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A quick guide of where to stay, what to eat, and how to adventure in the lovely seaside village of Mystic, CT by a couple from New York
Meg (a maternal-child visiting nurse) and Juan (a graphic designer and burgeoning photographer) currently live in Brooklyn, NY with their dog Toby. Being in the throes of summer in New York, they are always on the lookout to escape the heat and humidity of the city for long, fun weekends within manageable distances around the tri-state area. They had an opportunity to spend four days to enjoy the sites, food, and activities of the historic and coastal village of Mystic, CT. Here follows their adventure in words and pictures.
How to get to Mystic
This is usually the first question that pops into any New Yorker’s head when they are in the process of selecting a nearby location for a quick getaway. Planes, trains and automobiles are always an option with usually a combo of the two (or three!) needed. If you have a car, we suggest this be your option (be sure to plan to avoid rush hour). Traveling by train is also ideal as there is an Amtrak station right in Mystic, just a 7 minute walk (or 1 min Uber) from downtown! But we decided to cheat by using our car AND a ferry from Long Island that helped us cut down on traffic headaches, gave us nice views of Long Island Sound, and dropped us in New London (15 minute drive west of Mystic)… And conveniently took us past Nana’s house so Toby could have his own getaway weekend.
Where to Stay
When we drove into Mystic and found The Whaler’s Inn, we were delighted at its proximity to everything – shops, restaurants, bars, and views of the Mystic River and its famous Bascule Drawbridge. For a couple of New Yorkers who seemingly have everything within a 3 block radius, this was absolutely welcomed and an unapologetically little surprise.
While its best attribute is their accessible proximity, The Whaler’s Inn made it a priority to make their incredibly welcoming and thoughtful hospitality a very close second. We’ve stayed in many hotels and Airbnb’s, but we couldn’t honestly remember when we’ve been so welcomed.
EXTERIOR: This way for comfort and ease in Mystic
BEDROOM: The Whaler’s Inn consists of five buildings: the Main Inn, Hoxie House, Stonington House, Noank House, and the 1865 House. Our room was in the top floor of the Hoxie House. The bedrooms consist of king or queen size beds, with gas fireplace (which we used), bathtub with airjet (also used it).
VIEW FROM THE ROOM: Our room overlooked the Mystic River, the Bascule Drawbridge, and the parade of boats and ships that would cross beneath it every hour (top picture). We also had views of the vibrant outdoor space at S&P Oyster Co. on the river (bottom picture).
WALKABOUT: These fantastic views and landscapes are mere steps from The Whaler’s Inn. Again, the proximity that The Whaler’s Inn provides is simply its best value (top: sunset over the river; bottom: over the river to the docks and steeple of Union Baptist Church)
EXTERIOR: The front porch with these relaxing chairs look towards Mystic River. Add a drink in hand and you’ve got the start to a good evening.
Where to Eat
Living in New York, we are surrounded by great food and equally great, various options. But, when we travel, specifically to seaside towns, we gravitate towards the seafood because they KNOW seafood. Mystic’s food options left us thoroughly impressed with full and happy bellies – from land food, to seafood, to changing our (ok, Juan’s mind) on some classics.
GRASS & BONE: We went to this delicious and friendly place not once, not twice, but THREE times. We were astounded at their happy hour specials (food and beverage), their varied meals, sandwiches and sides, and their overall friendliness. We swear they recognized us as we ordered food to-go for our trip home. (top: chicken wrap and cubano sandwich with Old Bay mac and cheese; 2nd pic: happy hour tacos, bread & dip, wine, and beer for $17!!; 3rd pic: interior pic; 4th pic: front of the store)
S&P OYSTER CO.: On the shore of the Mystic River, S&P offers a spacious patio area that with an opportunity to view great sunsets as you eat and drink.
ABBOTT’S LOBSTER IN THE ROUGH: Technically in Noank (a mere 10 minute drive from Mystic), this is your quintessential seaside food spot next to a marina with your quintessential lobster options. Our extremely tasty lunch included two lobster rolls with chips and cole slaw, lobster bisque and New England chowder.
OYSTER CLUB: A sister restaurant of Grass & Bone, here is where Juan did away with this oyster prejudices, thanks to the pickled and citrus cabbage (purple) sauce. We also discovered the refreshing drink of Fishers Island Lemonade (vodka, whiskey and juice), which we took a case or two home with us!
FRIAR TUCK’S: We came here to watch the World Cup Final and were treated to a fun sports atmosphere with locals. And if locals like this spot then so will us. We enjoyed the perfectly spicy bloody marys, the Scotch eggs with its gravy dip, and the tender deep fried scallops.
What to Do: Adventure
Mystic takes advantage of its river and proximity to the ocean, and we suggest you do as well. We focused on outdoor activities on this trip, but we read and heard on Mystic’s other attractions, like Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Museum of Art and Mystic Seaport Museum. We’ll have to come back to experience those!
MYSTIC BOAT ADVENTURES: Hands down, our favorite experience of the weekend happened here with the entertaining but knowledgeable Captain Rob at Mystic Boat Adventures. We learned how to maneuver these small but zippy boats and toured the river and parts of the coastline. Seriously, THE best!!
FIELDS OF FIRE ADVENTURE PARK: Even if heights are a thing, you’ll have fun and feel safe on this obstacle course in the treetops. We did it during an evening session and it was the right choice with the twinkling lights over the elements as you maneuver in, through, and around these fun challenges and rewarding ziplines at the end of each course.
ADVENTURE MYSTIC: This rental business offers options to tour Mystic on land (bicycles) and water (kayaks or paddle boards). We chose single kayaks (tandem kayaks available) to lazily go up and down Mystic River. If we had time, we would have rented the bikes, as well.
MYSTIC, IN GENERAL: Like any other vacation destination, Mystic offers many other options for all of your wandering needs – fishing, boating lessons, museums, etc. And of course, you’ll discover Mystic’s friendliness and charm by taking time to walk and wander (1st pic: boy fishing on the Mystic; 2nd pic: barista at Sift Bake Shop feeding a duck; 3rd pic: Barbie climbing to Lego house; 4th pic: random floral store on a bike).
THE AUTHORS: A peek at us enjoying all these activities that are magnificently close to The Whaler’s Inn (top: Grass and Bone; middle: Mystic Boat Adventures; bottom: Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough)