We were provided with tickets to the Mystic Seaport to make our visit possible. We appreciate their support of Jersey Family Fun that allows us to share with families information about weekend trips and family travel we think your family may enjoy.
When faced with a three day weekend and a need for a getaway with the kids where do you go? When your kids are not great car riders, your time in the car must be about 3 hours or less? Where is some place that would have enough activities but not too much? As much as we love the Jersey Shore, it was time for a change of perspective (but we still wanted to be near water). So where to go?
After a short search, we found the town of Mystic, Connecticut filled all our requirements. It was 3 hours from our Union County home, on the Mystic River, and offers a Seaport and an Aquarium, in addition to the quaint town and shops. There are plenty of reasonably priced hotels within Mystic and as long as ours had a pool, everyone was happy. The hotel was booked, so off we went, with plans to visit Mystic Seaport our first day, and Mystic Aquarium our next day.
The Mystic Seaport is a museum, a living history seaport, and a working research center for maritime history. The Seaport is open year round, and while there was a long list of outdoor activities during our early September visit, there are indoor activities for inclement or colder weather.
We arrived at 11 AM and as soon as we entered we were given a quick overview of the Seaport from a helpful staff member. There is so much to do at the Seaport, you can choose to wander and just enjoy the sights, or participate in scheduled activities, or learn about maritime history in any of the many museum buildings. Before we knew it we spent five hours at the Seaport, and could have been there longer (exhibits begin to close at 5 PM). Some of our favorite Seaport features …
- In Waterfront Exploration where we rolled up our shorts, kicked off our shoes and took a net to the water. Our crew caught crabs, hermit crabs, snails and small fish which were all released at the end of the program. It was a great way to understand the ecosystem of the river, and appreciate marine life. The Seaport staff is knowledgeable and participates in many engaging activities that shouldn’t be missed.
- While inside the Nautical Instruments Shop, we were offered the chance to complete the Seaport’s Navigation Quest. We hadn’t yet tried geocaching and this 40 minute mission kept our crowd interested and engaged, and exploring the Seaport from end to end.
- The Mystic River Scale Model is fascinating! See over 250 buildings with people, animals, and extreme detail in a 50 foot long model of the Mystic River area as it was in the mid 1800s. The model is located inside, in its own building with an audio tour that runs repeatedly.
- The Charles W. Morgan commercial whaling ship is a majestic sight, but don’t just look- walk on! We participated in the “Man Overboard” demonstration run from the ship then toured the amazingly small ships quarters, imagining what life on the ship would be like. The Charles W. Morgan was preserved at Mystic Seaport’s preservation shipyard, and after visiting the ship we headed over to the gallery there to learn about its restoration.
There are also activities available for an additional fee, and among our favorites were the toy boat building, and candle dipping ($5 each). Make a souvenir with meaning, and learn along the way! There’s a picturesque horse and carriage ride through the village all day ($5/person) and of course a waterfront tour ($3/person). Learn about the importance of stars and the sky to sailors in the Treworgy Planetarium which offers various shows throughout the day ($3.50/person).
All this, and STILL, there’s The Seafaring Village and the the exhibit buildings! Stroll past 19th century buildings that are all fully staffed and stocked as they would have been in the 1800s. Find town folks from the 1800s also wandering through the village. We saw Mrs. Buckley, the poor widow when we were near the kitchen garden. Your kids will want to spend time learning about winds, signals, pulleys in the Discovery Barn, and dressing up and making knots in the Children’s Museum. Don’t miss the Figureheads and other artifacts from the sea – entering the room where 12 wooden sculptures hang from the walls is breathtaking.
If you visit the Mystic Seaport:
- Parking is plentiful and free.
- Closed toe shoes are best as the grounds are direct and grass. Sneakers are better as there could be a lot of walking!
- We were impressed with the food at The Galley restaurant; the portions were large, reasonably priced and the food was fresh! It was a great spot to take a break and refuel.
- A new exhibit hall is under construction for Fall 2016.
After a quick rest at the hotel, we headed across the river to the historic town of Mystic to watch the Mystic River Bascule Bridge rise and lower and indulge in some of the town’s famous Mystic Pizza. The town is walkable and pleasant and was a memorable, relaxing night. We rested up for our second Mystic day, but could it be as great as our first?
Mystic Seaport is at 75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic Connecticut. Admission begins at $16, and children 5 and under are free. Joint discounted admission with Mystic Aquarium is also available. The Seaport hours change seasonally, but the Seaport is open year round. Find all details here.
For more Mystic Seaport and Museum photos see our Facebook Album.
Click over to read more from our family travel to Mystic Connecticut experience.
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