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The temperatures seemed to be saying that spring had sprung, so I took up the invitation to spend a couple nights at the lovely Inn At Mystic (3 Williams Ave). Located in bucolic Mystic, Conneticut, on what was once a private estate with sweeping views overlooking the Mystic Harbor and Fishers Island Sound, it is the perfect spot for girlfriend’s getaways or a romantic rendevous.The Inn has been welcoming guests for over 50 years and has everything you need to completely relax. I stayed in two different rooms since the unexpected snow cut my friend’s stay short. The first room was simple, but cozy. But the second room was spectacular! Featuring a fireplace, huge jaccuzzi and a private terrace overlooking the sound, I spent a blissful unexpected snowy evening next to a roaring fire.
Read on for my tips on the best things to do in Mystic – where to stay, eat, spa, and shop in this cozy, yet bustling, small town.
Amtrak stops literally one minute from the Inn, so if the weather is nice, you can walk it. I recommend taking the earliest train you can get up for because there is lots of fun stuff to do in Mystic. I went in the early spring but summer trips offer even more things to do like kayaking and bike riding.
I invited my friend Denise to join me for this girlfriend’s getaway and upon her arrival, we headed straight for the middle of town. We made like French women by having our dessert before dinner at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream. Named the best ice cream in New England, it definitely lived up to the accolade. Plan to diet when you get home and go there every day of your visit. To walk off the calories, we engaged in my favorite sport – shopping. Main Street in Downtown, Mystic has a ton of fun shops that offer a wide variety of tschotkes and cute tees and caps to commemorate your trip.
For dinner on the first evening, we were blessed to be invited to the annual “Spirit of Ireland” Dinner. Held every St. Patrick’s Day at the exquisite Mystic Yachting Center, the proceeds benefit the Mystic Aquarium’s mission programs of conservation, education and research. The evening was catered by Ocean Blue Catering, who served up a delectable buffet feast of traditional Irish fare. Menu highlights of the multi-course meal included a bangers and mash hors d’oeuvre, Guinness beef stew, a corn beef brisket carving station and stuffed sole with oyster stuffing and Dublin lawyer lobster cream sauce. For dessert, we were treated to a Bailey’s Irish Crème cheesecake with Jameson Sauce. Served alongside a flight of Irish whiskey to live music, the guests heartily embraced the Irish spirit. The one bad thing about living in NYC is that I work so much that it is rare to form real friendships outside of your immediate circle. So it was a great pleasure to dine with a table full of absolute strangers and get to know them. The evening was so fun and festive that I would love to make a St. Patrick’s Day visit to Mystic a yearly event.
Since Foxwoods Casino is about an hour drive away, after dinner we decided to try our luck at some slots. I was on a winning streak – up a whole 30 cents – so should have quit while I was ahead. Foxwoods is fun, but I do wish that there was no smoking throughout the building. I am a former smoker and current advocate against it, especially in public places and shared living spaces, like apartment buildings. It was suffocating and off putting to have hundreds of people puffing away.
Our second day in Mystic can best be described as magical. After an amazing full breakfast at the Harbour House, which is the Inn at Mystic’s on-site restaurant, we headed over to The Color Spa (42 Washington St.),which can best be described as a little piece of heaven. I had one of the most amazing massages I have ever had at this charming spot. Ask for Dana, who is so thorough that she even sends her lucky clients off with exercises to do at home! In fact, writing this has made me realize I need to stop and do a couple now.
We floated out of the Color Spa and headed back into town to check out more shops and to have lunch at the legendary Mystic Pizza, famed for the ’80’s Julia Roberts movie of the same name. Though the pizza is nowhere near as good as we are used to in NYC, the ambiance is ace.
Our afternoon was spent with the African penguins and Beluga whales at the Mystic Acquarium. Open from 9:00am to 5:50pm daily, the Mystic Acquarium is one of the nation’s leading aquariums home to the aforementioned penguins and whales, as well as, stellar sea lions and a variety of other sea creatures. There are tons of fun things to do including the 4D Theater, which is currently showing an Ice Age short, and Exploration Wild, an exhibit that explores the habitats of the rainforest, desert, open oceans, wetlands, and Arctic. The Scales and Tails room offers hands-on time with some of nature’s cold blooded creatures, like rays. New this summer, birds of the outback will spotlight hundreds of feathered friends from Down Under that guests can feed.
The staff at the Mystic Aquarium are helping to save the planet through research and animal conservation. For example, the work they do on their resident African penguins is helping penguins around the world. Mystic Aquarium sends its staff to South Africa each year to work with wild African Penguins. In addition, working with their partners, the SANCCOB (South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds), the acquarium staff helps to rehabilitate abandoned African penguin chicks, oiled birds, and also works on programs, such as, the Chick Bolstering Project.
Snow was set to hit the area and my friend decided to leave ahead of it, so we had a lovely early meal back at the Harbour House. Breakfast at this lovely spot is great but dinner is incredible. You cannot go wrong with anything on this menu. I opted for the delectable wood fired wings for appetizer and the skillet shrimp fajitas with the pecan tart for dessert. Check out the full menu at:
I had am amazing stay at The Inn at Mystic (3 Williams Ave).Tim, the Inn’s manager and the entire staff are so warm and welcoming, it feels like you are visiting relatives. If with your beau, go romantic and get the king bed room with the jacuzzi or go for a double room if you are staying with a friend or relative.
Mystic Aquarium (55 Coogan Blvd) – Commune with sea life at one of the nation’s foremost acquariums.
Foxwoods Casino (39 North Westerly RD, North Stonington, CT) – Slots, roulettes, entertainment and more make for a fun night out. Do try to find the non-smoking section though.
We only had a quick weekend stay so we didn’t get around to these awesome spots. But I definitely want to stop by these fun destinations on my next visit to Mystic:
Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center – (162 Greenmanville Avenue)
Argia Cruises – (15 Holmes St.) – Take a 1/2 day or sunset sail
Mashantucket Pequot Museum (110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, CT.)
Harbour House Restaurant – (3 Williams Ave) – The 5-star onsite restaurant is so great, we ate most of out meals here. Breakfast can either be buffet, which comes with your room, or you can order from a wide array of great breakfast fare. A visit to the Harbour House is a must during any visit to Mystic.
Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream – (2 West Main Street) – Yummy yummy ice cream and sundaes.
Mystic Pizza – (56 West Main Street) – Pizza is ok but the ambiance makes this a must visit
Color Salon and Spa (42 Washington St) Book your appointment at www.mysticcolorsalonandspas.com
Radio Waves (2 West Main Street) – I bought the cutest Mystic cap here that I live in.
Bejeweled (26 West Main St.)
Bank Square Books (53 West Main St)
The Black Dog (27 West Main St)
Tidal River Clothing (28 West Main St.)