Outdoors: Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut

Over April vacation we spent a wonderful couple of days in Mystic, CT. Our first day was spent visiting the historic Mystic Seaport, where we had an amazing day exploring this living museum.

The following day we headed to the Mystic Aquarium.

When we first started planning our mini-break, the Aquarium was on our must visit list and we were not disappointed. Combining indoor and outdoor exhibits, it was the perfect place to spend a sunny – albeit rather chilly! – day.

I have to admit to a sinking feeling as we arrived and saw the queues waiting to get in. We chose to get a family membership as we had already decided, after our great day at the Seaport, that we would be back. And, again, it was only slightly more expensive than five entrance tickets! This speeded up our entry no end, and I was very relieved to find that it didn’t feel nearly as busy inside. The layout, and amount of outdoor space, absorbed a lot of people!

Our first stop was the Beluga Whales. And we promptly fell in love.

I mentioned these beautiful creatures in a Project 365 post, commenting that I’m not a huge fan of seeing large animals in captivity. However, we were lucky enough to catch a wonderful talk by staff on the work that they do with the Belugas:

[The staff] explained how they take care of them and teach them behaviors (tricks), both as a way for them to bond with their handlers and have fun, but also to help with vets’ visits and safety measures/emergencies. For example, earlier that day a pacifier had been dropped into their (massive) tank and the staff had to move them into a gated area really fast, before either of them accidentally ate the pacifier. Without the learned signals and behaviors this would be very difficult, and stressful for the whales. I would still rather see them in their natural habitat, but they are amazing creatures and we felt really quite privileged to watch them swim, and come up to the glass and *chat* with us!

Mystic Aquarium 1
Mystic Aquarium 2
Mystic Aquarium 3
Mystic Aquarium 4
It really did feel as if they were coming up to the glass to say hello. They bobbed their heads, looking right at us. Incredible.

We enjoyed a walk around the rest of the outdoor exhibits seeing seals, sea lions, penguins and turtles, and very much enjoying the sunshine!

Mystic Aquarium 5
Mystic Aquarium 6
Mystic Aquarium 7
We managed to catch a sea lion show, which was very good. Again, much like the talk at the Belugas, it was pitched very much towards the conservation and protection of these beautiful animals, and the reasons for teaching them the ‘tricks’. It was interesting and fun, and the kids loved it.

As is always the case, the lighting in the indoor exhibits was very low. Not camera friendly, but we all loved the sharks, rays and jellyfish.

Mystic Aquarium 8
There was also a fabulous frog exhibit, with a scavenger hunt for the younger kids, encouraging them to spot the teeny, tiny frogs!

After leaving the Aquarium, we couldn’t leave Mystic without visiting Mystic Pizza, the restaurant that inspired the film of the same name.

Mystic Pizza
Have to say, the pizza was excellent, and it was fun being surrounded by film memorabilia and having the movie playing on a loop in the background.

Our trip was over, but we couldn’t start our drive back without an ice cream looking out over the sea. Although, it was so cold by that point that me and the younger two ended up in the car to eat ours!

Mystic - ice cream

We’re planning a trip back to Mystic over the summer, so look out for a more detailed post about the Aquarium then.
 

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25 thoughts on “Outdoors: Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut”

  1. It sounds rather special at the aquarium. I’ve never seen one with outdoor space too but what a treat to have the penguins and turtles too. The whales faces are full of expression, I always feel like they are communicating with their audience. I love the jellyfish photo too, they are so pretty when not face to face with them in the sea worrying about standing on one! How exciting to be planning a return visit already.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      It really is an amazing Aquarium. I hadn’t expected the out door spaces, so that was definitely a bonus!

  2. What a huge aquarium – really interesting to read about the conservation. Like you, I’d feel a bit uncomfortable about whales in captivity, not least for the space, but it sounds very thoughtful here. #countrykids

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      I was really impressed with the talks that we were able to catch, it made me feel much more comfortable about seeing the whales x

  3. Those beluga whales do look odd – they are so pale (are they the ones that real caviar comes from?). I think there has been so much criticism about all animals and especially whales in captivity they really have to make it it a positive environment for them these days which is good to know. Looks like a great day out in sunny Connecticut #CountryKids

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Caviar comes from beluga sturgeon, I believe :) And, I think you’re right, places just can’t get away with not creating excellent facilities for their animals now.

  4. Each time I read about Mystic I think it is such a great name for a town. It looks like a really fun holiday and I’m with you I’d prefer to see large animals in their natural habitat. Mich x #CountryKids

  5. What a lovely day out, we’ve visited an aquarium once with J and it was a lovely day but it was so long ago. I love the photos of the jellyfish! #CountryKids

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Ha! It’s such a great name for a place, I think it’s easy to think that it’s not real :)

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      We had a great time, we’ll definitely be going back. To the Aquarium and Mystic Pizza!

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