Mystic at a Glance
Location: Southeastern Connecticut on Long Island Sound
Access: Interstate 95; Amtrak; Tweed-New Haven Airport in New Haven, Connecticut; T.D. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island
Major Meeting Spaces: Mystic Marriott Hotel and Spa, Mohegan Sun’s Earth Expo and Convention Center, Hilton Mystic, Foxwoods Resort Casino
Off-Site Venues: Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic Aquarium, New England Science and Sailing Foundation, Mystic Museum of Art, Mystic Yachting Center
Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau
The appeal of Mystic is no mystery. Perhaps the prettiest seaside town in America, this Connecticut destination with a swashbuckling history is all things maritime, including the wildly popular Mystic Seaport Museum, with an entire re-created 19th-century seafaring village; Mystic Aquarium, known for close-up encounters with beluga whales, dolphins and seals; an array of vessels to sail over the bounding main; and the local catch to savor at a New England Clambake.
Though Mystic has no convention center, the largest meeting venue is the Mystic Marriott Hotel and Spa, fresh off an all-property renovation. The architecturally impressive property has 285 rooms and suites and an Elizabeth Arden Red Door spa. Near both aforementioned attractions, the hotel offers access to numerous outdoor activities on land and sea.
The Marriott’s meeting and event space totals 23,500 square feet. And its on-site, steak-and-seafood restaurant, Octagon, has a private dining room for 14 guests and a wine room for 50.
Only 20 miles away, Connecticut’s two casinos topped 2019 USA Today’s 10Best.com Reader’s Choice Awards, which voted the Mohegan Sun “Best Casino Hotel in the U.S.” and Foxwoods Resort Casino No. 2.
“Mystic has only a few significant meeting places — the Marriott and the two casinos — but there’s a lot to do in your spare time,” said Bob Murdock, president of the Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau. “You can explore history at Mystic Seaport Museum, shop and dine at Olde Mistick Village, visit vineyards and breweries and eat great food.”
Landlubbers can eat at Mystic Pizza, made famous in the Julia Roberts movie of the same name. Eight attendees and/or spouses can take a cooking class at the Yellow Farmhouse Education Center on sustainable Stone Acres Farm in the nearby historic village of Stonington. And groups can sip award-winning wine at Saltwater Farm Vineyard, with a view of Long Island Sound and a tasting room in a World War II vintage hangar.
The area known as Mystic Country provides a leisurely balance to the Northeast’s bustling big cities.
“Our location between New York and Boston is a big selling point,” said Murdock. “We see ourselves as an alternative, and we’re usually a lower price point. If a company has employees in both, a meeting in between splits the difference for its guests.”
Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort
Serving as Mystic’s convention center, the Mohegan Sun is one of two Native American-owned properties the size of small cities, with casinos, hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, shops, spas and inventive event spaces.
In 2018, the Mohegan Sun opened the $80 million Earth Expo and Convention Center, boosting its meeting space to 275,000 square feet. And, in 2019, added Game On!, an entertainment mecca, with games, food, craft beer and party space for 850.
“Having a wide variety of things for attendees to do under one roof can be economical and provide more face-to-face time,” said John Washko, vice president of Mohegan Sun’s exposition and convention sales.
Set in ancient cedar forests, Foxwoods Resort Casino, at 47,533 square feet, boasts the largest ballroom in the Northeast. Its variety of meeting and event spaces lie atop a hotel tower, in a lakeside golf club; in two theaters, one with 4,000 seats; in a max-technology boardroom; on a lush lawn; and poolside.
“With our variety of amenities, attendees can stay on-property and have a different experience every day,” said Karen O’Connell, executive director of resort sales.
Next door to Foxwoods, the 308,000-square-foot Mashantucket Pequot Museum, the first and largest Native American museum in the country, adds 64,000 square feet of meeting space.
Home to thousands of marine species, Mystic Aquarium’s huge, fascinating sea-life tanks promote conservation through education. Groups can meet or dine surrounded by marine life in a space for up to 350 seated or 700 outdoors.
Located downtown, the Mystic Museum of Art has 3,000 square feet of spacious galleries, plus outdoor riverside event space.
Also on the coast, the 1853 Spicer Mansion is a four-star, eight-room boutique hotel with indoor and outdoor space for board retreats and intimate meetings. Its custom-curated Bespoke Moments includes luxury helicopter charters, a wooden motor yacht cruise on the Mystic River and acting lessons.
The Mystic Seaport Museum embodies Mystic’s nautical heritage through its collection of historic sailing vessels, which includes an 1841 whaleship, and a working historic preservation shipyard.
“Teambuilding can be an educational scavenger hunt, team cask-raising [putting together a cask or barrel], rope-making, rigging-climbing, rowing challenges or whaleboat competitions with a staff member on board for guidance,” said Rebecca Shea, group sales and corporate events manager.
Less nautical-focused folks can test their mettle on one of Fields of Fire Adventure Park’s five aerial high ropes courses that include 76 elevated obstacles and 14 zip lines, or at its paintball park.