We visit Mystic once or twice a year, and every time, we are drawn back to the lovely Schooner ARGIA, located right in downtown Mystic just north of the Historic Mystic Bridge. Three times a day, ARGIA sails through the Bridge, down the Mystic River with its historic architecture, and out onto Fishers Island Sound. No two cruises are alike. One time it could be warm and calm, and the ARGIA just ghosts along leaving hardly a ripple. The next cruise could be a crisp fall sail with GREAT wind, which ARGIA and the crew handle gracefully. The evening sails are really romantic - the setting sun over the islands and lighthouses, coming back to the dock as darkness sets in, a shared bottle of wine (which passengers are welcome to bring on board).
This autumn we had an especially great experience, with perfect wind, not too chilly, and the crew out-did themselves telling sea stories and explaining what we were seeing as we sailed along. There were some little kids aboard, and we have always noticed that the Captain takes a special interest in teaching them a little about boats and sailing, including helping at the helm.
It's definitely worth making a reservation to get the trip you want - we've seen people disappointed (especially on weekends).
Mystic's Bascule Bridge is really rather impressive. A bascule bridge is, in effect, a drawbridge. The concrete counterweights are absolutely massive.
The lifting section is around 85 feet long and, being part of Route 1, carries plenty of traffic ... as we discovered when we walked into town whilst the bridge was open: the queues, even on a Sunday, were very long!
It takes about 5 minutes for the bridge to open, with lots of hooters and flashing lifts to warn both cars and people to get themselves off the moving section. Barriers come down at each end, of course...no chance of cars jumping the bridge! Watching the counterweights slowly, slowly move the bridge upwards is fascinating.
From May 1 to October 31 the bridge opens at 40 minutes past the hour in daylight hours, so if you visit during those months you'll be able to see it happen. For the rest of the year it opens on demand.
The first drawbridge over the river was built in 1816, followed by several replacements. The one you see now was formally opened in 1922.
Remember to walk your horses across the bridge. :-)
There are ships and boats galore to see, even if a special launch is not taking place. As you walk upriver you'll come to Mystic Seaport, a museum of ships (including 'tall ships') and maritime artefacts, and a working shipyard (where the Charles W Morgan whaler is being restored).
To one side of Mystic Bascule Bridge is Mystic River Park, a rather nicely-laid out park (by the riverside, obviously) with a boardwalk and information boards about the birds and water creatures you might spot.
A very pleasant place to wander, although I suspect it can be very busy indeed on summer weekends: Mystic is a popular day-out.
The area around Mystic Bridge has many rather lovely clapboard buildings, mosdt of which are painted white. I know they aren't particularly old, but they are very attractive indeed.
I particularly liked the 'lighthouse' house and the row of shops by the bridge which has a genuine 'wonkiness' (I'm not sure why?) which I usually associate with much older European buildings.
The Mystic River Historic District (on the Groton side of the river) is full of lovely mid-1800s-1900s buildings. I wish I'd had more time to wander and explore: despite it's visitor-focus Mystic does genuinely have historical interest.
Foxwoods, the original Native American casino in CT, has the largest gaming room in the country, if not the world. It's quite striking as you drive up, its massive, artfully designed towers rising out of the landscape. The recently-added Rainmaker area includes a new Hard Rock Cafe.
Mohegan Sun, the newer gaming attraction, is two main areas, the Earth and the Sky, connected by a central shopping area and entertainment arena. Each area, Earth and Sky, has its own casinos (slots, table games, etc.) and eating areas.
Personally, I like Mohegan Sun better - it feels more well laid-out and less chaotic. Foxwoods was still working on the Rainmaker parking area while we were there (Nov. 2004), which should look nicer once it's finished.
Olde Mistick Village is an Early American Village with about 60 shops amidst a pretty setting. There is a waterwheel where ducks tend to frolick, a nice large duck pond, flowers everywhere and brick walkways that lead you to the shops.
There are some really interesting and unique shops here for just about anyone. We like to come here when we have some time and wander the many shops, some of our favorite are Christmas and Pet specialty shops.
the The shops are open year round from Mon-Sat 10 am - 6 pm, Sunday 11 am - 5 pm
Mystic Seaport happens to be one of Ferni's favorite places (mine too, this was our first road trip back when we first met in 2007). There is always something new or different, but the steep price ($24 per adult), makes it an occassional trip.
Mystic Seaport is a great place to come if you enjoy nautical and maritime history. It is a well known maritime museum with a re-created 19th century sea village, historical tall ships, many exhibit gallerys including many of maritime life, a planetarium, the Voyages-Stories of American and the Sea (an exhibit that showcases maritime life past and present), and a really nice replica of the smallest lighthouse on the eastern seaboard. The DuPont Preservation ship yard, a working shipyard that is currently working on preservation on the world's last whaling ship, the CHARLES W. MORGAN.
There is a large patch of grass with a nice gazebo where you can find a lay on the grass, have a picnic or just enjoy the weather.
Entrance fee (2010) for adults is $24; seniors, active military and students are $22, children under 5 are free.
Times of operation are as follows:
Spring/Summer/Early Fall 2010
March 27 - October 31
Open Daily 9am-5pm
Late Fall 2010
November 1 - November 28
Open Daily 10am - 4pm
I love aquariums and in my opinion, Mystic Aquarium is one of the better ones here in the Northeast.
I've been to this aquarium a few times and I knew I wanted to bring Leo here when he was old enough to appreciate it. He loves seals, sea lions and stingrays and is always asking if he can see "the seals, mama" (from my picture gallery), so I knew he would have a great time here.
The Aquarium is quite large with some really large enclsores for the many different sea creatures you'll find here like the Beluga Whales, Sea Lions, Seals, Sharks, Stingrays, Penguins and colorful fish and an assortment of other animals.
We arrived a little later than I would have hoped, but nonetheless, we were able to see everything we wanted, including a Sea Lion show and all the other exhibits. Leo was so excited when we finally got to the Sea Lion exhibit that he didn't want to budge from this enclosure espcially when the huge bull (in a separate enclosure, decided to show off and get up on the rock and sun bathe), that it took me about 20 minutes of watching this huge bull frolick before I was able to get Leo away to see the other animals.
The enclosure for the Beluga Whale was nice, you can see the whales from either an above exhibit or from a lower level exhibit, Leo had a great time waiting for the whale to approach the tank before he dotted away from the tank area.
There is a great indoor exhibit with large tanks full of stingrays, eels, fish, shark which Leo enjoy himself in.
We were having such a great time that we were literally the last to leave the aquarium.
Prices are steep, $25 per adult, children under 3 are free.
The Mystic Aquarium is one of the best attractions in Connecticut. The aquarium is modern and nicely laid out, providing up close and family friendly exposure to a stunning variety of marine life. Some of the high lights are the ray touch pool, the sea lion show and number one to me are the Beluga whales in a beautiful habitat with underwater viewing windows. There are two permanent museum installations; The Challenge of the Deep and Return to Titanic. They show a 3D underwater film at scheduled times through out the day.
Of special interest may be the penguin and beluga whale encounter programs, which incur a significant cost and must be scheduled in advance.
There is a big gift shop and a cafe on premises. Some of the habitats are outdoors, so consider the weather. Parking is free.
As of Feb 2010:
Senior (age 60+) $23
Children (age 3 - 17) $19
Children (age 2 and under) Free!
Vogages is one of the exhibits at the Mystic Seaport and happened to be a favorite of mine. The exhibit showcases the voyages across oceans, rivers and lakes. The exhibit begins with the voyages of immigrants from Europeans crossing the ocean to Ellis Island to Cubans fleeing in small boats. The pictures, documents and props do a good job of telling the tale of an immigrant traveller. The rest of the exhibit showcases the lives of explorers, fishermen, whalers, artists, the Navy and passenger travel. The exhibit is three floors of art, artifacts, pictures and short films showcasing sea voyages and the people who make their living from the sea.
The Preservation Shipyard is amazing. We stumbled upon the men working on some restorations: restoring some wood, painting and inspecting vessels. I personally applaud them for preserving sailing vessels and history for future generations. They use the same historic methods to refinish and restore vessels that were used when the ships were first constructed. I do appreciate the steel and fiberglass monster vessels of today but my real passion is the old style wooden ships of days gone by.
Mystic Seaport has a 19th century coastal village. The buildings are real and were transpoted to the Seaport from various New England locations. There are over thirty buildings to wander through and see how daily life was for the people of that time period.
We enjoyed having a stroll through the village and wandering in and out of houses and shops.
The Olde Mystic Village is right off of I-95. It has a bunch of shops, restaurants and a movie theatre. The shops have a bit of evrything from candy, toys, souveniers, housewares, clothing and jewelry. The shops are outside so it's perfect to shop on a nice sunny day. Liz and I enjoyed a nice wander through the shops during our visit to Mystic.
The freedom schooner Amistad was built at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport and launched in 2000. The Amistad Revolt of 1839-1842 is a well known event in history thanks to the movie Amistad. The recreation of the original Amistad schooner is a good one and it is a beautiful tall ship (or should I say "small" tall ship). So when you visit the seaport make sure to see the amistad up close and personal...you can't miss it.
The Australia was a coasting schooner. It's currently housed at the Mystic Seaport on blocks. The exhibit alows you to walk through the Australia. We walked through the Australia with some difficulty with me being tall...Liz even had to duck down in some areas. The boat is a nice size but a shadow of its former self.
The exhibit tells the tale of the coating trade and the history of the AUstralia; which was formerly named "Alma". The Australia was built in 1862 in Long Island, NY and was used as a blockade runner in the Civil War. After Mystic Seaport aquired the vessel it was used for sail education. Now the ship is just an exhibit to prevent further deterioration and decay.
So when you're in Mystic, take the time to check out the Australia and walk through a piece of history.