Holiday Gift Guide 2018

It’s “the most wonderful time of the year”!!!! I love purchasing gifts for other people- it truly makes me happy when I find something for a family member or friend that I think they will love. I know the most popular holidays for gift giving are still more than a month away, but I also know some people (like myself) like to get an early start. My 2017 Holiday Gift Guide remains one of my most popular posts, so I thought I would offer some additional suggestions for 2018.

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Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic is a small town located in the most eastern part of Connecticut and is known for its historic seaport. Mystic is part of New London County, which includes other family friendly towns and cities ranging from New London to Groton to Niantic down to Old Lyme. The area becomes flooded with visitors in the spring and summer due to its close proximity to the Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean. However, there is plenty to do in the “off season” too: food festivals throughout the year, the famous Pirate Invasion in the fall, the arrival of Santa via tugboat and holidays strolls in December, and the popular Mystic Irish parade in March. Recently, my family spent a few days of our April break exploring the area. We had so much fun we could have extended our trip to a few weeks! Lucky for us, the area is less than 90 minutes away, so we can return for day trips any time we wish. Here are some of our favorite spots:

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National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, New York City

Times Square is known for being one of the most popular destinations in the world. There are Broadway shows, the famous New Year's Eve ball drop, dozens upon dozens of restaurants and stores, and now, several family friendly experiences. Recently, I was invited to check out the National Geographic Encounter with my family. I had a feeling the "Ocean Odyssey" would involve a lot of water, but was relieved we never actually got wet!

Opened in October 2017 and covering over 60,000 square feet of space in the middle of Times Square, The Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is described as an “immersive entertainment experience” and truly was unlike anything else we have done. Visitors go “underwater” in the south Pacific Ocean, travel past Hawaii, and end back on land in California. You'll hear authentic sounds from dozens of sea creatures over 200 loudspeakers.

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Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut

Frequently awarded a top aquarium in New England by Trip Advisor and visited by over 700,000 people in 2017, Mystic Aquarium is a “must see” if you're visiting the southeastern part of Connecticut. On a recent spring break trip, my family stopped for the afternoon and got up close and personal with all sorts of creatures!

Conveniently located right next to Interstate 95, it’s easy to get to with ample free parking. The aquarium is open all year, with plenty of exhibits both indoors as well as outdoors so the weather shouldn’t have too much impact on your visit. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the aquarium hosts a variety of special, seasonal events.

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