Bank Square Books, Downtown Mystic, Ct.
Blue Horse, West Main St., Mystic, Ct.
Company Of Craftsmen, Downtown Mystic, Ct.
Mystical Toys, E. Main St., Mystic, Ct.

Santa Visits Connecticut Arriving in Mystic by Tugboat

Yes, you heard that right! Santa arrives on a tugboat. In this seaport town with a beautiful river and harbor, how else would he arrive! Mystic Connecticut is already a lively town with great attractions, but they really outdo themselves with the Lighted Boat Parade. On Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday, November 29th, 2014 Santa arrives in town at 2:00 p.m. aboard a tugboat and meets with children in Mystic River Park. Santa and his helpers will greet children then return to his boat to wait for the 6:00 pm Tree Lighting and Lighted Boat Parade. And what a parade it is! Decorated Christmas themed boats will travel up the Mystic River, turn around at the Mystic Drawbridge and cruise back toward the Amtrak bridge. Some dock for awhile at Mystic River Park. In previous years, boat themes included the Grinch, the S.S. Minnow from the 1960's television (More)

Mystic Drawbridge, downtown Mystic, Ct.

show Gilligan's Island, a pirate ship, penguins, a polar bear and of course Santa's ship. The excitement of the crowd is evident as people cheer and whoop for each new ship as it passes under the drawbridge. Ship board revelers shout greetings to the crowd. Kayakers even venture out into the regatta with their lights and holiday decorations. The dark November night is the perfect backdrop to these colorfully lit boats. How did they get the electricity for all those lights? Not sure, but it is a wonderful sight, especially if the weather cooperates!


What can you do after Santa arrives while waiting for the parade? In Downtown Mystic, the answer is sure to be shopping, sipping hot chocolate and dining. The shops are eclectic and fun. There are boutiques, galleries, gift shops, and home decor shops as well as a book store (Bank Square Books) and a vinyl record store (Mystic Disc). There is a good selection of New England area historical maps at Trade Winds Gallery and don't forget toys, puzzles and games at Mystical Toys. On Holmes Street along the river, there is a marine consignment shop (Marine Consignment of Mystic). On West Main Street, there are nautically themed clothing shops, a fine artisan made crafts shop (The Company of Craftsmen), several jewelry shops, the Mystic Army Navy Store, art galleries, a children's clothing shop (Blue Horse Children's Shop), women's clothing boutiques, gift shops and more.


There are several places to get hot beverages and baked goods, a handful of restaurants and of course the renowned Mystic Pizza (made famous by the movie of the same name starring Julia Roberts released in 1988). Tourists and locals alike enjoy shopping on West Main Street which is decorated with lights for the holidays. The town is bustling during December with special holiday events, including the Mystic Stroll (Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 6-9 p.m.) and a free holiday concert, at St. Patrick's Church Center close to downtown, The Noank Mystic Community Band Holiday Concert (Sunday, December 3rd, 2017 at 2 p.m.)


If you have the time to explore Mystic beyond the downtown, there are many attractions and even more shopping to be found. The Mystic Seaport is a re-creation of an 1800's seaport including ships and village structures. There are restaurants, a tavern, a museum shop and a bake shop.


The Mystic Aquarium has many indoor and outdoor exhibits and is open daily except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. They have sea lion shows, plus exhibits of Beluga whales and African penguins. There is a good Museum Shop as well. Special events, such as Munchkin Morning with Santa and Breakfast with Santa are scheduled during the holiday season.


And if you are in too much of a hurry as you journey up or down Route 95, then an easy stop at Olde Mistick Village shopping center will give you a chance to get your holiday shopping started and enjoy a Colonial and Victorian atmosphere. There are many specialty stores, artisan made crafts and brand name stores here. Several restaurants are located within the village and within a short drive. Special events such as concerts and caroling are held during the holidays. If all of this has got you too tired to leave, there are plenty of hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts.

From Thanksgiving to New Years, Mystic is a great stop over, day trip, or weekend getaway that will help you get that holiday shopping done while you relax, learn about history and aquatic life and breathe in the sea air.


-M.A. Barrett (December, 2011) (updated November, 2017)




Dexter & Co., Downtown Mystic, Ct.
Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Cafe, Downtown Mystic, Ct.
Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, downtown Mystic, Ct.
Santa visits Mystic River Park, Downtown Mystic, Ct.
Mystic Pizza, Downtown Mystic, Ct.