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Mystic, CT for a Fun Weekend Getaway in New England with Family

Mystic Seaport is the best place in the country to see famous old ships.
Mystic Seaport will make a ship-lover out of you!

Even before we arrived, my family knew that Mystic, Connecticut was the right mini-vacation spot because of the way people spoke of it. “I used to love going to Mystic as a child,” person after person sighed when we told them of our upcoming trip. “It’s such a charming little place!” Mystic has many fans, and we soon learned why.

Nautical flair is everywhere in Mystic.
Nautical flair is everywhere in Mystic.

Mystic is a New England seaport village with just 4,205 inhabitants and 3.4 square miles. In fact, it is not an actual town, just a “census-designated place” with no government of its own. This fact will come in handy when Google Maps asks you, “Do you mean Stonington or Groton, CT?” (You do! Mystic lies within both.)

A classic Mystic water view just past the drawbridge at the center of town.
A classic Mystic water view just past the drawbridge at the center of town.

Mystic is steeped in history, from the powerful Pequot Native Americans who ruled before the 17th century, to the 1630s war and treaty in which the English seized control of the area, to Mystic’s 1800s ascension as seaport leader.

One of the many ships of Mystic, CT: The Mayflower II.
One of the many ships of Mystic, CT: The Mayflower II.

What is remarkable about Mystic is how it has kept its economy vibrant by transitioning from seaport industry to tourism. And what a good job they do at tourism! This little village has some of the top attractions in New England, while maintaining its relaxed, old-fashioned vibe. This makes it an ideal weekend getaway for families.

Baby Devi lounging in our hotel room with the jacuzzi in back.
Baby Devi lounging in our hotel room with the jacuzzi in back.

So what are its famed attractions? First and foremost, any visitor to Mystic must mosey over to Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, which is known as the leading maritime museum in the United States. Even if you aren’t a ship groupie, there is something for everyone there. (This spot made my list of 21 cool museums in the USA.)

You’ll find heart-stoppingly majestic ships to view and climb aboard, then lots of smaller buildings to dive into the ins and outs of seaport history and ship-building. My favorite spot was a dark room with a diorama of what the seaport looked like back in the day, with a song piped in of hearty sailors singing. You should have seen baby Devi’s face in this room! Who knew my toddler loved sea shanties?

Do you think Mystic has enough boats?
I don’t think Mystic has enough boats.

Of course, the next thing anyone of a certain generation will ask you is, “Are you going to visit Mystic Pizza?” This homey restaurant was the namesake of the 1988 movie “Mystic Pizza” starring an incandescent Julia Roberts. You better bet that Devi and I made our way to the restaurant and had a glistening veggie pizza all to ourselves, admiring the movie memorabilia lining the wood walls as we scarfed.

YOU! Have you been to Mystic Pizza?
YOU! Have you been to Mystic Pizza?

Besides these two hallmark attractions, Mystic also features a famous Aquarium (we didn’t leave enough time for it, but word is that it’s great), and numerous yummy eateries and ice cream stores, cafes, and shopping opportunities. Personally, I just enjoyed strolling by the water, admiring the drawbridge and soaking in the village’s old-fashioned ease.

The weights of Mystic's drawbridge are quite imposing.
The weights of Mystic’s drawbridge are quite imposing.

Note: We were guests of the hotel and some links here are affiliates that provide a small commission at no extra cost to you, but all opinions are our own.

So, where to stay in Mystic? Well, we enjoyed our time at the Inn at Mystic (click for availability and rates), which sits on a hill with wonderful water views across Long Island Sound. I must add that our room not only had a working wood fireplace, but also the most epic mirrored Jacuzzi I have ever seen.

How crazy is this mirrored jacuzzi?
How crazy is this mirrored jacuzzi?
The Inn at Mystic takes Mystic's nautical spirit to heart!
The Inn at Mystic takes the village’s nautical spirit to heart.

The whole inn is undergoing a facelift this year, and I eagerly await what the refurbished Mansion and Gate House will look like. Did you know that Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart honeymooned there in 1945? Colin and I loved our Belize Honeymoon, but a celebrity connection would have been thrilling, too!

I love the lines of the mansion of the Inn at Mystic.
I love the lines of the mansion at the Inn at Mystic.

A major perk of staying at the Inn at Mystic is that Harbour House Restaurant is attached. The article I published about eating there, “The Best Food in Mystic, CT” has already had over 3,300 reads in two weeks, and if you click and take a look at that succulent roast duck and lavender creme brûlée, you’ll see why.

A tender father and son moment in our hotel.
A tender father and son moment in our hotel.

As a young family with an eager-to-explore wee one, we are busy compiling a list of fun New England destinations for short getaways, and Mystic now makes the list! It’s right up there with the Martha’s Vineyard alpaca farm, of course. Now if we could only get a ship full of alpacas…

I can't resist one last ship to leave you with!
I can’t resist sharing one last Mystic ship with you!

So what do YOU think? Are you one of the many people we met who have fond childhood memories of Mystic? Have you been there recently? What do you have to add? Do share!

If you’re searching for a great place to stay around Mystic, use these affiliate links to click here for Mystic hotel deals and here for here for Mystic vacation rentals. A small commission helps support this site at no cost to you, so thanks in advance, and happy travels!

We were invited to stay by the Inn at Mystic, but all opinions and psychedelic jacuzzi photos are my own.


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Saturday 6th of April 2019

Do you have to pay for the seaport museum to see all the neat old timey ships? We are just stopping for lunch and want to see some sights without spending a bunch.


Lillie Marshall

Monday 8th of April 2019

Thanks for your comment, Carson! Technically one has to pay to enter the Seaport Museum, but I was able to see quite a bit just by wandering the perimeter without paying. Good luck and enjoy!

Matt Beaudoin

Friday 20th of January 2017

Thanks for visiting our home town! I am always excited to see pictures from visitors to my home town. You think it's nice to visit, for me, every day is like a vacation. I work from my shop overlooking that draw bridge and I can't imagine being anywhere else. My family was here when the town was founded and for 13 generations, we've been fishing and farming the area.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you return. Matt Beaudoin Knot Tyer in Mystic CT


Sunday 22nd of January 2017

What a great location! That makes me happy to hear what joy Mystic brings you. I'll have to stop by your shop if I make it back to town!


Monday 3rd of August 2015

We're planning on visiting Mystic with our kids soon, thanks for the tips! Is that hotel within walking distance of the places you mentioned? Thanks!


Wednesday 5th of August 2015

Thank you!!


Tuesday 4th of August 2015

It is! I think it was about a 15 minute walk, maybe less, but the baby got distracted. Have a great trip!


Sunday 31st of May 2015

Never been to Mystic but looks lovely!


Wednesday 3rd of June 2015

It lived up to all the good things we heard!

Peter Parker

Monday 25th of May 2015

It is a great place to spend holidays with family.....

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