Why choose to visit Mystic, Connecticut during the Pandemic? Maybe you have been wondering why I chose that town to visit during our road trip in June 2020. It is the first place we visited and I am glad we chose it first.
It is a six-hour drive from Rochester, New York to Mystic, and an easy drive to this nearby state.
If you are following our journey and already read my previous articles with regard to this trip, you already know why we choose to visit Connecticut. For those who didn’t read it yet, here are the links to the articles “How To Plan A Road Trip During COVID-19?” and “The Best Way To Change Your Itinerary During COVID-19″.
Mystic, Connecticut is not legally recognized as an independent town of Connecticut. It is located between the town of Groton ( West of the Mystic River also known as West Mystic) and Stonington ( East of the Mystic River.)
Starting the year 1784, over 135 years ago Mystic, Connecticut was a leading seaport in the area with 600 ships being built during that time. Not only that, but it also has one of the nation’s largest maritime museum which has preserved a lot of notable sailing ships and seaport buildings including Whaler Charles W. Morgan, the most notable in the country.
“Mystic” came from the word Pequot term “missi- tuk,” describing a large river whose waters are driven by tide or winds.
Historians believed that the “Pequot” Native Americans migrated into the area during the 16th century from eastern New York and established an empire across Southeastern Connecticut. “Gungywump” in nearby Groton, CT is an archaeological site with evidence that both indigenous peoples and early colonists settled in the area.
Day 1: Our Journey Begins
We planned to leave very early (6:00 am) but we didn’t make it. Instead, we left around 8:30 am. It was a rainy day from Rochester, New York east to Mystic, Connecticut.
Our car has been lighting up giving us warnings about the need for maintenance with our tire. Thanks be to God, it was nothing serious and we’re able to find a gas station. Nate simply put air in our tires and we were done. Honestly, it worried me in the beginning as it was very rainy and we didn’t really know what the problem was. Nate always checks our car before we travel far but this is the first time we’ve had this trouble.
We were able to make a stop on the border in New York before entering Massachusetts and ate at Subway for our lunch. Then we drove two hours more to Mystic, Connecticut.
Before reaching our motel, I made sure to call ahead to let them know that we are checking in before the check-in time. I’m making sure to asks them that it’s ok, so we won’t be waiting inside the lobby.
Check-In Quality Inn Mystic
Upon our arrival, we parked our car at the very front of the entrance to Quality Inn Mystic. Nate and the kids waited in the car while I went inside for check-in. There were two people ahead of me and one person behind me. The area from the entrance door to the front desk was very small and there was no place to sit down. To social distance, I stood by the counter where they serve their breakfast food. That area was closed but people knew I was part of the line so it’s ok.
Quality Inn had this plastic barrier at the check-in desk to give some space between their guests and their workers. I honestly don’t know if that helps! It’s our first time to stay at a Quality Inn and we didn’t like the smell of the area while we were walking to our room. We find it stinky. It had a strong odor and we had to cover our noses every time we walked in and out of our room.
To our surprise, our room was clean and I have no complaints about the room except that I feel they wash their bedsheets and blankets with chlorine and my skin can’t handle the strong chemicals. I didn’t sleep much at night as I wasn’t comfortable.
We were able to rest for an hour or two in our room and noticed that the rain stopped! Then we decided to go outside and check out what’s nearby. There were lots of restaurants to choose from near our motel within easy walking distance but we decided to drive a little further out and check out one of the places where some people love to eat in Mystic.
Honestly, Nate rated his burger a 3.5 for his burger. The kids and I rated our food 2 and 3. Not fun! I ordered Rhode Island soup, a Red Lobster sandwich, and clam rolls. The kids got chicken strips and fries.
Ice Cream Time
After we ate our dinner, we went back to the ice cream place we had passed by earlier. We love it there! There were so many ice cream flavors to choose from and the area overlooks the river. We got to watch the sunset while licking ice cream. There was ample space to walk around and a table and chairs to enjoy eating while still social distancing. I felt safe spending time there. There’s a food place next to this ice cream place and it would be ok to eat there, too. I can’t say anything about the food next door as we didn’t try it.
Day 2: At The Beach
We woke up very early and drove to Ocean Beach Park in New London, Connecticut. We found a place to eat on our way to the beach. It’s like ten minutes away. The eatery is near the highway so we easily parked our car on the side and got to enjoy the nice weather while hearing the birds chirp. The kids enjoyed their time waiting there. The owner is very kind to hand the kids some car toys to keep. But my kids are too old for those toys. I’m the only one who enjoyed the strong peppered flavor of the potato. I ate most of my food while Nate and the kids didn’t eat much of their orders. I rated mine 3 while they rated theirs 2.5 out of 5.
After breakfast, we then continued our journey to the beach. There is ample parking but we paid a lot of $ for it. Nate wasn’t happy with how much they charged for parking but, oh well, it is what it is.
Upon our arrival at Ocean Beach Park, there are a few people already there as it is past 8:00 am, but we all have room to social distance. The beach had a lot of jellyfish when we arrived but a few hours later a lot of them were gone. Some people get the jellyfish out of the water so they can swim without running into jellyfish. The beach isn’t that big considering the size of the parking lot. But there are lots of things to do here if its not COVID. Once COVID is over I want to go back to this place to enjoy the water park and other activities there. It’s a great place for families and for parents who have smaller kids. There are many rides to choose from aside from the carousel.
Our time is spent most of the day at the beach and left around 2:00 pm as we were starving. We had snacks and drinks with us but we didn’t bring any food for lunch. We had a lot of leftover food from the night before. It’s good we have a refrigerator and microwave in our motel room to heat up our food whenever we need to. It also saved us some $$.
Tip: Position yourself to the left side facing the beach. There are fewer people and fewer jellyfish there which makes swimming more enjoyable.
Pink Basil, an Asian restaurant is where we get dinner for Keira, Nate, and Kyle. I still had some clam balls left from last night. Nate made a rule that you eat what you order so I had to finish mine. But Kyle ended up not eating his order. He is not fond of other noodle cuisines and he is not fond of sushi either. This place is within walking distance from the Quality Inn. We managed to walk there even though it was raining. This is the only place that we rated 5 among all the places we tried in the area.
Day 3: Aquarium and Sea Port Museum
This will be our last day in the area as our accommodation is only for two nights and three days. We woke up in time to pack our belongings and check-out before heading to our last day’s adventure in Mystic.
Right after check-out, we headed to Mystic Aquarium. It’s a ten to fifteen-minute drive from our motel. We were one of the first people to arrive. We waited in the car to avoid standing too long in line.
Tickets were purchased online as they required you to get your ticket online and just show them the code when you arrive at the museum. Entering is an easy process. They let us step in a tube where we can all just stand together while a worker takes our body temperature. It’s actually cool as the workers don’t have to be near us.
They were quite a few people in the aquarium when we went but we still had enough space for social distancing. The kids enjoyed it here, especially Kyle. There’s a lot of aquarium displayed that we don’t remember seeing at other aquariums we have visited in other states.
There’s a lot to see as you venture outside the aquarium. All the inside exhibits are closed.
We spent more than two hours in the aquarium then drove and find a place to eat lunch. We were driving around trying to check out a Mexican restaurant Nate read about but Google Maps couldn’t seem to find the place. The app left us in the middle of the highway! Lol! So we decided to come back to the plaza near our hotel and eat there.
Nate, Keira, and Kyle ordered food. and I still had some leftover clams to finish from the other night. Based on their feedback, they judged the quality of the food didn’t match the expensive price. The restaurant practiced social distancing. A lot of tables were marked with an X. We felt safe being there. The servers wore gloves on and brought plastic utensils instead of the real silverware for easy disposal.
Mystic Seaport Museum
Our tickets were bought online after eating lunch and before heading to the museum to make sure we can enter the area. It is an outside museum with ample parking across the street.
It’s so nice to see the old houses built in the 1800s as we walk around this port. There were a couple of boats that we were allowed to get in. Guides explained the history of the ship. It’s another museum experience different from the others.
The rain started to pour at around 3:00 pm, right at the time they scheduled our guided boat tour. We missed it because the tour was canceled due to inclement weather. So we decided to proceed to our next destination — South Kingstown, Rhode Island.
We spent a total of two hours at the museum and aquarium. We missed some indoor activities. They were closed due to COVID-19. If you visit here and plan to do the boat tour, allocate at least 3-4 hours. Visiting here without the pandemic would be a lot of fun for the kids as the kids have the opportunity to build their own boats that they can bring home. Be prepared to allocate more than four hours here when there is no COVID.
Mystic, is a great place for a family to visit or for any travelers! It’s a great place to include in your itinerary if you are visiting the New England States, especially if you are into boating, and you love beaches. It’s easy to hop from one beach to the other.
From Mystic, it’s a twenty-minute drive to New London, Connecticut Ocean Beach Park, and a forty-eight-minute drive to Misquamicut State Beach in Rhode Island.
Overall, Mystic is a great stop if you’re visiting Connecticut.
Disclaimer: Please check the CDC website for updates and your own State and the State you like to visit before going on a road trip and visiting the destination. The rules always change from time to time due to the recent outbreak of the virus in certain areas.