***Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in partnership with Mystic Country, CT, Mystic Seaport, and Mystic Aquarium. All experiences and opinions are my own.***
School can be incredibly boring. Sitting in a classroom, learning day after day and hour after hour, I wistfully looked out the window, wanting to be out in the sunshine. Enter our current world of cyber/home school. I named a column I write ‘Classroom Without Walls’ because I don’t enjoy sitting within four walls to learn. Mystic, CT is one example of a great vacation that goes hand in hand with education, and what better time of year to go than World Oceans Day?
We traveled to Mystic, CT just a little ahead of schedule, meeting up with a few homeschooling friends for a great adventure. We took several days to see what Mystic Connecticut has to offer, sometimes staying together as a group and other times branching off on our own. Our main stops on this trip were the USS Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum, Mystic Aquarium, and Mystic Seaport.
Our first stop was to see the USS Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum. We could have spent hours there but we only made it for an hour and a half. My recommendation is to plan 2-3 hours here.
Must See at the USS Nautilus/Submarine Force Museum
- USS Nautilus Tour. Make sure you grab the self guided tour recording. Watch your head with low entries and ceilings and really absorb everything this tour has to offer. There is so much to see and do. There are also many great talking points to educate your kids, for homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike.
- Check out the periscopes. These are entertaining for kid or adult.
- Stop in and watch the 50 minute movie. There are so many great facts and news casts from history in it. This one is a little more difficult with small children but even my kindergartner did a pretty good job sitting still. We only watched part of it since we were the only ones in there and could leave without causing a disturbance.
- Walk around and check out the displays.
- Make sure to take a moment to stop at the Memorial.
- Note: Parking is free.
- Plan: 2-3 hours
Must See & Teaching Points at the Mystic Aquarium
- Titanic Exhibit (bring tissues if you get emotional)
- Learn about ice bergs.
- Special exhibit experiences – painting with whales/beluga encounters, feeding birds at the Birds of the Outback, petting sharks, and feeding the rays (extra cost)
- Educational information throughout the exhibit.
- Tips on taking care of our oceans.
- Experience the 4D movie. (extra cost)
- Learn about flourescent fish and how they get that way.
- Study the different jellyfish.
- Visit the marine observatory and find out why the creatures in there. We learned all about food at the aquarium while we were there and learned more about why the sea lions are trained for shows and how they do it.
- Learn about the Ocean Exploration Center and the work Dr. Ballard’s team is doing. They make World Oceans Day an every day thing, just as we should.
- Visit at feeding time. It is fun and educational. All information for feeding times is on the website.
- See a sea lion show.
- Learn about the Sea Rescue Program
- Experience a Horseshoe Crab Walk. These occur only twice a year.
- Meet Ziggy Star – a rescued Northern Fur Seal who has gotten her forever home at the Mystic Aquarium.
- Check out a Foxwood Marine Theater Show when one is running. We saw a practice. AMAZING!!
- Nautilus Live Theater
- Note: Parking is free.
- Plan: All day
Must See and Teaching Points at Mystic Seaport
- Explore the Seaport Museum Gallery.
- Visit an old shipyard preservation center.
- See and touch the keel of the old ship, the Thames and learn its history.
- Learn about rope making and make your own rope at select times.
- Take a self guided tour of the historical village.
- Be sure to take a Navigation Quest Tour. Using various instruments you take a tour that follows directions and coordinates to receive the final prize.
- Tour various whaling boats and learn about the whaling industry.
- Take a water shuttle or boat ride. (cost extra)
- Sign your kids up for summer camp if you live nearby or use it as an excuse for an easygoing vacation for parents.
- Be a part of their homeschool programming. (See link for cost details.)
- Plan a trip to the planetarium. (cost extra)
- Note: Parking is free.
- Plan: All day but does have enough for 2
Mystic Hotel Recommendations
(based on our visits)
- Residence Inn 40 Whitehall Avenue, Stonington, CT- Our family stayed at the Residence Inn and can’t recommend it enough. The staff was friendly and helpful at all hours. Our room was clean and comfortable. We loved coming back to it every evening. The pool area was perfect for kids and was clean and well maintained. We also loved that breakfast and a light dinner were included in our stay. It made mornings smoother and something to fall back on if we didn’t feel like using the kitchenette is our suite. We didn’t have opportunity to check out the fitness center or the outdoor eating area or tennis courts but they were all well cared for also.
- Hilton Garden Inn 224 Gold Star Highway, Groton CT
- Mystic Marriott 625 North Road, Groton CT
- Abbotts Lobster in Noank, CT
- Bleu Squid – the different grilled cheese sandwiches are delish!
- Aquarium’s Penguin Cafe
- Bring your own lunch- picnic area outside the aquarium
We had a great time exploring the different educational and fun attractions that Mystic, CT has to offer. It was great to see what this coastal city is doing to help protect our oceans and the creatures that live in it. This World Oceans Day why don’t you pledge to do something to help keep our oceans a cleaner place?