For our first adventure, we wanted to stay close to home without feeling like we were just down the road from our rural Connecticut town, so we chose to take a two-hour drive out of the hills and head toward to seaside town of Mystic, CT.
Even though it was a hot 93 degrees, Gio and Aloy had no complaints. We arrived at the Mystic Seaport on the first sunny Sunday in almost a month and found the town packed with people, almost all of whom were dog lovers.
If you ever want to go undercover, do not get a Husky. Everywhere we walked, we left a wake of gasps and comments like "Oh my gosh, did you see those Huskies?!" We also occasionally got the drive-by "beautiful dogs!" comments, but best of all are the small kids who are absolutely enamored with what they think are two lovable wolves on leashes. Whenever one of us would pop into a shop to see if it was dog-friendly, as soon as we popped back out again, we would find the other crouched low to the ground, teaching a five-year-old how to let the dogs sniff their hand first and answering all sorts of questions.
"How old are they?"
"Gio is almost eight years old. Aloy just turned one."
"Are they boys or girls?"
"Gio is a boy. Aloy is a girl."
"Why did you name her Aloy?"
"We play video games a lot and she's named after one of our favorite characters."
"Are they brother and sister?"
"Not biologically -- they're both adopted. Gio's from Ohio and Aloy is all the way from Alabama."
And then the kids end up telling us all about their dogs. For those of us who hate small talk, but enjoy getting to know people, dogs are a godsend.
The people on the streets weren't the only great part of Mystic, of course. As we said, it was a hot day, but almost every business in town had a dog bowl full of fresh water out front so that our pups could stay hydrated, and a lot of these businesses were happy to let us bring Gio and Aloy inside, allowing them to get treats and enjoy the air conditioning.
We managed to snag a parking spot just down the street from the Mystic Pet Shop, so we started our day there. The dogs got some complimentary treats before picking out some new bones to dig into on the car ride home, and the girls behind the counter were a great resource when it came to finding dog-friendly places to eat or shop.
We had a few places on our list that we had seen on BringFido that we knew we wanted to check out, but one of our favorite parts of traveling is exploring and discovering places and things we didn't expect to find, which is exactly what happened when we came across the Mystic Soap Company: an adorable shop with plenty to smell. The dogs were obsessed with this place and kept trying to sneak behind the counter.
At this point we were starving, so we did what anyone does when in Mystic for the first time: Mystic Pizza.
And then Emelie's eyes lit up: Bank Square Books. For those who are unaware, Emelie has two great passions: Dogs and Books. There's something about the two that goes so well together, isn't there? Luckily, Bank Square Books seemed to feel the same way. The staff immediately showered Gio and Aloy with affection and let us wander around with them, occasionally walking by to sneak in a few more pets. We met one girl in particular who fell in love with the dogs immediately, and this picture we got of her on her third round of puppy snuggles is just too good not to share.
After buying a book of essays about dogs by E.B. White, we started heading back to our car. On the way, we stopped at Mystic Knotwork, a very cool shop where they do amazing nautical rope work, making everything from jewelry to doormats - and even dog toys, which Aloy was more than happy to discover!
Even though it was after 5pm on a Sunday, we couldn't leave without at least walking around the Olde Mystick Village - a historical shopping district with a bunch of adorable little shops and restaurants. Everything was closing, but luckily, we found one homemade ice cream shop that was still serving, and we all enjoyed a very delicious pre-dinner snack.
From there, we were really excited to go dine at the Dog Watch Cafe, which is right on the water and does allow dogs on their front porch, but it was a one-hour wait for a table, so we had to seek food elsewhere. Luckily, the girls at the pet shop had told us to check out Anthony J's, and we are so glad that they did. The four of us got to sit outside at one of the cafe tables in front of the restaurant. The dogs absolutely loved it. They were able to curl up in the corner or under our table, and our server even brought out a dog bowl full of ice cold water for them to drink. The food was also fantastic, so all four of us were happy!
Overall, Mystic was a great town for The Travel Pack to explore for our first adventure! We will say that it's definitely not a place that provides a lot of green space for your dog to run free (at least not that we could find), but it was a wonderful little town to enjoy with your leashed pals.
So... where should The Travel Pack go next? Let us know in the comments below!