Mystic Seaport; Mystic, Connecticut
Located just a few minutes off the bustling I-95 Washington-Boston corridor, Mystic Seaport is hardly a secret. It attracts some 400,000 visitors a year. And for good reason. A simulated 18th century working maritime community (the town of Mystic was founded in 1654), the Seaport contains 60 historic buildings, four tall ships, dozens of other vessels, and 17 acres of cobbled lanes, nautical shops, boats under restoration, players in period costume, a planetarium, a children’s museum, a great Maritime Gallery with original art and much more. My own favorites: the Charles W. Morgan, the only remaining wooden whaleship, which was launched in New Bedford, Mass., in 1841 and then completed 37 voyages around the world, and the absolutely gorgeous 1932 S&S-designed 61-foot Brilliant, one of the most beautiful wooden schooners ever built. The best way to see Mystic is to take your own boat and spend the night, or a couple of nights. The Seaport is on a natural harbor about two miles up the Mystic River from Fishers Island Sound (off the eastern end of Long Island Sound), and it has room for 40 boats at a time. (Call the dock master on VHF 68; overnights cost $4.50 per foot, but that includes free admission for your crew.)
About 20 years ago my wife and I took my 9-year-old daughter on our Grand Banks 36 to the Seaport, and tied up on the seawall right in the middle of all the action. At the end of the day, as the crowds thinned out, my daughter took off to explore on her own. Sitting on the bridge, enjoying the scene with some wine and cheese, we could see her wandering around, chatting to the driver of a horse-and-carriage, the chantey singers, the barrel makers. It was a totally safe environment, and she loved it. The next day was my birthday and with her own money she bought me a small Mystic Seaport magnet. It’s still on my dresser to this day.
75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, Connecticut 06355
Admission: Adults: $24 ($3 discount for AAA members); Seniors 65 and older: $22; Youth 6-17: $15; Under 6: Free