Historical whaling village Mystic Seaport, Mystic CTIf you are looking for a low-stakes, quick trip out of Massachusetts for a weekend — or even a day — look no further than Mystic, Connecticut. Mystic Village is nestled alongside the Mystic River and Mystic Harbor and is host to one of the largest maritime museums in the U.S. This quintessential New England seaport offers a wide variety of activities for families of all ages!

What to do

Mystic Aquarium

If heading into Boston to visit the New England Aquarium is too intimidating, the Mystic Aquarium is your perfect entry point. With free parking and wheelchair accessibility, Mystic Aquarium is extremely family friendly. Several of the exhibits, including the penguins and beluga whales, are outside, so be sure to dress for the weather (and I promise the penguins and whales are worth it)! Timed tickets can be purchased online ahead of time and can be combined with Mystic Seaport Museum admission tickets. Local moms recommend checking in with AAA for additional discounts if you are a member.
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Mystic Seaport Museum

The Mystic Seaport Museum is truly for kids of all ages. For the littles, the Children’s Museum includes an activity center, toy boat building (small fee), and a play area. For older kids, transport into the 19th century, wandering in and out of the Seaport Village filled with blacksmiths forging iron and printers placing typeface for local newspapers. Climb on board the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. Tickets are general admission and can be combined with the aquarium.
Mystic, CT
Mystic, CT lighthouse

The Dinosaur Place

For dinosaur-obsessed kiddos, this 60-acre dino-themed park is complete with a splash pad, life-size mazes, and a climbing tower. Located 20 minutes outside of Mystic, the park has everything you need to enjoy several hours of fun — including food and ice cream. The park also welcomes families to bring their own food, coolers, and wagons, making it super easy to accommodate allergies and budgets.

Submarine Force Library and Museum

For slightly older kids with an appreciation for boats and history, the Submarine Force Library and Museum is home to the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered ship and the first vessel to go to the North Pole. The museum welcomes visitors onto the USS Nautilus for self-guided tours and scavenger hunts for the littles. Admission and parking are free. Strollers are allowed in the museum, but they are not permitted on the submarine.

Where to eat

Mystic Pizza

Enjoy delicious pizza and nostalgia at the Mystic Pizza location that inspired the 1988 film by the same name.

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream

Head down the road after pizza for an enormous variety of ice cream. The lines are usually long, but it’s worth the wait.

Abbott’s Lobster

Sit seaside at Abbott’s Lobster and have one of the best lobster rolls. This place has been around since 1947, and you won’t want to miss the steamers, stuffed clams, and clam chowder. This spot is BYOB.

Sift Bake Shop

Grab some breakfast treats before heading out for the day!

Engine Room

Pro tip from local moms: Head to Engine Room for a variety of appetizers and drinks — and make it back for bedtime!

Dog Watch Cafe

A personal family favorite, Dog Watch Cafe is the place to enjoy delicious seafood while sitting harborside overlooking dozens of beautiful sailboats. Afterward, head down the road to Stonington Point to get a great view of the ocean and see the first lighthouse museum in the U.S.
Mystic, CT restaurant

Where to stay

Hilton Mystic

We like the Hilton Mystic for its great location — it’s right across the street from the Mystic Aquarium — and for its indoor pool!

Residence Inn Mystic Groton

Moms recommend the Mystic/Groton Residence Inn for those who need some extra room or are mindful of the food budget and want to take advantage of the in-room kitchenettes. This hotel has an indoor pool as well!

Extra time

If you have extra time or want to enjoy some kid-free hours, here are two additional recommendations to add to your beautiful seaside getaway.

Visit a vineyard

Connecticut is home to many wineries, including several very close to Mystic. Saltwater Farm Vineyard overlooks beautiful acres of grapevines and hosts a variety of events, including food trucks and live music. Stonington Vineyard is another great location that is kid and dog friendly.

The Spa at Norwich Inn

Create a custom spa package day for you (and some friends or significant other) and enjoy some peace and quiet. The spa facility includes a sauna, steam room, whirlpool, and relaxation room, complete with robes and slippers to truly let you relax.

Ready for another road trip from Boston? Try Bar Harbor, Maine, or one of these great day trips from Boston!


Sarah Aspinwall
Sarah grew up in Connecticut, but Massachusetts has always felt like a second home with extended family across the state. With a master's in public health and a lifelong passion for healthcare, Sarah moved to Boston after graduation. She is a fierce advocate for better access and reducing the complexities of the healthcare system. Sarah met her husband covered in sweat and lifting weights at a local CrossFit gym (talk about first impressions!). They adopted a rescue pup from Mississippi and welcomed their daughter in 2021. After nearly a decade of city living, Sarah and her family headed to the Metro West area to start a new adventure in the suburbs. Sarah has volunteered for Community Consulting Teams of Boston (CCT), offering pro bono management consulting to Boston-area nonprofits, and she served a three-year term on the board. She is an alumna member of the Kappa Delta sorority and has served as an advisor to the Northeastern chapter since 2014.