10 great and fun things to do in Mystic Connecticut
67 Main Street, Steamboat Dock
Essex, CT, 06426
Lots to see, but even more to do, at this river museum on Essex Harbor
Learn about the Connecticut River – or sail on it! – when you visit the Connecticut River Museum, on park-like grounds overlooking scenic and historic Essex Harbor. There’s plenty to see, from models of yachts, nautical paintings and history exhibits to the tools used in early fishing, hunting and trapping to a vertical, three-floor river mural that goes up a staircase. And there’s the model of the Turtle, the Revolutionary War submarine. But there’s also so much to do: rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard and paddle the river’s coves right outside the museum’s doorsteps, go on a a winter wildlife eagle cruise to see bald eagles, or cruise aboard the Onrust, a replica of a 1614 Dutch sailing ship.
607 West Thames Street
Norwich, CT, 06360
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.
One Railroad Avenue
Essex, CT, 06426
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.
12 Steamboat Wharf
Mystic, CT, 06355
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.
63 South Main Street
Essex, CT, 06426
Royal pampering washes aches away
You will be treated like royalty at the Spa at Essex, where experts perform seemingly magical therapies and treatments on sore muscles, tired skin and drooping spirits. When you enter the property, you are greeted with warmth and bundled into comfortable robes and overstuffed chairs (including chairs for two) while you wait for treatments like massage, facials, manicures and pedicures, makeup and more. Innovation treatments bright aging or troubled skin. Couples, mothers-to-be, and gentlemen can enjoy refreshing and energizing treatments for their particular needs. Customers exclaim over the cleanliness of the indoor and outdoor spaces, which include a sunny patio with a fountain. Specials like the flower facial and the South Seas body treatment with tan will bring you back over and over.
1225 Ocean Avenue
New London, CT, 06320
Oh, the fun things you can do at this seaside park
Some things you can do at Ocean Beach Park: Enjoy a pristine sugar-sand beach. Take the kids to an old-fashioned amusement park on the boardwalk with a carousel and tiny trains (and the Scrambler for older “kids”). Play mini-golf. Swim in an Olympic-size pool. Work out in a health club. Go down a triple waterslide. Grab ice cream, a burger, clam fritters – or a cocktail. Play Skee-Ball in the arcade. Watch a free beach-blanket movie, catch a band or a magic show. Go on a nature walk. You can even have a wedding ceremony and reception overlooking Long Island Sound, in a gourmet banquet facility – or right on the beach.
Parking fees (includes park admission): Weekends $23, Weekdays $17, Weeknights after 6pm $8, Fireworks Evenings $10. Seasonal parking passes available. Walk-in Admission $6.
Sailing from the Niantic Bay Marina
Niantic, CT, 06357
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.
1650 Hartford-New London Tpke. (Rt. 85)
Oakdale, CT, 06370
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 the a”MAZE”asaurus and playing on Monty’s playground featuring the SpaceNet, a 15 foot tall three-dimensional swinging, vibrating, climbing web. During the summer, cool off in New England’s largest SplashPad. Indoor adventures await in Discovery Depot at Nature’s Art Village where guests can dig for gems, pan for “gold” and unearth dinosaur bones. Bring a picnic or enjoy great food at the Cobalt Café and other locations. Plan an indoor or outdoor birthday party, scout, school or recreational group outing. Check out the new Cooper Creek Mini Golf Course open Summer 2017 for ages 8+!
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.
55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT, 06355
Discover the area’s top tourist destination
From hands-on interaction with the likes of sharks, stingrays and reptiles to interactive exhibits that make learning about the ocean planet so much fun and even exclusive opportunities to meet animals up-close, it’s no wonder Mystic Aquarium is amongst the most popular destinations in New England. Explore indoor and outdoor exhibits where thousands of animals including whales, penguins, frogs, fish and more act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Learn how you can help protect our ocean planet at one of the daily trainer talks and be sure to experience a complimentary sea lion show. Plus, encounter animatronic dinosaurs that practically come to life in ‘Jurassic Giants’! Enjoy special events, activities and more throughout the year that make Mystic Aquarium a destination worth revisiting often. SEA more at MysticAquarium.org.
103 Main Street
Ivoryton, CT, 06442
A full roster for great theater for 2018
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.
Moo-sey Around the Farm With Us
The Farmer’s Cow
is a group of six family-owned dairy farms in Lebanon, Coventry, Hebron, Thompson, North Franklin
that welcome people to visit the farms for fun farm tours. During the tours, which run almost year-round, visitors may walk the farms, meet the farmers and cows, learn about farming, and sample local products. Some tours in 2018 are: Summer on the Farm (June 30), Ice Cream Day Bluegrass Bash (July 15), Corn Roast in the Hayfield and Farm Tour (August 18), Celebrating Agriculture with Fairvue Farms Wagon Ride Tour (September 22),
More Than Moos Ice Cream Social (October 20).
Knotted Imagery from the Sea
For a sea-themed memento or a gift to take home from your Mystic
vacation, a fun choice is the nautical decorations at Mystic Knotwork
, with two locations in town, at 25 Cottrell Street and 2 Holmes Street. The origins of the store go back two generations, when the current owner’s grandfather opened Beaudoin's Rope Locker. Browse and buy gifts made of cotton rope: sailor bracelets, nautical hair ties and jewelry, décor accents and Christmas decorations, nautical notions for weddings. You’re not vacationing in Kansas anymore. 860-889-3793.
Beaver Brook Farm Makes Cool Cheeses, Warm Sweaters
Beaver Brook Farm
at 139 Beaver Brook Road in Lyme
, originally a dairy farm, produces wool, yarn, woolen clothes, cheeses and dairy products, sold at a farm store on the property and at farmers markets. People are invited to visit the farm store for its many cheeses, yogurt, gelato, and raw milk. People who knit will love the woolen yarns and people who love to keep warm will go for the farm’s blankets, sweaters, and warm hospitality. The farm owners welcome visitors and invite you to phone ahead with questions. 860-434-2843.
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 family 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, turtles or bullfrogs, admire a summer wildflower garden or simply enjoy a peaceful walk. Wander the Butterfly House and enjoy the tree house. See “Night in the Meadow” in the small theater. Open daily. Trail map.
See the Insides and Hear the History of U.S. Submarines
Located in the home region of Electric Boat, builder of nuclear submarines, the Submarine Force Museum
at 1 Crystal Lake Road in Groton
, operated by the U.S. Navy, displays a giant collection of submarine artifacts, documents and photographs, depicting the entire history of the U.S. submarine force history. The "silent service" – you may be stunned to learn – begins with the “Turtle,” used in the Revolutionary War, continuing through to the Ohio- and Virginia-class submarines. The museum presents various fun scavenger hunts and self-guided tours. Truly fascinating! Open year-round, except for a week of maintenance in spring and fall (call ahead). 860-694-3174.
It’s a National Park – Under Water
What is a marine national monument? It is a national park – think Yellowstone or Acadia – under water. Mystic Aquarium opened in mid-2017 the new Our Blue Park exhibit
that is a photographic journey of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic, off the coast of New England. With three underwater canyons and four seamounts, the monument is a biodiversity hot spot. Most of us will never see this national park face-to-face, but the Aquarium offers the next-best option in glorious giant photos.
Tons of Books Along a Beautiful Shore
At three different but nearby locations in the lovely seaside town of Niantic,
the Book Barn
runs with the motto Because More is Better. This used book emporium, located at 41 West Main Street with two other locations, is stuffed with books (the main building, is, indeed, a barn). Fortunately, books are grouped by genres, so you don't need to shuffle through 350,000 volumes to find something for your taste. The Barn buys and sells books, and it is open daily. 860 739-5715
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 this history on the Inn’s walls: prints by Currier & Ives and Endicott & Co.; ship’s portraits; and illustrations by Norman Rockwell. There is a collection of firearms from the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. And – yes – the food, drink, and hospitality are still going strong.