If you love history, quaint shops, museums or beaches, Mystic, Conn., is a great choice for families looking to spend a long weekend out of town.
Located about a two-to-three hour drive from most points originating in either the New York Metro area or the Boston Metro area, Mystic has long been a popular destination for families looking for a little bit of everything on their vacations.
Where To Stay
Because we booked our trip somewhat last minute, and it was over the July 4 holiday, our hotel choices were limited — a lesson learned for the future about how popular this town is during the summer. Also, we were looking for options best suited for families, which narrowed our options.
Fortunately, we were able to find a room for a reasonable price at Residence Inn by Marriott.
At first, I was disappointed we couldn’t find something at one of the quainter hotels in Mystic’s more historic areas, but once we checked in, I knew we made the right choice.
The Residence Inn is located right off the the I-95 exit and is just minutes from Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium, making it super easy for families to get their desired tourist attractions. Access to an indoor pool was also a huge plus for my kids, when they needed to get some energy out before bedtime.
For our family of four, the room (which included a separate living space with kitchen and pull-out couch) was sufficient for our three-night stay, but was a bit cramped. I would opt for a bigger suite if we were to return.
What To Do
Of course, we weren’t in our rooms much, with all that Mystic has to offer.
Our first stop was Mystic Seaport, a sprawling, outdoor museum dedicated to preserving and educated the public on the area’s rich maritime history.
Visitors can explore an old whaling ship, learn how people lived in the 19th century and discover the science behind sailing and other maritime activities.
For families with younger children, there’s a wonderful children’s museum on site, in which kids can pretend to be sailors, cook in an old-fashioned kitchen and learn how to tie sailor knots. Best of all, the museum is included with your Seaport admission.
Depending on when you visit, Mystic Seaport has many special events for your enjoyment. We were able to go on July 4 and watch the parade, but the highlight for me was learning to play croquet. Our family had so much fun learning the game we decided to buy croquet set of our own!
The next day, our family traveled about 20 minutes away to New London (very glad to be staying near the highway) to spend the day at Ocean Beach Park.
This public beach is a wonderful place for families. The beach was fairly clean, with lots of shoreline to enjoy. It did start to get a bit crowded for my taste, so if this bothers you, as it does me, try to get there by 10 a.m. in order to enjoy the facilities before things get annoying.
The water was cold, but calm and we all enjoyed playing by the water’s edge. However, the highlight of our visit occurred off the sand.
Ocean Beach Park is home to a huge outdoor water slide. Visitors can choose from a fast and slow version. I only went once, and I chose the fast slide. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat calm start, this thing picks up speed and sends you flying all the way to the pool at the bottom. Fun for sure, but not for the faint of heart.
Of course, my six-year-old loved it.
For the younger set, there are various carnival rides, and kids of all ages can have fun in the splash park.
Our family fun continued in Norwich, home to the Connecticut Tigers, the Single A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
I don’t love baseball as much as my husband, but I do appreciate the warm atmosphere I have come to find at minor league ball games.
We purchased the cheapest tickets and spent most of the evening wandering around the ballpark with our kids. The place is setup so that even if you aren’t in your seats, you can still get a great view of the ball field.
We happened to go on “Disney Night,” which was a thrill for my youngest, who loved meeting some of his favorite characters.
Moving from tigers to sharks, the next day we spent exploring Mystic Aquarium. We were in awe of all the amazing creatures, and especially enjoyed the sea lion show. You can read more about our visit, here.
What visit to Mystic would be complete without a stop at Mystic Pizza?
Here’s the part where I confess to never having seen the classic Julia Roberts’ film, but no matter, the film was playing at the restaurant.
As a New Yorker, you will have a hard time convincing me any pizza in the U.S. is greater than what we have in my home state, but this pizza was pretty tasty, and a great choice for kids.
Another fun place we enjoyed exploring with our family was Olde Mistick Village. Yes, this place screams “tourist attraction,” but so what? We were visitors, after all.
Our kids enjoyed playing in the outdoor space, and we all enjoyed exploring the quaint shops and enjoying a good meal while we were there.
For more information on Mystic, Conn., including things to do, where to stay and more, click here.
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