Feb 242015
Spread the love
  • 18

5 Things to do in Mystic CT During the Winter

When you think of Mystic, CT, what comes to mind?  Boating?  Fishing?  Summer?

Sure, Mystic is a fantastic place for your summer vacation, but did you know that a visit to Mystic during the winter can be just as much fun? I know, you’re probably thinking – “Don’t a lot of things shut down for the winter?”  Well, the answer is yes and no.  There are a few shops and restaurants that only open for the summer in Mystic, but for the most part, everything stays open year round. Not only is it a great place for a romantic getaway, Mystic has some really fun, family friendly attractions as well.  My husband, Chris, and I spent this past weekend in Mystic and today I am going to share five things that you can do in Mystic during the winter.

1.  The Mystic Seaport

The Mystic Seaport is known as the Museum of America and the Sea. It includes three major components for people who visit: a re-created 19th -century coastal village with historic ships, a working preservation shipyard, and formal exhibit galleries.  The Mystic Seaport is located across 19 acres of land along Connecticut’s Mystic River.  There is definitely something for everyone at the Mystic Seaport.


The preservation shipyard is something to see.  My husband and I got to spend a few minutes watching a really skilled craftsman use 19th century tools and techniques to preserve this historic wooden ship.  It was fascinating to watch.


My favorite part of the day was visiting the re-created 19th century seafaring village.  The buildings at the Seaport aren’t replications, they are actually trade shops and businesses from the 1800s that were transported to Mystic Seaport from locations around New England.  Isn’t that amazing?

As you walk through the village, you will come across dozens of buildings, most of which are staffed with historians, storytellers, craftspeople and even a few musicians, who are very knowledgeable and really do bring the past to life.

mystic seaport

We got a chance to spend some time with several of the craftsmen working in the village while we were there and learned a lot about their specific trades.  The blacksmith showed us how he fixed broken tools and the printer showed us how books & newspapers were printed letter by letter back in 1876!  It was fascinating.

Blacksmith and print shop

At the Mystic Seaport, you can also board the Charles W. Morgan, which is the world’s last surviving wooden whaleship. It was built and launched in 1841. The Morgan is now America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat (only the USS Constitution, which is docked in Boston, is older than the Morgan).


While you’re visiting the Mystic Seaport, you will also get the chance to see the world’s largest collections of boat and maritime photographs, which includes more than 500 different vessels and more than a million historic maritime images.

And if you’re wondering about the little ones, there is a Children’s Museum and Planetarium at the Seaport that the kiddos are sure to love.

The Mystic Seaport is located at 75 Greenmanville Ave in Mystic, CT and it’s open year-round (seasonal hours apply).  There are several parking lots across the street in which you can park for free.  The Mystic Seaport is less than two hours from Boston and New York and less than an hour from Hartford!

2.  The Mystic Aquarium

If you are a fan of aquariums, the Mystic Aquarium is one attraction in Mystic that you can not miss.  There are indoor and outdoor exhibits at this aquarium and you should plan on spending at least several hours there to make sure you get a chance to see everything.

Some of the indoor exhibits include a ray and shark touch pool, a crab and star fish touch tank (don’t worry, they offer hand sanitizer), tons of different species of fish, eels, sharks, an octopus, stingrays swimming around in Stingray Bay and even a jellyfish gallery.


I love that this aquarium is super hands-on.  As you already read above, you will find a few touch tanks located within the main gallery indoors, but there is also a large Ray touch tank located outside.

One of the things that really impressed me at the aquarium was that the staff at each exhibit were all very informative and willing to tell you all about the marine animals and even share some fun facts, too.


When you’re at the Mystic Aquarium, be sure that you get a chance to watch one of the sea lion shows.  They do shows at least three times a day and during the show you will get to see the sea lions do tricks and learn all about them.

The aquarium also has some great outdoor exhibits, too.  There are African Penguins and three Beluga Whales, which happen to be my favorite.  If you spend some time near the observation window where the Belugas are swimming, they will come right up to the glass. Also, depending on the time, you can watch them get fed and interact with their trainers.  It’s very cool.


While you’re at the aquarium, you can also take in a 4D movie and visit Birds of the Outback, which is a big tent where the birds are freely flying around.  Both of those cost extra, though, so if you want to do either of those just be mindful that neither are included in your admission price.

Outside food is not allowed in to the aquarium, but you can get your hand stamped when you leave for re-entry later in the day, so if you don’t want to eat at their food court, you can go out to one of the many restaurants in the area and then just go back later.

The Mystic Aquarium is located at 55 Coogan Blvd in Mystic, CT and parking is free.

3.  Mystic Pizza

If you are a child of the 80’s, you probably saw the movie Mystic Pizza starring Julia Roberts, but did you know it was based on an actual place?  Mystic Pizza has phenomenal pizza, sandwiches and apps – but they get busy, so be prepared to wait if you go there at peak meal times.


The inside the restaurant was decorated with all sorts of movie memorabilia and of course, the movie is playing on constant rotation throughout the restaurant as you eat.

If you want to try a “A Slice of Heaven” for yourself,  Mystic Pizza is located at 56 West Main St in Mystic, CT.

4.  Historic Downtown Mystic

If you have some time, I highly suggest taking a stroll through historic downtown Mystic. There are all kinds of shops, eateries and galleries to explore. Some of the shops and boutiques are a bit more touristy than others, so it would make a great spot to pick up some souvenirs. There is also an Army/Navy store, a bookstore, a linen store, a candy shop, an ice cream shop, several clothing stores (including one children’s clothing store), a few art galleries, and many places to grab a quick bite along the way.

There are also some benches, so you can sit along the water and watch the boats pass by.


One of the coolest things you will see in downtown Mystic is the Mystic River Bascule Bridge. A bascule bridge is basically a drawbridge, but it has these massive concrete counterweights, which is what helps hold the bridge open.  It takes about 5 minutes for the bridge to open and traffic gets all backed up when it does, but it’s really cool to see.


5.  Stonington Borough

Ok, you got me, this one isn’t actually in Mystic – but it’s only about 10 minutes away and absolutely worth visiting. Historic Stonington Borough is a charming seaside village with many unique galleries, antique stores,  bistros, boutiques,  fantastic restaurants and historic homes.

One thing you can not skip if you do visit Stonington Borough, is a visit to “The Point”.  From there you can view three states at once: Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York!


A little birdie also told me that sometimes seals hang out on these rocks, but there were none out there the day I was there.  Hopefully next time!

Another great thing you can do in Stonington Borough is visit The Old Lighthouse Museum, which is the oldest museum lighthouse in the country.  It’s only open in the summer, though, so I didn’t get a chance to go inside.


Where to stay?

So, now that you are ready to visit Mystic for yourself, you’re probably wondering where to stay. I stayed at the Hilton Mystic and was extremely happy with my accommodations.


Chris and I spent two nights at the Hilton Mystic.  Anyone that knows us in real life, knows that we both get giddy when we check into a hotel for a weekend away without the kids and find out that we scored a room with two beds.  Hey, he’s a bed hog and we both like our space….

Anyhow, we were both very impressed with how comfortable the beds were and with the overall convenience of the amenities in the room.

Amenities such as:

  • High-speed Internet access
  • Two-line phones with voicemail
  • Comfortable work desks
  • In-room coffeemaker
  • In-room dining available
  • Hair dryer
  • Iron / ironing board
  • Hilton HHonors, frequent guest program
  • Check in time is at 3:00 pm daily
  • Check out time is at 12:00 pm daily


The Hilton Mystic also has a game room, a heated indoor pool, and a state-of-the-art Precor fitness facility.

pool and fitness center

Some of the services at the Hilton Mystic include:

  • The Mooring, a comfortable restaurant serving classic breakfast cuisine.
  • Soundings Lounge, the ideal setting to unwind after a busy day, with a casual atmosphere and crackling fireplace, ideal for cocktails and conversations, great for families and friends.
  • In-room dining, available from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Heated indoor swimming pool, with outside pool deck.
  • New Precor fitness center, with state-of-the-art cardiovascular and weight-lifting equipment.
  • Hilton HHonors, frequent guest program.

Located at 20 Coogan Boulevard in Mystic, CT.  It’s right off of the highway (I-95, exit 90) and it’s literally right across the street from the Mystic Aquarium.  You can’t beat it.

Chris and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Mystic and are looking forward to going back again this spring, hopefully with the kids.

Which one of these attractions would you like to visit first?

**The above was a sponsored press trip, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Spread the love
  • 18

  129 Responses to “5 Things To Do in Mystic, CT During the Winter”

  1. The seaport is a must it is good winter or summer. And you can’t go to mystic without seeing Julia Roberts.

    • I would want to visit anytime, especially after reading this. What total fun. Sounds like a great time.

  2. Love Mystic and totally went all the time as a kid. We also always stayed at the Hilton, too, but was indeed in the summer. So loved hearing about the winter activities that can be had there 😉

  3. I haven’t been to Mystic and many, many years. I always loved it down there and I agree that the Mystic Seaport is wonderful.

  4. oh my…we were thinking of going to Mystic last week..but it was too cold so we decided to stop at New Haven and revisit the area when the temperature gets warmer. My kids are so excited to see seaport and Charles W. Morgan…and the aquarium looks cool!

  5. We love the Mystic area and have been to the Aquarium. Would love to check out Mystic Pizza. Glad to know there is lots to do w/o the kids at this time of year.

  6. What great ideas! I have never been there. I love indoor aquariums!

  7. It looks like you had an awesome time! Love the pics from the aquarium! Jellyfish look soo neat!

  8. Looks like a lot of great things to do there. I would definitely visit the pizza shop.

  9. I haven’t been to the Mystic Aquarium in much too long! I used to go there all the time when I was studying Environmental Science (from age 40-44, I am now 64). It doesn’t take me too long to get there–about an hour and I would love to be able to stay overnight and see all of what you described. Maybe when it gets a bit warmer!!

  10. What an awesome, informative post. I think watching the ship preservation would be awesome, and I’d love to visit Mystic Pizza. 🙂

  11. Wow, it looks like an awesome place to go. I love aquariums – I plan on taking the kids to the one in Gatlinburg since I’ll be in the area soon. The hotel looks awesome. I’m hoping to book a place in Columbia like that during Spring break

  12. I had no idea that Mystic Pizza was a real place! I would love to grab a slice there someday.

  13. I’d love to go there someday. Mystic Pizza would be fun to eat at. I remember watching the movie.

  14. I would love to go there someday!! Love downtown and that lighthouse!

  15. What an awesome place to visit! I’ll have to make it a stop on any trips I make to the northeast!

  16. Ah! I want to go to there! What a fun experience! I want to go!!

  17. Great pictures. This is a really nice, comprehensive list of places to check out.

  18. I absolutely love going to aquariums and seeing all of the sea life in person. I think the coral reef animals are my favorite!

  19. I love your photos for the Mystic Aquarium. They are very nice and it looks like they have quite the selection of marine life.

  20. This is a great list of activities. I know I think this is a satisfying vacation schedule.

  21. Lots to do even during winter! I’ve never heard of this place before so thanks for sharing more about it 🙂

  22. Who knew it was an actual place?!?! I’d love to eat at Mystic Pizza one day.

  23. Wow. I love places like this. So many great things to do.

  24. Hi Robin:
    This looks like a fun place to visit! I loved the movie Mystic Pizza when I was a kid. I never knew it actually existed. So coo!

  25. I’d love to visit Mystic. Everything is so beautiful there! I love the Seaport.

  26. I have seen some beautiful images for Mystic, CT. I think it is a lovely place to take the family on some adventures.

  27. I love the Movie Mystic Pizza, I always wondered if it was a real location or if it was just used in the movie. It looks so beautiful there, and so many wonderful things to see.

  28. It looks like one of those little towns that I would love to retire to some day. Such beauty at every corner, it seems!

  29. I love Mystic – we have had season passes to the Seaport for four years now; every few years or so we also purchase Aquarium season passes. It is a lovely place to visit…

  30. That aquarium looks amazing! You guys has so much fun!

  31. I would love to visit this area one day. Mystic Pizza has got to be a busy place. I would like to try a pizza from there.

  32. I would love to go to that Mystic Aquarium. It looks like it would be a really fun place to visit. Then I’d probably go to Mystic Pizza, ’cause who doesn’t love a slice?

  33. Looks like a great winter getaway. I like finding places to go when winter is so long with lots of cold and snow!

  34. These are awesome activities!! Thanks for sharing this list!!

  35. Wow what a lovely place to visit. I love small towns with lots of history wrapped up in them.

  36. OK, I’m in awe that Mystic Pizza is there. Cool!

  37. The seaport comes to mind but also Mystic pizza. It’s on my travel list!

  38. I’ve always wanted to travel to the Mystic area. The seaport looks beautiful.

  39. The aquarium looks fun, but we love visiting lighthouses also. We will have to keep this place in mind when we start our travels!

  40. I’m a big Mystic PIzza fan so OF COURSE I want to see it in person! What a cool trip idea.

  41. Wow. That looks like a really great place to visit!

  42. Those are some neat spots! I would definitely be hitting up the aquarium. I love aquariums of all kinds!

  43. What I love about Mystic is that nothing bad happens there! I love a small New England town (was raised in seacoast NH so very similar vibe). Mystic’s aquarium is wonderful! Sometimes you don’t want to spend a full day at the Boston aquarium and we have gone to the one in Mystic when visiting my cousins.

  44. The seaport looks SO COOL! I think ships are the coolest thing ever. I’d love the chance to go visit.

  45. This looks like a great place! I love that is has a small town feel, but there’s so much to do and see there. It’s pretty sweet.

  46. it looks like there is so much to do in that little town. Now I have to go watch the movie

  47. Oh how fun! That Mystic Aquarium looks really awesome. When my kids were young we took them to the Newport Aquarium and it was really exciting and cool.

  48. Who knew Mystic, CT has so much to offer other than summer month fun? I’ve always considered more of a summer destination. Now I know! P.S. I love Beluga Whales too…they are so stinkin’ adorable!

  49. I had no idea that Mystic Pizza was an actual place! I loved that movie and would visit Mystic just to eat there!

  50. All of these places look fun! I love the seaport and Mystic Pizza would be so cool!

  51. I have never been to any of the New England states, but they’re on my list, especially Connecticut! The Mystic Aquarium would be such a fabulous attraction to take my family to go see.

  52. I didn’t know this about Mystic, Ct. Wow, what a great trip and now I have to add this to my list of places to go too. I love it.

  53. My niece lives down that way, we have yet to visit. It’s nice to know places to visit when we are in the area. I love aquariums…visiting this one would be a must.

  54. I’ve always wanted to visit Mystic. Both for the pizza and for the seaport.

  55. Looks like a pretty neat place to visit/live! We love aquariums 🙂

  56. All of this sounds like so much fun. Though, being in Texas, I am more enthralled by the snow, ha! Thanks for sharing.

  57. This makes me excited for my daughter to get older and being able to take her to a place like this! We’d have so much fun here as a family! 😀

  58. Mystic looks like a wonderful town. There’s so much culture there. It’s the best of small town and big city. I love it!

  59. I have never been to that area of the country. I hope to make it there soon.

  60. I am all about visiting Downtown of towns. So much history and fun shops!

  61. I love Mystic. When I was a little girl, my grandparents would take me to the Aquarium all the time. I would make them sit through seating after seating of the dolphin & sea lion shows. We took my daughter for the first time last year. She loved it. The Seaport is great too & of course you have to go to Mystic Pizza.

  62. Everytime I visit Mohegan Sun Casino or Foxwoods I always say I need to visit Mystic, I think I will get out there this summer and have a look around! Great Shots! I definitely want to hit the Aquarium. And LOL on the ‘bed hog’ thing, I’m definitely a tornado when I sleep too!

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

  63. What a great place to visit. I would love to visit the aquarium with my kids

  64. OH! I love the movie Mystic Pizza, had no idea there was a town or that there was so much to do!

  65. What a sweet looking town! And……I loved that movie. Mystic Pizza?! Who knew. I’d love to visit just to go there for the pizza.

  66. I only have driven through CT – never stayed there though. Looks like a lot of really fun things to do there. I would love to go to the Aquarium 🙂

  67. I am such a big fan of pizza. This looks like a great vacation!

  68. It is so on my budket list to go that pizza place. I always love when you post on FB when you go 🙂

  69. Wow! I feel like I went back in time reading this post! When I was in 1-3rd grade I lived in Narragansett RI and every year we had a field trip to Mystic Seaport & the aquarium! Glad yall enjoyed yourselves:)

  70. Head to the Velvet Mill on a Winter Saturday morning in Stonington for the indoor farmer’s market. While inside, take a stroll through the large mill to check out the art galleries, shops, Zest (bakery), and Beer’d!

  71. This is awesome. Love it. I love visiting aquariums when I travel and Hilton properties are the best.

  72. Wow, it looks like such a fun place to visit! Now you have me wanting to take a roas trip. 🙂

  73. I have always wanted to see where Mystic Pizza is. You go to all the fun places.

  74. I had no idea Mystic was a town or that Mystic Pizza was a real place! How cool! These sights are pretty neat. If we are ever in the area we will have to stop and check them out.

  75. What a fabulous little city. I would LOVE to visit. I’ve only visited Connecticut once but it was just for a meeting and I spent most of my time in NYC.

  76. Looks like a great place to visit. I love aquariums – we always visit them whenever we vacation.

  77. The aquarium would be so cool to go and see. I would also want to go and see as many of the light houses that I could.

  78. Mystic, CT sounds like a charming little town and I would absolutely love visiting there and staying at that Hilton. I think Mr. MAF would agree.

  79. This would be a fun getaway! That bridge looks so cool!

  80. I haven’t been to Mystic in years but this makes me totally want to go back.

  81. I’ve never been to Mystic (or even heard of it) but it looks like a lot of fun!

  82. I would love to visit the Mystic Aquarium! I love jellyfish, and these look so cool in that type of lighting and tank.

  83. You had me at aquarium. That looks like a cool place.

  84. I haven’t visited any part of Connecticut. But I think visiting Mystic Pizza would be on my list.

  85. What a quaint little town, rich in history. That would be a fun place to explore!

  86. Even though I lived in NY for many many years and Connecticut is so close by I have never been there. Great list!

  87. I would love to see the Aquarium. I love watching all the different types of fish. It would be a great way to spend the day.

  88. wow – it seriously could pass for my hometown. we even got the drawbridge too!

  89. This looks like a great trip. I have fond memories from childhood of visiting Mystic with my family. I’d love to take a trip there this summer.

  90. Lots of great stuff to do there. Looks like you all had a great time.

  91. I need to get back to Mystic! We went years ago, I believe I was still pregnant with Landon. Hunter formed a bond with the beluga whale! We had a blast but I’m sure there is so much more we could do now! Plus we never ate at Mystic Pizza!

  92. I love those jelly fish! I’ve always wanted to see where Mystic Pizza was too.

  93. wow that looks like a great place to visit. I love the aquarium.

  94. Wow- I had no idea that “Mystic Pizza ‘ egzist! Thanks for sharing it!

  95. I’ve been to Mystic a couple of times… I live in SW CT, so it isn’t too far. I’ve taken family there as well, though I have to admit I’ve always gone in the summer. I think it is a fun town, which lots of options for families. For those coming from out of town, it makes a nice stop on an East Coast tour… NYC, up to Mystic, then on to Plymouth and Boston.

  96. I love your family adventures! They look like so much fun! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  97. Looks like some fun things to do in the winter! Especially with all the snow everyone has gotten.

  98. Mystic is such a beautiful place! 🙂
    We went with the kids years ago and l still have great memories of the places we visited; especially the Aquarium.

  99. these are fun things to do in the winter there. I know my kids would love to experience that

  100. This looks like a gem! I love that ship! I would love to go to something like this!

  101. I love Mystic- my favorite place to eat is Three Monkeys!

  102. This totally makes me think about Mystic Pizza!

  103. I’ve always wanted to try Mystic Pizza! I love the aquarium for the kids too!

  104. Thanks for sharing this. I have never been to CT, but if I do I will be sure to try out your list. I bet Mystic pizza is really good.

  105. There is still so much to do even on winter – thanks for this. I would love to try everything on the list in the near future – especially that aquarium!

  106. Mystic Pizza looks like the perfect place to chill on a Cold Day. I’ve never been to CT but these make me want to visit

  107. looks like a good place to visit even on winter days.

  108. I’ve been to Mystic, but it was in the summer. It is a beautiful town ans I would very much enjoy going back again.

  109. I hope to visit the east coast one day. Keeping this!

  110. I love that movie! We just watched it a couple of weeks ago on Netflix! I hope I get to visit there sometime! I love old historical towns!

  111. Oh wow! This looks fantastic! What a great place to visit!

  112. The seaport looks like a great place to visit! I also love visiting any downtown to see the culture 🙂

  113. I’m from Cape Cod and I don’t think I’ve ever been to Mystic!

  114. Oh I know my kids would love to visit the aquarium!

  115. Such a beautiful place I would so love to visit it.

  116. I’ve never been there before – but I feel like I should now!! Looks like a great place!!

  117. I have always wanted to go to Mystic!!!

  118. This looks like some great activities! And yes, I have seen Mystic Pizza a LONG time ago. Had no idea it was a real place!

  119. Mystic Seaport looks really nice. I love the lighthouse. I visited my first lighthouse last year.

  120. I think I would love to visit Mystic Seaport…..

  121. My cousin just moved to CT for his job. I’m not sure it is near Mystic but I will have to show him this.

  122. Robin, I was looking for a Valentines Day daytrip and your 5 things to do pus a romantic dinner at Harbour House gave me the itinerary. Thank you. And I sense you have a great sense of humour.