April Vacation in Mystic Country Last Updated 4/17

The kids are home from school, so we’ve compiled a list of attractions (and some quick bites) that are family-friendly and easy on the wallet!

Free & Fun

Connecticut College Arboretum, New London - A 750 acre arboretum and botanical gardens consisting of woody plants and wildflowers indigenous to eastern North America.

Connecticut Audubon Center, Pomfret - Five-plus miles of designated trails on over 700-acres of property managed to providehabitat for hard-to-find grassland birds.

Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park, Groton - Historic site of the 1781 Battle of Groton Heights where a small Connecticut militia fought against the more numerous British forces led by General Benedict Arnold.

Historic Ship Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum, Groton - Home of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered vessel and the first submarine to go to the North Pole.

U.S. Coast Guard Museum, New London - Tucked away on the grounds of the picturesque U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the Museum contains artifacts that span the two hundred-plus-year history of America's premier maritime service.

Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Mansfield - One of America’s hidden treasures—a superb collection of over 2,500 puppets from all over the world; an archive of books, manuscripts, posters, drawings, audio-visual materials and photographs all covering the history of puppetry.

Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, Storrs - Located in the heart of the University of Connecticut campus, the museum offers a variety of exhibits, natural artifacts, lectures and workshops about the natural history of southern New England.

Quinebaug Valley State Trout Hatchery, Central Village - One of the largest hatcheries in the east, this hatchery produces 600,000 trout annually. A glass wall allows visitors to see into the hatchery for self-guided tours.

UConn Animal Barns, Storrs - The public is welcome to visit UConn’s animal barns and take a self-guided tour. UConn houses swine, poultry, equine, beef & dairy cattle and sheep. Every day visitors can view the UConn dairy cows being milked from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the Kellogg Dairy Center. Many visitors wind down their visit by stopping off at the UConn Dairy Bar to purchase an ice cream treat.

Free with Admission

Exhibit Explorer!
April 10-14 | Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, Niantic
Ready. Set. Explore! Each day a different museum exhibit will be the focus. Visitors carry out a scavenger hunt of that exhibit and, upon completion, each child can receive a prize to take home!. *while supplies last

Earth Week Celebration at The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village
April 10-14 plus Bonus days April 17 & 21 | The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village, Oakdale
Celebrate the 14th Annual Earth Week Celebration at The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village. All events are free with paid admission to the Outdoor Adventure and will include different entertainment and activities every day of the week! Catch a magic show, visit a live petting zoo, enjoy a disc-dog performance and more!

Mystic Spirit Week
April 12-19 | Mystic Aquarium, Mystic
Join Mystic Aquarium during this special week to enjoy live music, demonstrations and more each day – all from local businesses. Help the Aquarium honor local history, heritage, culture, environment and people in celebration of what makes Mystic wonderful.

Discovery Sundays
Every Sunday, April-September | Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme
 Drop in at the Museum’s Education Center for a quick painting lesson before heading down to the river or out in the garden for an afternoon of plein-air painting. All materials included. Be sure to stop at the Portable Art Studio on the grounds and check out an Explorer’s Kit. Fun for the whole family.

Kids Week*
April 10-12 & 17-19 | Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket
Enjoy free family activities throughout the week, including kid-friendly movies in the Grand Theater, petting zoo, face painting, balloon characters, restaurant discounts and more! *No admission or cost required for most activities.


Roadside Eats

(Many food stands open late March/early April. Check with eatery before visit.)

Sea Swirl of Mystic, Mystic
Known for their seafood, chowder and ice cream, Sea Swirl offers a casual clam-shack atmosphere on the flood tide of the Mystic River.

Sea View Snack Bar, Mystic
This family owned business has been serving the Mystic area since 1976. Offers waterfront dining with a gorgeous view of the Mystic River.

Fred’s Shanty, New London
Serving the coast since 1972, Fred’s (as the locals call it) is located along the Thames River. The menu features seaside favorites such as lobster rolls and fried clams.

Harry’s Place, Colchester
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Harry’s has been a favorite summer stop serving up their famous hamburgers (and hotdogs, too) for over 90 years. (Cash only, but has ATM on property.)

Hank’s Dairy Bar, Plainfield
A blast from the past in the ever-changing restaurant world, Hank’s Dairy Bar is a family-owned that has become an icon in northeast Connecticut with its nostalgic neon ice cream sign. (Cash only.)

Snak Shak, Moosup
A take-out sandwich shop and so much more. This roadside snack shack lives up to its name with everything from sandwiches, burgers (like the “Moosup Monster”) and hot dogs to root beer floats and fried Twinkies.

Deary Bros. Mike’s Stand, Putnam
Established in 1937 and this stand is still family run. Offering fresh seafood, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, clams cakes, chowder and 45 flavors of hard ice cream and yogurt.