Mystic, Connecticut, is a great getaway, especially when the weather starts to cool off. School’s back in session and the crowds are gone. In fall, the leaves are turning. In winter, a gentle mist sends you scurrying in to one of the great chowder houses for a hot, satisfying bowl of clam chowder. Once you’ve warmed up, maritime history galore, both old and new, awaits your exploration.
Fly to Groton New London Airport, about 6 miles west of town. If you’re hungry, DeMarinis Family Restaurant is right on the field. Watch the airplanes come and go as you nosh on pizza, pasta, or seafood. Or, just order up a steaming bowl of New England-, Boston-, or Rhode Island-style clam chowder. Next, head over to Mystic Seaport, “The Museum of America and the Sea.” The Mystic Seaport is home to more than 500 vessels, including spectacular tall ships and a beautifully restored 1841 whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship of an American fleet that numbered over 2,700 vessels. Board this and other historic ships, or take a cruise along the Mystic River. There’s a Viking Longship, and, if you visited Plymouth, Massachusetts, and missed seeing the Mayflower II reproduction, you’ll be happy to know the ship is here undergoing restoration. The Seaport offers a variety of dining venues, as well as a planetarium and a diverse array of gardens. For more hands-on fun, take a sailing class and hike or bike the undeveloped coastline at the Bluff Point Coastal Reserve.
Remember the 1988 classic film Mystic Pizza starring Julia Roberts? The eponymous pizza palace, first opened in 1973, is still here, catering to Roberts fans and those who simply love a good pie. Kids and adults alike love the Mystic Aquarium, one of only three U.S. facilities that house Steller sea lions, and the only New England aquarium with beluga whales.
Gamblers can take full advantage of one of the world’s largest casinos, Foxwoods, just inland from Mystic. Shopping, dining, concerts, a spa, golf, bowling, and an arcade could keep a family busy for days. But wait: The area holds not just one, but two giant casinos, because the Mohegan Sun Casino, the more upscale of the two, is here too, with its own golf course, spa, and the rest, including Chihuly glass sculptures and Michael Jordan's Steakhouse.If you prefer your spa without the casino attached, check out (and check into) The Spa at Norwich Inn. Here you can play tennis, swim in the indoor pool, or simply indulge in a day of relaxing spa treatments. This inn has two restaurants as well: Acsot’s, a classic pub with knotty pine walls, and Kensington’s, a fine-dining restaurant that serves steaks as well as Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, and vegetarian specialties. Each of the Inn’s 49 guestrooms has unique characteristics that harken back to its opening in 1929. Don’t worry; modern amenities abound like Wi-Fi, plush bathrobes, luxurious bathrooms, and windows that look out on the country scenery.
If you’d rather be in the middle of it all, the Steamboat Inn is Mystic’s only waterfront property. The 11-room luxury inn is in the heart of downtown Mystic just steps away from shopping and dining, and boasts delightful views of the Mystic River. In summer, the beautiful schooner Argia offers sailing trips right from the Steamboat Wharf. The inn serves a full breakfast each morning; guests enjoy complementary sherry and cookies at 5 p.m. and fireplaces in operation October through April.
Aside from Mystic Pizza, other Mystic dining choices include the Captain Daniel Packer Inne Pub, originally constructed in 1756, and the very popular Kitchen Little, known for its omelettes and seafood, and open for breakfast and lunch.
Visit Mystic and enjoy the food, the inns, and the maritime history of New England.
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