Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock/Monkey Business ImagesMystic, ConnecticutMystic River BridgeJoseph ConradMystic

Families will love:

  • Mystic Seaport
  • The renowned Mystic Aquarium
  • Quaint and pictureque New England town

The seaside village of Mystic, Connecticut, may be the Holy Grail of historic vacation destinations -- perfectly catering to families without sacrificing any of its authentic historic character. The main attraction is Mystic Seaport, one of the most popular sites to visit in all of New England for its glimpse into the region's long love affair with the sea. Mystic was a ... more
The seaside village of Mystic, Connecticut, may be the Holy Grail of historic vacation destinations -- perfectly catering to families without sacrificing any of its authentic historic character. The main attraction is Mystic Seaport, one of the most popular sites to visit in all of New England for its glimpse into the region's long love affair with the sea. Mystic was a center of shipbuilding since the earliest colonial times, but really came into its own between the Revolutionary War and World War I, when more than 600 ships were built there. Thanks to the historic preservation efforts of some of Mystic's citizens the heart of the shipbuilding area has been meticulously preserved, making it the perfect place for a museum celebrating all aspects of maritime history and enterprise.

This is hardly a frozen-in-time set, however. The Seaport's vast team of interpreters and researchers are constantly investigating new frontiers in maritime history and looking to transmit those studies to visitors in the most dynamic and interactive ways possible -- the result is an immersive experience into the life of the village that has few parallels in living history museums around the country. As successful as it has been, however, the seaport would not be as enticing a destination, if not for the town around it. Mystic has done an excellent job capitalizing on the droves of families who come to visit with several supplemental attractions -- the most popular of which is the Mystic Aquarium -- and a quaint downtown area readymade for walking.

Centering round a historic drawbridge over the Mystic River, the center of town is full of shops readymade for browsing, including children's clothing boutiques and toy stores. Add in dueling ice-cream shops, a famous pizza place, and several other family-friendly eateries, and you've got a recipe the whole family can enjoy. Many of the shops, restaurants and hotels themselves occupy historic buildings that are picturesquely situated on the riverfront, leaving the impression that Mystic is more than a living history museum; it's living history.

Written by Michael Blanding less

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I took my family to Mystic, CT and we were blessed with a beautiful remnant of a summer day. Traffic - for a Saturday - was tolerable and once we ... read more
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