Cruising Guide to Mystic, Connecticut

Whether you have a family that loves sea creatures or you’re a history buff interested in New England’s maritime past, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in Mystic, Connecticut. Mystic is one of the most popular destinations in the region thanks to its world-class aquarium and a historic seaport that serves as a living museum.

Boaters traveling to Mystic must cruise three miles through Mystic Harbor and the Mystic River. They will encounter two bridges along the way—a railroad swing bridge and a bascule bridge. Boaters should be aware that the Mystic River is a no-wake zone and the entire river is a no-discharge zone.

Plenty of marine facilities can be found in the area, but perhaps the best option is to tie up at the docks at Mystic Seaport (860-572-5391, VHF 68). The seaport, known as “The Museum of America and the Sea,” is on the east bank of the river and it is home to 50 antique buildings, including a hoop shop and a ship-smith shop. It is also home to several ships, including a working steamship and the Charlies W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship in the world.

If space is available, tie up at the seaport’s docks during the day for free and visit the seaport. If you are lucky enough to stay overnight, you can experience the museum after 6 p.m., which regular visitors can’t do. It’s a popular place to dock, so make reservations in advance.

Among the area’s other facilities is Mystic Downtown Marina (860-572-5942), which is the closest marina to downtown. Mystic Shipyard (860-536-6588) is a full-service marina with transient moorings and slips. Brewer Yacht Yard at Mystic (860-536-2293) has lots of dockside amenities. Mystic River Marina (860-536-3123) is another full-service marina in the area.

Boaters can also find several anchorages nearby. A transient anchorage area is north of Masons Island and southeast of the railroad bridge. A second area is off the seaport and identified by a sign on the seaport’s north dinghy dock. Other anchorages are south of the seaport.

After touring Mystic Seaport, visitors should drive or take a taxi to nearby Mystic Aquarium (860-572-5955). The aquarium features beluga whales, sea lions and penguins, and many of the exhibits are outdoors.

Mystic’s downtown area is a short 10-minute walk from Mystic Seaport and is home to many art galleries, stores, restaurants, bars and boutiques. When you get hungry, grab a slice of pizza at Mystic Pizza (860-536-3700), the place made famous by the popular movie with the same name starring Julia Roberts. Another favorite spot is Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop (860-572-7978), which has homemade ice cream next to the bascule bridge. Latitude 41 (860-572-5303) is an upscale restaurant offering fine dining and live entertainment. For fresh seafood, check out S&P Oyster Company (860-536-2674).