Great Road Trips From Donna Vissing - Mystic Connecticut
By Donna Vissing
The Auto Channel
When you say “Mystic”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s the 1988 film Mystic Pizza; and when the world was introduced to Julia Roberts? The restaurant that is the namesake of the film still proudly sits in the middle of this enchanting, yet historical town. For those of you who do not pay attention to film or Julia Roberts, you may still have been introduced to this magical place through a favorite television program, such as The Food Network, History Channel or Dateline’s Revenge of the Whale.
Mystic, located in the Southeastern Connecticut region, is a mixture of the past, beaches, and a whimsical atmosphere setting the seaport apart from other New England coastal cities and towns. History plays a daily role in what makes Mystic so unique and yet an exciting contradiction.
Mystic is also known as Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea. Mystic Seaport is specifically the area running along the water’s edge; and they do an impressive job at capturing and showcasing 19th century living, art form and the business-side of shipbuilding. A re-creation of the 1800’s coastal village also includes the world’s largest collection of historic ships and boats, a working preservation shipyard, galleries and museums. Calling Mystic Seaport home are four vessels designated as National Historic Landmarks – the Charles W. Morgan, Emma C. Berry, Sabino and L.A. Dunton. Visitors are welcomed to board these Landmark vessels and learn from tour guides historical facts, legends and maybe a few ghost stories along the way.
Mystic Seaport is renowned for capturing and recording maritime history. With a world-class research library, along with collections of earlier period documents, visuals, artifacts, skilled craftsmen and shipbuilding – this is an educational destination for both the curious and the expert. The Seaport holds several higher-education accreditations, including the prestigious Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program with Williams College. For additional information in planning your visit around 2006 activities, visit www.mysticseaport.org.
Another slice of history expertly preserved can be found in The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. The Center houses the largest and most comprehensive Native American museums in the world, plus extensive research facilities, libraries and collections. Exhibit space is devoted to alternating displays of Native arts and culture, and the museum skillfully presents the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s story. In addition to the Pequot Nation, the Center is devoted to providing diverse materials on all Native peoples of the United States and Canada. The Center’s location is in Mashantucket, Connecticut and is a National Historic Archeological Landmark.
The Center opened August 10, 1998, and is on land that has been continuously occupied by Native people for over 10,000 years. The lobby, open exhibit space, dining, and staircases face out through a glass-encased Center, providing a picturesque job in capturing the beauty and feel of the outdoors and natural surroundings. The Pequot Story is shared with visitors by use of an audio, walking tour through The Pequot Village; highlighting their experience from 20,000 years ago to present day. The experience is completed with a half-hour film viewing of “The Witness”. For additional information in planning your visit around 2006 activities, visit www.pequotmuseum.org.
Another mystical attraction is the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration (MAIFE). The regional area is internationally recognized as a resource for marine science education due to their scenic shoreline and rich maritime history. This offers visitors a unique opportunity to be “up close” to deep-sea exploration techniques and findings. The Institute is home to Dr. Robert Ballard and a team of scientists and explorers. In 1999, the Mystic Aquarium and the Institute for Exploration joined together in a $52 million expansion featuring California Coast, Lions of the Sea, and a one-acre outdoor beluga whale display.
In addition, the MAIFE is presently the only exhibit space dedicated to deep-sea exploration and archaeology, showcasing exhibits such as Challenge of the Deep and Noah’s Flood & Ancient Shipwrecks. For additional information in planning your visit around 2006 exhibits and activities, visit www.mysticaquarium.org.
When you visit Mystic, the variety of accommodations is impressive; for a list please visit www.mysticchamber.org. However if you desire to experience enchanting ambiance, book your stay at The Inn at Mystic.
The Inn at Mystic continues the tradition by fusing history and present day. The grounds and gardens are beautifully maintained and manicured setting the stage for a memorable backdrop to a “destination wedding” or for lodging guests to enjoy. Overlooking the scenic Mystic Harbor and Long Island Sound, The Inn offers the most up-to-date amenities including swimming pool, tennis courts and on-site dining, to name a few.
A milestone was reached in 2005; The Inn, also known as The Haley Mansion, celebrated its 100th year birthday. In 1904, The Haley Mansion was built by Katherine Haley, the widow of a founding brother with Fulton Fish Market in the late 1800’s. In 1943 the property was purchased by financier Frederick Mosel. Due to his influential connections in Hollywood and Washington, in 1947 The Gate House was built to accommodate the constant flow of house guests and all night parties. One of The Gate House’s most famous guests was Bogie and Bacall who honeymooned in suite #8. The Gate House’s suites are still open today for guests to book and enjoy.
In 1980, the property was sold to the Dyer/Gray family and is run by Owner and Innkeeper, Jody Dyer. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Inn offers the comforts of a Bed & Breakfast, along with property ambiance and amenities. In addition to lodging selections at The Inn and The Gate House, the property also offers lodging in the East Wing and Motor Inn, along with delectable dining choices at Flood Tide Restaurant under the watchful eye of Executive Chef, Dan Leroy. To book lodging reservations and for additional information, visit www.innatmystic.com or call toll-free 800-237-2415.
Mystic is located less than two hours from Boston and NYC and less than one hour from Hartford. With so much to see and do, it is no surprise Mystic, Connecticut was listed in New York Times Bestseller “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”. With amusement parks, casinos, museums, tours, aquariums, nature sanctuaries, golf, sailing, camping, fishing, charters, cruises, beach, wineries, and more – there is something that will entertain everyone. To plan your trip, request a “Mystic Discovery Guide” from Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce by visiting www.mysticchamber.org.