Our home state of Connecticut is full of some coastal gems. I like to shine a spotlight on them from time to time and Mystic, Connecticut is one of those places. Our spring break fell at an odd time this year and we decided to stay close to home and enjoy one of Connecticut’s special nautical towns before it’s packed for tourist season. We stayed at our favorite inn, The Whaler’s Inn, and enjoyed our coastal Connecticut in the spring.
The Whaler’s Inn is a personal favorite and the first time I stayed here a few years ago, I fell in love with it’s coastal charm and cozy interiors. It’s my inn of choice in Mystic for many reasons. It’s location is the best. The inn is located right in the heart of Mystic’s historic downtown at the base of the Bascule Bridge. With on-site guest parking, it’s great to park the Jeep and be able to walk to everything in town. Restaurants, shops, and attractions are just steps away. Also, I love its proximity to other favorite stops in the region like neighboring Stonington Borough, Noank, and Watch Hill.
The Whaler’s Inn
The main inn has a nautical interior with designer touches in a lounge area, fireside sitting area, and a help yourself drink and snack bar. Fresh coffee, tea, and chocolate chip cookies are out for guests along with an array of alcoholic beverages, drinks, and snacks for purchase. Quite handy when you are headed to the beach, on the water, or just want a bottle of wine for your room. The gift shop in the main lobby has a great selection of Mystic goods and Whaler’s Inn apparel, mugs, and gifts.
The rooms and suites are in the main inn and 4 other buildings on the property. It’s a great couples retreat and I’ve stayed in the lovely Morgan Suite that is extremely spacious and has a double-sided fireplace, King bed, and large bathroom with a shower and jetted tub. Great for romantic getaways. You can see my feature on the Morgan Suite HERE.
This trip we were traveling with our youngest son and we opted for more family-friendly accommodations. We stayed in the Mallory Suite which has 2 bedrooms and a Jack & Jill bathroom. The first bedroom has a Queen bed and the second bedroom is perfect for kids with a twin over full bunk bed. The bathroom has double sinks and a soaking tub great for families traveling with younger kids too. See my feature on the Mallory Suite HERE.
Shipwright’s Daughter is the inn’s restaurant and it’s a treat to dine with them during our stays here. Mystic has become quite a foodie town and this restaurant is a favorite. The menu changes daily with the season and they have a great bar area too. A breakfast buffet is served here every morning for guests during their stay.
Seasons in Mystic
Every season in Mystic offers something a bit different. Spring is wonderful because the weather is nice and it’s not crowded yet. Even though it’s too early to get out on the water, the nice weather is great for beach strolls and visiting the Seaport or Aquarium. Also, the Irish Parade kicks off the season and shops and restaurants are all open now to enjoy.
Once May hits it gets quite busy here. Summer is packed full of tourists and I like getting on the water here when that time comes. There are several spots to dine on the water and the area’s vineyards and farmstands are open. Grabbing a lobster roll at Ford’s or a meal with friends at Red 36 is always a good time.
Fall is absolutely lovely and this region offers so many great activities from a visit to B.F. Clydes Cider Mill for cider donuts and slushies to trips to the the farm to get pumpkins and mums. Many private boat charters are still on the water in September and a handful operate until mid October.. It’s lovely to see the fall foliage from the water. Also, the savory tastes of the season are on every menu at some of the best restaurants.
This year I’m going to cover the Holiday season since I haven’t visited for that yet, and I hear it’s festive and fun for all ages. I love a coastal Christmas!
Mystic Spring Itinerary | Day One
Aquarium or Seaport // Late Lunch at Red 36 // Check-in // Kid’s Downtown Shopping // Dinner at Shipwright’s Daugther
I wanted to highlight some personal favorites, the things we enjoy as a family here. The Seaport (see my post on the Mystic Seaport HERE) is always great for kids, but this trip we wanted to visit the Mystic Aquarium because our youngest is such a nature lover. We’ve been to the aquarium so many times from family visiting to school field trips and it’s always fun for all ages. The aquarium was our first stop before heading to the inn and now has 6 Beluga whales you can visit with and they are so fun to watch. Also, the VR experience is fun for all. The indoor aquarium is fascinating and the outdoor exhibits include African penguins and California sea lions—and of course the Beluga whales—a favorite for all.
Our next stop we grabbed lunch at Red 36 before checking in at the inn.
Some more favorite spots for lunch include: The Mariner, Grass & Bone, and Engine Room.
Once checked in and settled into our suite, we freshened up and took our son to his favorite shops that include The Army Navy Store and the Bank Square Books.
After hitting a few shops, it was time to get ready for dinner. I like to set a reservation for our first night to have dinner at Shipwright’s Daughter since it is a pretty full day after travel and activities.
Mystic Spring Itinerary | Day Two
Breakfast at Sift Bake Shop // Shopping the Historic Downtown // Day at the Beach // Grab a scoop at Drawbridge Ice Cream // Dinner at Engine Room
The next morning we were blessed with the best spring weather and walked down to our favorite bakery for breakfast. Sift Bake Shop is a must when you visit Mystic. EVERYTHING is delicious—EVERYTHING.
After getting our fill of the best breakfast and coffee in town, we did a little more shopping at some of our favorite shops including Mystic Knotwork (a Mystic must), Manufaktura (Polish pottery), Linen Press (home decor), The Mixed Bag (apparel including favorites Sailor Sailor, Saint James, & Sail to Sable), and my husband’s favorite, Fat Face (British brand apparel). If it is your first visit here and you are thinking of a souvenir, I would say go to Mystic Knotwork. It’s a Mystic original and has two shops right outside the inn. A set of knot coasters or a monkey fist door stop makes a special nautical keepsake of your trip. It doesn’t get more Mystic than that!
By noon, we put on some beach gear and with the sun shining and windows down drove over to Watch Hill to enjoy Napatree Point Beach. This is only 6 miles from The Whaler’s Inn. It’s a lovely beach area with blue waters and white sand. It’s also a conservation area. The main beach next to it has cabanas and the historic Watch Hill merry-go-round. In mid March & April you can pretty much have this beach all to yourself except for a few dog walkers.
On a day like we were given that is in the 60’s and sunny, it feels amazing to be here and feels more like upper 70’s. Bring the sunscreen if you luck out for a sunny and warm day. It’s fun for beach-combing and our pockets always end up with trinkets from the sea. We spent a lot of time here this trip because the weather was so perfect. It was good for the soul and feeling the warm sun the skin after this weird New England winter was a welcomed visitor.
The overcast days here are just as beautiful too. Overcast days at this beach are amazing for portrait photography. We came back the next day so I could shoot some photos of our son and do some hiking. If you walk all the way out to the point there are old remains of an old dock and if you go up the rock scramble to the right you will find an old military bunker there. It’s about a mile walk out to the point if you are wondering about time.
Just to note if you visit Watch Hill in the spring…Basically, the only thing open in Watch Hill this time of year is the beach and The Ocean House. Shops and restaurants don’t open until the season begins late May and then everything is open come June-September.
We were still pretty full from a very hearty breakfast so we didn’t have lunch and just opted for a scoop after the beach at Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop. We headed back to our suite to clean up for dinner.
We let our son choose the next dinner spot and he wanted to go to The Engine Room. It’s his favorite for burgers and macaroni and cheese. I must say the burgers are really good and I agree—the macaroni and cheese with bacon served in cast iron is pretty fantastic too.
Some tried and true dining spots of ours for dinner: S&P Oyster, Via Emilia, The Oyster Club, Anthony J’s, Bravo Bravo and of course, Shipwright’s Daughter.
We decided to head back to our room with popcorn for a movie night since we were all pretty tuckered out after a day on the beach. A day on the beach with our son is endless exploring, running, handstands, cartwheels, and rock climbing—THE BEST! Also, I think this was the first day of full sun we’ve had for a while and we needed to hydrate up and get a good night’s sleep.
Mystic Spring Itinerary | Day 3
Breakfast & Coffee // A.M. Historic Homes & Lighthouse Walk // A Visit to Stonington Borough
Our next morning, since this was our “favorites trip”—you guessed it—we headed back to Sift. We had to load up on goodies to bring home and their sandwiches are too good to pass up. The Smoked Salmon Croissant Sandwich is my go-to. Sometime in May, renovations to the upper deck will be finished and outdoor dining at Sift will be year round. The Mix is the upper deck of Sift and is a great spot for cocktails, bites, and views of the water.
Other favorite breakfast spots: Kitchen Little (on Mason’s Island), Shipwright’s Daughter breakfast buffet.
After breakfast, we walked the historic district and if you go down Pearl Street you can catch an excellent view of the Seaport and lighthouse across the river. The collection of historic homes is quite wonderful too. With a hearty meal in our bellies and morning stroll, it was time to check out of our room at the inn.
We checked out and meandered our way back home stopping in Stonington Bourough for a little shopping and to grab a bite for the road. That’s another coastal Connecticut gem in the region that I’ll feature more this year too.
Highlights from this Trip
Want more information on Mystic Country?
Here are my articles and features on this special Connecticut region full of maritime history, beauty, and fun in every season…
Many thanks to The Whaler’s Inn for having us stay with them. This is our pick for “where to stay” in Mystic and we love sharing them with you here.