Mystic, on Long Island Sound, makes a lovely day's visit, especially for families. There's plenty for the kids to see. Topping the list is the Mystic Seaport, a re-created seaside village with vintage ships and houses and shops from the 1800s. A steamboat departs from the village for cruises on the river May-mid October. Another popular attraction for families is the Mystic Aquarium, which contains more than 3,500 specimens. You can watch the penguins get fed three times a day and observe seals and sea lions. The performances at the Marine Theater will show you just how clever aquatic creatures can be. Other sights in town include Olde Mistick Village (shops and restaurants) and two historic houses, Whitehall Mansion (now a bed-and-breakfast) and the Denison Homestead (now a museum). Several companies run sightseeing and dinner cruises out of the Mystic harbor.

Nearby Stonington has preserved its close connections with the sea. Narrow one-way streets, sea captains' homes and a protected harbor for small fishing boats maintain the feel of a whaling and sealing hub of the 1800s. It also served as a secluded vacation spot for writers, including Truman Capote—whose risque swimwear caused a ruckus in the 1950s. You can drive or walk through the village to the Point (it juts out into the harbor and is accessible to the public). Visit the Old Lighthouse Museum, an 1823 lighthouse that houses nautical artifacts and has a commanding view of three states from the top of the circular staircase. Take some time to watch the boats going out into Long Island Sound and to swim at the small public beach. A visit to this unspoiled village is a relaxing way to cap a day spent at the busy attractions of nearby Mystic. Be sure to dine at one of the seafood restaurants in the area.

Among the notable events on Mystic's calendar are Lobsterfest (May), the Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous (July), the Outdoor Art Festival (August) and Chowderfest (food and entertainment—October). 11 mi/17 km east of New London.

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