Featured Stories & Articles from Cape Cod Travel Magazine: Daytrip to Plymouth
Cape Cod is the perfect place to stay and discover not only the natural beauty and culture throughout this peninsula, but the continuing story of how our country was founded and a new nation was designed. This region, known as the Massachusetts Cultural Coast, provides a playground for the history buff and a haven for art lovers throughout the communities of Cape Cod, the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Plymouth and cities like New Bedford, Fall River, and Quincy. Here are two day trips of special interest to those with a thirst for history: Plymouth and Quincy. Both are within a 30-minute to 2 hour drive from points on Cape Cod and make for a great adventure during your stay.
Daytrip to Plymouth: Journey Back to the Beginning
For most people, the concept of Plymouth and Pilgrims is the stuff of junior high school history and Thanksgiving Day decorations. But if you’re on Cape Cod, you’re within minutes of the actual town of Plymouth, making it a perfect daytrip destination.
Plymouth’s claim to fame, besides ‘Plymouth Rock’ – literally a boulder downtown, is perhaps Plimoth Plantation. This is the real deal: no candy-colored amusement park feel, no fast-food outlets and no t-shirt clad employees just standing around.
Plimoth Plantation has much to offer. There’s the living, functioning and fully operational recreation of the first English settlement in the New World, circa 1627, a Wampanoag home-site, with information both past and present of the area’s indigenous people, and the remarkably accurate Mayflower II (located off-site), interspersed with other museum exhibits, a working craft center, a museum shop and dining.
The Visitor Center at Plimoth Plantation opens at 9:00 a.m., the Craft Center at 9:15 and then the major exhibits at 9:30. There is so much to experience here that it makes sense to be ready when the doors open and planning to spend the entire morning.
The ‘1627 Pilgrim Village’ is a carefully constructed township that depicts life seven years after the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth. The costume-clad ‘inhabitants’ talk the talk of the day and go about daily life as it would have been in their rough-hewn world; wood fires burn, livestock is tended and muskets are fired. The attention to detail and authenticity is stunning.
The ‘Wampanoag Homesite’ is also populated with ‘inhabitants’ speaking in the dialect of the day, but in addition to sharing information about their 12,000 year history in the area, they also talk about the continuing issues facing this recently federally recognized Native American tribe. The home-site features a traditional Native American abode, called a ‘wetu’, as the centerpiece of a resident family’s life; food simmers on the open fire, fur pelts offer comfort and ancient tools are used to carve out a ‘mishoon’, better known as a boat.
Other must-sees include the Nye Barn, with a collection of rare live animals, the Crafts Center, where artisans work with ancient tools, educational sites and a collection of changing exhibits.
The Mayflower II is located at the State Pier, three miles north of Plimoth Plantation. She was a gift from England, crafted there and then sailed across the Atlantic Ocean more than 50 years ago. The recreation of the original settlers’ ship is also amazingly authentic. A visit to the Mayflower II and the opportunity to hear her story told, again using the dialect of the early 1600s, provides a vivid picture of her traumatic 1620 sail.
It must be lunchtime by now. There are snacks and meals to be had at Plimoth Plantation, at the Patuxet Café, and plenty of restaurant options in the town of Plymouth as well.
At the John Carver Inn & Spa is a Hearth ‘n Kettle Restaurant, a regional, family-owned chain of cozy restaurants offering a wide variety; lots of fresh, local seafood and great burgers and sandwiches.
For a waterfront lunch, check out East Bay Grille, where huge views meet huge portions. East Bay’s menu also offers a big variety, from a sirloin steak sandwich to a crab cake sandwich, to lobster salad rolls and pastrami melts.
After the family is fed, you can attack the afternoon with gusto. If history is still the theme of the day, there’s the Jenney Gristmill. The gristmill is a reproduction of the mill built on the site in 1636. Here again, the guides are dressed in period costume, adding to the sense of realism as they tell the story of John Jenney building the first gristmill in the New World.
The gristmill is just a quick stop and, hopefully, there will still be time to do a little boating. If so, it’s onto to Plymouth Harbor for a Lobster Excursion with Captain Paul at the helm.
The Lobster Excursion is exactly what it sounds like; a hands-on experience that explains the entire process of trapping lobsters and crabs. As Captain Paul steers out into the harbor he keeps a running dialogue, pointing out the Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock and fellow lobstermen. He explains the tools of his trade and provides his passengers with the opportunity to pull traps and understand every aspect of the life of both lobster and lobster-catcher. At the end of the day, this trip is catch-and-release and the little critters swim back home.
If you still have the time, and the energy, before heading back to the Cape, there is shopping to be done and maybe margaritas to be drunk.
On Sandwich Street is Village Braider Antiques, a large family owned store with multiple rooms brimming with finds. For the fashionista, Pilgrim’s Progress, on Court Street, has a well-edited selection of classic but hip clothing. To take home a quality t-shirt to commemorate your trip to the nation’s birthplace, stop into Special Tees on Camelot Drive.
For a quick bite or a frozen margarita, alcohol-free for kiddies, Sam Diego’s Plymouth location is the perfect place to finish up your daytrip. Already a longtime Hyannis institution, Sam’s added this second location several years ago. They’ve got the formula for a lively atmosphere and appealing menu down pat; even people who say they don’t like Mexican restaurants will walk away from Sam Diego’s with a smile on their face.
It just doesn’t get more historical than Plymouth. This is it, the birth of a nation, accurately presented by learned historians and beautifully packaged in a charming town. A daytrip to Plymouth offers the chance to bring boring old ‘American History one-oh-one’ to life. Rachel Arroyo contributed to this story.
137 Warren Ave. • 508-746-1622
Hearth n’ Kettle Restaurant
(in the John Carver Inn & Spa)
25 Summer St. • 508-746-7100
East Bay Grille
173 Water St. • 508-746-9751
6 Spring Ln. • 508-747-4544
Town Wharf • 508-746-5342
Village Braider Antiques
48 Sandwich St. • 508-746-9625
13 Court St. • 508-746-6033
51 Main St. • 508-747-0048Back to Cape Cod Travel Guide Stories