The Mystic Aquarium is a favorite among school children and parents alike. At Mystic Aquarium you can see penguins or get your hands wet in the touching tanks or discover labs. There is even a coral reef teeming with reef fish, seahorses, and turtles. From the sea lion shows to the shark and stingray feeding times, visiting the Mystic Aquarium could take up your entire day. For longer trips, the Mystic Aquarium offers summer camps, family overnights, and weekend programs. I've never seen a kid not have the best time at the Mystic Aquarium.
This is the big one, probably Connecticut’s most popular tourist attraction. Almost all local school children are brought here at least once to learn about the area’s historic connections to the water, and visitors who speed through the state on the highway en route to elsewhere nevertheless make a stop for the largest maritime museum in America.
At the Seaport, original buildings and hundreds of boats and ships comprise a recreated 19th century whaling village. At each vessel and inside each building, enthusiastic costumed experts teach visitors about the crafts and technology of the past. The Seaport offers special activities for kids, boat trips on the Mystic River, a gallery of maritime-themed paintings, a planetarium, and more. In fact there’s so much to see here that the museum anticipates visitors underestimating the time they’ll want to spend, and will validate your ticket when you leave, allowing you to return on another day to see the rest.
Adjacent to the Seaport is the Mystic Aquarium, featuring hundreds of species including New England’s only beluga whales. A kitschy but fun attraction in the vicinity is Olde Mistick Village, a shopping center made to resemble a Colonial-era town. And don’t neglect the center of Mystic itself. This classic waterfront village fills with tourists during the summer, but the gift shops and crowds don’t diminish its authentic appeal. A simple but beloved visitor pastime is grabbing an ice cream cone and watching the bascule bridge raise and lower to let boats pass.
Do you try to stay fit while traveling? Head to River Road to bike or run. Bonus: running and biking is free! River Road connects Old Mystic with downtown Mystic and is windy and little traffic. During your run or bike ride be sure to keep your eyes open for herons, egrets, osprey, and other shore birds - in fact, you may want to bring your binoculars. This road also provides great views of the tall ships docked at Mystic Seaport, so make sure to stop to enjoy the views. If you are interested in kayaking the Mystic river you can also launch your boat from a small spot with parking along River Road.