City Guide: 20 Ways to Have Fun in Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic, Connecticut is a quick, hour long drive along the coast from our home that our family enjoys making several times a year. The seaside town is home to many popular family friendly spots, and the nearby towns and cities of Stonington, New London, East Lyme, Norwich, and Niantic offer plenty more to see and do. Mystic was one of our first City Guides back in 2018; we have recently discovered some new-to-us places and thought we would update our guide.

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Our Summer 2020 Recap

Summer 2020 wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, and it definitely wasn’t what we had been planning for a LONG time. June marked a milestone birthday for me and we had planned on celebrating with a big trip to places that have been on our bucket list for many year. Luckily, we rescheduled this trip for next summer- so cross your fingers and stay tuned!

Each summer, we make individual “Bucket Lists” of things we want to do. Some common goals that the four of us shared are part of the highlights below. We’re grateful we were able to accomplish so much and fully recognize how fortunate we are. Here are the highlights:

Once the pandemic hit, we knew we’d have to shift our perspective and our travel plans. Our major goals for any trip include: staying safe and healthy; doing our best to keep others safe and healthy; respecting local and state guidelines and regulations; learning new things; having fun.

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10 Things Kids Will Want to Do at Hancock Shaker Village

Traveling during a still present pandemic: If you’ve been following our adventures this summer, you know that our family has taken precautions to stay safe. We’ve limited our exploration to nearby states with lower COVID cases and to mainly outdoor spaces that take proper precautions to keep staff and visitors safe. Hancock Shaker Village was an easy choice- tons of open space to socially distance, only one family in a building structure at a time (with all doors and windows open to allow for better ventilation), and absolutely nothing to touch. While Hancock Shaker Village is a great place to visit anytime, it’s a very safe bet for family fun during these uncertain times.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2020, the Hancock Shaker Village is the oldest working farm in the Berkshires part of western Massachusetts. The Village was originally home to the Shaker community from the late 1700s until 1959, when it was turned into a museum that includes over 22,000 original artifacts and a research library. The 750 acre complex has a 20 acre working farm, 20 buildings with live interpreters, a massive garden with a very popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and tons of hiking trails, meadows, and woodlands that abut the Pittsfield State Forest.

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Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA

If you grew up in New England, you most likely took an elementary school field trip to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. When I was publicizing my upcoming trip to Sturbridge Village, dozens of friends, followers, and readers exclaimed “oh I loved going there as a kid!” It is definitely a must visit, but not just when you’re in elementary school. As an adult, I have been able to recall some parts of the village from past visits, yet I still learned a lot of new things when we visited this past weekend.

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Enjoying a New England Fall With Kids Without Looking at Leaves

I love that I grew up in New England, and recent travels have confirmed I will always be a New Englander. One of my favorite things about living in New England is the change in seasons, and there is (arguably) nothing more beautiful than fall in New England. However, I would argue that it takes a more “mature” desire to spend significant time looking at foliage. I don’t know too many toddlers, children, or teenagers who enjoy going for long drives in the country just to look at leaves. If your children are anything like mine, they like to do things, especially when the weather is still warm enough to be outside for extended periods of time.

Here is a list of some of my family’s favorite things to do in the Northeast during the fall and links to full, detailed blog post. Yes, you’ll still see plenty of beautiful foliage while traveling to these spots, but your children will be happily engaged, entertained, and energized:

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Dutchess County, New York

Dutchess County, located in southeastern New York, spans from Fishkill and Beacon to Rhinebeck and Red Hook covering (in total) thirty cities, towns, and villages. There are literally hundreds of ways to explore the area, but I thought I would share twelve ways families can enjoy all that Dutchess County has to offer together. The county borders western Connecticut and is about 90 minutes from Manhattan. Driving from the north end of Red Hook south to Beacon takes less than an hour, so you won’t spend days in the car exploring the area.

Start your planning by checking out DutchessTourism.com, which is a well organized, well informed network of suggestions for eating, staying, and exploring the county.  They have a section dedicated to family fun and even have itineraries broken up in one, three, and five day stays (in additional to organizing suggestions for shopping, craft beer, spa, LGBT and other themed trips).

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