My bookstore-themed destinations continues with Connecticut… Enjoy!
For a couple of years I had family living in Mystic, CT. It was nothing short of a delight to go visit them, especially during the warm summer months. My first visit was on a July 4th weekend and the town was patriotically bunted and bustling. I remember a boat ride up the river, clam chowder at Sea Swirl (conveniently across from the Mystic Inn, where we were staying), walking across the drawbridge, dining indoors and outdoors at delicious restaurants, looking at the beautiful homes, visiting the parks, and watching fireworks on the Fourth from New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey on the nearby Stonington beach.
The more I visited Mystic, the more I fell in love with it and its surrounding towns. In the summer there were blooming flowers and the salty sea in the air and historic homes standing proudly as they had for hundreds of years. In the fall there were gloriously clothed trees and apples and cider and the smell of the approaching winter blowing in on fall’s fierce winds. And even winter had a soft beauty, with its frosted windows and snow-laden trees and cold winds that you didn’t mind if you were going to the Mystic Market, where warm lattes and scones were to be had amidst friendly locals commenting on the weather.
And of course, there were bookstores. On every visit I went to Bank Square Books, a charming store with carefully selected reading material. And then there was my favorite bookstore (it perhaps remains my favorite…), The Book Barn in Niantic. I found so many treasures there that I can’t even remember them all. Used books that were all over the property in little buildings, open stalls, and wherever there was space. Books in piles and on heavy shelves that one could peruse through and find a rare edition buried somewhere, priced for $1. All with the distant sounds of the nearby sea as background music…
If you’re visiting the Mystic area, these are my recommendations for activities and eating.
Stay at the Inn at Mystic. A lovely, quiet place within walking distance of Mystic’s best.
Sea Swirl for snacks and chowder
Mystic Market for coffee, pastries, and the cutest grocery store.
S&P Oyster for traditional New England seafood.
Bravo Bravo for evening dining.
Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream for the best ice cream ever, and the hands-down the best specialty espresso drinks.
B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in the fall for fresh cider and the delicious apple cider donuts.
Buff Point State Park & Coastal Reserve for hiking
Steamboat Sabino for a summer evening cruise on the river
Mystic Aquarium – you can’t go wrong spending a morning or afternoon here!
Mystic Seaport – history, sailing, what more can you ask for?
I also recommend just strolling through downtown Mystic, dine at one of the many fun (if crowded) restaurants, and enjoy the ultimate Americana experience.
Noank (so close to Mystic that you can’t ever tell where Mystic ends and Noank begins):
Carson’s Store – this place is liking into the past. It’s hard to believe that we’re in the twenty-first century when visiting this charmingly quaint restaurant. Teeny tiny, often bustling with locals, and food that never, ever misses.
Abbott’s Lobster in The Rough. The favorite lobster roll ever. I recommend consuming on the picnic tables scattered over the lawn while the sun sets over the river and yachts and sailboats float by. Bliss.
Don’t neglect Stonington, a town that witnessed the Revolutionary War. Eat at the Dog Watch Cafe and get a t-shirt while you’re there.
Nearby/Day Trips from Mystic/Noank/Groton:
The Book Barn in Niantic.
R.J. Julia Booksellers in charming Madison, CT.
Newport, Providence, and Hartford are also within driving distance and make for great day trips,