Many of us think of New England as rugged, adventurous and chilly, and that perception is actually not too far off the mark. Many people enjoy the idea of a cool summer up north, and Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport is a wonderful “port of call” for a New England vacation. There is very little possibility of becoming bored if you choose Mystic to visit, because anyone from old to young can find the most perfect souvenir, the most beautiful view, and the most wonderful dinner if they only know how to explore.
You might want to consider visiting in the fall; New England is well-known for brightly-colored foliage and some spectacular photos. The downfall to an autumn or winter visit, however, is the possibility of snow, ice and treacherous roads, as well as harsh temperatures that will have you breaking out the parkas and snow boots. If you’re not the type to worry about cold weather and have a sturdy vehicle built for tough climate, you should have nothing to fear! Go ahead and defy the snow.
Mystic Seaport is not a large place; indeed, it’s easy to get lost in the huge maps of Connecticut. There is something about that homey feeling, though, that makes you glad this little fishing village isn’t full of skyscrapers, bars and traffic. Mystic Seaport will transport you back centuries ago, when the sea pervaded nearly every aspect of people’s lives in this region.
When you arrive at the seaport, one of the first things you will notice is the stately old ship sitting peacefully in the harbor. This is the Charles W. Morgan, a whaler. If you’re a history lover like I am, this old wooden ship will be the highlight of the visit. The Charles W. Morgan is not the only sailing vessel you will see here (a harbor wouldn’t be a harbor without more than one ship!) and you will have the option of getting aboard some of the other vessels.
Mystic Seaport’s other big attraction is the recreated village. Though perhaps not as detailed as Williamsburg or Plimoth Plantation (yes, spelled that way!), it is certainly just as essential an experience. The historic architectural styles are a wonder to the eye, and shopping and dining abound throughout the town of Mystic. If you’re traveling with children, they may find a primitive version of a schoolhouse to be of interest. This place is called the Boardman School and its historical background is a good teaching tool for youngsters. Other historical homes and buildings can be found in Mystic Seaport as well. The printing press is one place not to miss, as well as Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern.
The Thomas Oyster and Thomas Greenman houses date from the mid-1800s and are majestic and pleasing to the eye. Don’t forget to compare the primitive architecture of the “olden days” to the many different building styles available in this day and age. You certainly won’t walk away bored from Old “Mistick” Village (the spelling is strange; we’re in the 19th century, after all!) The pedestrian-only path helps to create an illusion of the past.
It’s time to eat! After a long day of exploring Mystic Seaport, you’ll want a great restaurant option. Some possibilities are: Seaman’s Inne Restaurant and Pub, with great offerings for everyone in the family, and the Cafe and Bake Shop for a quick treat. You can find the Cafe and Bake Shop open from 8-6; this is a great place to grab breakfast or a small dinner. At Seaman’s Inne you will find a much bigger selection. You might want to partake of a seafood supper; after all, it’s one of the things for which New England is famous.
Many people can’t stand the thought of visiting a new place without picking up some special souvenirs, or at the very least window-shopping and choosing what they *would* bring home if they were able to afford it! Mystic Seaport has you covered. At Bank Square Books on Main Street, you’ll find everything from maps to novels in case curling up in front of a roaring fireplace is your idea of the perfect New England vacation. Try Whyevernot, a unique store with all kinds of treasures, such as home decor, books, apparel and much more.
You don’t have to worry about finding the perfect lodging. Mystic offers everything from quaint, cozy bed and breakfasts to chain hotels. Whatever your budget or lodging preference, you won’t be disappointed.
By Lacie R. Schaeffer