Pequot history is a starting point for exploring the many features and attractions of the city of Mystic and its environs. They include tall ships, scenic cruises, exotic fish, submarines and Impressionist art. Mashantucket is home to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, whose exhibits span 11,000 years of this Native American group. A major exhibit is a life-size Pequot village on a half acre. Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea invites visitors to step aboard the 1841 whaler Charles W. Morgan. Also in the city is the Mystic Aquarium, whose 3,500 creatures include Alaska beluga whales, sea lions and penguins. The first nuclear-powered submarine can be visited at the Historic Ship Nautilus & Submarine Force in Groton.
The River Valley & Shoreline area promises sweeping vistas viewable on steam train and riverboat, picture postcard towns, island hopping and American musicals. Branford is the departure point for wildlife sightings, pirate tales and local history, all part of a tour of the Thimble Islands Cruises archipelago.
The life of a New England river town is embodied at Essex, graced with a colonial ambience. A home with a 300-year past, the Deacon John Grave House is located in Madison. Built as a two-room dwelling, it was enlarged into an authentic New England saltbox-style house serving not only as a private residence but as a school, wartime infirmary, weapons depot, tavern, inn and courthouse over the years. Poetry and music lovers will enjoy performances at the Buttonwood Tree in Middletown.