aquarium. Read on for things to do in Mystic, Connecticut.
The History of Mystic, Connecticut
Mystic is a village on the southeast coast of Connecticut, very close to the Rhode Island border. It was settled by colonists in 1654, although the Pequot Indians had been here before. The name comes from the Pequot word, Mistic referring to the tidal river running through the village. From the 17th-19th centuries, it was an important shipbuilding town. Much of the history and houses have been retained throughout town or in Mystic’s museums.
Interact with Sea Animals at Mystic Aquarium
There is also a large indoor space, with many displays as well as touch tanks. As evidenced by my Halloween costume this year, I love jellyfish, and we spend a lot of time at Jellies: The Ocean in Motion Exhibit. Did you know that moon jellies become the color of the food they eat, like flamingos?
One of our favorite things to do at Mystic Aquarium is to feed and pet the stingrays. They are so excited to get the food they come right up to get a lot of hands-on stingray experience.
The absolute best experiences we have had at Mystic Aquarium are their encounters. We have had the privilege of working with the trainers and meet the animals up-close. We have done the Penguin Encounter and Whales Up-Close, in which we got to help train and touch a beluga.
Learn about the US Maritime Roots at the Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport is a living history museum of a colonial seaport town complete with costumed actors, merchants, artisan shops, and a working shipyard. They also have real historic ships that you can tour and a lighthouse. The museum has a planetarium and many boats. The boating exhibits change throughout the year. It will take you a day to explore this ticketed park.
Explore Olde Mistick Village
Shop modern stores in a colonial setting right near the aquarium.
Shop and Eat on Main Street
This street runs along the water, so it also provides excellent ocean, river, and bridge views.
I highly recommend waiting along Main Street until you can see the drawbridge go up and down. Those colossal concrete blocks come swinging down, and it is quite a sight! It is even better if you can watch it while you eat some ice cream.
Enjoy a Meal in Mystic, Connecticut
19 East Main Street
Bravo Bravo is one of the best upscale restaurants in Connecticut. With big windows overlooking Main Street and a modern menu, you are in for a great meal at Bravo Bravo. With their bread, be sure to try the caper blossoms, salty goodness that pops in your mouth.
2 Washington Street
Upscale seafood in Mystic’s harbor provides excellent water views.
14 Holmes St
Casual southern-inspired American food with an extensive bourbon and craft beer selection. Think high-top tables.
The Steak Loft
Check out the salad bar in this old-school family restaurant in Olde Mistick Village.
Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream
Where to Stay in Mystic, Connecticut
Book a room in the middle of downtown Mystic at The Whaler’s Inn.
Hyatt Place Mystic is not in as quaint of a setting but is walking distance from everything I spoke about in this article.
Have I missed any of your favorite places in Mystic? Let me know in the comments. Have you explored New England’s shipbuilding past?
7 thoughts on “Things to Do in Mystic Connecticut”
Reading this takes me back. I loved Mystic and was here about ten years ago. I really loved the Seaport Museum, it was the first museum I ever visited in the USA. I remember some the locals who were really friendly when I got chatting to them and asking me questions about ‘Old England’ (as they called it). Mystic was the only place I visited in CT so would love to check out the other stuff I missed, like the Aquarium, would love to take my kids there.
I lived in Cambridge for quite a few years but never made it to Mystic. The seaport sounds wonderful and I heard the atmosphere in the town is friendly. Sounds like a great place to take the kids.
It sounds like a charming town to visit. To grab an ice cream, stroll the Main Street and watch the drawbridge open up for the boats to sail on by.
I can certainly see that there are many reasons to visit Mystic, Connecticut. We do love to visit aquariums so that might be our first stop. I would love to do a close encounter with a whale! As an ex-Navy guy, hubby would be found a the seaport digging into the seafaring history.
Great to know about Mystic, it is new to me. The aquarium experience sounds good, if I was there I would definitely want to visit. The museums with history of the place would be another one I would love to visit. The complete information with places to stay is really helpful to plan a visit.
At first glance, I thought Mystic was an adjective that you were using for Connecticut but realized that the name of the place is Mystic. What a fascinating name and it seems appropriate too as the place seems to have a mystic charm. The Aquarium seems really interesting while the old drawbridge grabbed my attention.