Mystic Seaport: A Must-See Attraction in the Heart of Mystic Country
I had lived in eastern Connecticut for over 5 years before I finally visited the Mystic Seaport. From the main road it looked like such a small attraction and the $26 price tag just didn’t seem worth it. After all, what could they have in there? A couple of boats? A few exhibits? Not my cup of tea.
But last year I took advantage of an amazing Groupon deal and signed our family up for an annual membership. Over the next 12 months we discovered that Mystic Seaport is an INCREDIBLE child-friendly and pet-friendly attraction that we’ve been missing out on all this time.
While it’s true that Mystic Seaport is home to large sailing ships such as the Charles W. Morgan it also has a shipyard, a planetarium, a playground and a 19th century fishing village.
The Seaport Village is by far my favorite exhibit. It’s not just a replica of various businesses and homes, these are actual 19th century buildings that were painstakingly transported to Mystic Seaport from all over New England. You can watch demonstrations in various shops like the printing press or ship carver, relax in the gazebo or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the village. A full day could be spent just exploring all the buildings.
Stink’s favorite part of Mystic Seaport is the children’s museum. Designed for children under 7 it’s chock full of nautical themed activities. Piece together puzzles, read books, swab the deck of a ship or cook a meal in the galley. Just be warned, it’s a small space that can get crowded during the summer and there’s no air conditioning!
On sunny days we spend most of our time outside on the nearby playground. Stink loves climbing around on the 3 wooden boats, playing captain with her new friends. She’s even spent a few chilly days out there as well. Snow doesn’t stop this New England baby!
There’s plenty of activities for older children as well. At the Toy Boat Building you can make your own wooden boat to take home as a keepsake (for an additional cost). Nearby the Art Spot has crafts for younger children: candle making, canvas painting and jewelry box decorating.
The sailing ships are a wonderful place to explore for kids of any age and the Home Port in the P.R. Mallory Building has a puppet theatre, reading nook and drawing station.
But it’s not just the exhibits that are a big draw for visitors to the Mystic Seaport, there’s the festivals too! Some of the more popular festivals include Pirate Day in April, the Sea Music Festival in June, Chowder Days in October and Trick-or-Treating on Halloween.
We’ve been to many of the festivals at Mystic Seaport and love them all. Chowder Days is a foodie’s paradise, the Sea Music Festival occurs during one of the nicest months of the year, Pirate Day is great for the kids and Trick-or-Treating was where Stink discovered her love for salt water taffy.
The Verdict: If you’re a history buff or enjoy attractions like Colonial Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village then the Mystic Seaport is definitely a must-see attraction. Even though the historic buildings are small and can get a little cramped during high season there are plenty of open outdoor spaces so it never truly feels crowded.
Good to Know: There are plenty of ways to save money on admission at the Mystic Seaport. Teachers and their immediate family receive free admission on specified Educator’s Weekends. Active duty and retired military members (and their families) get the discounted group rate and you can also receive free admission on your birthday!
When to Go: Summer is one of the busiest times of the year for Mystic Seaport but I much prefer fall with its beautiful autumn colors and the yummy Chowder Days festival. Any time of the year is good to visit, really, but keep in mind that the paths around the Seaport Village are dirt so in wintertime they may be closed off due to slushy snow or ice.
Child Friendly? Yes! The Seaport is great for children of all ages. Boat rides, carriage rides, playgrounds, ships and the children’s museum will all ensure you go home with a tired and happy kid.
Pet Friendly? Leashed dogs are welcome at the Mystic Seaport and there’s plenty of room for them to run around. Unfortunately they’re not allowed in the historic buildings around the Seaport Village or on the ships. The cafe and restaurant has outdoor seating where you can enjoy a meal with your furry friend.