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The Best Family-Friendly Activities in Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic, Connecticut… It’s as enchanting as its name suggests. If you’re seeking a delightful day trip from New York City, for look no further! Mystic boasts an array of local attractions perfect for the entire family, and we’re about to delve into them all! Whether you’re eager to plan your family getaway to Mystic or simply craving insider tips on local attractions and the best spot to grab a sweet treat, you’ll find everything you need right here.

Grab your coffee, a pen for note taking, and cozy spot and let’s dive into what Mystic has to offer your family.

Mystic, Connecticut

First off, where is it? If you’ve never heard of it, that’s okay, I hadn’t either before we moved to New York City.

Mystic is famous from the movie Mystic Pizza which was filmed in 1988.

And more recently, if you’re a Hallmark fan like me, and you may have caught the newest Mystic film, Mystic Christmas (2023). It was a cute Hallmark movie based around the Mystic Aquarium.

Mystic, Connecticut is located in New England just a short 2.5-3 hour drive from NYC.

You can also take the train from Penn Staton (approximately 3 hours) or a bus from the city.

About Mystic

Mystic is probably more well known for being the nation’s leading maritime museum. Mystic was a seaport with more than 600 ships built over 135 years.

Mystic Maritime Museum is now a historic town & popular tourist destination with one of the premier maritime museums in the world.

In addition to the maritime museum, tourists flock to Mystic for the Mystic Aquarium, which is famous for its beluga whales.

Regardless of your age, young or old, Mystic has something for everyone in the family.

When to Visit

Mystic is a coastal area, so it is a great place to visit in the summer because the weather should be pretty amazing.

However, the drive from NYC to Mystic in the fall would also be breathtaking. We loved the drive to Mystic from NYC in June and I could only imagine how all those lush green trees would look covered in autumn colors.

But if you really wanted to enjoy all that Mystic has to offer, you should probably plan to go June – September to enjoy all the outdoor activities with decent weather.

Things To Do

Mystic Seaport Museum

The Mystic Seaport Museum is arguably one of Connecticut’s most popular tourist destinations. The maritime museum was founded in 1929 as a way to gather and preserve the artifacts of the sea. The museum covers 19 acres along the Mystic River and includes a coastal village, a working shipyard, and formal exhibits. It is currently home to the 1841 waleship Charles W. Morgan, the oldest vessel in the country.

The maritime museum is family-friendly and has a little something for everyone.

The Susan Stuck Funk Children’s Museum and allows for hands-on learning for the younger visitors ( ages 7 & under) and they also have an outdoor playscape and garden.

If you have older kids, there Home Port is a family activity center geared towards children 8-12 years old with a variety of crafts and activities.

It’s important to note that some of the activities are opened seasonally at the museum so be sure to check before you go to see what exhibits are open.

Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium is widely known for its Beluga Whales. The aquarium makes for the perfect spot for families to get out and enjoy the day together. The aquarium has both indoor and outdoor exhibits, along with a small play space for the kids.

The aquarium is ideal for kids of all ages and adults. Don’t forget to check out the touch tank where you can touch sharks, stingrays and crabs. My kid’s loved the touch tank.

Olde Mistick Village

Old Mistick Village is located right across from the aquarium and is an open air venue with shops, boutiques, eateries, and seasonal events. This village is it picturesque and honestly reminded me of a Hallmark movie. There’s a pond located centrally within the village that features its resident ducks. You can also find live music from time to time at the Village.

Downtown Mystic

Downtown Mystic is a waterfront area that is full of shopping, eateries, and historical landmarks. The beauty of downtown Mystic is that it’s walkable. You can enjoy all it has to offer and take a stroll along the Mystic River.

Denison Homestead Museum

Denison Homestead Museum is a privately owned 160-acre property, just 5 minutes from downtown Mystic. The 300 year old family farm is home to the 1717 House Museum, Denish Nature center, and farmers market.

Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center & Coogan Farm

The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Cetner is home to ten miles of hiking trails and 175 different species of birds. You can get up close with a few species of birds too at the outdoor flight enclosures where rehabilitated hawks and owls are kept.

*There are dog friendly hiking trails but please be sure to keep your dog leashed and on the marked trails. Dogs are prohibited on the trails near the Nature Center.

Coogan Farm is connected to the nature center with hiking trails. It’s a historic farm that is now preserved for wildlife. It also has a Giving Garden that supplies fresh produce to those in need.

Mystic River Bascule Bridge

The Mystic River Bascule Bridge is the oldest drawbridge still in use in America. If you’d like to catch the bridge in action, it opens every hour at 40 minutes past the hour between 7:40 & 6:40 pm for approximately 5 minutes to allow vessels to pass through.

William’s beach

William’s Beach is the only public beach in Mystic located along Harry Austin Drive. Although smaller in size, this beach has picnic tables to enjoy lunch, the sandy shore and a playground.

Mystic Museum of Art

Mystic Museum of Art is host to many events throughout the year and has rotating exhibitions and galleries. They also host art classes at are tailored to kids!

Boat Tours along the Mystic River

The Argus Mystic Cruises offer family-friendly cruises if you want to get off the land and into the water to see a different perspective of Mystic.

The Dinosaur Place

For your dinosaur obsessed littles, this is a must-see. You can stroll to see the dinosaurs or play in the water at the splash area, and a zip line for the older kids. It’s located right outside Mystic in Oakdale

Places to Eat Close to Downtown

Mystic Pizza

There’s just something intriguing about eating Pizza at the famous Mystic Pizza like Julia Robert’s did that draws everyone in.

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream

After you’ve had pizza, head over to Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream for a cold treat and watch the drawbridge in action.

Sift Bake Shop

This French-focused bakery is another sweet spot you won’t want to miss. The bottom is a bakery, and top is a restaurant/bar. The kid’s will love grabbing their own French dessert.

Bank & Bridge Brewing

Located inside an old bank and owned by a Marine Corps veteran, Bank & Bridge Brewing is known for its laid back casual atmosphere with burgers and beers and is deemed family-friendly!

Mystic Depot Roasters

If you need a fresh coffee to start (or end) your day, check out Mystic Depot Roasters which was a train station transformed into a local coffee shop, & won both Best Breakfast, & Best Coffee, Shop in Connecticut (2018). You can grab coffee & breakfast at this unique and beautiful train depot restaurant.

B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill

If you’re visiting in the fall (they open in September), don’t forget this cider mill! It’s a national historic landmark, the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the United States. You can grab yourself a hard cider and the kids some old-fashion apple cider donuts.

Places to Eat Near the Aquarium

Mango’s Wood Fired Pizza

Located within Olde Mistick Village, Mango’s Pizza makes for the perfect stop before or after heading to the aquarium. It has such a laid back atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor dining. Although known for their pizza you can find a variety of other foods on their menu.

Bleu Squid

Also located within Olde Mistick Village, Blue Squid is a great spot to stop. You can grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner and it’s always busy so you they have good food!

Seven Birds Ice Cream

Located right beside Mango’s Pizza is Seven Bird’s Ice Cream. This cute little ice cream shop is friendly and has delicious cold treats for everyone. I loved their espresso milkshake.

Deviant Donuts

Your one stop shop for donuts & coffee, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Day Trips

Mystic, Connecticut, proves to be a great destination for a day trip from New York City, offering a variety of local attractions for all ages. From exploring historic landmarks to indulging in delectable treats, there’s something for everyone in Mystic.

However, if you’re craving even more family-friendly adventures around NYC, there are plenty of places to visit.

Whether it’s venturing into the natural beauty of Central Park & exploring The Central Park Zoo, or embarking on a thrilling excursion to Coney Island, the options are endless.

Stay in Touch!

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