Known as the nation’s leading maritime museum, Mystic Seaport provides hours upon hours of fascinating exhibits and attractions that will entertain guests of all ages. Mystic Seaport was one of those destinations that I thought we would visit when my grandkids were a bit older but this destination has a lot to offer for kids of any age.
Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, preserves America’s seafaring heritage. Visiting and strolling through Mystic Seaport takes you back in time as you wander through this reconstructed, authentic coastal village with appropriate character actors giving enlightening demonstrations of a life past. The 19th century village features all sorts of fun buildings like a grocery store, candy store, church, a sail loft, bank, and more.
Climb Aboard the Charles W. Morgan Whaleship
Our first big adventure at Mystic Seaport was an impressive experience. We toured the last wooden whaleship in the world, the Charles W. Morgan. There are a few ships at the seaport that you can actually walk on board. The museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan.
Boarding the Charles W Morgan is the quintessential Mystic Seaport experience. This magnificent ship made its first voyage in 1841 and still sails today. Now you can stand on her deck, go below and see the crew’s quarters, and the blubber room. Her story is crucial to understanding a critical chapter in the history of our nation.
The magnificent Charles W. Morgan is one of more than 500 historic vessels owned by Mystic Seaport. Not all the ships are on display, however. We did explore some of the other docked historic vessels. We got an up-close look at the Joseph Conrad, a full-rigged 1882 training ship, and the L.A. Dunton, the last surviving example of an early 20th-century New England fishing boat. Each ship has been restored to represent the time period from which it originated
In season, you can also book passage aboard Sabino, the only coal-fired passenger ship still in operation, for a leisurely cruise along the Mystic River.
Explore Incredible Exhibits
Exploring Mystic Seaport’s 19 acres takes you back in time as you wander through this reconstructed authentic coastal village. The 19th century village features all sorts of fun buildings like a grocery store, candy store, church, a sail loft, bank, and more. I liked strolling through the village and asking the grandchildren to imagine what it would have been like to have lived here back them.
The Museum’s exhibition halls are brimming with permanent and changing exhibits that offer rare glimpses into other eras and cultures, including restored vessels, figureheads, ship carvings, and vintage photography. Each exhibit and art gallery at Mystic Seaport offers a unique perspective of our nation’s history with the sea and voyages on the water.
Watch History Come Alive
Mystic Seaport has an incredible team that puts on a variety of demonstrations and performances for their visitors. In addition to their theatrical acts, these staff members and volunteers also interact with their visitors to show them various maritime skills and techniques. Talented craftspeople, such as the shipsmiths, demonstrate 19th-century skills and discuss their work. Visitors can also learn about maritime trades in the ship carver’s shop and the cooperage. Their costumes and vast knowledge gave us a glimpse at what life was like during this time period.
Visiting the Children’s Museum
This was the highlight of the trip for my little sailors. The Children’s Museum is a special place geared to kids seven and under. Here, young sailors can swab the deck, move cargo, cook in the galley, dress in sailors’ garb, and even sleep in ships’ bunks.
The building is not huge but it contains so much for the kids to see and explore. I was amazed to see so many wooden toys included in the museum and found out that many of the toys were made by Mystic Seaport volunteers. The toys, puzzles, and books included here could have kept my grandchildren entertained for hours. Plus, the museum had creative play areas including a pretend ship, sleeping quarters, and a galley. My little sailors had a great time.
The Children’s Museum also hosts free storytime throughout the year. Stories follow the cycle of the seasons and children are able to see different hands-on objects relating to each story. Families are welcome at this program designed especially for children ages 4 – 7.
- Children ages 5 and under are FREE and they also offer a ton of discount and specialty pricing options
- The nice thing about admission here is that you can get your ticket validated and return for a second visit (within 7 days) for FREE. There is a lot to see here so that is helpful.
- Strollers are allowed on the property they are not allowed inside the buildings or on boats. So if you are traveling with a baby, it might be a good idea to bring a baby carrier along that you can use for visiting these exhibits.
- The museum provides very good information on accessibility on their website. Special needs visitors along with one adult companion receive a 50% discount.
Mystic Seaport provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about the America’s seafaring history. Definitely consider Mystic Seaport for a family visit even with young children.
There’s so much to do at Mystic Seaport, both inside and outside of the museum! I have given you just a taste of all that’s waiting for your family at the Mystic Seaport.
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