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The Magic of Mystic, Connecticut

As the home to a world-class aquarium and a historic seaport that is essentially a living museum to New England’s maritime past, it is no wonder why Mystic, Connecticut is one of the region’s most beloved boating destinations.

To get to Mystic from Long Island Sound, boaters will cruise just over three miles up through Mystic Harbor and the Mystic River. Along the way, they will encounter a railroad swing bridge and then a bascule bridge downtown. Boaters should keep in mind that the Mystic River is a no-wake zone and the entire river is a no-discharge zone.

The area has a lot of marine facilities, but perhaps the best option, if you can get it, is to tie up at the docks at Mystic Seaport (860-572-5391, VHF 68). The Seaport is known as “The Museum of America and the Sea.” It 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.

When space is available, you can 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 get to experience the museum after 6 p.m., which regular visitors can’t do. It’s a popular place to dock, so make reservations well in advance.

Among the other facilities in the area 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) is a large facility with plenty of dockside amenities. Mystic River Marina (860-536-3123) is another full-service marina in the area.

The area also has several suitable anchorages. A transient anchorage area can be found 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 can be found south of the Seaport.

After touring Mystic Seaport, visitors should take a taxi to nearby Mystic Aquarium (860-572-5955). A favorite among families, the aquarium features beluga whales, sea lions and penguins, and many of the exhibits are outdoors. The downtown area is worth visiting in its own right. It is a short, 10-minute walk from Mystic Seaport and is home to many art galleries, stores, restaurants, bars and boutiques.

No visit to Mystic is complete without grabbing a slice at Mystic Pizza (860-536-3700), the pizza place made famous by the popular movie with the same name starring Julia Roberts. Another popular local institution is Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop (860-572-7978), which offers homemade ice cream next to the bascule bridge. For more involved dining, 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).

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