Blog / Exploring Our Area / The Mystic Aquarium and Seaport Museum

The Mystic Aquarium and Seaport Museum

Buying a home in Mystic, Connecticut means you’ll be close to the village’s historic downtown and its surprising abundance of high-end restaurants. It also means you’ll have access to Mystic Harbor, making it easy to take your boat out into the Atlantic.

But what if you’re looking for something to do in town that is entertaining, yet educational?

You’ll be happy to hear that Mystic is home to a world-class aquarium and a one of a kind seaport museum that are sure to keep you involved, especially if you have children.

Both of these venues provide hours of entertainment while giving you the opportunity to experience local sea life and living history, and all within minutes of downtown.

After purchasing real estate in this area, get out there and visit these venues. Annual passes are available, making them an affordable entertainment option throughout the year.

Mystic Aquarium harbor seal. Mystic, Ct.Where They Are Located

Mystic Aquarium is north of the village’s downtown area right beside Olde Mistick Village, a popular shopping destination. Since the venue is along the I-95, it's easy to get to if you're coming from New London in the west or Westerly in the east. There are restaurants nearby, too, ensuring you can easily find something to eat if you don't want to eat at the aquarium.

Mystic Seaport is closer to downtown and right on the Mystic River. It's a sprawling complex with plenty to see and do, and there is a large parking lot across the street. Once you get onto Route 27, you can't miss it when heading north from downtown Mystic.

What’s At the Aquarium?

Officially called the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, this venue opened in 1973 and remains one of the top facilities of its type in the United States. The aquarium has approximately 10,000 animals, including Steller and California sea lions, sand tiger sharks, cownose stingrays, nurse sharks, African penguins, and northern fur, harbor, and spotted seals. It is also home to the only beluga whales in all of New England.

In addition to the animals, the venue has a 4-D theater featuring interactive films and a dinosaur exhibit. There are all kinds of feedings and encounters throughout the week, so you'll want to check the schedule to ensure you don't miss out on anything. Locals and visitors alike love spending time at the aquarium because there's nowhere else in the area to get this close to some of the most elusive marine life in the world.

Keep in mind that this is also a research facility that pays particular attention to conservation. The goal is not only to educate visitors about these animals but also to come up with methods of ensuring these species survive well into the future by learning as much as possible about them through observation. The aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which means it meets some incredibly high standards put forward for animal management and care.

Attractions at the Museum

A lot is going on at the Mystic Seaport, starting with a re-created 19th-century seafaring village. This village is made up of actual buildings from the 1800s, and the staff performs the roles of the people from that period. You'll be transported back to past generations in New England and will have the chance to participate in these interactive exhibits throughout your time there. This exposure is a great way to learn about the maritime past in the region and is reason enough to visit the seaport.Tallship at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Ct.

There are also numerous exhibits at this museum, including those dedicated to the Vikings, the region's whaling past, shipbuilding, and sea navigation. Some of the displays are permanent, while others change occasionally, but the theme is always about the history of life on the sea. The unique thing about these exhibits is that they examine maritime life from all over the world, rather than just this region.

Finally, there's the old shipyard at the museum, which features boats from the 1800s and 1900s, including four, Emma C. Berry, L.A. Dunton, Charles W. Morgan, and Sabino, that are National Historic Landmarks. Most of these boats are still operational, and you can even take a cruise into the Mystic River on some of them. Very few things are more memorable than sailing on a ship that is over 100 years old.

Making Regular Visits

Membership at the Mystic Aquarium varies in price between $79 for an individual to $199 for a family of four in 2018. Your pass allows you unlimited general admission to the aquarium, free tickets to the 4-D theater, discounted rates for your guests, and savings at the store and cafe. There are also special perks given out monthly and member-only events for you to attend throughout the year.

A Mystic Seaport membership gives you unlimited access to the venue, in addition to discounts on classes, camps, programs, food, and souvenirs from the shops. You'll also have pre-sale access to tickets for special events like Nautical Nightmares and Lantern Light Tours. There is a members-only lounge at the museum with complimentary drinks, and you'll receive a subscription to Mystic Seaport Magazine, as well.

Once you buy a home in Mystic or its surrounding area, consider investing in one of these passes because they pay for themselves quickly, especially if you have children.

Published September 25, 2018 in Exploring Our Area, Connecticut Towns and Villages