Most East-Coast families visit Mystic, CT sooner or later because it’s so extremely kid-oriented. What surprised me during a recent trip was just how much there is to keep parents interested and happy alongside their youngsters. Its coastal location makes it ideal for summer weekend, but the area also offers New England leaf peeping in the fall.
Here are our recommendations for a visit:
I’d frequently heard that the Mystic Aquarium is fantastic but shockingly expensive, a pretty accurate assessment.
The unexpected highlight for all of us was the seasonal Birds of the Outback exhibit. At the birdhouse entrance we each got what looked like a birdseed lollypop. Walk in, hold up your stick and tiny yellow or blue parakeets land for a snack.
A contrived “game show” theme turns 8 minutes of sea lion tricks into a 20-minute show that had me rolling my eyes. I love sea lions, but I’ve seen better. Most kids seemed to like the 8-minute SpongeBob 4-D flick, but it was loud and jarring to 4.5 year-old Tiny Traveler.
There are Beluga whales (adorable), lively African penguins (TT’s favorite) and indoor tanks with a plethora of fish, jellyfish and other sea creatures (I petted a small shark!).
The aquarium is sprawling and largely outdoors. Consider a stroller for 6-and-unders, and remember water and sunscreen. It takes easily half a day to see everything.
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