Mystic Seaport in Mystic Connecticut is probably the number one tourist attraction people think of in the state of Connecticut. Mystic is a village that straddles two towns, Stonington and Groton. Mystic originally was a significant seaport and shipbuilding destination that in modern times has become a historical attraction known for its large maritime museum and seaport village as well as its impressive aquarium. Other tourist attractions have sprung up around the seaport and aquarium. Some of the most notable sites to visit are described below:
Since 1929 Mystic Seaport has been serving audiences looking to understand and imbibe the shipbuilding and seafaring lifestyle of the 19th-century town. Businesses, homes and ships harkening from the 1800s have been collected at Mystic and have been on display for the public the last ninety-two years. Watch craftspeople work making buckets, horseshoes and ships hulls.
Up the street from the Seaport is another must-see and well-known destination in Mystic, the fantabulous Mystic Aquarium. The main exhibits feature a vast panoply of sea life including sharks, whales, sea lions, penguins, fish, octopi, jellyfish (well, if you must!), turtles, crustaceans, and more. There are special daily programs that include the feeding and training of belugas, a shark petting zoo, a sea lion performance, a 3d underwater theater (cost extra), and more. Tickets to the aquarium can be purchased individually or with the Seaport in a Mystic Pass.
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center became a reality in 1930 when Ann Denison Gates and other descendants of George and Ann Borodell Denison established the Denison Society for the purpose of preserving the Denison estate and its history. Ann Gates died in 1941 and left the Denison Manor along with 120 acres of land (originally granted by the Pequots to her ancestor George Denison) to the Society and the Town of Stonington. The house dates from 1717, when it was rebuilt by George and Ann Denison’s grandson, and has original artifacts from the six generations of Denisons that lived in the home from 1717 until 1941. The home is staged as it was during the Colonial Era with appropriate furnishings and décor.
The Nature Center, which now includes a restored farm (Coogan Farm), has 10 different hiking trails where one can spot a variety of hawks, owls, turtles, frogs, fish, marshes, trees, flowers, and other creatures of nature. The DPNC hosts many programs for kids and adults including full moon walks and birding excursions.
Olde Mistick Village
Nestled between the Seaport and Aquarium and located right off Exit 90 on I-95 are the quaint and visit-necessary shops of Olde Mistick Village. The 60 odd plus shops of the Village feature a movie theater, several eateries, local crafts, unique theme stores, a bank, and other facilities. Olde Mistick Village is also host to several special events including an art show featuring local artists, an annual sidewalk sale, and holiday events such as this year’s “Queen for a Day” Mother’s Day special.
Mystic Museum of Art
The Mystic Museum of Art is located along the scenic Mystic River. Opened in 1913, the museum features 250 plus permanent works of art by artists such as Beatrice Cuming, Earl Kenneth Bates, Henry Ward Ranger and Henry Morton Stoops. Much of the art is representative of particular American schools in the 20th century. Many of the pieces are also the result of the famed WPA sponsorship of works in the 1930s.
Fields of Fire Adventure Park
When the older kids or adult kids in your group are tired of visiting a lot of historical sites, Fields of Fire Adventure Park might be your solution. Fields of Fire is a fifty-acre area outfitted with various climbing obstacle courses for differing levels. Some courses include a zipline but all ziplines are part of climbing tracks. There are other activities such as paintball, aerial trapeze and trampoline, and live entertainment. Many have reviewed this park as 5-star entertainment. For more information contact https://fieldsoffiremystic.com/.
Mystic has a variety of ship and sea-going vessel tours where one can be an observer or even a participant. A highly rated tour that is a blast to the past is with the schooner Argia. Both day and evening cruises are available, and one can bring their own food and beverages along. The Argia travels up Fisher’s Island Sound from May to October. One must reserve a seat(s) on the vessel prior to the excursion.