The year 2020 marked the 400th anniversary since the Mayflower landed at the Wampanoag homeland of Patuxet – now known as Plymouth. Now postcovid, it is the perfect time to explore this historic destination’s captivating, if not complex, background. This picturesque seaside destination offers a memorable New England getaway for either a day trip or an extended weekend getaway. Visit the statue of Massasoit and the legendary Plymouth Rock, known as the ‘Landing Place of the Pilgrims’. Located in Pilgrim Memorial State Park on the shore of Plymouth Harbor, this simple glacial erratic boulder has become a world-famous symbol representing something different to each person who looks at it. Although 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.
Plimoth Plantation, a living museum, will bring back its beloved ship Mayflower, after undergoing a full restoration at Mystic Seaport. It sailed into Plymouth harbor in time to join the anniversary celebrations. There is the Wampanoag homesite, a 17th-Century English Village, Craft Center, and cafe. In the village section, first-person interpreters are dressed in period clothing and act out the ongoing chores of everyday life.
“One thing I love about Plymouth is that it’s a place where old meets new,” said Laura Begley Bloom, senior contributor consultant and travel expert to help create the top 25 list. “You can experience history and also enjoy thoroughly modern food and shopping at the same time”
Plymouth, MA is one of the world’s best places to visit for both leisure activities and heritage tourism. It offers stunning views of Plymouth Harbor, where the Mayflower Pilgrims settled in 1620. Its rich history includes the Wampanoag story, Native peoples who populated the area for thousands of years before the arrival of the Pilgrims. It offers historic landmarks, a trendy historic district dotted with quaint shops and award-winning restaurants. Plymouth has a quintessential New England feel and historic architecture, and expansive ocean views that keep visitors coming back year after year. From tasty cuisine to cranberry festivals, there’s always plenty to do in “America’s Hometown.” Tourism is the #1 industry in Plymouth County.
For history to enjoy inside, visit the Pilgrim Hall Museum, which is easily seen from the street because of its ornate architecture and stone columns. It was built in 1824, making it among the oldest public museums in America. On exhibit are American Indian and ilgrim artifacts. You can also touch a piece of the Plymouth Rock.
CRANBERRY HARVEST CELEBRATION
Every October, locals and visitors alike gather in nearby Wareham for this weekend celebration of the Massachusetts state berry. Hop on a bus for a ride to a stretch of bogs to learn about the harvest process, or slip on some waders and get right into the flooded cranberry bog. Enjoy food, music, crafts, paddleboat rides on Tihonet Pond, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, wagon rides, and even helicopter rides.
THE JESSE HARLOW HOUSE
For lodging accomodations, stay at this quaint bed-and-breakfast on Watson’s Hill, overlooking downtown and the harbor, offers a perfect blend of history (it was once the home of Revolutionary War captain Jesse Harlow) and modern luxury (full gourmet breakfast, silk drapes, landscaped gardens). Plus, it’s within walking distance of many Plymouth attractions and dining options.
For more information on visiting Plymouth and commemoration events, visit Plymouth400inc.org or SeePlymouth.com.