Everyone who grows up in the United States hears about Plymouth, Massachusetts. Often called “America’s Hometown,” Plymouth was the site where the Pilgrims on the Mayflower famously arrived in 1620, “discovering” America. It was the location of the first Thanksgiving and remains a port city for the area. Plymouth makes for a great day trip from Boston, and there are two main attractions of historical significance to see: the ship and the plantation.
Before the Pilgrims settled in the area, Plymouth’s location was a village of over two thousand Wampanoag Native Americans called Patuxet. European explorers visited the area twice prior to Plymouth’s establishment. In 1614 and 1617, two plagues possibly transmitted from visiting British and French fishermen killed about 96% of the local population. The tribe abandoned their cornfields and cleared areas that the Pilgrims later occupied.
As mentioned, Plymouth was founded in 1620 by the passengers of the Mayflower, the pilgrims. The pilgrims were separatist Puritans who broke away from the Church of England because of their belief that the Church did not complete the work of the Protestant Reformation. The town was named after the English city where the Mayflower departed. It is one of the oldest municipalities in the United States and served as the capital of the Plymouth Colony until the Colony merged with the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1691.
What You Will See
At Plymouth, there are two main attractions: the Ship, and the Plantation. We’ll discuss each attraction separately below. In addition to these main attractions, there are many other things to do, such as checking out a cranberry farm, the 911 memorial, historic sites, museums, and different fun events.
The ship is a full-size replica of the original Mayflower, called the Mayflower II. Travelers can explore two layers with in-character docents who tell visitors about what it was like to sail a ship in that time.
Guides also inform travelers about the history of the Mayflower and the Mayflower II. Currently, the Mayflower II is at Mystic Seaport getting a full restoration until 2019. However, visitors can still see many of the shops nearby. Those interested can actually donate to help with restorations for the ship here.
Of course, visitors get to see the great Plymouth Rock, allegedly the one the first settlers stepped on upon arrival. Nearby, active kids can run around the beautiful beach front park.
This plantation is otherwise known as the “Plimoth Plantation.” It is a living history museum with acting volunteers and replicas of different sites.
Upon arrival, visitors first watch a movie about the settlement, detailing the history and daily life of the settlers. Only after watching the video are visitors allowed to explore the rest of the site.
The area is divided into a replica of a Wampanoag village and a Plymouth settlement. Volunteers in costumes reenact daily tasks like cooking, weaving, making posts, and making a canoe. After that, travelers can visit the artisans. Here, the volunteers show visitors how to make traditional items such as candles, clay pots and bread.
There is also a separate area that shows how the settlers lived – their homes, a church and even the backyards with livestock such as cows, sheep, goats, and hens. What is fascinating about these animals is that they are actual rare direct descendants of specific breeds actually used by the original settlers. These breeds include Kerry cattle, San Clemente Island goats, Tamworth Pigs, and eastern wild turkeys. Plimoth Plantation does its part to help save the genetic diversity of these rare, endangered breeds.
Location, Hours, and Admission
Travelers can find Plimoth Plantation at 137 Warren Avenue. They can locate the ship at the nearby state pier. The sites are both open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.
To get to Plymouth, travelers can take the train from Boston, then take a cab from the train station to the ship or plantation. Travelers can also drive or take the bus from Boston’s South Station.
Autism Travel Tips:
- There is a cafeteria onsite. The cafe serves various foods, including “settler’s grub” and Native American staples.
- Families can enjoy the special events throughout the week.
- Much of the area is outdoors, so parents should take weather issues into consideration. Parents should also make sure everyone’s wearing comfortable shoes.
- There are no wheelchairs or strollers available. However, the staff does offer golf carts to transport visitors to various sections on a first come, first serve basis.
- There is a handy Parent’s Guide available on the website that has some great tips and educational information.