Usually when I explore Massachusetts, my adventures focus around Boston. But there is so much more to explore throughout the state, especially the Cape Cod region. I recently went on a road trip with my family and spent a day in Plymouth, Massachusetts (and a day in Mystic, Connecticut). The coastal town of Plymouth was the site of the first Pilgrim settlement, founded in 1620. With rich history and proximity to the Cape, I highly recommend everyone visit Plymouth for at least a day. And if you only have a day, here are some ideas on how to spend your time in the city.
Visit Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock, a boulder in Pilgrim Memorial State Park, marks the place where settlers are thought to have landed on shore. While there’s no historical evidence exists to confirm Plymouth Rock as the Pilgrims’ actual steppingstone to the New World, the boulder was identified as this spot in 1741, 121 years after the arrival of the Mayflower. During the 300 year anniversary in 1920, the current superstructure of surrounding pillars and columns was created to surround the rock. While the rock may be a little underwhelming for some travelers, it’s become an icon of the town and worth walking by!
Take a Walk on the Mayflower II
The original Mayflower that sailed to Plymouth in 1620 no longer exists. However, the Mayflower II is a full-scale replica of the ship that carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic and is usually anchored at the park. The reproduction was built in Devon, England during 1955–1956, in a collaboration between Englishman Warwick Charlton and Plimoth Patuxet, a living history museum. The Mayflower II crossed the Atlantic in 1957 to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where tens of thousands board this floating classroom and cultural icon each year. The replica went through a 3 year restoration process by the Mystic Seaport Museum and has been open to the public again since May 2020. Visitors are welcome to explore within the ship from March through the end of November.
Plimoth Patuxet Museums
You can get a glimpse of what life was like 400 years ago at the museum’s recreated 17th century English village. The colony is complete with timber-framed houses furnished with reproductions of the types of objects that the Pilgrims owned. There are staff members dressed as Pilgrims out in the houses, fields, gardens, and other work areas of the Village. While we didn’t make it this time, it’s on top of my bucket list for when I return to this town!
Go Whale Watching with Captain John Boat Tours
I’ve gone on a few whale watches during my childhood and adult life and my whale watch with Captain John Boat Tours did not disappoint! The tour lasted for four hours, departing from Town Wharf in Plymouth to Cape Cod Bay and Stellwagen Bank, a marine sanctuary and one of the primary feeding grounds for humpback whales, finback whales, pilot whales, minke whales, and the endangered right whales! We saw quite a few humpback whales, including a baby humpback showing off its skills!
Filled with coastal New England charm and history, Plymouth, Massachusetts is worth exploring!