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10 great and fun things to do in Mystic Connecticut

1650 Hartford-New London Tpke. (Rt. 85) Oakdale, CT, 06370 Phone: 860-443-4367

Big fun at The Dinosaur Place!

The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village offers a 60 acre outdoor adventure park with over 40 life-sized dinosaurs spread among a mile and a half of pristine nature trails. Children will love getting lost in a”MAZE”asaurus dinosaur-themed maze and playing on Monty’s playground featuring the custom-made SpaceNet, a 15 foot tall three-dimensional swinging, vibrating, climbing web. During the summer, cool off in New England’s largest SplashPad, a unique zero-depth water park. Indoor adventures await in Discovery Depot at Nature’s Art Village where guests can dig for gems, pan for “gold” and unearth dinosaur bones – each adventure comes with its own unique souvenir! Bring a picnic or enjoy great food at the Cobalt Café and locations throughout the village. There are special events, educational programs and amazing shopping. Plan an indoor or outdoor birthday party, scout, school or recreational group outing.

Winter Hours for Dinosaur Place: Thurs.-Sun. 10am-5pm. Discovery Depot: Weekdays & School Holidays 10a-5p. The Shops & PAST Antiques Marketplace: Open daily 10a-6p. Gateway Museums: Open Daily 10a-12:30p and 1-5pm.

12 Steamboat Wharf Mystic, CT, 06355 Phone: 860-536-0416

Explore New England's coast aboard a romantic sailing ship

Return to the romantic Age of Sail aboard the 81-foot schooner Argia. She is a US Coast Guard-inspected vessel and one of the last sailing ships in New England. We're docked in Mystic, Conn., and sail in Fishers Island Sound, a calm, protected body of water, from May 1st to mid-October. Bask in the sun on our spacious wooden deck while we explore the seafaring village of Mystic, the surrounding islands, and historic lighthouses. Pass through the Mystic River Drawbridge, which opens for the Argia with every cruise. We offer complimentary snacks and lemonade, but feel free to bring your own picnic and beverages as well. Wine and beer are permitted. Enjoy a half-day cruise, or experience the romance of the sea at twilight with a sunset cruise.

607 West Thames Street Norwich, CT, 06360 Phone: 860-425-3500 Toll-Free: 800-275-4772

Pampering as high art

Get away for the day, overnight or to celebrate something festive. This shrine to relaxation is set in a historic Inn in bucolic surroundings. 42 country acres hold perennial gardens, spring-fed ponds, century-old oak trees, a reflecting pool and an oversized deck welcome you to the spa and inspires a sigh. Thirty-seven treatment rooms offer sauna, steam, hot tub, salon, plus signature services from facials and massage to hand and foot therapies, and even tarot card readings. There’s a fitness center and indoor pool and activities to enhance your health and stimulate the senses. Enjoy special packages including Day Spa and Overnight Spa to Rejuvenation and Personal Escape Packages available on Sunday nights of holiday weekends at a small upcharge.

Sailing from the Niantic Bay Marina Niantic, CT, 06357 Phone: 860-448-3662 Toll-Free: 800-382-2824

Spend a special day or evening on the water

Board a great party boat with an experienced skipper and fish for striped bass, bluefish, porgies, sea bass, blackfish and other delicious food from the sea. Serious fisherman sail on the "Captain's Choice," trips scheduled for the best fishing time and circumstances. Enjoy a night bass trip with no crowds or tangles or a special seal watch, sunset, fireworks and/or nature cruise with science field trips also on the menu. Plan a private day charter of 15 or more and night charters of 12 for your next party or celebration. You can bring your own gear or rent rod and reel. New to fishing? The experienced crew will ensure you have a great day on the water. But do bring your lunch. Then catch your dinner. Reservations are not required and the parking is free.

One of the great places to serve the soul’s desires

What’ll it be today in the borough? In the morning a stop at a favorite restaurant or tea room, the newsstand to pick up a real paper and chat up the natives. There’s a beach to explore, an ocean to marvel at, and a great old lighthouse museum to discover. On weekend evenings it’s an exhibition at a favorite local arts venue or perhaps a concert on a lovely green. Sunday’s it’s a feature lecture from a worldly array of speakers open to the public. There’s always great shopping, delicious food, and the history of Stonington - in the homes and sites that have filled the borough for centuries - while sunsets over Stonington harbor are not to be missed.

103 Main Street Ivoryton, CT, 06442 Phone: 860-767-7318

A full roster for great theater for 2017

The Ivoryton Playhouse is a unique theatre with a rich cultural history. Built in 1911, the Ivoryton Playhouse is the oldest, continuously running, self-supporting summer theater in the nation. Some of the great names of from the stage and screen have appeared at Ivoryton Playhouse including Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Groucho Marx and Tallulah Bankhead. Today, the Ivoryton Playhouse produces a year-round, professional season of award winning musicals, comedies and dramas as well as summer children’s theatre and many special events. The Ivoryton Playhouse roster of productions for the 2017 Season includes My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, Biloxi Blues, Million Dollar Quartet, West Side Story, Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, I Hate Musicals: The Musical, and Ken Ludwig's The Game's Afoot!

Travel the coast on a discovery of great wines

Connecticut’s winemakers work microclimates along the coast to grow the best grapes and make the finest wines. One of the fastest growing wine regions in the country is also a great way to spend an afternoon, day or several visiting the vineyards and wineries along Connecticut’s Wine Trail. Explore the farms and fields as well as the historic homes, churches and shops around them while sampling reds, whites, fruit wines and others among an almost limitless range of varietals statewide. Set in scenic towns and rural havens inland and along the southern shore you can visit a variety of wineries and discover the distinct differences of each locale. Look for the Wine Trail’s blue signs. The wineries also remind you to please drink and drive responsibly.

One Railroad Avenue Essex, CT, 06426 Phone: 860-767-0103 Toll-Free: 800-377-3987

A Connecticut River adventure by train and boat

Gather family and friends for a sightseeing adventure aboard the only steam train and riverboat connection in the United States! This 2½-hour narrated journey explores the nature and beauty of the Connecticut River Valley, designated as one of “the last great places on Earth” by The Nature Conservancy. View historic sites such as Gillette Castle and the Goodspeed Opera House. Excursions begin and end at the historic 1892 Essex station. Rain or shine.

55 Coogan Boulevard Mystic, CT, 06355 Phone: 860-572-5955

Be among the greats at the Mystic Aquarium

This extraordinary destination offers much to explore and never to forget. Indoor and outdoor exhibits get you up close to amazing sea creatures including beluga whales, African penguins, rescued seals, colorful fish, over 30 different species of frogs and a 6’ alligator. Reach out and touch a shark, stingray or an exotic reptile while the sea lions will keep you smiling with their unique behaviors in the Foxwoods Marine Theater. Step into Exploration: Wild to experience the most extreme environments on earth. Take a virtual ride at the 4-D Theater or immerse your mind at the National Geographic Theater. Year round there are exciting events and appearances by special guests of the human and animal variety. Sea more at MysticAquarium.org.

Meet the Outdoors at Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center

Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center at 109 Pequotsepos Road in Mystic is a nature preserve and learning center with lots of hiking trails and a delightful nature store. Bring your favorite someone or the whole famil for a day of walking, birdwatching, nature photography and a picnic. On the 10 miles of hiking trails through woodlands, wetlands, and meadow, you can search for bluebirds, painted turtles or bullfrogs, admire a summer wildflower garden or simply enjoy a peaceful walk in the woods. Several hawks and owls that cannot be released live in outdoor flight enclosures on the sanctuary. Wander the Butterfly House and enjoy the tree house. ” are available for your enjoyment. See “Night in the Meadow” in the small theater. Open daily, year-round Trail map. 860-536-1216

History of the Textile Mills in Willimantic

The Windham Textile and History Museum , located in the former home of the American Thread Company at 411 Main Street in Willimantic, preserves the history of the textile industry and how it affected the economy, culture, and lives of New England people from the 1800s to the present. Nineteenth century working conditions were often harsh in America’s mills. Later, advanced technological change and labor unrest roiled life in the textile mills. This museum displays the workplaces and the people whose lives centered upon the textiles of New England. Guided tours on Sunday at 2 p.m.; self-guided tours during hours of operation. Hours of Operation: Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Phone: 860-377-7755.

Griswold’s Maritime Art Shows Its History on Every Wall

The history of the Griswold Inn in the riverside town of Essex starts in the auspicious year of 1776, when a local ship builder began work on the Oliver Cromwell, Connecticut’s first warship in the Revolution. Essex became a hub of lodging and hospitality for shipyard workers, continuing through an era of steamboat traffic on the Connecticut River, followed by pleasure boating today. You can see all the history through the Inn’s displays of marine art and artifacts: prints by Currier & Ives and Endicott & Co.; ship’s portraits; and illustrations by Samuel Ward Stanton and Norman Rockwell cover the walls. There is a collection of firearms from the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War, and weapons made by Samuel Colt of Connecticut. And – let’s remember – the food, drink, and hospitality are still going strong.

A Paradise for Serious Cooks

One fine way to soothe and encourage the gourmet cook in your family is through a gift-buying trip to Weekend Kitchen at 6 North Main Street in Essex. Founders David and Nancy Smith have created a shopping environment that is beautiful, eclectic, and old worldly. The cookware and kitchenware is a mix of traditionally styled and often hand crafted items along with more contemporary design oriented products. The shop’s faux finished walls, serene mural, and antique fixtures create an inviting setting in which to shop for yourself or a special gift. Come find everything from sculpted copper coffee scoops to panini pans. Phone: 860-767-1010.

Artistic Works in a Stone-Walled Landmark

Connecticut River Artisans, at 4 Water Street in Chester, is inside a 1909 stone building so delightful looking from the outside that you itch to go inside, regardless of what you might find there. In fact, what you find there is original, artist-made pottery, stained glass, fine art, jewelry, handbags, and cards are among the beautiful items we carry. There is always something new from the workshops of local and regional artists. It’s an adventure in beauty and gift shopping. Open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. 860-526-5575

Winery Offers the Best of California and Connecticut

Located in the beautiful small town of North Stonington, Jonathan Edwards Winery, at 74 Chester Main Road, is situated on a 48-acre hilltop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Jonathan Edwards creates premium California and Connecticut wines to highlight each coast’s climate. The two diverse product lines complement each other and allow guests to sample delicious wines that showcase what each area is known for. Wine lovers are welcome to stop in, taste the wines, tour the winery and vineyards, enjoy a picnic, and browse the gift shop for wine items and local treats. Each season in the vineyard has its own unique charm. Phone: 860-535-0202.

Come and Stomp to the Music

The town of Putnam is in Connecticut’s northeastern “Quiet Corner,” but if you are itching to hear or make some sound on a trip there, visit the Stomping Ground, at 132 Main Street in Putnam, a young restaurant-bar with live music five nights a week. It was opened by an artist and a musician who decided to more their frequent living room-based musical evenings into a business establishment. Crafts beers, good food, made from scratch in a tiny kitchen, loads of music. Phone: 860-928-7900

For Motivation, Try the Sundae Drive

Connecticut’s Sundae Drive trail with an accompanying brochure and map sends you off on a tasteful adventure along some of the prettiest roads and vistas of the Mystic region of this lovely state.
The drive’s “Tasty Ten” hot spots of creamy flavor includes dairies and ice cream shops in Storrs, Pomfret, Mystic, Plainfield, Old Lyme, New London, Griswold, Salem, and Sterling. A winner for both adults and kids! Brochure and map.

Concerts in the Garden Surrounded by Art

Coastal Connecticut’s history as a hub of American Impressionist painters (a la the Florence Griswold Museum) is alive and active at Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring Street in Chester. In addition to its artwork on display the studio hosts a monthly concert series called Concerts in the Garden. Musicians and singers performing every style from cool jazz to blue grass and beyond entertain for listeners seating outside in the garden amphitheatre (or inside the gallery, in colder weather). It’s a BYOB and picnicking scene. Monthly concerts happen year-round; check the schedule! 860-526-2077.