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18. Mystic Magic

Summer brings out the best in the Connecticut shore – and more reason to visit fan-favorite Mystic and its many attractions. Here’s a Getaway that takes in destinations that will become treasured memories for you and your family.

Mystic Magic
Experiences Types: Family Fun
Seasons: Summer
Driving Tip: All within 10 miles


Your getaway actually begins not in Mystic, but in the nearby Native American community of Mashantucket, where the extraordinary Mashantucket Pequot Museum will give you dazzling new perspectives on an important part of American history. Here, you’ll witness 18,000 years of Native and natural history through amazingly lifelike walk-through dioramas, interactive exhibits and live performances.


Next, head a few miles south for lunch (Mystic Diner & Restaurant in Mystic is a fun stop or look here for more choices) and then a visit to the Mystic Aquarium/Institute for Exploration, two highly enjoyable attractions at one site. At the aquarium, there are sea lion shows, dozens of African penguins on parade, beluga whales and of course the wonderful indoor tanks. You can put on the 3-D glasses for a movie in the XD Motion Theater.

Meanwhile, the adjacent Institute of Exploration highlights the accomplishments of famed undersea scientist and explorer, R. Robert Ballard. Visitors can view footage from Ballard’s many expeditions, including the discovery of the remains of the Titanic in 1985. There’s even an 18-foot model of the great liner that took three years longer to build than the actual Titanic did.


As an option, you can start off Day 2 with a lovely summer morning hike through the 300-acre wooded preserve at Denison-Pequotsepos Nature Center. On eight miles of trails, looks for turtles, bullfrogs and a variety of birds.


Whatever you do, be sure to save plenty of time for Mystic Seaport, a 19th-century maritime village along the banks of the Mystic River. Climb aboard the beautifully restored 1841 whaler Charles W. Morgan to get an idea of what life was like during the golden age of sail (the Morgan will be off on a sail for part of the summer, so be sure to check its schedule), take a ride on the historic steamboat Sabino or walk along the re-created seaside village. There are demonstrations and performances related to maritime life, and exhibits and galleries to see. For kids, there’s a children’s museum, discovery barn and playground.


Finally, set aside time to stroll Mystic’s busy Main Street, stopping for a sweet treat at the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop. Enjoy a cone as you people-watch or take in the ups and downs of the Mystic River bascule bridge right next door.

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