Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Kelly
If you’re planning to spend time in Connecticut, we highly recommend that you add a visit to the coastal town of Mystic. Mystic is known for its shipbuilding history, and the Mystic Seaport Museum is a fun and interactive way to learn about maritime history. I used to live in Connecticut, and I had the opportunity to visit the Mystic Seaport Museum several times over the years. In this post, I’ll share why the Mystic Seaport Museum is one of the best things to see in Connecticut.
About the Mystic Seaport Museum
The Mystic Seaport Museum has been dedicated to preserving Mystic’s maritime history since 1929. It’s frequently been recognized as one of the best maritime museums in the country. In addition to the exhibits and the marina, the museum offers numerous research and educational programs. The Mystic Seaport Museum has over 19 acres of attractions!
How to Get to Mystic Seaport
The Mystic Seaport Museum is located in the state of Connecticut. It’s located conveniently off of Interstate 95. It’s about 56 miles east of New Haven, Connecticut, and about 49 miles away from Providence, Rhode Island.
Things to Do at the Mystic Seaport Museum
There are tons of things to do at the Mystic Seaport Museum. You could easily spend an entire day there. Here’s a few things we recommend that you check out during your visit.
Disclosure: Cover photo provided by Mystic Seaport Museum. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.
Exhibits at the Mystic Seaport Museum
One of our favorite parts about the museum was exploring its numerous exhibits. At the time of this writing, the museum has the following exhibits
- Figureheads & Shipcarvings
- Mystic River Scale Model
- Sailor Made
- Small Boats
- Thames Keel Shipbuilding Exhibit
- Sentinels of the Sea: Lighthouses
- Whaleboat Exhibit
- Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers
- Sea as Muse
- 19th-Century Navigation
- Benjamin F. Packard Ships Cabin
I particularly enjoyed the Figureheads & Shipcarvings exhibition. Each of the displayed figureheads gave its boat a unique personality, and the types of figureheads varied tremendously across the different countries and time periods represented.
One of the things we liked best about the Mystic Seaport Museum was how it encompassed so much more than a single building. In addition to the exhibits listed above, the museum also contains the Seaport Village. The Seaport Village is a re-created 19th-century village. Many of the buildings were original cottages from that time period that were carefully moved to the museum. As you stroll through the village, it’s important to note that the buildings aren’t replicas, but rather original pieces of historical architecture.
When my parents visited Connecticut for the first time, I took them to the Seaport Village. It was one of their favorite parts of their trip to Connecticut!
The Mystic Seaport Museum extends to the marina where you can board a number of historic vessels. When you visit you’ll be able to see the last surviving wooden whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan which was built in 1841. It’s one of the oldest commercial ships to still afloat. The museum’s collection of ships includes four National Historic Landmark vessels: the Morgan, Dunton, Sabino and Emma C. Berry.
The sailors relied on the stars for navigation, so it makes perfect sense that the museum would also have a planetarium. You can read more about the shows offered at the Treworgy Planetarium.
|See our full guide to Fall in New England!
Kids Activities at Mystic Seaport
The Mystic Seaport Museum has numerous activities for kids of all ages. When I first visited the museum I didn’t have children, but now that I’m a mom, I would love to take my daughter the next time we are in Connecticut. Children will enjoy the Susan Stucke Funk Children’s Museum, Home Port activity center, toy boat building on the weekends, discovery barn, and playscape. You can read more about the kids’ activities.
The marina is still home to a working shipyard. At the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, you can observe carpenters at work. You might also be able to catch a ship being lifted from the water at the Hays and Ros Clark Shiplift. At the John Gardner Small Boat Shop, you can learn how small boats are made. Finally, you can see several large marine engines as you observe the shipyard.
Go for a Boat Ride
There are even opportunities at the museum to get out on the water. One option is to take a 25-minute boat ride on the Liberty. (Free with museum admission.) Boat rides will resume 4/30/22. There’s also opportunities to charter boats.
Dining at Mystic Seaport
The museum offers several dining options. Latitude 41º Restaurant & Tavern is a full restaurant, Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern is a casual restaurant, and you can also grab a quick bite at Anchor Mystic Café & Sweets. The Galley Café is also set to reopen in spring 2022.
|Be sure to purchase tickets to the Mystic Seaport Museum.
Recommended Hotels in Mystic
- The Whaler’s Inn: The Whaler’s Inn is located near the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and has a restaurant on-site.
- Hilton Mystic: This hotel is located directly across from the Mystic Aquarium. It has an indoor pool and is about a mile away from Olde Mystic Village.
- House of 1833 Bed and Breakfast: This charming Greek revival mansion was built in 1833. The rooms are uniquely decorated and the property has a beautiful English garden. The bed and breakfast also has a seasonal outdoor pool.
|If you plan on visiting Mystic Seaport Museum and the Mystic Aquarium, you might want to consider buying the Mystic Pass.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Mystic Seaport Museum famous for?
Mystic has been a center for shipbuilding and maritime history for over 300 years. The Mystic Seaport Museum is one of the largest maritime museums in the United States. There are dozens of historic buildings on the museum’s 19-acres.
Is Mystic Seaport worth visiting?
Yes, Mystic Seaport Museum is absolutely worth visiting. While I was living in Connecticut, I brought many of my friends and family to the museum and it was always a trip highlight.
How long should you spend at the Mystic Seaport Museum?
I recommend setting aside a full day at Mystic Seaport Museum. The property is 19-acres and there are numerous exhibitions and vessels to explore. There are multiple dining options on-site at the museum, so you can definitely plan to spend a lot of time there.
Are dogs allowed at the Mystic Seaport Museum?
Leashed dogs are allowed on the property, but may not enter the exhibition halls or historic vessels at Mystic Seaport Museum.
Can you walk around the Mystic Seaport Museum for free?
You need to pay admission to walk around the grounds of the Mystic Seaport Museum. If you’d like to spend time by the water for free, we recommend that you visit the nearby Mystic River Park.
Summary: Our Visit to Mystic Seaport
If you’re planning a trip to Connecticut, definitely plan to spend a day at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Whether you enjoy the historical exhibits, walking onboard the vessels, or strolling through the village and gardens, you are sure to enjoy your visit. We’ve enjoyed our visits to the museum, and we hope this post inspires you to visit as well!
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.