Tucked off Interstate 95, between New York City and Boston, is an old whaling village where time seems slow and the hustle and bustle of city life gives way to laid-back New England charm.
Split between the towns of Groton and Stonington, Mystic, Connecticut is a magical place full of art, history and food. Named one of America’s most charming small towns by Country Living and the next Hamptons by The New York Post, Mystic is easy to get around, comes with heaps of quaint and enough quirkiness to make it easy to fall in love with in a single day.
Start your day at the newly opened French bakery Sift Bake Shop. The adorable spot on Water Street offers a selection of artisanal baked goods including breads, pastries and even macarons. Snag a spot at a booth and watch as the bakers prepare for the rest of the day through the glass windowed kitchen.
After a breakfast of people-watching, visit one of the larger area attractions for which Mystic is famous. History and nautical buffs will want to check out the Mystic Seaport, the nation’s largest maritime museum, home to the country’s last remaining whaling vessel. If you have little ones, opt for the Mystic Aquarium where the penguins are always ready for visitors, the sea lions put on a show and you can touch the stingrays. Art lovers should see what’s new at the Mystic Museum of Art or, better yet, take a class there.
Head back to the center of the village and browse the menus of the many restaurants that line Main, Water and Holmes Streets — Engine Room for classic American fare in a hipster space, S&P Oyster for upscale seafood with views of the river; the area is truly your oyster. After lunch, borrow a bike from the bike share and visit the vineyards in the area; or go to Stonington Borough, home to the state’s last commercial fishing fleet and a number of antique shops. Or stay on Main Street, duck in and out of the stores, pick up a new work of art, or American-made clothing at Hope & Stetson. Then grab an ice cream from Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream and sit in the park watching the boats go by as one of the last working drawbridges in the country raises and falls.
For dinner, the Oyster Club is the ultimate farm to table spot, rated one of the best oyster bars in the country by Travel & Leisure. Every morning, the chef calls around to a handful of local farms, creating a menu from what’s available for a dinner that you’ve never had before and will likely never have again. Conclude your day in Mystic by taking in live music at the park during the warmer months or at one of the many bars.
With a train station right in the village, plenty of shops, restaurants and bars, Mystic is an easy way for city dwellers to get away from their hectic lives for a bit.