Yes, there really is a Mystic Pizza , and yes, the cult movie starring Julia Roberts really was filmed on location in this small seaside town. More significantly, however, Mystic achieved fame in the colonial era as one of New England’s primary centers of shipbuilding, buoyed by the deep but sheltered estuary of the Mystic River, which was ideal for launching craft into the ocean.
Starting in the late 1700s, more than 600 ships were eventually constructed here, including whale ships, clipper ships, and steamships. By the dawn of the 20th century, however, manufacturing had long ago overtaken shipbuilding as Mystic’s main industry. With a nostalgia for the Golden Age of Sail, three citizens decided to transform the old shipyard into a living history museum, dubbed Mystic Seaport , that in 75 years has become America’s preeminent museum celebrating the country’s shipbuilding past.
In addition to the seaport, Mystic’s downtown has an attractive collection of shops on both sides of the river—including not one but two branches of the famous pizza parlor.