Family Fun Weekend: what to do in Mystic, CT

May 20, 2010

The Mystic Aquarium

One of my favorite things about living in Brooklyn is how many great weekend trips one can take from here!  A family can have the full range of experiences – from mountains to beach and rural to urban – all within less than a four hour drive.  Recently, we packed up our family of four and went to check out Mystic, CT.  Mystic is a cute, touristy seaside town with a fishing village history and more to do than we could fit in on one trip– so we did it twice!

Activities:

Mystic Aquarium
55 Coogan Blvd.
Mystic, CT 06355-1997
( 860) 572-5955
www.mysticaquarium.org
My kids are fascinated by fish and sea life, and we have made many trips since they were born to the NY Aquarium.  Once I heard how wonderful the Mystic Aquarium was, I knew we had to check it out.  We first visited in February and the whole family fell in love with the Beluga whales.  It was a sunny, if cold, day, and my almost-four year old son loved racing by the windows that placed him eye to eye with the beautiful creatures.  Despite the chilly weather, we enjoyed making our way through all the outdoor exhibits, and my two year old daughter loved the antics of the penguins.  We finished up our visit by taking in the sea lion show – which is in an indoor amphitheatre – a boon in both cold and hot weather!  After such a great first visit, I knew we needed another visit to really take in the whole experience.  We went back for Labor Day weekend and got to experience a whole other side to the town.  During our September visit to the aquarium, we visited all our favorites but also managed to feed the rays and explore in more depth the indoor exhibits that we had breezed by on our first trip.  The kids were fascinated by the mermaid purses (tiny eggs sacks where we could actually see the beginnings of sharks, skates and rays), the indoor touch pools (don’t miss seeing the rare blue lobster) and the ray touch pool.

Mystic Seaport
75 Greenmanville Avenue
Mystic, CT 06355
(888) 973-2767
www.mysticseaport.org
One of the leading maritime museum’s in the world, one can see ships, a fishing village and even take a boat ride.  They have a children’s museum and a nautical play area.  We didn’t visit with our kids, but have added it to our agenda for the next visit.

Submarine Force Museum
One Crystal Lake Road
Groton, CT 06340
(800) 343-0079
www.ussnautilus.org
A museum run by the US Navy that is dedicated to all things submarine and home to the USS Nautilus, it’s great for elementary and older kids – plus it’s FREE!

Esker Point Beach
Groton, CT
Map Link
We were looking for an easy place to play in the sand and put our feet in the water before dinner at Abbott’s.  This place fit the bill perfect!  A friendly little town beach with a little grass and a nice stretch of sand – and bathrooms!

Olde Mistick Village
27 Coogan Blvd # 2C
Mystic, CT 06355-1920
(860) 536-4941
www.oldemistickvillage.com
This little collection of shops is fun to poke around and includes a cute toy store.  They also host a variety of festivals throughout the year so it’s worth checking out their website for details.  The indoor seafood shack Ten Clams is also here.

The famous Mystic Pizza

Restaurants:

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
117 Pearl St
Noank, CT 06340
(860) 536-7719
www.abbotts-lobster.com
My family absolutely adored this place, and we actually visited two evenings in a row.  When the weather is perfect, this lobster shack is my version of heaven.  They have seafood in all forms with lots of lobster.  You order at a window and then pick out your own picnic table right on the water.  Lots of space for the kids to run.  Alcohol is BYOB and coolers are welcome.  Make sure to print out their directions or use your GPS to find it since it’s a bit off the beaten path.  You also might want to arrive early as it’s extremely popular and the line to order can get long. Open seasonally.

Sea View Snack Bar
145 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355-1942
(860) 572-0096
Mystic is really all about the seafood.  This great little shack by the water is only open in the summer months but had some of the best food.  It’s right off a main road (but still right on the water) so not as scenic as Abbott’s but the food is even better.  It’s just down from the Mystic Seaport and very close to the Residence Inn.  I highly recommend a visit just for the food if lobster rolls are your thing.

Mystic Pizza
56 West Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-3700
www.mysticpizza.com
Famous from the movie of the same name, they have tasty deep dish pizza with cold beer.  It’s very kid friendly with a children’s menu and crayons.  We visited on our winter trip and found it to be warm and cozy.

S & P Oyster Company
1 Holmes Street
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-2674
www.sp-oyster.com
When researching spots for our winter trip, I added S & P Oyster Company as an option for a special night out.  I checked their website and they had a children’s menu so I figured we were safe.  The food was really good and the fish & chips from the menu was hands down the best we had ever tasted – but at a 5:30 dinner, we were the only family in a restaurant full of couples.  However, the views of the sunset from the windows were beautiful.

Ten Clams
(in Olde Mistick Village)
27 Coogan Boulevard
Olde Mistick Village, Building 20
Mystic, CT 06355
This inside lobster shack was great for our winter visit to Mystic.  We got a taste of summer with their lobster rolls.  Plus they were very kid friendly.  The name Ten Clams means everything on the menu is under ten dollars so it’s a very affordable option.

The Residence Inn

Lodging:

Residence Inn
40 Whitehall Avenue
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-5150
Hotel Website
For both our visits to Mystic, we stayed at the Residence Inn.  While not particularly special, these suite hotels are absolutely perfect for family trips.  One bedroom suites are standard so everyone has just a little more space to spread out plus parents can have their own space after the kids are in bed.  Another big perk for us was the hot breakfast included in the room price and served just downstairs.  We could stumble out of the bed in the morning and take the kids down in their pajamas.  The hotel has an indoor pool and hot tub and our two kids were thrilled to spend a chunk of each day just splashing around.  The staff is very family friendly and by calling ahead, I was able to secure a pack n play for the first visit and a rollaway cot for the second.

Tips:

  1. Bring your own pool and sand toys.  Our kids adored the hotel pool on both visits.  The first time we made do with plastic cups from the room.  The second time I was more prepared with our pool toys and floaties.  If it’s summer, the beaches in Mystic are fun and perfect for some fun sand castle building.
  2. The aquarium let’s you visit two consecutive additional days if you have your tickets validated before you leave.  This was a great option for us with two small children whose attention spans are pretty short – and allowed us to really feel like we got our money’s worth from the trip.
  3. Mystic has so much to do that a visit any time of year can be fun!

Disclosure: Mystic Aquarium generously provided my family with tickets to visit on our second trip to Mystic.

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Carolyn Pravda is a stay-at-home mom in Brooklyn, NY.  After having two kids in quick succession, she found the slippery slope to frumpy housewife was getting steeper. It was just too easy for her to pull the same jeans and cotton t-shirts out of the closet each day. With laptop in hand and a firm nap schedule, she set to work creating a site that would help mommies everywhere get dressed in the morning, ready for life with kids and looking good. Her suggestions are budget conscious, washable and wearable at the playground.

Carolyn blogs at www.mamathreads.com with fashion suggestions as well as Mama Thread Thoughts on parenting.  She is a member of the Yahoo! Mother Board and is a moderator for the lively and helpful online parenting group Bococa Parents.  Finally, she contributes to AChildGrowsInBrooklyn.com with a column on fun things to do this summer in New York for an adventurous mom of two preschoolers who didn’t sign up for any camps!


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