Last Updated: April 24, 2017 / photos coming soon
Sparkling sea, salty air, beachy shingled homes, briney seafood. The coastal Connecticut shoreline is dotted with quaint towns, beautiful seascapes, boutique shopping and local farm- or sea-to-table food. I (Sarah) grew up mostly in Connecticut, and spent summers in Groton Long Point near Mystic, and got married in Mystic. This area, including the neighboring towns, just may be coastal Connecticut at it’s finest.
Eat / Drink
Oyster Club (Mystic, CT)
This award-winning restaurant is one of our favorites anywhere, anytime of year. Farm-to-table, unpretentious, simply delicious food. If you eat seafood, the mussels in coconut-lemongrass Thai-inspired broth are dreamworthy (and dairy-free). Don’t forget to ask for extra bread — the bread is fresh and wonderful, and you’ll want to soak up every last bit of the mussels broth with it. The menu changes often, and fish dishes are always winners. There is also always a creative vegetarian or vegan option that is fantastic. Great wine, beer and cocktail list as well, and an overall lovely, cozy ambiance with consistently warm service.
Technically part of (and situated above) the Oyster Club, Treehouse is an open-air, second-story patio setting open only in the warmer months. Cocktails are strong (the Painkiller is dangerously good, but there are no wrong turns on this menu). Light fare is well-prepared, and if you like oysters, the happy hour pricing is hard to beat. The menu is different from the Oyster Club, so going to one doesn’t mean you should skip the other. In fact, you should definitely go to both.
Red 36 (Mystic, CT)
One of the best waterfront spots to enjoy a beverage and fresh regional food in Mystic. It’s tucked just off the main area of the “downtown” seaport area, and right on the docks of the Mystic River. The kale panzanella is a favorite (and vegan without the cheese), and they are also known for a gret ahi salad and other seafood.
Engine Room (Mystic, CT)
Massive selection of beers on draught and by the bottle, excellent whiskey / spirits list, and solid burgers (including a rotating veggie option — such as a grilled portobello, veggie burger, crispy tofu) and other sandwiches. Salads, fries and other smaller plates are also available. Everything here is high-quality — steps above your average burger joint.
Ford’s Lobster (Mystic, CT)
Arrive by foot, bicycle, car or boat. This seasonal restaurant (late spring through mid-fall or so) has hands-down the best lobster roll (served cold or warm, and made-to-order), and also serves Noank Chowder — a non-dairy clam chowder that tastes of the sea in the best way possible.
Water Street Cafe (Stonington, CT)
Local, seasonal, fresh food with a bit of a New England- and Asian-fusion flare. Expect to wait for a table on summer nights.
Milagro’s (Stonington, CT)
A cozy Mexican restaurant with killer margaritas and great fish tacos.
Jonathan Edwards Winery and Saltwater Farm Vineyard (both technically in Stonington, which neighbors Mystic) are two wineries that offer the best of both worlds: delightful wine and gorgeous tasting room / vineyard setting.
Beer’d Brewing Co., a microbrewery inside the Velvet Mill building in Stonington, is well worth a visit for their rotating list of carefully crafted, creative and well-executed beers.
See / Do
Exploring downtown Mystic can take you a half- or full-day, depending on your interests. The main road (Route 1) is lined with great boutiques and galleries, so take your time walking up and down, and shopping around. Especially if you are traveling / visiting with kids, a short drive away is Olde Mistick Village, which is right next to the Mystic Aquarium.
Neighboring Stonington is also worth a few hours exploration. The Velvet Mill, mentioned above, has interesting local history and is now home to a variety of local brands — ranging from beer to cheese makers, a restaurant and wine bar, a farmers market, yoga and pilates, many artists’ studios and many other small businesses. A great place to peruse and support!
- Take a day trip a very short drive north on I-95 into Rhode Island to explore other beaches and the charming beach towns of Westerly and Watch Hill.
- Drive a bit further north in Rhode Island to Newport, which is full of wonderful local boutiques and nice national chains, a lively downtown with excellent restaurants and bars along the waterfront, and a gorgeous view of many boats.
- If you have access to a motor boat or know someone who does, go for a ride out on the Sound and tool around nearby Fishers Island. If you can dock, you can go into town on Fishers and have a drink and a dance at the Pequot — the only bar on the island, and with a light-up dance floor to boot.