Weekends Away: Mystic, CT (forget the pizza)

Food & Wine, United States, Weekly Travel News — By on January 25, 2010 at 6:00 am

Mystic Seaportby Molly Fergus
LG Travel News Editor


“Well, oh my!” My tour guide sheepishly exclaimed. “This is impolite, but, I do believe you’ve forgotten your skirt.”

I looked down at my outfit: A coat, boots and jeans. I guess it would have been rather scandalous…for 1876.

I was on a Holiday Lantern Tour at Mystic Seaport, a historic museum in Connecticut similar to Colonial Williamsburg. The tour guide was completely in-character as she led me and about 10 other 21st century visitors around the seaport, a museum with tall ships and a recreated 19th century seaside village.

I didn’t bring any skirts with me at all, of course. My roommate and I left the city for just a night to visit Mystic, a town probably most famous for Julia Roberts’ 1988 film Mystic Pizza. Sadly, we didn’t make it in time for a slice, but I did leave with a new appreciation for New England.

Before visiting Mystic, my perceptions of the region were pretty basic: Clams. Lobster. Those funny lobster bibs. Ocean. Chowder. Quaint things. All of Nights in Rodanthe.

That is, entirely clichéd and based only on what I dreamt a seafaring town might look like. So, imagine my thrill when I found out that Mystic was…exactly like all of those in-my-head clichés.

The quaint tour definitely fit into my definition of New England. For an hour, we toured the best of the Seaport’s buildings, including the printer’s office, the tavern, a mansion and one ship. Throughout the visit, the actors recreated a Christmas tale about Captain Gardner, a Mystic sailor who had been lost at sea. (Spoiler alert: They found him!)

The living, breathing town was just as fetching. Seafood restaurants, pubs and boutiques line Mystic’s main drag. Graceful houses fill the residential blocks. And yes, the bon-a-fide Mystic Pizza draws a huge crowd.

Even though we didn’t get to pay homage to Julia Roberts, a Connecticut stay was the perfect antidote to our frenzied city lives. My only regret: I never wore one of those crazy lobster bibs.

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