Many of you may have heard of “Mystic Pizza,” the film that launched the big screen careers of Julia Roberts and Matt Damon. But how many of you have heard of Mystic, Connecticut, home of both the movie’s namesake pizza restaurant and the location where it was shot?
Less than an hour away from New Haven, Mystic — a quaint, historic town on the coast of eastern Connecticut — is home to a wide variety of attractions besides pizza. Located where the Mystic River meets the Long Island Sound, the town offers many aquatic and maritime-themed diversions, ranging from the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration to Mystic Seaport, America’s largest maritime museum and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Connecticut.
Kaitlyn Trigger ’06 said she plans on taking a trip to Mystic this weekend with her mother, who is visiting for Parents’ Weekend. She explained that she looks forward to checking out its vintage clothing store that lies just beyond the main drag. She also said that she and her mother might rent bikes to ride along the beach and explore the town.
But for those of you without parents here, a visit to Mystic might even improve your luck in the Yale dating scene. James Blanchard ’07, who has taught sailing there the past two summers, had some suggestions for best utilizing your trip to Mystic.
“Guys should go there to take a sailing class, because girls love guys who pop their collars and know how to sail,” Blanchard said in an e-mail.
As for the ladies, Blanchard suggested they go “to find guys who pop their collars and know how to sail.”
Sounds romantic. Watch out, girls.
Mystic is also home to diverse shopping opportunities and charming eateries. Mystic’s main street is the home to numerous clothing boutiques, as well as two sweet shops featuring home-made ice cream. A toy store and a bookstore make up just a few more of many borderline kitsch, though still fun, shops.
If all the shopping makes you hungry, Mystic Pizza still operates at the base of the main street. Restaurant manager Robert Rustico said that in addition to their famous pizza, the restaurant offers a variety of sandwiches and salads. Don’t get your hopes up too high, though — your waitress may not have a Julia Roberts-caliber smile.
Beyond shopping and dining, Mystic Seaport is to fans of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick what Disneyland is to fans of Mickey Mouse and Sleeping Beauty. Seaport publicist Mike O’Farrell explained the attraction’s historic appeal for modern-day fans of Ahab and Ishmael.
“Mystic Seaport is the home of the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooded whale ship in the world, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark,” O’Farrell said. “She is the only one of her kind anywhere, and a place where visitors can learn about what life may have been like in the 19th century on a whaling vessel.”
The museum currently features an exhibit called “Women and the Sea” highlighting the role of women both on the water and on shore while the men were away. The Seaport is also home to the shipyard where the Amistad was built.
Because of its unique historic significance, Mystic is a popular destination for school children from as far away as New York, but it has appeal for the college set as well. For some, its nostalgic value still lingers.
“I have fond memories of going there as a child. Fantastic place,” said Keith Urbahn ’06, a Connecticut native who can both sail and pop his collar with style.
But despite others’ praises, New Haven native Spencer Fry ’06 said he cannot remember anything particularly noteworthy about Mystic. Though he claimed that visiting the town as a child was a “great experience,” when he was asked what he thought of the town, Fry appeared to have forgotten the name of the site of these fond childhood memories.
“Mystic? Is that a nightclub?” Fry said.
For those unacquainted with Mystic — or with questionable memory of it — O’Farrell said the fall is a great time of year to visit.
“The foliage right now is outstanding and we are located on the banks of the historic Mystic River, so there is quite a view,” O’Farrell said.
O’Farrell also claimed that this season is an especially good time to for a trip to the museum.
“Now is an opportunity to come when it is less crowded,” O’Farrell said. “You will receive more attention from the staff and be able to see it at a leisurely pace, rather than fighting the huge crowds you might see in August.”
Mystic is located less than an hour away, either by car or by train.
Go for the shopping. Go for the history. Go for the pizza. Go for the men with popped collars who know how to sail.