Featured Post

Where to Buy Mystic Seafarer's Trail

Mystic Seafarer's Trail is available in the following Connecticut and Rhode Island shops and: Online as e-book or paperback: ( Amazon ...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lisa's Guide to Mystic

When most people think of the quaint seacoast village of Mystic, Connecticut, they think of Mystic Pizza. Yet when they visit to this maritime community, they find a lot more than pizza!
For my guests coming by train, plane or boat, I offer them the following sample itinerary:

"10 things to do in Mystic without a car" (on foot or on a borrowed Mystic Community Bike)
  1. Follow the Mystic Seafarer's Trail to "The 7 Wonders of Mystic." Along the way, you will find several attractions, shops, restaurants, and boat & walking tours. Stroll at noon or 6 pm and you can hum along with the bell songs coming from the big white church on the hill, Union Baptist Church).
  2. Watch boats from all over the world go through the Mystic Drawbridge at 20 minutes to the hour (Drawbridge camera feed courtesy of Mystic Knotwork).
  3. Visit Mystic & Noank Library (voted the 8th Wonder of Mystic) to cuddle their new cat Mito, grab a beach read from their free book section, enjoy a great view of the Mystic River Valley from the second floor, and place a piece in the ongoing community puzzle. (Located among 19th century sea captain's homes with widow's peaks, hitching posts. and wrought iron fences, don't be surprised if you travel back in time. (If you want to time travel with me, read my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, available as an e-book and at these locations.)
  4. Stroll through Olde Mistick Village where you can watch the duck drama unfold at the pond, catch a movie at Mystic Luxury Cinemas where they proudly serves local beer and wine, and see what's new at the Tourist Info Center.
  5. Wave to the friendly beluga whales and clap at the antics of the sea lions at Mystic Aquarium.
  6. Embark on seafaring adventures at Mystic Seaport and find your next adventure in brochures across the street at the Mystic Welcome Center.
  7. Swim in the Mystic River at William's Beach Park, where you can picnic and romp in the playground.
  8. Find peace on Enders Island where you will see St. Edmund's very old, withered arm, stroll through spectacular gardens, leave a folded prayer in the three-sided seaside chapel, and buy island-made jams with names like "Fire and Brimstone" hot pepper jelly.
  9. Relax in the country surroundings of the historic 1717 Denison Homestead and tour the home of Mystic's 300-year-old family. (Captain Denison fought with my ancestor, Captain Benjamin Church, considered the father of U.S. Army Rangers, in King Philip's War).
  10. Embark on the trails maintained by the Nature Center.
(Photograph of Lisa Saunders by Meredith Fuller.)

How I came up with the above list and "The 7 Wonders of Mystic"

Excerpt from my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail :

Wanted: Epic Adventure

Shortly after stepping out of my new home with my hound for our first stroll through the historic seacoast village of Mystic, Connecticut, a woman pulled over in her van and yelled, "Excuse me."

Assuming she was a tourist wanting directions to Mystic Pizza or some other attraction, I wasn't prepared for what she really wanted to know: "Do you realize the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear?"

What a debut in my new hometown—I don’t think this is what National Geographic meant when they named Mystic one of the top 100 adventure towns in the United States!

Once recovered from my wardrobe “malfunction,” I continued toward downtown Mystic with Bailey, a beagle/basset hound mix, to embark on a new life and shake off my old, sedentary landlubbing ways.

No longer did I want to be known as the lady who always talks about losing weight but never does it. No longer would I sit around daydreaming about becoming thin and famous so I could hire someone else to clean my house. I had a real shot at it now that I lived in a place where I couldn’t help but fall into a swash-buckling adventure—the kind that might inspire me to write a bestseller.

Straddling both sides of the Mystic River in the towns of Groton and Stonington, the village of Mystic takes its name from an Indian word, “river running to the sea.” Others call the Mystic River an arm of the sea for it’s not technically a river, but a long, narrow bay. With its scenic views of tall ships, islands, lighthouses and secluded coves, it has attracted such legendary honeymooners as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It is a place where those who cross the oceans gather to swap stories and repair their boats. It is where famous explorers are born, visit, get married, or embark from on their way to becoming lost at sea.

To launch my new career as an adventuress, I decided to walk Bailey to the haunts and homes of such celebrated voyagers as Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, and Dr. Robert Ballard, the discoverer of Titanic’s watery grave.

My first project would be to discover “The 7 Wonders of Mystic.” Then I would have a handy list of suggested sites for visitors holding up traffic to ask me what they should see (besides my underwear).

I also decided to design a “Mystic Seafarer’s Trail” map. When my husband Jim and I visited Boston, we loved walking its “Freedom Trail” because it gave us a clear self-guided path to follow with tidbits of information along the way. Mystic, full of maritime wonders with fun facts, certainly deserved to have its own trail.

National Geographic suggests that Mystic visitors bike what it calls the 25-mile Vineyard Loop, which includes “some hairy climbs that stops at two of the best wineries.” Hairy climbs? Although I hoped to get thin, I didn’t want to have to hike or bike uphill to do it. No, I would design the Mystic Seafarer’s Trail map to avoid hills where possible. It would include “The 7 Wonders” (once I figured out what they were), plus the stomping grounds of legendary explorers, heroes, traitors and shipwreck survivors—as well as those who went down with the ship.

With so many potential wonders to consider and adventures to try, I had a lot of ground—and water—to cover. So, every afternoon, I checked my skirt and off Bailey and I went to follow a scent of our own...

Click on the "LOOK INSIDE" feature of the Mystic Seafarer's Trail to read chapter two.

Mystic Seafarer's Trail is available as an e-book and at these locations.

Anchors aweigh! 

Lisa Saunders
AuthorTV Talk Show Host
845-222-8593 | lisasaunders42@gmail.com | www.authorlisasaunders.com | PO Box 389, Mystic CT 06355
Author of 10 Books"Look inside" excerpts

From News 8, Connecticut Style: “You don't have to fly halfway around the world for adventure. National Geographic lists Mystic as one of the top 100 “adventure towns” in America. If that isn't incentive enough to get you there, maybe the Mystic Seafarer's Trail will. This book combines travel, history and humor, including seven wonders.” News 8 segment: Book Lover's Corner: "Mystic Seafarer's Trail 
How to get to Mystic and what to do:
Getting here (by car, ferry, boat, bus, train or plane): http://www.mystic.org/getting-here.

If you are flying in, the following airport in Rhode Island is probably the easiest. You may then consider taking a shuttle to the Amtrak station in Providence:

T.F. Green Airport (PVD)
, RI
401 737 8222
(800) 872-7245
Daily service is available between Providence Station 

Providence Shuttle
(401) 737-2868
2000 Post Road
Warwick, RI 02886
Daily service (in season) between T.F. Green Airport and ...Providence AMTRAK station
2000 Post Road

How easy it is to get around Mystic? Easy to walk and bike. Parking is not always easy downtown but you can park on side streets and at the Arts Center on Water St.

What is the atmosphere like? It's a quaint seaside village.

What are the main attractions in Mystic?   Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport,  Olde Mistick Village, and the historic downtown village where the drawbridge goes up and down during sailing season.
Fun stuff to see and do: Just follow my Mystic Seafarer's Trail map, which is based on my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail. You will find major and minor attractions along the way in addition to places to eat, boat or bike.

Welcome Centers
  • Mystic & Shoreline Visitor Information Center Olde Mistick Village, Mystic, CT 06355, 860-536-1641, mysticinfocenter@yahoo.com, mysticinfo.com
  • Also, contact: 
  • Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce: 860-572-9578, mysticchamber.org
Helpful websites:

  • Mystic, CT
  • Historic New London
  • Luv Downtown (NL, Niantic, Norwich, Mystic, Pawk., Westerly (R.I)
  • Mystic Country

  • Weather--Mystic weather is never right, even though the Weather Channel loves to come here to film upcoming hurricanes beside all the tall ships. But if you want a rough idea, go to: http://www.weather.com/weather/today/Mystic+CT+USCT0129 (Even when it's pouring rain or the fog is so thick you can barely see, the weather on my phone says it's sunny.)

    Bike Sharing (free bikes available with a deposit--but you should reserve as soon as possible during the tourist season. The bikes hibernate in the cold months so do check the website for availability). Visit: Mystic Community Bikes, Mystic, CT: http://mysticcommunitybikes.org/
    Info: mysticcommunitybikes@gmail.com, (860) 245-8150.

    Kayak Rentals: Call ahead to Marine Consignment in Mystic (15 Holmes St.): 860-245-0588. They rent kayaks for easy placement in the Mystic River. http://marineconsignment.com/

    Coffee: Green Marble CafĂ© and Bartleby's in downtown Mystic, and Starbucks near Olde  Mistick Village. Another place may have just opened in Olde Mistick Village.

    Jogger/walker? One close, scenic spot is through or beside Elm Grove Cemetery (a garden cemetery along Mystic River at site # 4 on my Mystic Seafarer's Trail map) on Route 27 (Greenmanville Ave.) heading toward downtown Mystic. Another popular spot is River Road (near site #7 on Mystic Seafarer's Trail) with its scenic views of the tall, old ships docks at Mystic Seaport.

    Restaurants, places to stay, more things to do: Visitor Info

    What are the 7 wonders (located on Mystic Seafarer's Trail map)?

    1.Mystic Seaport’s Whaleship, Charles W. Morgan—the last wooden whaleship in the world
    2.Mystic Aquarium’s “Crowns.” Outdoor structures look like they belong to a massive King Neptune. Designed by famed international architect Cesar Pelli (designed Britain’s tallest building, etc).
    3.Elm Grove Cemetery Arch--colossal arch leads to scenic garden cemetery shaped like an elm tree.
    4.Mystic River Drawbridge (seen in film, Mystic Pizza), historic 1922 bascule bridge has seesaw design

    5. Hanging Gardens of Enders Island-maze of rock hedges, archways & St. Edmund’s withered arm
    6. Mystic Depot Welcome Center (inspiration for American Flyer’s “talking” toy train stations made in the mid-1900).  
    7. Mystic Pizza Restaurant, inspired 1988 Mystic Pizza movie) starring Julia Roberts and debuting Matt Damon (whose only line, "Mom, do you want my green stuff?" was said while eating lobster).

    “7 Wonders  of Mystic” * &  other wonders

    *Mystic Aquarium’s “Crowns” outdoor structures--appear as belonging to King Neptune. designed by famed international architect Cesar Pelli (designed Britain’s tallest building, etc).
     2.       Olde Mistick Village duck pond (where Gloria the cranky goose reigned)

    3.       Mystic & Shoreline Visitor Information Center

    4.       *Elm Grove Cemetery Arch--colossal arch leads to scenic garden cemetery shaped like an elm tree.

    5.       *Mystic Seaport’s Whaleship, Charles W. Morgan—the last wooden whaleship in the world

    6.       *Mystic River Drawbridge (seen in film, Mystic Pizza), historic 1922 bascule bridge has seesaw design

    7.       Captain’s Row (Gravel St.) & River Rd—views of captain homes, ships & nature

    8.       *Mystic Pizza Restaurant, inspired 1988 Mystic Pizza movie) starring Julia Roberts and debuting Matt Damon (whose only line, "Mom, do you want my green stuff?" was said while eating lobster).

    9.       Captain Daniel Packer Inne (feel like a character in Moby Dick)

    10.    Mystic Railroad Swing Bridge (will it close in time for next train?)

    11.    Portersville Academy, 1839 schoolhouse (C)

    12.     Record-breaking Cape Horn rounder, Captain Joseph Holmes (#77 private home)

    13.    Union Baptist Church (chime songs at 12 & 6 p.m.)

    14.    Mystic & Noank Library -Voted 8th Wonder (Emily the Library Cat buried there)

    15.    Octagon house (#8 private home)

    16.    Captain Peter E. Rowland, maker of record-breaking run on famous clipper, David Crockett (#10 private home)

    17.    Gold Rush Captain Sisson (#12 private home)

    18.    *Mystic Depot Welcome Center & Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce (inspiration for American Flyer’s “talking” toy train stations made in the mid-1900).   

    19.    *Hanging Gardens of Enders Island-maze of rock hedges, archways & St. Edmund’s withered arm

    20.    Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center

    21.    Denison Homestead Museum (built 1717)

    22.    Captain Palmer House (discovered Antarctica on Mystic-built sloop, Hero)

    23.    Stonington Lighthouse Museum (Stonington Historical Society)

    24.    Amelia Earhart’s Wedding site (private  home on Church St.)

    25.    Latham/Chester Store (Earhart wedding plaque)

    26.    Sylvan Street Museum (Noank Historical Society)

    38.    Carson’s Variety Store (locals have eaten there for over a century)

    55.    Cannon Square (War of 1812). Seen in movie Hope Springs with Meryl Streep

    B. Mystic Community Bikes (free bike use)

    C. Mystic River Historical Society

    Be sure to consider following these popular trails:
    Our area is currently working on another trail around and across the Thames River. See: Thames River Heritage Park

    No comments:

    Post a Comment