America’s Maritime Museum
Mystic is one of the Northeast’s most visited tourist destinations, primarily due to Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea. America’s leading maritime museum, it houses the largest collection of historic boats and ships in the world. Much of its 17- acre riverfront site is taken up by a re-created coastal village complete with a schoolhouse, church, and dozens of homes, stores, and workshops that bring salty 19th-century maritime America to life. A number of fully rigged sailing ships docked here are open for visits, among them the Charles W. Morgan (1841), America’s last surviving wooden whaleship (complete with “blubber room”), and the 1882 Danish vessel Joseph Conrad. The Seaport’s most ambitious exhibit ever, “Voyages: Stories of America and the Sea,” examines our nation’s connection to its oceans, rivers, and lakes. The area’s other major site, the important Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration, offers more than forty live exhibits of sea life, including more than 4,000 specimens and the 1-acre “Alaska Coast,” one of the world’s largest beluga whale exhibits.
Take to the hills for a sweeping view of the harbor (and crowds), and follow privacy seeking Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart to The Inn at Mystic: The couple honeymooned here in what is now The Inn’s main house, a regal Colonial Revival mansion built in 1904. A new annex has increased the number of rooms, all enjoying the same acclaimed kitchen and lovely views of the Long Island Sound, but hold out for the more atmospheric rooms of the original main house.