The first thing I'd advise is just a stroll through town. It's one of those places where I naturally imagine myself moving. There's ocean, boats galore (working and recreational), wonderful old architecture, good bookstores, a range of places to eat-from quirky (Kitchen Little, my favorite breakfast spot, ever!) to famous (Mystic Pizza) to atmospheric fine dining (Captain Daniel Packer's Inne). So, the bones are good.
Beyond that, though, there are all kinds of things to do and see in Mystic. Here are just a few we like.
Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration
This is a serious aquatic research center, but it's also a big tourist attraction. And why not? Check out Beluga whales, African penguins, sea rays, sea lions, and a 30,000 gallon tank with lots of exotic fish. This is also the home of Dr. Robert Institute For Exploration (IFE) at Mystic Aquarium, which specializes in deep-sea archaeology. Ballard, who discovered the R.M.S. Titanic's final resting spot, has his most recent discoveries on display at the Challenge of the Deep exhibition, completed as part of a $52 million expansion at Mystic Aquarium in 1999. www.mysticaquarium.org
B. F. Clyde's Cider Mill
This small cider mill carries excellent fresh cider, homemade donuts, and has a gift shop. www.bfclydescidermill.com
The Mystic Bascule Bridge
A Bascule bridge is nothing new to anyone who's traveled the ICW, but still, they are kind of mesmerizing engineering feats. Mystic's is cool because it's right in the middle of it all, so you get a very close up look as you pause and watch sailboat masts passing between you and the restaurant you had almost made it to-you can marvel while your hunger and thirst gain that extra edge that brings true enjoyment.