Are you looking for a family-friendly weekend getaway from New York City and the surrounding New York suburbs? Mystic, CT is an easy weekend getaway destination for families in the New York metro area. You might have heard of Mystic, CT, probably from Julia Roberts’ movie Mystic Pizza? However, it’s not just the pizza that is great at Mystic, CT. You will get the quaint New England seaside town vibe along with many family friendly activities for the kids! The best part about Mystic is it is a short drive from New York City. Just a three hour drive from New York City and 2 hours or less from the surrounding New York suburbs. Here are some family-friendly itineraries for a family friendly weekend getaway in Mystic, CT.
Family Friendly Weekend Getaway in Mystic, CT
Day 1: Mystic Aquarium and Olde Mistick Village
For us, the Mystic Aquarium is the main reason we go to Mystic. Since Mystic is just a two hour drive from our home in the New York suburbs, we take a family weekend getaway in Mystic a few times a year. My kids can spend the entire day at the Mystic aquarium. It is a big aquarium with 4D movies, a Sea Lion show, and numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits. The nice thing about the Mystic Aquarium is there are a lot of outdoor exhibits. It is similar to a zoo rather than your typical aquarium where everything is inside one building. Our favorite outdoor exhibit is the Beluga whale. The Beluga whales at the Mystic Aquarium are amazingly friendly! They are so fun and playful, we spend a lot of time watching and interacting with the Beluga whales. The penguins are also a must visit at the Mystic Aquarium. What I like about the penguin exhibit is you can see the penguins from above ground and underwater. They are so active underwater, my kids love watching them swim back and forth. We also never miss the Sea Lion show. The Sea Lion show is set on a big stage and is highly entertaining. Make sure to check the showtimes and plan your visit around that. After the Sea Lion show, we usually go through the indoor exhibit. We love the jelly fish tank, sting rays and sharks. We also always make it a point to stop at the Sea Lion underwater viewing area. It’s cool to be able to see the sea lions from the Sea Lion show swim underwater. The indoor aquarium also has some fun interactive activities such as a touch tank, a sand topography interactive game and my kids loved the recycling game where you control grabbers and pick up trash (although this is not a permanent exhibit). Aside from marine animals, the Mystic Aquarium is also a great place to take your kids to if they are into dinosaurs. They will love Jurassic Giants featuring an indoor dinosaur trail with 12 giant animatronic dinosaurs. My son loved the T-Rex and Stegosaurus. We also make it a point to catch a 4D movie before leaving the aquarium. The 4D movie changes every time and it does not matter what is showing, expect to get rained on and even snowed on! The kids love it!
Old Mistick Village
Since the Olde Mistick Village is located right next door to the aquarium, we usually make a stop to visit the Olde Mistick Village. The Olde Mistick Village is a quaint outdoor colonial-style village with shops and restaurants. I love the assortment of interesting small, local shops. It’s fun to stroll around and wander into random stores. There are stores that sells kites, creative toys, artisan honey, handmade crafts and much more. It’s definitely not an outdoor mall with the typical chain stores. It’s a great place to find unique gifts. When the kids need a break from shopping, you can take them to the duck pond in the middle of the village.
Where to Eat
The Olde Mistick Village is a great place to go for lunch if you don’t want to eat at the Mystic Aquarium’s cafeteria. Since Olde Mistick Village is within walking distance from the Mystic Aquarium, we sometimes come out for a quick lunch at the restaurants in the Olde Mistick Village. We like Mango’s for pizza and ice cream. For dinner, if everyone is tired from spending the day at the Mystic aquarium, you can take it easy and dine at one of the restaurants at Olde Mistick Village. We like Go Fish or Steak Loft.
Day 2: Mystic Drawbridge, downtown Mystic and Mohegan Sun
We usually spend the morning of Day 2 back at the Mystic Aquarium since it is just across the street from our hotel. After spending the morning at the Mystic Aquarium, we head to downtown Mystic for a late lunch. We love Mystic Pizza. We can’t get enough of their thick crust, pan pizza. For fans of Mystic Pizza the movie, you are in luck because they play the movie on loop at the restaurant. Plus, you will enjoy the old school restaurant ambiance at Mystic Pizza. After lunch, we like to stroll down Main street and pop into stores. Similar to Olde Mistick Village, you will not find chain stores on Main street. You will love the quaint New England town feel. We ultimately make a stop at the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop. The ice cream shop is literally sitting right next to the drawbridge. It’s a great spot to enjoy your ice cream since you will get great views of Main Street, Mystic River and the drawbridge. If you are lucky, the drawbridge will come up and your kids will get a thrill watching the drawbridge in action!
Before driving back home, we like to stop at Mohegan Sun. Mohegan Sun is surprisingly fun to visit with kids even if the casino area is off-limits. There is a lot to see in Mohegan Sun from the animatronic wolves to the dramatic indoor waterfalls. We also like walking around the stores at their mall and usually make a stop at the arcade. If you want to hit the casino, they have Kids Quest where you can drop off your kids for babysitting. They take kids ages 6 weeks to 12 years old (although I’ve never tried the babysitting services). Mohegan Sun is also a great place for dinner before heading home. There are a lot of kid-friendly restaurants to choose from such as Chick-Fil-A, Frank Pepe pizza, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Johnny Rockets and Seasons buffet.
Where to Stay in Mystic, CT
We always stay at the Hilton Mystic which is across the street from the Mystic Aquarium and the Olde Mistick Village. We like it because it is convenient to two family friendly Mystic attractions. And it is across the street from many restaurants and only a 6 minute drive to downtown Mystic. Plus the Hilton Mystic was recently renovated so it is nice to come back to a newly renovated room.
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