Fall in New England brings the most quintessential autumn glory, where cider mills and pumpkin patches evoke joy to families as the fall foliage dawns a treat for the eyes. Within the northeastern states of the New England sits one of the most charming of all: Mystic Connecticut, a nautical sea town built upon the Mystic River. Famous for its maritime lineage of serving as an important and historic seaport, what makes Mystic truly unique is not the history itself, but how well the town has preserved it. Historic buildings, homesteads, and farms fill the area, as the most notable ship museum and restoration site sits along a port filled with boats of the past. The old world charm of Mystic can be found everywhere you turn, and makes for a refreshing change from its more metropolitan neighbors. The location of this unassuming town also cannot be more ideal, as Mystic is only a 2 hour drive from New York City or Boston, making it the perfect weekend getaway for a trip on the east coast.
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The Whaler’s Inn: A Luxuriously Cozy New England Escape
Staying true to the maritime way of Mystic, The Whaler’s Inn bodes a nautical-chic ambiance at their newly renovated boutique hotel. Nods to the history of Mystic can be found all over the property, from the historic buildings and guest room quarters, to the sea-driven decor. Ideally located in the heart of downtown Mystic, The Whaler’s Inn provides expansive views of the Mystic River and is located just steps away from some of the best restaurants and activities in town. Bright and stylish decor, warm and welcoming hospitality, and comfort and convenience are just some of what makes The Whalers Inn so great.
Staying in the Morgan Suite inside the 1865 House is an absolute dream. A stunning and spacious living area is met with a modern double-sided gas fireplace adjoining the bedroom wall, where a plush king size bed awaits a restful slumber. The living area houses a large velvet couch and large flatscreen TV, an adorable writing nook that is perfect for getting work done, and floor to ceiling windows with electric blinds that let plenty of light in. Small details such as the old fashioned phone and nautical themed artwork tie the decor together and bring a sense of romantic modern luxury met with old world seafaring nostalgia.
Between the living room, bedroom, and bathroom, I couldn’t decide which is the most luxurious room of all. The bathroom, with its stylish exposed piping, heated floors and opulent jet tub is the perfect place to relax after a day out exploring Mystic. Ending the night by cozying up with the fireplace on and a good movie is all that’s needed before drifting off to a peaceful sleep. Both the living room and bedroom TVs conveniently have Samsung TV and Roku units, so you can easily stream the night away.
When I say every detail has been thought out to make your stay as comfortable as possible, I’m not referring to the in-suite Keurig coffee machine or fully stocked luxury bath products that are commonly provided by nice hotels. The Whaler’s Inn has gone above and beyond to provide guests with a curated list of the best restaurants in Mystic ranging from cozy and casual, to classy and cocktails, which is printed out and presented to you at check-in for your convenience.
In addition to this list, a separate flyer found in your room features the top 5 things to do in Mystic, which changes seasonally. Discounted tickets to many of Mystic’s attractions are also generously provided by the hotel. I love and appreciate the added gesture of these recommendation lists so much because it saves a trip to the hotel concierge to ask for recommendations, and the extra research needed when visiting a new destination. If there’s anything else at all you might need, they are a phone call away but a number to text is also conveniently provided for quick and helpful responses.
Of the list of top restaurants in Mystic includes The Whaler’s Inn’s very own, Bravo Bravo where the complimentary continental breakfast is served. The breakfast is delicious, and there’s nothing simple about it. Smoked gravlax, cured meats, cheeses, assorted pastries and more are just some of what’s included with your stay. But that’s not all, delicious a la carte options are also available for purchase. For lunch and dinner, Bravo Bravo transforms into an exquisite Italian restaurant, where traditional pasta dishes are met with fresh seafood pairings, making for the perfect combination of New England meets European fare. Looking for something lighter? The lobby offers complimentary tea and coffee all day, and local beer and wine are for purchase and can be leisurely enjoyed outside on the lobby porch.
Top Things to do in Mystic, CT
There are many activities offered in Mystic to enjoy in the fall. From museums, to music venues, to simply getting in touch with nature, the following are my top picks for making the most out of your cozy autumn getaway.
Mystic Seaport Museum: The Mystic Seaport and it’s historic maritime museum is one of main attractions of Mystic. More than just a museum for old ships, the entire port is filled with live and interactive exhibits of all kinds that are historic to the mid 1800s. The seaport is also home to the last American wooden whaler ship, the Charles W. Morgan, which became a National Historic Landmark in 1966. As far as Mystic Seaport things to do are concerned, you can spend hours at the seaport viewing the exhibits, visiting the planetarium, watching live interactive demonstrations, and enjoying the live history musical performances.
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center: Get in touch with the natural beauty of Mystic at this beautiful nature center. Denison Peqoutsepos is home to a lovely little natural history museum, wildlife sanctuary, and has several beautiful hiking and walking trails. This is the perfect place to be surrounded by the beautiful fall foliage that overtakes Connecticut in the autumn season.
Downtown Mystic: Surrounding The Whaler’s Inn is downtown Mystic, a lovely and walkable area with shops, restaurants, dessert parlors and more. Catch the famous Mystic drawbridge as it opens up and rises to let passing boats through, enjoy a stroll along the Mystic River, or simply take in the beautiful views from the bridge.
BF Clyde’s Cyder Mill: No visit to Mystic is complete without visiting America’s oldest steam powdered cider mill. Nothing says fall like a cup of apple cider, and at BF Clydes you will find complimentary hard cider tastings, as well as hot and cold fresh made apple cider and donuts.
When day turns to night, there is still plenty to do in the small town of Mystic. If you’re a night owl, looking for live music performances, or simply want to dance the night away, check out one of the nearby casinos such as Foxwood or Mohegan Sun for plenty of action and entertainment.
Wineries and Breweries in Mystic, CT
Did you know that Mystic and the surrounding areas are a prominent wine region? I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are many different great wineries here, each with something unique to offer. The weather in the autumn time of Mystic is perfect for enjoying the crisp cool air, with a warming glass of wine in hand. The following are just a few of the great wineries in and around Mystic:
Stonington Vineyards: As a founding member of the Connecticut Wine trail, Stonington Vineyards is one of the most important wineries and a great place to have a picnic on their beautiful property. This winery is the most famous of the area.
Saltwater Farm Vineyards: This winery has a tasting room in a modernly-restored WWII hanger. Perfect for history buffs and wine aficionados alike.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards: Not only does Maugle Sierra offer wine tastings, but they also teach you how to taste. Visit on Sunday afternoons or Friday evenings for live music!
Jonathan Edwards Winery: As an enthusiast of beautiful settings, my choice of vineyards was the Jonathan Edwards Winery. This winery is noted to be one of the most picturesque in the region, and with 48 acres on a hilltop it truly is a great way to spend an leisurely afternoon. What is most unique about Jonathan Edwards Winery however, is that they ship grapes from Napa Valley to create robust reds to compliment the the wonderful local whites. Being a California girl, I appreciated this and their very fitting tagline, “New England charm. Napa Style.”
Prefer beer over wine or want to mix it up? Mystic is also home to a variety of craft breweries! Go for a pre or after dinner drink, or bring your own snacks and hang out because these breweries like to focus on one thing: beer. You can’t go wrong with any of the following Mystic breweries:
The Beer’d Brewing Company: The Beer’d microbrewery offers complimentary tastings of all their small batch beers along with seating and beverage service.
Outer Light Brewing Company: An innovative rotation of great beers can be found at Outer Light’s kid-friendly tap room.
Barley Head Brewery: A nano brewery featuring beer made from locally sourced ingredients.
Where to eat in Mystic, CT
There are no shortages of fantastic restaurants to be found in this small town of Connecticut. Water front restaurants are plenty with seafood so fresh you can practically watch it being caught. Romantic water-front dining, chic bistros, high-end steakhouses, and famous pizzerias are all easily found in Mystic. The following are some of my favorites:
Mystic Pizza: Just when I thought I left Hollywood back in my hometown of Los Angeles, I found a little slice (literally) of Hollywood here in New England at Mystic Pizza. The 1988 film starring a young Julia Roberts was based on this pizzeria by the same name and was filmed in Mystic. The pizza is great here and many movie memorabilia can be found all throughout the casual restaurant.
Engine Room: An innovative seasonal menu featuring local produce mixed with country classics like hush puppies and baked mac ‘n’ cheese can be found set in a large, modern rustic restaurant/bar concept. In addition to great food, Engine room offers a full bar, local and non-local wines, lots and lots of whiskey, and a daily rotation of 16 beers on draft which highlights some of the rarest brews in Connecticut.
Red 36: Overlooking the yacht harbor is this casual and trendy restaurant that is known for their variety of unique seafood flatbreads (which are all amazing) and delicious cocktails. This is a great place to catch the sunset or have weekend brunch!
S & P Oyster Co.: A beloved Mystic classic. Waterfront views and great seafood with a menu of New England favorites in a no frills environment. Don’t overlook the fish tacos when you’re there!
Oyster Club: A romantic and cozy restaurant and tavern with a seasonal rotating menu made of the most sustainable local foods possible.
Whether you plan a trip to Mystic with your loved one, group of friends, or as a relaxing solo trip, there is no denying the charm and beauty waiting to be found in this quaint waterfront village. The Whaler’s Inn much like Mystic itself is destination unlike any other: a nautical utopia set in present day New England. It is the perfect getaway for a destination where old world charm meets modern day luxury. Visiting in the fall will Mystic Connecticut and The Whaler’s Inn.