Are you looking for the best things to do in Mystic, Connecticut for a weekend away? Mystic, CT is a cute little town that is perfect for a family weekend getaway. With Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, and unique shopping and dining, Mystic is worth a visit with kids!
2020 is a strange year and as we started planning our summer vacation we realized we had to stay within driving distance to our home in Rochester, NY and find something that had last minute availability.
I researched for hours and discovered a little town of Mystic, Connecticut. The only thing I knew about Mystic was from the 80’s movie Mystic Pizza, which I haven’t seen in years.
We decided to give it a try and began planning our visit to Mystic, Connecticut.
Best Things to Do in Mystic, Connecticut
The big Mystic, Connecticut attractions are Mystic Seaport and the Mystic Aquarium. These are both must-see attractions when visiting Mystic with kids and will take the most time for your weekend.
We also suggest visiting Olde Mistick Village for dining and shopping. There are some really unique shops at the village including a Christmas shop and specialty doughnut shop.
A common question about visiting Mystic is “Is Mystic CT worth visiting?”. I say yes! You do not need a full week vacation to see everything, but 2-3 days in Mystic is a great weekend getaway for families or couples.
Where is Mystic, Connecticut
Mystic, Connecticut is in the Southeast area of Connecticut along the Mystic River. It is about a 6 hour drive from our home in Rochester, NY.
One thing to point out is there is not ocean or beach access readily available in Mystic. Be prepared to drive and pay entrance fees to any local beaches. I wish I had known this going into our trip. We still had a great time but I had my heart set on walks on the beach, and that didn’t happen!
Mystic, Connecticut Things to Do: Mystic Weekend
We visited Mystic in August of 2020 and I want to mention a bit about safety measures put in place. I suggest doing your research on any place you visit. Most places have rules and regulations in place, but every state is different.
We felt very safe during our stay at the hotel as well as the attractions we visited.
Day 1: Arrive in Mystic, Connecticut
We got on the road before breakfast to make the 6 hour drive to Mystic. Our plan was to stop for breakfast an hour or so in, and then arrive in Mystic by lunch time.
It was rainy most of the drive in and we arrived at our hotel before check-in. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Mystic and is was a great location and price.
It is a moderate priced hotel and walking distance to Olde Mistick Village (shopping area) and Mystic Seaport.
The Hyatt Place had space for our family of five, grab and go breakfast(due to Covid), and an outdoor pool. It was a good spot for our 2 night stay in Mystic.
Once we arrived we settled into the hotel and relaxed for a few hours before we decided to explore Olde Mistick Village and find a place for dinner.
Olde Mistick Village is where we spent a lot of our visit. We ate a few meals there, browsed the shops, and the Mystic Aquarium is located in the complex as well.
For dinner we wanted to sit outside and decided on the Jealous Monk. The food was delicious and they have craft beer options as well. Everyone really liked their meals and they also have a kids menu.
We called it an early night and returned to the hotel. We were tired from the travel day and wanted to get up early to visit Mystic Seaport at opening.
Day 2: Mystic Seaport
On day 2 in Mystic we planned to spend the morning at Mystic Seaport. I purchased tickets ahead of time and we had an timed entry of 10:00am.
One of the things my kids love about staying at a hotel is the breakfast buffet. At the Hyatt Place Mystic they offered coffee and grab and go options. The kids had cereal and I had a coffee before we headed out for breakfast at the Bleu Squid.
The Bleu Squid is a breakfast and bakery cafe. We ate outside and had a great breakfast before we drove the few miles down the street to the Mystic Seaport. The Bleu Squid had a great baked goods menu that included cookies, cupcakes, and other treats.
I went with a basic breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast. There was a bit of a wait for our table due to wanting to eat outside. Keep this in mind when you plan how much time you will need for your visit.
After breakfast we headed out to Mystic Seaport Museum. Mystic Seaport Museum is a maritime museum that covers 19 acres along the Mystic River. It includes recreated village shops, working shipyard, and formal exhibit halls.
We started our visit signing up for the free (included with admission) boat ride along the Mystic River. We arrived early to be on the first boat. While we waited for the boat ride we walked over to the shipyard to explore.
The kids liked seeing the ships out of the water and see the workmanship that goes into keeping the ships sea-worthy. There is not much hands-on activities in this area but it is a nice area to walk around.
After the shipyard we lined up to go for a boat ride. The boat ride is a guided tour of the ships along the docks. It is about 20-30 minutes. I would recommend older kids for this because there is not a lot to see and it is more of an informative tour than a boat ride.
After the boat ride we started our self-guided tour of the grounds. When we visited places like this I always prefer a self-guided tour so the kids can take the lead and we can explore what interests them.
There were a few hands-on activities for families that gave the kids some time to run around in the open field. We played on stilts and with other games. All the activities were sanitized between usage.
The last thing we explored was the replica ships. I thought this was really cool. It was fun to walk through and imagine what life was like on the ships.
Overall the museum was a neat place to experience. It was a little pricey for what it was, at least for us. It cost around $100.00 for the five of us. I don’t think I would visit again but if you are a interested in boats and history your family you may feel differently. Also a lot of the hands-on areas were closed due to COVID restrictions.
We were done visiting after about 1.5 hour and walked to lunch at Sea View Snack Bar. This is outside of Mystic Seaport Village. Admission allows you to come and go as you please for the day.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon swim and to relax a bit. In the evening we walked back to the Sea View Snack Bar from our hotel to watch the sunset on the Mystic River and get some ice cream.
Day 3: Mystic Aquarium
It was our last day in Mystic, Connecticut so we checked out of the hotel and made our way to Olde Mistick Village for breakfast and to visit the Mystic Aquarium.
I was really excited to visit the Mystic Aquarium. It is located in Olde Mistick Village and I had heard great things about it. We parked at the aquarium and walked over to grab breakfast at Deviant Donuts.
Deviant Donuts is located at Olde Mistick Village and is a specialty donut shop that has a rotating weekly menu of specialty items. We had been following along on their Instagram account and I couldn’t wait to try! They were delicious!
After breakfast we walked back to the Aquarium and got in line for our timed entry. I suggest purchasing tickets ahead of time for your visit. We wanted to be there as soon as it opened so we booked the first time slot.
This was best to make sure the crowds were low and we basically had the exhibits to ourselves. During our stay there were arrows marking the ground to control the flow of traffic. It made it easy to see everything during our visit and keep socially distanced.
Once the aquarium opened they took took our temperatures and scanned our tickets. Masks were required during our visit.
Mystic Aquarium is unlike any aquarium I have ever visited. There is an outdoor area and an indoor area that guests can explore.
Our first stop was the Beluga Whales!! As we walked up we realized they were having breakfast and we couldn’t get a good look at them. Luckily you can also view them at the end of the outside loop.
We continued on to visit the Seals and Sea Lions, and then the penguin exhibit. Every exhibit at the Mystic Aquarium made viewing the animals easy for kids of all ages. I like that you could see the Penguins under the water and at the top.
We continued around the loop and walked around the aquarium. There were alligators and a frog pond. Overall it was a really serene and peaceful area that we all really enjoyed.
Next stop was the indoor area of Mystic Aquarium. Here we saw Jelly Fish, Octopus, Crab, and turtles. The true star of the show was the shark petting area. The kids were brave enough to touch the shark but there was one who was a little feisty compared to the others.
As we were leaving the shark started jumping up and eventually jumped right out of the tank! Luckily there were not a lot of people around and they put him back in quickly. We had never seen anything like it! He was like an excited puppy wanting to play.
After the shark excitement we headed back outside to see the Beluga whales. There was also a indoor dinosaur walk through exhibit that we visited before we left.
Overall the Mystic Aquarium was a great attraction to visit in Mystic with kids. It is top on our list!! I suggest arriving early, buying your tickets early, and taking your time walking the loop to see the animals. Most visits will take between 1.5-2 hours depending on crowds and how much time you spend at each exhibit.
We loved our weekend! The things to do in Mystic, Connecticut were perfect for a family weekend getaway. We were able to spend some quality time together and enjoy the village of Mystic.
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