A coastal adventure awaits your family thanks to this robust list of the best things to do in Mystic with kids! Bordered by the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, this family-friendly destination is perfect for your next warm-weather getaway. From boat rides to scenic beaches or state parks, kids of all ages will find something they love. When the weather is less than ideal, we’ve also included a few indoor activities, like the best museums in Mystic for kids. Plus, where to stay in Mystic as a family! Next time you’re planning a summer vacation itinerary, check out this list of the best things to do in Mystic with kids!
Shop at Olde Mistick Village
Families who want to leave Mystic with a few souvenirs will love the Olde Mistick Village. Wander around a quaint village setting when you visit this 600-acre historic retail destination. Known for its selection of antique shops, artisan crafts, and delicious restaurants, you could easily spend a few hours at over 100 stores. Visit the fascinating Mystic Kite Shop or stop for a sweet treat at Mangos Homemade Ice Cream. Up for enjoying a movie? The Olde Mistick Village also houses Mystic Luxury Cinemas, which offers at least one showtime per day for kids. They also offer healthy snack options, like organic popcorn and gluten-free nachos. What a fun way to spend time as a family!
Take a Boat Ride
Escape Mystic on land for the day by taking a boat ride with your family! With Mystic River Cruises, families can hop on an antique picnic boat to see some of the best sights near Mystic. A friendly captain will guide you through the calm waters while providing entertaining fun facts. Along the way, you’ll pass lighthouses, fishing vessels, and more attractions as you sail around the bay. Boats depart at 9 AM and are available seasonally. From May through late October, families can also book a stunning sunset cruise with Argia Mystic Cruises. Or, hop on the Mystic Express for a guided historic harbor tour. Either way, be sure to bring your camera along for some great family photos!
Stroll Downtown Mystic
Visiting downtown Mystic is surely one of the best things to do in Mystic with kids. Nestled along both banks of the Mystic River, this historic destination is home to countless shops, restaurants, and more attractions for families to explore. Stroll down Main Street to find businesses for both kids and adults alike, filled with local artwork, antiques, and other locally-made goods.
This is where you’ll you can visit unique destinations like Mystic Knotwork, where you’ll find an amazing selection of woven sailor knot bracelets. Of course, you can’t forget about grabbing a slice at Mystic Pizza or some dessert from Mystic Sweets & Ice Cream Shoppe. At Mystic Candy Shop, kids can even watch the workers make Tootsie Rolls and taffies! Since most hotels in Mystic are located in this area, we’re sure you’ll be spending a lot of time here.
Enjoy a Day at the Beach
Enjoy the sunshine, soft sand, and lots of family fun at one of Mystic’s local beaches! A day at the beach is definitely one of the best things to do in Mystic with kids. Since it’s such a popular summer destination, it’s no secret that the shorelines near Mystic are some of the most kid-friendly in Connecticut. Keep reading for our favorite picks of nearby beaches!
Williams Beach Park
One of the best beaches for families directly inside Mystic is Williams Beach Park. As the only public beach in the city, it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Keep in mind that the beach is somewhat small, however, which is great for lettings kids run around but not so fantastic for finding a spot to sit. We suggest arriving early on your beach day to take advantage of the waves before everyone else.
With calm waters, it’s ideal for little kids who want to swim, while older kids can enjoy water sports such as kayaking or paddle-boarding. Of course, when kids get tired of the water, there’s also a colorful playground where they can burn some energy. No wonder this is one of the best things to do in Mystic with kids!
Esker Point Beach
Esker Point Beach isn’t technically located in Mystic, but it’s still a popular nearby beach destination for families. Located around a 10-minute drive outside of the city, it’s nonetheless convenient to reach and has plenty for kids to do. They’ll love building sandcastles or taking a dip in the water – just beware there are no lifeguards here. However, the water is usually calm. If you have your own volleyballs, bring them along, since there are six courts to play on. There’s also a boat launch and a picnic area with grills to host your next family BBQ. During summer Thursdays, the beach also occasionally hosts free concerts, most of which are family-friendly!
Ocean Beach Park
Ocean Beach Park is known as one of the best beaches in Connecticut for families! Located a half-hour away from Mystic in New London, it’s one of the biggest beaches in the area. Certainly, it is worth the day trip! Not only will kids have access to the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, but there’s also an Olympic-sized pool.
Then, with a winding boardwalk lined with cafes, concession stands, and kid-friendly attractions like a carousel, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained after your time in the water. Kids can play mini-golf, make friends on the playground, or take a walk through the nature trails to spot local wildlife! There’s also a picnic area if you want to pack a lunch.
Other Beaches near Mystic for Families
If you want to branch out a little further, there are a few more beach options around Mystic for families. Around 15-minutes outside of Mystic in Stonington, there’s DuBois Beach, located at the tip of Stonington Point. With proximity to the shops on Water Street, it has calm waters for kids and lifeguards on duty during the summer.
Eastern Point Beach, less than 10 miles from Mystic, lies at the intersection of the Thames River and Long Island Sound. That means the water is tranquil, and there’s also a playground for kids. Other beaches near Mystic for families include a few options in Rhode Island, from Watch Hill Beach to Napatree Point Conservation Area.
Visit a Museum
Mystic has many family-friendly museums, so why not spend some time exploring them during your family vacation? Whether you have young kids who want to channel their inner artist or aspiring sailors, check out our picks for the best things to do in Mystic with kids!
Mystic Seaport Museum
Kids of all ages will love exploring the Mystic Seaport Museum, a fun educational center that’s home to boats, cars, trains, and airplanes. With ships from the 1890s to today, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about different kinds of transportation. They also have tours for kids of all ages, so there’s truly something for everyone. Walkthrough the indoor exhibits first, where you can see folk art and various artifacts. Then, head outside to explore the recreated 19th-century seafaring village!
A special play area within the museum provides hands-on games for kids between four and seven, and there’s also an outdoor playscape where little ones can climb on ships, tug boats, and more replicas. Visitors can even take a boat ride aboard a historic vessel, stroll the outdoor gardens, or send postcards from one of the various attractions on-site! There’s also a planetarium with countless screenings. Certainly, a stop here is one of the best things to do in Mystic with kids!
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Niantic Children’s Museum
You can feel like a kid again as you explore the Niantic Children’s Museum. Located just a few miles outside of Mystic, this educational facility welcomes children who want to spark their imagination through a variety of hands-on experiences. Explore dozens of exhibits throughout 5,000-square-feet, from the Discovery Room to the Imagination Room.
In the Discovery Room, for example, kids can peer through microscopes, create arts and crafts, and even meet the museum’s resident tortoise, Mr. Rogers! Then, head over to the Imagination Room, which features a pretend farmers market, seaport village, and even a light lab to teach kids about color, hues, and intensity. When the weather is nice, families shouldn’t hesitate to venture outside to the outdoor playscape. From zip-lines to climbing walls, adventurous kids will feel right at home exploring one of the best things to do in Mystic with kids!
The Stonington Lighthouse Museum
One of the best things to do in Mystic with kids is to visit the Stonington Lighthouse Museum at the end of Water Street. Located next to DuBois Beach just slightly outside of Mystic, this historic lighthouse dates back to 1856. Today, this 150-year-old building has been preserved to commemorate the history of America’s lighthouses that once guided sailors safely home. Families will find some historical context on the ground level of the lighthouse.
Afterward, kids can enjoy the main attraction: climbing up the steps to the top of the lighthouse! With an amazing view of Mystic and beyond, it’s definitely worth the trip. Outside, you’ll find a stretch of grassy area that’s perfect for a family picnic or playing a few games. Occasionally, the grounds also host a few events, so keep your eyes peeled!
Look for top-rated home rentals through Vrbo near Stonington here!
Learn More About Sea Life at the Mystic Aquarium
Adventure seekers will enjoy the exciting activities available at Mystic Aquarium. Located near Olde Mistick Village, it’s one of the most famous aquariums in Connecticut, so it’s definitely worth the stop while you’re in town! Kids will love exploring the various habitats, which include a Main Gallery with thousands of colorful fish. The Mystic Aquarium is home to the only Beluga whales in New England, so don’t forget to say hi to them too! Plus, don’t miss the chance to see stingrays and sharks up close in the touch pools. The aquarium also offers other interactive animal encounters, like a penguin encounter or the opportunity to meet sea lions. Creative kids can even paint with a seal!
Explore One of Mystic’s Many nearby Parks
Mystic offers a plethora of places to enjoy the fresh air, from riverside parks to nearby hiking destinations. Here are our favorite outdoor things to do in Mystic with kids!
Mystic River Park
When your family needs a break from all the sightseeing, stop in Mystic River Park. Overlooking the beautiful Connecticut River, this quaint park and green space offers a natural oasis in the city. From a boat dock to nature trails surrounding the property, there are countless activities to keep your kids happy too. Walk along the boardwalk, go fishing from the pier, or simply sit on a bench and take it all in. Families can also rent kayaks from a nearby vendor to cruise down the river. Plus, there’s a playground and some basketball courts for energetic little ones. During the summer, Mystic hosts its free concert series here, so stick around for a show too!
Bluff Point State Park
Outdoor enthusiasts will love a trip to Bluff Point State Park. Located in Groton along the Long Island Sound, the park has a lovely view of the water and wonderful nature activities for families. Trek through the wooded trails, which are all relatively flat and easy enough for kids of all ages. Mountain biking is another popular activity here, so be sure to bring your ride if you don’t want to explore on foot. Kids will love spotting all the coastal birds and possibly even some harbor seals! There are picnic tables to enjoy the day with friends and family, plus opportunities to saltwater fish.
Rocky Neck State Park
For a fun day outside with your family, visit Rocky Neck State Park. In East Lyme, around 25-minutes from Mystic, you’ll find this picturesque paradise on the Long Island Sound. Find everything from hiking trails to a sandy shoreline, a playground, and endless scenic views. Certainly, it has a lot to offer families! Start with a hike along a nature trail, or take a dip in the saltwater. Alternatively, fish in the salt marsh with your kids. Families who are PADI-certified can even go scuba diving!
For more information about the area, feel free to visit the interpretive nature center, which has a few interactive displays and activity packets for children. Rocky Neck State Park also has waterfront camping available to spend a night or two.
Watch a Movie at Niantic Cinemas
For an old-school movie experience, travel a little outside of Mystic to Niantic Cinemas. Located in downtown Niantic, Connecticut, this local, five-screen theater offers a variety of screenings for all ages. Choose between new blockbuster releases, kids’ movies, and a few random showings of old movies. It’s a bit quainter than other movie theaters, with perks like plush oversized seats and huge screens. Kids will especially love the special 3D theater with special effects like wind, scent, and water! Of course, they also have a concession stand where you can buy your favorite snacks like popcorn, sodas, and candy bars. No wonder this is one of the best things to do near Mystic with kids!
For more cute destinations near Connecticut, check out our list of the Best Cute Towns To Visit With Kids Near NYC!
Where to Eat in Mystic with Kids
One of the best parts about visiting Mystic with kids is having access to a great collection of restaurants. As you stroll Mystic’s Seaport, downtown, and historic district, keep an eye out for spots like Mystic Diner & Restaurant, which offers cozy booths and a kid-friendly menu. Somewhere In Time is another family favorite for a casual breakfast or hearty lunch, serving everything from pancakes to breakfast burritos. For pizza, don’t miss Mystic Pizza, Pizzetta, or Mango’s Pizza. All are fantastic for a delicious pie! Seafood lovers can’t miss the lobster rolls at The Mariner or the oysters at Mystic Oysters. For dessert, stop by Mystic Park Ice Cream, Mystic River Chocolate Cafe, or the Sift Bake Shop.
Where to Stay in Mystic with Kids
Mystic is a great place to visit with kids and there are plenty of hotels for families too. One of the best options is the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa, located downtown with an indoor pool for kids. The Whaler’s Inn is another family-friendly option, an inn-style boutique hotel scattered across multiple Victorian buildings. Your family will wake up every morning in a cozy bed & breakfast ambiance! For private cottage rentals, check out Harbor View Landing. A lot of families visiting Mystic also prefer to book a home rental on Vrbo.
Need more hotel suggestions? Check out our list of Exciting Places to Stay in Connecticut For Families (Hotels, Resorts, and Camping)!
We hope you liked this list of the Best Things To Do In Mystic With Kids! From waterside adventures to indoor museums, yummy food, and more attractions, it’s no wonder families love this Connecticut city so much. Enjoy Mystic with your kids!
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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