You may have noticed a break since my last post. We have been traveling and jumping into our new soccer routine. During our Spring break vacation we made an over night trip to Mystic Connecticut to see the Aquarium and a few other local family friendly places to play. My kids love, love, love ocean life. They absolutely adore penguins and whales and all kinds of sea creatures. Thankfully the Mystic Aquarium has all of the above! My kids almost lost their minds when the Beluga whale came out of no where to give them a great big kiss through the glass tank! The excited looks on their faces and their squealing was priceless!
If you’ve ever wanted to make a trip to see the aquarium in Mystic, here’s what you need to know:
Purchase tickets online for a 15% discount (the hotels only offer $2-$3 discount coupons). Redeemed printed tickets at the aquarium for actual tickets to take with you.
We did not know there were so many outdoor exhibits such as the Beluga Whales, Sea Lions and African Penguins. It was a drizzly day and a little chilly. Thankfully we were dressed properly, but if the rain had not held out we would have missed out on a few key exhibits. Be sure to bring back up rain gear, or an extra coat on a chilly day! The inside exhibits are plentiful! There are many interactive things to keep little ones busy. My kids couldn’t get enough of the Sea Lion show, or the hands-on Wild exhibit. At the Wild exhibit we picked up a Scavenger Hunt card on our way in and had fun checking off everything on the list. My kids especially loved the science area where they could dig for dinosaur bones. The majority of the museum is stroller friendly and there is stroller parking available at the Foxwoods Maritime Sea lion show. It is very accessible for wheel chairs as well. They make it easy for your entire family to enjoy the exhibits.
Tips: There is a cafe to purchase lunch. However, it is simple fair of chicken fingers, burgers, fries, pizza, wraps and soft pretzels. If you want to save some money buy a large pizza and share it with the family. Or, pack your own lunch and eat at the cafe (no food or beverages allowed inside the aquarium) and keep the $40-$50 dollars you would have spent to buy a cute something at the souvenir shop. Even better- skip the souvenir shop all together and purchase the photos they take when you walk in the entrance. Those run about $25.00 for two 3×5 pictures, or $35.00 for (2) 3×5’s (1) 4×6 and (2) 5×7’s. Last, bring some change for the penny press machines 50 cents per penny. Parking is FREE. If you don’t get to see everything in one day, or miss the outside exhibits due to rain, you can have your admission tickets validated to use again the next day.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites just four minutes away from the aquarium. We chose this hotel after careful research and recommendations. There are certainly cheaper hotels, but the pricing was middle of the road with great reviews. We were sold on the free breakfast in the morning (another savings of around $50 for a family of four) and free cookies at night. Sounds like such a little thing, but my kids looked adorable coming down in their P.J.’s for cookies and cocoa before bedtime. We also used the pool to tire the kids out after dinner. There is a small fridge and microwave for use in each room.
Tips: Coffee/tea and cocoa are available in the lobby 24/7. The free cookies may only be available during the week. Ask when making reservations if there are any cookies/snacks provided on the weekends. There are family packages available that bundle the price of the room with tickets to the aquarium, but it is cheaper to pay separately (especially if you purchase in advance online). I also really like that the site we used to book our room adds all taxes and fees for you. So, you get to see the exact price before booking your room.
Mystic Pizza! You can’t make a trip to Mystic CT without eating at the famous Mystic Pizza. If you haven’t watched the movie yet they have it on continual loop at the restaurant! Or, you could rent it at home too. I loved everything about this place! It was cozy and the staff very friendly. But, most of all the pizza was delicious!! Hubby and I enjoyed sharing a seafood pizza (since I missed out on getting a lobster roll). The kids each had their own personal pizzas. The prices were very reasonable and as the slogan says it was a “slice of heaven.”
We stayed only one night. But, to maximize our fun we decided to break up the drive back home into smaller adventures. My kids love of ocean creatures is only second to their love of Dinosaurs. They also really love exploring kids museums. So, we found something to satisfy both loves.
DINOSAUR STATE PARK
We traveled about an hour West of Mystic to Rocky Hill where we found Dinosaur State Park. This place is the real dino deal. A giant fossil (with 2,000 dinosaur foot prints!!) was unearthed during construction for another building project and BAM! They built an entire museum around the fossil! Kids can interact with the exhibits all around the museum. It is a very scientific look at the earth, how fossils are made, and how dinosaurs existed in New England and around the world. The very last exhibit is a hands-on learning room full of fossils, minerals, puppets, coloring and craft activities. Kids can hold actual fossils, play dinosaur games and identify animal sounds.
This room is jam packed full of interactive stuff! We spent over an hour in this room alone! They have short films throughout the day you can view for free. They announce each film as it is about to play. The museum sits on a National Park, so there are several hiking trails and picnic areas to use. In the summer months they also let kids help make a plaster cast of fossils.
Tips: Admission is only $6.00 per person (under age 5 is FREE). You can make a souvenir penny press, but all the gifts in the small gift shop are super affordable. They even make a cute little goody bag for $5.00. If you don’t get a chance to pack your own lunch the museum staff has already put together a list of local restaurants.
KIDS PLAY CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
We traveled 50 minutes from Rocky Hill to Torrington to spend a few hours getting a hands on education at the Kids Play Museum. The admission price is only $5.00 per person! There are some super cute exhibits! My kids especially loved the mini super market, the 1950’s diner and the race car pit stop. There is a small toddler area for kids age two and under. Everything was pretty clean for our late afternoon visit at a super busy time of day.
Tips: Parking is a challenge. You can find street parking in front of the building, or on side streets and pay the meter tolls (so bring some quarters!). A few blocks further down and you will find free Municipal parking. We were lucky to find street parking right in front of the museum on our rainy day visit.
This was definitely a whirl wind visit! There are so many more places to go and see in Mystic we will definitely go back!
The Whatever Mom did not receive any financial compensation for this review. The opinions and views about the businesses listed in this blog are solely the opinions and views of the The Whatever Mom. Be sure to click on the headings for each business review to directly link to each website.