One of the problems with many weekend getaway destinations is that they’re either designed specifically for fun with the kids or as a romantic, grown-up escape. Historic yet modern, Mystic, Conn., is  less than three hours away from New York City and offers a little bit of everything for everyone. It’s also a stone’s throw from the Northeast’s largest casino resorts: Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods. Shop the day away, check out the local crafts and history and enjoy the nautical-themed attractions in downtown Mystic. Then have a nice dinner in town, or cut loose at the casinos for dancing and any kind of entertainment your heart desires.

Getting There

From New York, it’s an easy 2.5-hour drive up I-95 to exits 63-9, or take the bus from Port Authority via Peter Pan Bus Lines. For a more relaxed and scenic trip, Amtrak takes you from Penn Station right into the heart of Mystic in about three hours. There’s also cross-island ferry service available for those out in eastern Long Island.

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Mystic Seaport—The Museum of America and the Sea
75 Greenmanville Ave.
Mystic, CT 06355
(888) 973-2767

Price: $24 adults/$15 kids ages 6 to 17/free children 5 and younger

Kids and adults will enjoy the famed historic vessels and recreated 19th century coastal village, all part of the popular Mystic Seaport. Step back in time and climb aboard the ships, interact with the role players, or take a horse and carriage ride through the village. For more 21st-century pursuits, visit the shops, the Maritime Art Gallery and enjoy fine dining at Latitude 41°.

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Mystic Aquarium
55 Coogan Blvd.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-5955

Price: $29 adults/$21 children ages 3 to 17/free children ages 2 and younger

Some of the sea’s most diverse and fascinating creatures call Mystic Aquarium home, with exhibits including beluga whales, sharks, sea lions, African penguins and exotic fish collections from all over the world. The new SpongeBob SquarePants 4D is a virtual journey kids will love, and the aquarium hosts rotating educational and interactive exhibits throughout the year. Currently taking up residence at the museum’s Ocean Exploration Center is Titanic–12,450 Feet Below traces the history of the doomed ship through imagery, recreations and hands-on activities, and a high-def film details the search for and discovery of the Titanic.

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Argia Mystic Cruises
15 Holmes St.
Mystic, CT 06355
(800) 536-0416

Price: $42 adults/$39 children ages 17 and younger

Sail right out out of downtown Mystic aboard the Argia, a modern replica of a 19th-century two-masted topsail schooner. Enjoy traditional windjammer sailing as the schooner passes scenic lighthouses and islands, heading down the Mystic River to Fishers’ Island Sound. Choose from any of three sailings daily, including a sunset cruise. Bring along a picnic basket or enjoy complimentary snacks and soft drinks aboard ship.

Olde Mistick Village
27 Coogan Blvd.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-4941

This unique collection of more than 40 independent retail stores, craft shops and restaurants is set within a picturesque village within a village. Shop, eat or just stroll the tree-lined, brick-paved grounds alongside with the ducks who call Olde Mistick Village home. Local charity events and food festivals are also held here, as well as arts and crafts fairs and entertainment events. A great trip to take before the holidays, Olde Mistick extends its hours seasonally to allow visitors to combine souvenir buying with finding gifts for impossible-to-buy-for friends and family.

Where to Stay

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Inn at Mystic Resort
3 Williams Ave.
Mystic, CT
(860) 536-9604

For luxury with a view, visitors can’t go wrong with Inn at Mystic Resort, which sits on a hillside that overlooks Mystic Harbor and Long Island Sound. The scenic 15-acre property comprises the elegant Main Building with accommodations for families and couples, the romantic and cozy Gate House, the water-facing East Wing, and the classic, garden-set mansion (where Bogie and Lauren Bacall spent their honeymoon). Special packages include admission at local attractions as well as dinner at the resort’s historic Flood Tide restaurant.

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Harbour Inne & Cottage
15 Edgemont St.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-9253

For those who know New England inherently means bed and breakfast stays, the pet-friendly Harbour Inne & Cottage sits within walking distance from the train station and downtown attractions, and a short ride away from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos. The Inne features four bedrooms with their own bathrooms, a social area with a fireplace and piano, and full kitchen privileges for guests. The Cottage can sleep up to six guests and includes an outdoor year-round hot tub spa. Guests may enjoy a lovely view of the town and harbor from the waterfront gazebo before retiring to their cozy rooms for the night.

Where to Eat

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Mystic Pizza
56 W. Main St.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-3700

Sure it’s a tourist trap thanks to the 1988 movie that launched Julia Roberts’ career, but this hometown favorite boasts well-worth-it food at good prices. It’s the perfect lunch or dinner option for the whole family, with a full menu of specialty pizzas as well as grinders (hero sandwiches), calzones, pasta dinners, burgers and sandwiches from the grill. It’s crowded at peak times, but insiders suggest taking a short ride to North Stonington to Mystic Pizza’s second, larger location.

Latitude 41° at Mystic Seaport
75 Greenmanville Ave.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-5303

Serving New American cuisine in a nautical atmosphere facing the Mystic River, Latitude 41° is one of Mystic’s most popular establishments. Diners may enjoy fine service in one of the main dining rooms or a more casual, relaxed environment in the restaurant’s classic Shipyard Tavern. From Mystic’s best burgers to chef’s farm-fresh specials, the extensive menu promises absolute satisfaction and Latitude’s wine list covers all of the bases. The restaurant also offers live music on Fridays and Saturdays, and $4 menu and drink items during Four for Four happy hour Tuesdays through Fridays.

Michael Browne is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City, specializing in travel and the hospitality industry. Browne is the former managing editor of Travel Agent magazine. His work can be found on

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