City Guide: Mystic, Connecticut
A Lovely Spring Day in New England
Thank you all for coming back! As I patiently wait for my next big international trip, I have been fulfilling my weekends by discovering hidden gems in a few local cities that aren’t too far from where I live. Last weekend, I made a day trip with my friends to Philadelphia (click here to read my blog post on Philly) and to follow that, I explored Mystic, Connecticut this past weekend.
My parents had a wedding in Mystic, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to drive up with them and explore the city and coastal communities on my own since it is charming and beautiful. The drive from the New York City area to Mystic is a little under two and a half hours, so it makes for the perfect mini road trip for the day or weekend.
Luckily, the weather was gorgeous on the Connecticut coast, so it was the perfect day to explore this quaint New England town. Today, I am thrilled to share with you my city guide to Mystic!
When I first arrived in Mystic, I headed straight to historic downtown! This lovely downtown area features cute New England architecture, great restaurants, cafés, boutiques, gift shops and other small businesses.
In all honesty, the downtown area of Mystic is fairly small and you will walk through it pretty quickly, but if you take the time to enjoy everything the town has to offer, you could easily spend hours there.
The first place I went to for lunch was called Chapter One. It was at this lovely restaurant that I enjoyed an amazing Connecticut lobster roll. If you have read my blog posts from the past, you definitely know that I LOVE lobster rolls. I preferably enjoy a warm brown butter lobster roll (Connecticut lobster roll) than a cold mayo one (Maine lobster roll), but I will surely eat either or.
After lunch, I took a stroll through the town and stopped in some boutiques and gift shops. When I first arrived in Mystic, I told myself that I wasn’t going to buy anything and of course I did! (Hey, I can’t help it sometimes.) All of the boutiques had adorable clothes, so I couldn’t resist. Here is a list of some of the shops located in downtown Mystic that I visited:
- Adore (Home Décor)
- Sage (Women’s Clothing)
- Sea Bags Mystic (Hand Bags)
- Rochelle’s Boutique (Women’s Clothing) – Where I made my purchase of the day.
- Dress Boutique of Mystic (Dress Store)
- Ivory Ella (Clothing Store for a Cause)
When I finished shopping, I was in the mood for a mid-afternoon dessert and coffee. Mystic offers a variety of different ice cream parlors, coffee houses, bakeries, candy shops and so much more. Since there was a bit of a chilly breeze from the nearby Mystic River, I stopped at a quaint coffee shop called Green Marble Coffee House where I enjoyed a comforting mocha and freshly-baked cookie as I watched the boats sail along the water.
Here is a list of some other great places to grab dessert and coffee in downtown Mystic:
- Li’s Bake Shop
- Sift Bake Shop
- Mystic Drawbridge Ice-Cream
- Lighthouse Bakery
- Mystic Ice Cream and Sweet Shop
- Bartleby’s Café
- Karma Kitchen & Juicery
After spending a few hours in downtown Mystic, I drove 10-15 minutes away to explore a few state parks and coastal towns that I go into more detail below. When I was finished exploring and ready to go home, I certainly made sure to grab dinner at the famous Mystic Pizza that is also located in the downtown area.
What made this family-owned restaurant famous was when Hollywood came to town in the 80s. Mystic Pizza caught the eye of screenwriter Amy Jones who chose the restaurant as the focus and setting for her story of the lives of three young waitresses, one of them being Julia Roberts. The movie was filmed at the restaurant as well as in the neighboring area. The movie, called Mystic Pizza, was released in 1988 and became an award-winning film.
When I first walked into Mystic Pizza, I loved the old tavern vibe that it gave off. There were people of all ages enjoying dinner and great laughs. In addition, there were hundreds of pictures on the wall from the movie! It was so cool being in a place where Julia Roberts was at one point in time.
I enjoyed a plain personal pizza to myself and it didn’t disappoint! Also, guess what?! You don’t have to travel to Mystic to get this iconic “Slice of Heaven”. You could purchase Mystic Pizza’s famous pie at select stores or even online!
Here is a list of some other great restaurants to check out in downtown Mystic:
- Engine Room
- Oyster Club
- Friar Tuck’s Tavern
- Grass & Bone
- The Captain Daniel Packer Inne
- S&P Oyster
- Anthony J’s Bistro
Town of Mystic:
Besides downtown, there is so much more that Mystic offers. Another popular place to check out during your time in the town is Olde Mistick Village. This adorable shopping area is conveniently located right off of Interstate 95 before you enter the heart of town. Unfortunately since I was limited on time, I didn’t walk through the Village, but I was highly recommended to do so when I eventually make my way back!
As you stroll through the Village, enjoy going back in time as it evokes the spirit of the Colonial New England era. It is here where you have excellent shopping, dining and entertainment right at the tip of your fingers!
Located right next to Olde Mistick Village is the famous Mystic Aquarium that was also recommended for me to check out next time! With habitats featuring sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, sea lions and so much more, it is at the Mystic Aquarium where you could explore the depths of the ocean right in Connecticut.
Besides historic downtown and Olde Mistick Village, the Mystic area also offers festivals, events, state parks, beaches, wineries, breweries, cideries and so much more! One of my favorite parts of the day was getting out in nature and exploring coastal Connecticut.
It has been quite some time since I have truly explored Connecticut’s beauty, so I made sure to have my camera and tripod ready to take some great photos in nature. The first place I visited was Esker Point in the seaside town of Noank. This beautiful area is only 10 minutes from downtown Mystic, so it was super easy to get to. During the drive to Esker Point, I loved admiring all of the gorgeous Victorian and New England homes in the area. Everything was so quaint and lovely!
When I finally arrived at the beach area in Esker Point, I jumped out of my car and savored all of the peacefulness around me. There was a small beach that featured volleyball courts, a jungle gym for children, a camping area as well as a small harbor. (I truly enjoyed taking a few candid photos of the views.) I also had a nice time relaxing and walking around for a bit.
After exploring Esker Point, I made my way over to Bluff Point State Park in the town of Groton. This beautiful park is located 15 minutes from downtown Mystic and it is a peninsula that offers over 800 acres of hiking and bike trails, fishing facilities, wildlife and so much more! When I first got to Bluff Point State Park, it was a little after 5pm so the sun wasn’t setting yet, but I did get some great evening photos along the beautiful meadows of the Long Island Sound. It was just peaceful and breathtaking!
Overall, Mystic, Connecticut is the perfect mini getaway if you live in the New England/Tri-State Area. I also recommend visiting Mystic if you are taking a road trip on Interstate 95; heading somewhere to or from New England and looking for a place to stop along the way and it even makes for the perfect weekend getaway. No matter how you want to visit Mystic, you will definitely not be disappointed. It is just a beautiful and poetic area!
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