Why Visit Mystic Seaport this Winter.

Sure our Mystic Country region is well known for all the great things to “sea” and do during the warmer summer months, but that reality is changing with the ongoing development of new attractions in the region suited for winter time visitors to the area. And nothing currently reflects this more than Mystic Seaport’s new Thompson Exhibition building and inaugural “Sea Change” exhibit.

Mystic Seaport

Its very shape of the new Thompson Exhibition Building mirrors the sea. The breathtaking new Thompson Exhibition Building, now open at Mystic Seaport takes its design inspiration from the geometry of the sea and the curved hulls of the ships that sailed from the town of Mystic. With sweeping views of the Mystic River, it captures the soothing movement of the ocean in its graceful arch design, reflecting skeletal forms of marine animals while welcoming guests as the anchor of the Museum’s Gallery Quad.

The Thompson Building is the cornerstone and final element of the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle, a project which integrated existing buildings and grounds with new construction and unified the buildings of the north end of the Museum by focusing on their common role as formal exhibition galleries.

Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport

With a grand and welcoming lobby, the state-of-the-art 5,000-square-foot exhibition space will allow Mystic Seaport to host major exhibitions and take the experience of America’s maritime story to new levels. The bold design reflects a distinct departure from the Museum’s traditional architecture. Relying on inspiration from the sea is a wholly new approach to the design feel at Mystic Seaport and introduces the Museum into a new, modern, and exciting exhibition era.

Wade Thompson, the which the new building was named after, was a Mystic Seaport trustee for 27 years who believed passionately in the need for contemporary exhibition space and its importance for the future of the Museum. The Thompson Building houses the Collins Gallery, a 5,000-square-foot hall featuring soaring ceilings and a flexible layout that provides the caliber of conditions required to curate not only exhibits from the Mystic Seaport collections, but also permit the borrowing of outstanding art and artifacts from other museums around the world.

Mystic Seaport Sea Change Exhibit

A green building, it includes geothermal heating and cooling systems and recycled roof material and carpet tiles. It is constructed with Douglas fir, red cedar and mahogany. Douglas fir is the wood used on the spars on the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last wooden whaling ship. The first exhibit featured in the Thompson Building is titled “Sea-Change,” a dramatic presentation of a range of beautiful and unique objects drawn from the collections of Mystic Seaport. A special grouping of these intriguing artifacts will be on display for the first time, and all will be presented in a new setting which reveals surprising stories of transformation that continue to impact a contemporary audience and its experience with the sea.
The new Thompson Building and “Sea Change” exhibit opened on December 10, 2016. Come check it out.

Mystic Seaports Thompson Exhibition Building

Discover Mystic Seaport this Summer

We at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina love helping our guests figure out fun adventures to go on while they are staying with us. Every summer visitors flock to Mystic Country to enjoy not only our fantastic New England summertime beach experience, but our many interesting activities as well. There are so many different ways to enjoy the Connecticut shoreline such as our scenic beaches, array of restaurants, wineries, shops, hiking paths, museums, and so much more. However, one of our favorite recommendations is to visit Mystic Seaport and Museum of America and the Sea for the nautical history of our beautiful area and America. If you come and see what Mystic Seaport is all about you will find that you can easily spend an interesting afternoon there. Located about 20 minutes from our Inn on the southeastern coast of Connecticut is the jewel in our historic crown – famed Mystic Seaport.
Mystic Connecticut

As the great Age of Sail gave way to steamships and railroads, wooden ships and boats were turned into firewood and the nation’s seafaring traditions began to disappear, three Mystic residents decided to work together to keep the past alive. On December 29, 1929, the papers were signed incorporating the Marine Historical Association, today known as Mystic Seaport. Their dream: create a dynamic, educational institution to preserve America’s maritime culture–and turn the achievements of a past era into an inspirational force for the future.
Post Card Mystic Seaport

Despite the economic conditions of the Great Depression, Mystic Seaport grew rapidly. Donations of log books, photography, ships plans and other maritime artifacts poured into the one-building museum. In 1941, Mystic Seaport acquired the Charles W. Morgan, the country’s last wooden whaleship from the once-great Yankee fleet. Historic buildings from across New England were also moved in to complement the Morgan–and the authentic coastal village area of Mystic Seaport was born.
Mystic Country

Over the next 50 years, Mystic Seaport experienced explosive growth, amassing the world’s largest collections of maritime photography (over 1 million images) and boats (nearly 500), as well as collecting two million other maritime artifacts. And the 1970s saw the creation of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, additional exhibition buildings and several new accredited educational programs. The largest recent undertaking was the complete restoration of the Charles W. Morgan which once again sailed the high seas in the summer of 2014. You can visit the ship and see how life was aboard this antique wooden sailing vessel when she was out with a crew searching for whales in her historic past. Currently on display for all to view is the Mayflower II which has been brought down from Plymouth, MA to receive a multi-year restoration. The shipyard is also restoring the oldest steam powered ship the Sabino which is in permanent residence at the Seaport. The shipwrights use many of the traditional historic boat building practices along with current day building applications to ensure the historic nature of the vessel is maintained during their modern day restoration.
Mystic Seaport Entrance

Now, Mystic Seaport is making the history of America’s relationship with the sea even more accessible to all-new audiences. As part of a an extensive expansion plan that includes new exhibit halls and reception areas, the Museum’s state-of-the-art Collections Research Center provides easy and convenient ways for scholars and researchers from around the world to access Mystic Seaport’s renowned archives, via the Internet and integrated databases. It’s just one of many ways this showcase of the past two centuries is preparing for the next one.

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 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.

There are many rare and historic boats you can climb aboard at Mystic Seaport. Even better, they also have several you can ride aboard or self-pilot. Take a waterfront tour aboard one of their launches, charter a sail aboard one of the historic sailboats or spend the day relaxing underneath a historic catboat’s billowing sail. Rent a classic wooden rowboat or sailboat and explore the river firsthand. Before you leave Mystic Seaport be sure to see the Museum from this entirely different vantage point!
Mystic Seaport at Night

If you can plan ahead you may want to coordinate your visit with one of the Mystic festivals like the chowder or lobster fest or the holiday Lantern Light tours at Mystic Seaport. It’s the great events and places like these that make coming to Mystic Country during the summer or any time of year such an excellent choice for a vacation getaway. While there are so many places in our Mystic Country region to choose from, consider staying with us at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina. Our beautiful waterfront B&B is like a home away from home. Each morning join us for a delicious breakfast and end your days relaxing with other guests and exchanging stories of what you have done that day. Summers in Mystic Country are a very popular choice so please call us and speak to one of our fantastic team members and we will be happy to help you plan a wonderful vacation trip.

Lantern Light Tours
   at Mystic Seaport

As we turn our calendars to November, we begin thinking about the upcoming holiday season. During our many years as innkeepers we are always amazed at just how many people getaway to celebrate special occasions during November and December. We often ask ourselves, just how do they/you do it with all the decorating, shopping, planning and hosting that goes on over a 6-7 week period. Just how are people able to getaway and enjoy themselves?

What so many of our guests find as a surprise, is just how many fun-filled things there are to do in our Mystic Country region during November and December. And one of our favorite things to do, and one of our best recommendations during the holiday season is the Lantern Light Tour at Mystic Seaport.

Lantern Light Tour1

The Lantern Light Tours transform Mystic Seaport into holiday splendor and you find yourself transported back in time. Actors in period costume greet and take you through the seaport while a seaside holiday story unravels. Each year the story is different and it’s always a lot of fun. This years story is set to portray Christmas Eve in 1876 and as the story unfolds you are brought through five scenes in exhibits around the Museums 19th-century maritime village. The original script has been written by acclaimed playwright Jacques Lamarre. Inspired by the traditional carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, the story is filled with seasonal hilarity as the citizens of Greenmanville attempt to deliver some unexpected Christmas gifts. Be prepared to walk through darkened streets with just a few kerosene lamps lighting the way while young and old alike will enjoy the seasonal delights that include a horse-drawn carriage ride, a spirited holiday dance, the beautiful glow of lanterns, and just perhaps, a visit with old St. Nick!

Small groups are escorted thru Mystic Seaport via Lantern Lights.

Small groups are escorted thru Mystic Seaport via Lantern Lights.

Each Lantern Light Tour is a 70-minute progressive performance that covers approximately half a mile of uneven terrain (including cobblestone, wood planking, grass, gravel, and stairs) and is performed in all weather conditions. Audience members walk or stand for the majority of the performance, so all are cautioned to wear appropriate footwear and dress for the seasonal weather conditions. To provide the best experience for the audience, each tour is limited to 16 people.
Lantern Light Tour 2

If you thought we were only a summertime getaway destination, think again. There is much to see and do here in Niantic and along the CT shoreline throughout the year. So, if you looking for a quick pre-holiday getaway to get into the holiday spirit or do some serious shopping or a place to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or special occasion during November or December, give us a call. As we like to say here at the inn, another season – another reason to come and visit.

Mystic, Connecticut ~
  The Town that Isn’t

Located just 20 minutes north of our inn is the historic settlement called “Mystic” (circa 1654) actually located within the towns of Groton, CT.and Stonington, CT.,and bordering both the east and west sides of the Mystic River. Hence, though Mystic, Connecticut is not a legally recognized municipality it is the most visited settlement, town, municipality or destination within the entire state of Connecticut.

Mystic Sign

Identified in the New York Times #1 Bestseller, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (A Travelers Life List by Patricia Schultz), Mystic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of New England. Mystic offers visitors many things to see and do, and features two of the regions most popular tourist attractions, Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium. However, Mystic offers so much to see and do that its a popular place to visit and re-visit many times during any time of the year. You might find our Taste of Mystic Getaway Package of interest just follow the link!

Anyway, for those of you who have never visited Mystic just sit back and picture this those of you that have think of the chance for new memories (maybe without the kids?).

Theres sparkling water bordering most everything in town. Listen to the sounds of the gulls and sea birds flying overhead. Imagine a sea of boats, including sailboats and historic Tall Ships and schooners like the Argia all in your view. Walk through the unique shops of Olde Mistick Village and boutiques offering treasures to be snatched up and taken home for your enjoyment or to be shared with others. Smell the wonderful smells of the sea combined with some of the best cooked lobsters and local sea scallops or look for the best place in town to enjoy a nostalgic piece of Mystic Pizza or maybe just a big sloppy ice cream cone. Plan to come for the Chowder Days or the Lobster Days or the Mystic Arts Festival or the Mystic Blues Festival. As you might sense, there’s a little something for everyone, anytime of the year!!!

A View of Mystic Seaport from across the Mystic River.

A View of Mystic Seaport from across the Mystic River.

At any given time you might also visit beluga wales, penguins, sea lions and everything aquatic that you can think of at the beautiful Mystic Aquarium. Regular and unusual new exhibits give a new excitement to the aquarium every time you visit.
Also right down the street youll find friendly folks that showcase times long past and entertain you as you enter into the history of America at Mystic Seaport, considered to be one of the jewels of Mystic Country and is home to a world renowned maritime museum. People dressed as they did in the 1600s all working in their shops in the village, building their sea vessels and taking their day to day routines all in stride. The Mystic Seaport hosts interesting and unusual capsules in time to include historic special sailings of beautiful Tall Ships like the recently launched Charles W. Morgan and Holiday Lantern Light Tours through the Seaport.

Mystic Aquarium Belugas

Beluga Whales at Mystic Aquarium

Yes, as you might imagine, it does get busy and crowded in Mystic, but we think Mystic is also scenic, historic and quite possibly the absolute quintessential historic New England seaport town to sea. One thing is for sure; whether you want to eat, shop, stroll or just observe, Mystic isone town (or not) to do that inany time of the year!

The Charles Morgan ~
   All Hands on Deck !!!

Are you interested in history and a fan of historic seaports and old boats? Are you looking to getaway to enjoy springtime here in New England? If so, you may want to set your sails for Mystic, CT on Thursday, May 17, 2014 where theCharles W. Morgan, a historic US whaling shipwill embark on her 21st century maiden voyage to ports throughout New England.

The Morgan is a US whaling ship which sailed during the 19th and early 20th century and was used to catch whales to harvest the whale blubber for commonly used whale oil. The Morgan, is a National Historic Landmark built in 1841 and is the oldest American commercial ship and wooden whaling vessel still afloat in the world. Skilled craftsmen at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport recently completed a nearly five-year restoration.

The Charles Morgan during renovations

The Charles Morgan during renovations

On May 17th, The Morgan will set sail on her 38th voyage sailing from Mystic Seaport to New London, CT (just 15 minutes from our inn) before heading off to Newport, RI on June 14th. During her stay in New London the ship will be open to the public with dockside exhibits on May 24-25, May 31 and June 1st.

Following her visit to Newport, RI, The Morgan will visit Marthas Vineyard, New Bedford, MA, Provincetown (Cape Cod), and Boston before returning home to the Mystic Seaport on August 9th. For additional information about the Charles W. Morgan or Mystic Seaport, please visit: http://www.mysticseaport.org/visit/explore/morgan/

In closing, we would also like to wish our Inn at Harbor Hill Marina team member Julianne (Jules) happy sailing and congratulations on being selected as a crew member on the maiden voyage of the Charles W. Morgan. We can’t wait to hear about your summer adventure.

Charles Morgan

The Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport