MYSTIC, Conn. (WGGB) — As the weather warms up, many of us are drawn to the ocean for our getaways. With so many beaches just a tank of gas away, there are lots of places to choose from. But there’s one seaside town that has a lot more than just sand.
It’s the fourth largest attraction in New England. The amazing Mystic Aquarium has been a road trip destination for decades, and while aquariums are always exciting, Mystic’s Aquarium is distinct in many ways.
“One of the things that people tend not to understand is that we are both indoors and outdoors, we’re on 18 acres, we provide a whole variety of experiences,” said Executive Vice President Peter Glankoff.
And many of their amazing exhibits go far beyond what visitors will see when they come to the aquarium.
“Many of the animals that are here have international counterparts. We have involvements in South Africa with our African penguin colony. we have a breeding colony of endangered African penguins here. We conduct research in the north scope of Alaska and in the Arctic on Beluga whales,” explains Glankoff.
Not only does Mystic Aquarium offer an amazing experience for it’s visitors, it also provides extraordinary care for the animals.
The aquarium is also actually the go to place for rescued animals on the east coast. If a mammal is stranded on a beach many times Mystic Aquarium is the first call. They take in many animals and rehabilitate the ones they can, and keep the ones that wouldn’t survive in the wild.
“In fact, visitors to Mystic Aquarium can see the seal rescue clinic. It’s open windows you can look in and see the animals that have come to us. Our goal is to rehabilitate these animals and release them,” says Glankoff.
Mystic Aquarium is also home to Dr. Robert Ballard’s Ocean Exploration Center and is a recognized leader in oceanic research.
From the Aquarium, another great Mystic attraction is just a few minutes away and in this quaint New England town, it’s a must-see.
“You can’t come to Mystic without coming to Mystic Seaport. We’ve been here since 1929. We are the leading maritime museum in the country,” states Dan McFadden, Director of Communications for Mystic Seaport.
With traditional exhibits and even more interactive attractions, you really can’t miss this seaside museum, but that isn’t all there is to Mystic Seaport.
“We are restoring the Charles W. Morgan which is a national historic landmark and the oldest commercial vessel in America. You can actually watch the ship being restored. She will be launched this summer. and you get to see the skills that were used to build ships back 150 years ago,” explains McFadden.
When it comes to Maritime history, there’s really no better place than Mystic Seaport, but it’s also a great spot to take a step back in time.
“You can go visit the village. We have people in the village who are showing you the skills and crafts from back in that time,” says McFadden.
You can even get out on the water! The Seaport offers daily cruises on their Steamboat during the season but there are also boat rentals and charters available for visitors as well.
However, McFadden told us that’s not all.
“There is a ton of stuff to do here for kids. Ride the horse and carriage. We have a toy boat building craft you can do. You can learn how to dip candles. We have a fantastic playground, we have a children’s museum specifically for kids and of course you can run around the grounds and check everything out.”
If you’re planning a visit to Mystic be sure to check out the Mystic Pass Card. It includes admission to both Mystic Seaport and the Aquarium as well as other freebies and discounts to enjoy throughout your visit.
From the Seaport’s 19th century village, you can step back into modern day with a stroll in Olde Mistick Village which has been a staple of Mystic for 40 years. But what sets this quaint outdoor shopping area apart from others?
Co-owner Joyce Olson Resnikoff provided some insight on just that.
“When a tourist travels, they see a mall. It’s the same stores. But when you come here, you walk in, you don’t see a mall store. You see how they decorate it even if it was their own home.”
There are over 60 businesses that fill Olde Mistick Village and they are all locally owned. Whether it’s jewelry a boutique or just a great chocolate, Olde Mistick Village has something for everyone.
“We have a wonderful kitchen shop Gray Goose Cookery, we have a wonderful children’s store, we have Munson’s chocolates, we have Jorgetti’s that has very special jewelry and gifts,” says Resnikoff.
There are also clothing stores and five restaurants. But perhaps the best part about visiting Olde Mistick Village is the atmosphere and feeling as though your truly strolling though the park. With benches throughout it’s perfect for those looking to rest their feet, and wide walkways make it ideal for strollers too. And best of all admission is totally free.
“It’s wonderful, you can come here and have your spirits lifted,” Resnikoff says.
Olde Mistic Village also hosts several events throughout the year in their colonial meeting house and victorian gazebo. Visitors can enjoy musicians, dancers and storytellers free of charge.
With so much to do and see it’s easy to understand why Mystic, Connecticut is such a draw for so many New England Families. And being just an hour and a half and a half a tank of gas from Springfield it’s a great destination for your next road trip.