25 Best Things To Do in Charming Mystic, Connecticut

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Welcome to Mystic, Connecticut, a charming coastal town that seamlessly blends history, maritime allure, and small-town charm. Nestled along the banks of the Mystic River, this picturesque destination offers many experiences that will captivate both locals and visitors alike. From historic sites and captivating museums to scenic waterfronts and delectable seafood, Mystic boasts a unique blend of attractions that make it a must-visit destination wether it is a day trip from Boston or a longer get-a-way.

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the best things to do in Mystic, Connecticut, ensuring you make the most of your time in this enchanting New England gem

Shop and Dine in Olde Mistick Village

This open-air shopping and dining complex captures the essence of a classic New England village with its boutique shops, inviting restaurants, and beautiful surroundings. Designed to resemble a 1720s New England coastal village, the architecture reflects the colonial period with rustic, shingled buildings, clapboard facades, and cobblestone walkways.

The village is home to over 40 unique shops, each offering a distinctive range of products. You can find everything from boutique clothing, jewelry, home décor, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. 

After an afternoon of shopping, replenish your energy at one of the local restaurants, like Mango’s Wood-Fired Pizza or Steak Loft of Mystic. This complex also has a movie theater, Mystic Luxury Cinemas, boasting heated lounge chairs and popcorn made with 100% real butter. 

Taste of Mystic 

This annual food festival, (usually in early fall) features over 20 restaurants, a beer tent, and live music over three days. Located in Olde Mistick Village, this festival is a great place to sample seafood chowder, lobster rolls, tacos, pizza, ice cream, and much more – there’s something here for the whole family! Check the Taste of Mystic website for updated dates and events.

Walk Through Historic Downtown

There’s no better way to experience Mystic than by wandering around historic downtown Mystic, also known as the Mystic River Historic District. Along the way, you’ll notice various attractions, shops, and local restaurants. With so much to explore, a stroll through historic downtown is one of the top Mystic, Connecticut, things to do!

As you stroll down Water Street, you’ll see a few businesses offering kayak and paddleboard rentals since this street is located right along the Mystic River. This provides an opportunity for a scenic boat ride, allowing you to explore the waterways and take in beautiful views of the area.

Along Water Street, you’ll also find the Mystic Museum of Art. This cultural institution often hosts a variety of art exhibitions and events showcasing the work of regional and local artists. 

You can continue on Main Street, home to the Whaler’s Inn. Comprising five buildings from different historical periods, this charming inn is recognized as a landmark. Here, you’ll find a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, making it an ideal place to stay for visitors exploring the village. You can also stop in for a bite to eat at the onsite restaurant, The Shipwright’s Daughter. This upscale eatery serves breakfast, brunch, and dinner, specializing in local seafood, steak, and pasta.

Take an art class at the Mystic Museum of Art 

Established in 1913, the Mystic Museum of Art, located on Water Street, has a rich history of supporting and showcasing the arts in the Mystic region and beyond. The exhibitions at this museum often feature works by local, regional, and sometimes national and international artists. 

While you’re here, you’ll see a wide range of art forms, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and more. Studio classes at this museum include a watercolor studio, basic drawing, creative thinking, photo-to-canvas, and more.

See the Beluga Whales at Mystic Aquarium 

The Mystic Aquarium is home to thousands of marine animals and habitats, including beluga whales, African penguins, sea lions, sharks, jellyfish, and more. This world-class aquarium has several interactive exhibits, including the chance to touch and feed certain animals, such as rays and birds, and educational presentations and shows featuring marine animals. They even have a gift shop where you can pick up a souvenir or two. This aquarium also has a dinosaur exhibit, making this one of the best Mystic, Connecticut, things to do for science enthusiasts!

Visit the Mystic Seaport Museum 

The Mystic Seaport Museum is known for meticulously preserving historic ships, buildings, and artifacts – it’s perfect for history buffs. The museum encompasses a 19-acre site with interactive exhibits, recreating a 19th-century coastal village. As the largest maritime museum in the United States, this museum does an excellent job of providing visitors with a tangible sense of life during the Age of Sail.

This museum is home to the Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard, which specializes in restoring, preserving, and maintaining historic vessels, ranging from traditional wooden sailing ships to other types of watercraft. This working shipyard is staffed by skilled craftsmen, including shipwrights, carpenters, and other specialists who are experts in traditional boatbuilding and ship restoration techniques. While you’re here, you can observe the shipyard workers as they carry out their tasks and gain insights into the intricate process of restoring and maintaining these historic vessels.

This seaport museum also houses the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in existence. Its well-preserved condition and the fact that it survived the end of the whaling era make it a must-see while you’re in Mystic. 

Niantic Children’s Museum 

The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, also known as the Niantic Children’s Museum, features a variety of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that are both fun and educational. These exhibits cover a wide range of subjects, including science, nature, art, and culture. Just a short drive from Mystic, this museum allows kids to explore, experiment, and learn through play.

Enjoy a Slice of Heaven at Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza gained widespread popularity due to the 1988 romantic film “Mystic Pizza,” starring Julia Roberts. Located in historic downtown Mystic, Mystic Pizza is known for its classic New England-style pizza, featuring a variety of toppings and a signature crust. While pizza is the main attraction, the restaurant also offers a range of other Italian and American dishes, including pasta, sandwiches, salads, and seafood options. 

Walk across the Mystic River Bascule Bridge

This bascule bridge spans the Mystic River, carrying vehicle and foot traffic directly into historic downtown Mystic. Once you walk across the bridge, stick around long enough to see this iconic drawbridge go up, which happens 40 minutes past the hour every hour from 7:40 a.m. to 6:40 p.m. 

Devour a Sweet Treat at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream 

As one of the best ice cream parlors in Mystic, this shop, located in historic downtown Mystic, is a must-do for those who have a sweet tooth. Choose from several different flavors of ice cream, including Mint Chocolate Chunk, Vermont Maple Nut, Wild Maine Blueberry, and Seaport Salty Swirl, but they also have vegan flavors like Vegan Chocolate Almond Joy and Vegan Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookie. You can also sample shakes, sundaes, and soda fountain treats. 

Devour a Delicious Lobster Roll

One of the best things to do in Connecticut, and well in New England in general, is to try a lobster roll or two. Get them chilled with a touch of seasoned mayo or served warm with melted butter. I loved the chilled version at the Sea View Snack Bar, just a 5 minute stroll from the Seaport Museum. They serve their’s with a touch of dill and a stash of iceberg lettuce-delicious! Or head to Ford’s in Noank, just a a 10 min drive out of town, for fresh rolls on the waterfront. Both locations are open during the summer season only.

Enjoy a Day on the Water 

If you’re here in the summer, exploring Mystic, Connecticut, from the water is a fantastic way to appreciate the area’s scenic beauty and maritime charm. Both Blue Heaven Kayak & Paddle Board Rentals and Adventure Mystic Outdoor Rentals offer excellent opportunities for boat rides and water sports including the popular, SUPs and Kayaks.

Seaside Shadows Haunted History Tours 

Seaside Shadows Haunted History Tours specializes in guided ghost tours that take participants through the historic streets of Mystic. During the tours, knowledgeable guides share intriguing stories about the history of Mystic, its inhabitants, and notable events. These narratives are interwoven with tales of local legends, myths, and ghostly encounters. Participants can visit sites that are said to be haunted, including historic buildings and locations with reported paranormal activity – this is one of the best Mystic, Connecticut, things to do in the fall!

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Go for a Sunset Cruise 

Going for a sunset cruise in Mystic is a magical way to experience the area’s beauty as the sun dips below the horizon, casting warm hues across the banks of the Mystic River. 

Poet’s Lounge Sailing Charter offers an intimate and personalized sunset sailing experience. Their sailboats provide an elegant and romantic setting for couples or small groups – they even serve dinner and champagne onboard!

You can also use Argia Mystic Cruises, which provides a charming and family-friendly sunset sailing experience aboard a traditional two-masted schooner. This 81-foot vessel offers ample deck space for passengers to spread out and enjoy the breathtaking sunset views.

Mystic Boat Adventures is another unique sunset cruise option, where you can ride on a custom-built speedboat, which is perfect for those who want a more thrilling experience.

Taste Local Cider at B.F Clyde’s Cider Mill 

As the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the United States, B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill isn’t only about the drinks – it’s a National Historic Landmark. Stop in for cider-making demonstrations, hard cider tastings, cider slushies, and, best of all, homemade apple cider donuts! This is one of the best things to do in Mystic for anyone with a sweet tooth. 

Go Ziplining at TreeTrails Adventures

TreeTrails Adventures is known for its thrilling ziplines and high ropes courses, perfect for thrill-seekers! Choose from several different courses, kids trails, and even nighttime climbs – as one of the most fun things to do in Mystic, there’s something here for the entire family. 

Enjoy Live Music at Saltwater Farm Vineyard 

Saltwater Farm Vineyard is located in Stonington, just a short drive from Mystic. This picturesque vineyard is known for its stunning views, exquisite wines, and welcoming atmosphere, making it a popular destination for wine enthusiasts. 

Nestled in a charming restored 1930s-era airport hanger, the tasting room overlooks the vineyard and often hosts live music and food trucks on the weekends. Sample the Cabernet Rose, Merlot, and Runway White while you sit back and enjoy the fun atmosphere. 

Walk the Trails at Bluff Point State Park 

Bluff Point State Park is known for its diverse natural landscapes, including shoreline areas, woodlands, and tidal marshes. This is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers. The Groton side of the park has a mile-long boardwalk trail, and several loop trails provide opportunities for longer walks.

One of the park’s main attractions is its access to Long Island Sound. Visitors can enjoy a pristine beach and explore the scenic shoreline. Swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and picnicking are popular activities along the coast during the summer months. 

Immerse Yourself in Nature at Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center

The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, also known as the DPNC, is a nature sanctuary encompassing several hundred acres of woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and scenic landscapes. This sanctuary provides a habitat for various plant and animal species and is a serene setting for outdoor exploration.

This sanctuary boasts ten miles of well-maintained trails, including Forest Loop Trail, Meadow Loop Trail, and Avalonia Trail. These easy routes feature forested paths – along the way, you might even see a turtle or two! The Meditation Trail is excellent for those who need quiet reflection; the peaceful walk features six locations to stop for meditation. 

Explore Downtown Stonington

Downtown Stonington, Connecticut, offers a delightful mix of well-preserved historic architecture, scenic waterfront views, boutique shopping, and dining, so it’s a fantastic day trip from Mystic. You can start your day in the harbor area, only a short drive away, showcasing a classic New England setting with a historic lighthouse, quaint streets, and a picturesque atmosphere. 

While you’re here, visit the Old Lighthouse Museum, which provides insights into the area’s maritime history. Stroll along the waterfront harbor walk, and explore the downtown area, boasting several local art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, and charming architecture. 

Take in the Bay Views at Dubois Beach

If you’re in Stonington in the summer, make sure to spend some time at Dubois Beach before you leave. With a long stretch of sandy shoreline, picnic tables, a playground, and lifeguards, this shore is excellent for the whole family. 

Dubois Beach also offers picturesque views of Long Island Sound and the surrounding coastal landscapes, making it an excellent place to watch the sunrise or sunset. This area often has tide pools that form during low tide, which can be intriguing for exploration and observing small marine creatures, like crabs.

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Enjoy a Day Trip to Watch Hill, Rhode Island 

Watch Hill, Rhode Island, is another fun day trip from Mystic, offering a delightful blend of beautiful beaches, charming seaside neighborhoods, and outdoor activities. 

Start your day by visiting Watch Hill Beach, a stunning stretch of sandy shoreline known for its clean sand and clear water. You can soak up the sun, swim, build sandcastles, or simply enjoy the serene atmosphere. 

You can also walk to the iconic Watch Hill Lighthouse, built of granite in 1856, which stands proudly on the point. The lighthouse offers fantastic photo opportunities and panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the famous Holiday House, one of Taylor Swift’s properties.

Explore the village of Watch Hill and visit the historic Flying Horse Carousel. Dating back to 1876, it’s one of the oldest operating carousels in the United States. Only kids can ride on the beautifully adorned wooden horses, but adults can appreciate the craftsmanship of this carousel – each horse was carved from a single piece of wood.

Watch Hill also boasts a collection of quaint shops, boutiques, and restaurants. You can browse for unique souvenirs, enjoy fresh seafood at a local eatery, or savor ice cream from one of the charming parlors. Stop into the Watch Hill General Store for t-shirts, coffee beans, and other gifts. 

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I hope this list of the best things to do in Mystic, Connecticut, helps you plan your visit to Mystic with ease. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Mystic has something special in store for everyone!

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