Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Visit Massachusetts: Spend the Day in Plymouth

By Jeff Burns

Plymouth Rock
Just a short drive from Boston, you’ll find Plymouth, the site where 102 Separatists and others disembarked from the Mayflower to establish the colony of Massachusetts.  After a hard winter and much assistance from the local Wampanoag people, the colonists survived and celebrated a Thanksgiving feast.  Today, tourists flock to Plymouth to enjoy a beautiful New England town and to soak up a lot of American history.
Mayflower II
You have to start from the beginning, with the Mayflower II, a full size replica of the original ship.  At just 106 feet long, it’s difficult to imagine that the voyage was possible, but knowing that it did happen, you’re left with a greater respect for the settlers.  Visitors can board and examine the entire ship. Costumed historic interpreters are on hand to answer questions and demonstrate life on board .  Nearby, you can see Plymouth Rock, the legendary landing spot.  It’s actually a part of the original boulder that was identified in 1715 as “the” rock, moved from its original location.  There are no contemporary mentions of a rock, and historians have long cast doubt on the story, but it’s without doubt a part of the story of Plymouth.  Across the street from the rock is the original burying ground, located on Coles Hill, where you’ll also find a statue of Massasoit, the Wampanoag chief who befriended the Pilgrims and encouraged Squanto and Samoset to help them. 
The Pilgrim Hall Museum is one of the oldest public museums in the U.S., founded in 1824.  It houses the largest collection of Pilgrim-era artifacts in the country. 

Just a couple of miles out of town is Plimoth Plantation. Step into life in the 17th century as you tour a Wampanoag Indian village and the adjacent English village.  Costumed interpreters demonstrate life and answer questions from visitors.  It’s a fully functional village, and the villagers go about their daily chores.  They welcome you into their homes which represent a spectrum of experiences. There are also non-costumed interpreters who share their expertise.  We had an interesting conversation with an herbalist who was preparing various remedies. You could easily spend a whole day here.

Aside from all the history, Plymouth is a beautiful seaside village, and it’s definitely on our list of places worthy of a return.