What to do in Mystic
Mystic, a charming town on the Connecticut shoreline that's surrounded by water on three sides, pays homage to its 19th-century maritime history with an authentic seaside museum. The huge range of accommodations includes swanky inns and efficiently run motels, and plenty of activities to keep kids busy, including the state's only indoor trapeze school.
Where to go in Mystic
The Mystic Seaport Museum is something of a misnomer: It's not a stuffy building you could tackle in a few hours, but rather a dynamic, recreated New England village set on 20 riverside acres. One must-stop is the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship, which dates to 1841 and is the world's oldest floating commercial ship. Kids will also love playing traditional games like stilts and hoops on the lawn, and checking out the Children's Museum, which is set in a white clapboard building and has creative play areas such as a ship's deck and sailors' sleeping quarters.
The Mystic Aquarium is known for its touch tanks, sea lion shows, African penguin colony and friendly Beluga whales who will swim right up to the tank wall to greet visitors (be ready with your camera!). Kids six and older can participate in small-group animal encounters and learn to care for sea lions, penguins and seals.
Where to stay in Mystic
If you want swanky with a sense of place, stay at the Whaler's Inn, which is spread across five historical buildings in downtown Mystic. Not all of the inn's guesthouses allow children, but some of the rooms and suites in the newly renovated main building have bunk beds and king-size trundles. Even the least expensive room at the Residence Inn Mystic-Groton is a suite with a closing door — a bonus for parents who want to chill after kid bedtime. It's a short drive from all of Mystic's main sights.
Where to eat in Mystic
Mystic Pizza is fun, nostalgic and crowded, but for a more elegant lunch that's still kid-friendly try Go Fish, which has a robust children's menu plus inventive sushi dishes, raw bar options and a varied mix of entrees such as lobster ravioli and miso ramen. Bonus: It's directly across from the Mystic Aquarium, in case the entire family is starving after a busy morning.