Inn at Harbor Hill Marina

I woke up my final day at the Inn like a kid trying to avoid the inevitability that summer is over and school is in session.  Instead of an early chipper rise, I woke at 8am rubbing my eyes in disbelief.  Time to head back to the city already.  I walk downstairs and greet Lana.  She is pouring my cup of coffee and mentions a pecan french toast souffle.  I notice ricotta pound cake on the buffet.  Oh my goodness, the bottom layer is actually ricotta! I can’t convince myself to eat on the lawn.  I sit at a table in the dining room that looks out on the lawn and marina.  Another guest walks up to me and says, “It’s your last day?” I ask how did she know.  “There is a look in your eyes that says so.”  She is staying two more days.  I finish breakfast and head upstairs to pack.  I take a quick stroll through town and return an hour before check-out.  I called a cab to take me to Mystic.  I have a late train so I decided that I should at least explore Mystic.  I ask Dawn about the best places for seafood in Mystic.  She says the best place for seafood is not Mystic but in Noank, CT – but I don’t have a car.  I check out and sit on the front porch rocker waiting for my cab.  Dave walks by, “Some day you’re going to have to teach me how to enjoy a rocker like that.”  I reply, “live in the city for a minute and it will become natural.”  I miss the place already.

My cab pulls up and I am sad.  My cabbie suggest giving me a tour of Old Mystick and downtown Mystic so that I would know my surroundings and for a future visit.  He promises to turn the meter off and not to charge for the scenic tour.  He gives me history of the town, best places to eat, ones to avoid.  He spent nearly thirty minutes off meter showing me around.  I pay him extra.  He refuses.  I kept his business card because from now on, any time I’m in the Mystic area, he’ll get my business. 

I was not impressed with Old Mystick.  It seemed too gimmicky.  It’s right off the highway along with the requisite hotel/motels and chain restaurant tourist crap.  He showed me some inns/b&b in Mystic.  However, they lacked the charm and quaintness.  Allow me to explain.  The original inn/b&bs are perfectly quaint and New England charming.  However, due to the casino tourism, the inns built “motels” on the grounds so that unless you’re staying in the main house it just looks like a dressed up “motel 6.”  I had him drop me off at Mystic Seaport.  I didn’t realize it was a museum until I saw the admission price.  $24 seemed pricey, but it is good for two visits and I actually enjoyed it.  There is a lot of history and fun stuff for kids, teens, and adults.  I was amazed at the number of teens taking part in “kid” activities.  There is also a bookstore in the main gift store on nautical and marine culture.  I perused there for a good hour.

My first question upon entry in the Seaport was where to go for seafood.  “The best seafood is in Noank.” I mention that I don’t have a car.  “Well, the food in the galley is good but not like Noank.”  Bummer.  Next time, I have to call the cabbie for a dinner in Noank – twice that place received rave reviews. The seaport is nice.  You can see downtown Mystic.  I was fortunate.  It was the last day of the wooden boat parade.  I fell in love with the wooden sail boats.  My dad was a carpenter so I appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of the wooden boats.  They are truly a thing of beauty.  The Joseph Conrad operates as bunkers for the summer sailing camp for kids/teens.  There are free boat shuttles (wooden boat) from one end of the seaport to the other.  Tons of activities for young and young at heart.  Turns out the movie Amistad was filmed at the seaport.  A few of the buildings are actually from the “olden days.”  Amazing how tiny beds were and the whole notion of “sleep tight” took on a new meaning.

I ate lunch and dinner in the cafe.  The lobster roll (cold) was delicious and had tons of lobster meat.  For dinner the shrimp basket was overflowing with shrimp and lightly breaded so you taste shrimp.  Too bad I was full because the fish and chips looked good.

Over all, I wouldn’t suggest staying in Mystic if rest and relaxation are on your agenda.  Go for a day visit at the Seaport or aquarium and skip the other stuff.  It is touristy and the casino crowd uses it for overflow housing.  The $24 for museum entrance is good for two days and worth it if you have kids.  They have morning and afternoon activities and better split over two days or an agitated toddler you’ll have.

I am nostalgic for the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina.  If you are on the eastern seaboard and not trying to be “seen” while on vacation.  I highly recommend staying there.  It’s twenty minutes from Mystic so you’re close to the sites, but far enough away to feel like a getaway.  Tell Sue & Dave that I sent you!