Here's my favourite costumed guide whom I tried to trick with some questions. We got involved in a long conversation and, just for a moment, I thought I caught him leaving his 1627's identity. But he only paused and smiled, and gave me his 1600's answer. I was really impressed with his knowledge of general European history!
The other guides I talked to were great too. They must be so patient answering the dozens of questions from visitors! It's really good to talk to them, their stories feel as if you were listening to the first-hand experience of the early colonists.
You may feel it's enough to only walk around the 1627 Pilgrim Vilage talking to the guides. But you will get more from this educational and entertaining visit if you see some of the interiors for furniture, decoration, everyday life objects, etc. Many of the household items (pottery, pewter) can be bought at the Plimoth Plantation Museum Store. Click for the other pictures here to see more of the interiors.
Time for some chill-out and fun after seeing the serious stuff? You can:
1) Hop on a boat for a relaxing cruise in the bay. The tours start at the State Pier, that's where the Mayflower II is.
2) Go whale watching or deep sea fishing. The trips start at the Town Wharf which is further up Water St. from the State Pier.
The Indian homesite is really the size of a homesite, not anywhere near as big as the Pilgrim Village. I was surprised why only this tiny bit of the Native culture was re-created and not a whole Indian village... The costumed guides there also tell their stories and are happy to answer your questions. Be sure to go into the only Indian home there to see its interior and listen to the female guide sitting there. The homesite is also referred to as Hobbamock's in order to commemorate the warrior whom his leader, Massasoit, sent to live near the colonists and act as a guide and ambassador.
The great thing about the homesite's costumed guides is that they are actually Indians, some are Wampanoags and others come from other Indian peoples. Don't expect them to be wearing lots of feathers (common stereotype), New England's Indians are different.
The Wampanoags inhabited south-eastern New England, and the present-day Plymouth was their village called Patuxet in the 1600's. The Wampanoag People survive today in the Mashpee area in Cape Cod. The name Wampanoag means "Eastern People".
Before you tour the recreated Pilgrim Village, I suggest you stop at the Visitor's Centre. There is an ongoing multi-media ehxibition Thanksgiving: Memory Myth & Meaning which gives you the full story behind this original American holiday. It started as a harvest celebration between the first colonists and the Wampanoag Indians. Now it is often referred to as the First Thanksgiving but, as you can see, it had nothing to do with eating turkey with cranberry sauce :-)
I really enjoyed this major exhibition also because it gives a lot of info about the Wampanoag Indians.
The ship is a well-researched replica of the original Mayflower on which the Pilgrim Fathers came to America. What is more, it is even built from the same English Devon oak that the first one was made of, and it was sailed to the U.S. in 1957. Of course it flies the Union Jack flag of the 1620. It's fun to tour the ship and listen to costumed guides telling the story of the voyage and giving you lots of other interesting details. This is great fun for kids! There's also a book/gift store on the pier right before you enter the Mayflower II.
The ship is owned by the non-profit Plimoth Plantation foundation. Check their website for lots of info and any details you may need to plan your tour.
If you're too preoccupied with the Plymouth Rock, you may miss this sweet statue of Massasoit on the hill almost opposite the Rock. He is standing alone there overlooking the Plymouth harbor... Massasoit was Chief of the Wampanoag Indians who helped the the European newcomers survive the first winter (the Pilgrim Fathers landed in Northern America in December 1620) and then taught them to grow corn and make flour of it.
Pilgrim Hall houses a collection of the material possessions of the Pilgrims as well as numerous paintings and the remains of the Sparrow-Hawk, a small ship which was wrecked off Cape Cod. Included in the collection are cradles, furniture, weapons, personal household items, etc. as well as important artifacts such as Myles Standish's sword and chest and the Brewster and Bradford chairs.
Admission is $6 - allow about an hour. Please note that half the museum's collection is down steep stairs, as are the restrooms, so is not wheelchair accessible (they're raising money to make it so). Photographs are not permitted.
Half of the Pilgrims died over that first bitter winter of 1620. The survivors, fearing attack from the Natives, buried their remains on this hill at night in secret so that their dwindling numbers wouldn't be so obvious. The graves, including that of my great-great-great-etc. grandfather, were unmarked.
At some point, rainstorms began to wash the buried bones from the hill. The remains were collected and placed in this memorial sarcophagus 300 years after the fact.
Nearby is a statue of Massasoit, the Native Wampanoag leader who befriended the Pilgrims.
The Mayflower II is a reproduction of what some believed the original Mayflower would have looked like. It was built in England and sailed across the Atlantic in the 1950s. The ship is staffed with re-enacters who "live" in the year 1620, as well as modern-day staffers and sailors. Feel free to ask questions of any of them - although the ones in Pilgrim dress won't have any answers beyond their time frame.
What's most striking about the Mayflower II is its size - it's a small ship, and the Pilgrim passengers were all contained in the lower deck. They very rarely went topside as they didn't want to mingle with the rough sailors or get in the way (or go overboard as one did - luckily he was rescued). Also notice the very large "Great Cabin" where the captain of the ship lived - it was quite spacious in comparison, and even in comparison to most London houses! The Mayflower was a cargo ship, so ordinarily there wouldn't have been 100 extra people riding along.
Admission is $8 but if you get the combo pass with Plimoth Plantation you save $5 ($24 total).
If you're in Plymouth, Plymouth Rock is a can't miss. Maybe it's the real rock the Pilgrims first set foot on, maybe not. Either way, the sentiment is there - this is where it all began! Actually, Plymouth wasn't the first settlement in America - St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spain, Jamestown, Virginia was settled in 1607, and Quebec is Canada's oldest city, founded in 1608. Plymouth was, though, the first permanent settlement in New England - by mistake, as the Pilgrims were headed for Virginia.
The rock itself is housed in an open Greek-temple-looking portico and surrounded by an iron fence. Viewing is from above. Two-thirds of the rock are beneath the beach, so only the top third is visible. The current rock is about half its original size as it accidentally broke while being moved in 1774, and because so many souvenir seekers had chipped away at it over time.
Plimoth Plantation is a re-creation of the year 1627 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, seven years after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. As you enter the colony, you encounter "locals" going about their daily lives. Other than watching them and checking out the village, the main attraction and key to having a good time here is talking to these historical re-enacters about their "lives." For instance, we ducked into one of the houses to give the baby a quick meal and diaper ("tailcloth") change. None of the role players were there, so we figured tourists wouldn't come knocking much either (they did but didn't linger). Anyway, one of the "locals" entered and we excused ourselves for using his home - then proceeded to have a nice conversation about family life with who we later figured out was none other than "John Alden" of the famous John-Priscilla-Myles Standish love triangle. One of the first houses we entered belonged to "Edward Winslow" and his wife - we spoke with them a while and enjoyed their fire (it was in the 40s outside). Later I deduced that his "wife" was playing the former Susanna White - my great-great-great-etc. grandmother. I went back to ask her some more questions but she must have been on a break! Oh well.
Also on site are a crafts center (woodworking, pottery, etc.), the Wampanoag Homesite (modern Native People demonstrating and talking about their heritage and lives) and indoor exhibits at the main entrance building. A great time to visit would be around Thanksgiving! Admission is $21 - $24 if you get the combo pass that also covers the Mayflower II.
I'm getting thirsty just thinking of this place! Are you thirsty for cranberry juice?! Then you've come to the right place. There is a unique exhibit here that traces the cranberry from colonial times to the present. There are several features here, including a few outdoor demonstration bogs, some antique and modern harvesting tools, a scale cranberry farm, and some demonstrations on how to cook cranberries. You'll be amazed to learn the differences between a good cranberry and a bad cranberry. Is it the color, the bounce, or both? Hmm.. How do you tell the difference? Tune in next time... or just go there and tell me when you've learned the answer!
It's been free admission with free cranberry refreshments, but you should always call ahead to verify this is still the case. There's a boardwalk there and there have been free concerts there, too!
They are open daily from May 1 to Nov. 30 from 9:30 to 5pm, including weekends. Always call ahead to ensure they are open, when the best times are to visit to avoid the crowds, and any entrance or parking fees. Last I knew, there were no charges for admission or parking! If it's for free, it's for me!! ;o)
They are located on the waterfront, about a 10 minute walk north from Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower.
This place seems to be owned by Ocean Spray, which has made a significant positive impact to the area.
One of the things we did when we lived in Lexington for the summer of 1970 was to visit Plymouth. I remembered visiting Plymouth Rock under its little canopy when I was a kid, so we did that.
But we also went to Plimouth Plantation and walked down the path to the recreated 1627 village and talked to the reinactors and went aboard the Mayflower II. This picture is of the kids - my oldest daughter in the yellow dress, and my second daughter in the front. I also took the daughter of a lady who taught swimming with me at Hanscom AF base who was about the same age as my kids. She's in the back on the right.
I didn't know until I looked it up that the Plimouth Plantation and the Mayflower II are at two separate sites. The Mayflower II is at the waterfront. The URL given has a sketch with the specifications and information on the parts of the ship
2005 admission prices
Mayflower II: 1 day pass (good for any one day within one year of purchase)
* Dockside Exhibit
Children (6-12) $14.00
Senior Citizens (62 and over with ID) $21.00
*Plimoth Pass $90.00
*The Plimoth Pass = 2 adults and up to 4 children (6 - 17). Plimoth Passes are NOT available for online purchase and must be purchased at the museum's Admissions Desk.
Plimoth Plantation is a replica of the original Plymouth Colonial settlement, circa 1627. The plantation is as accurate as research can make it. The planners combined accounts of the original colony with archaeological research, old records, and the history written by the Pilgrims' leader, William Bradford (who often used the spelling "Plimoth"). At the main entrance are two modern buildings that house an interesting orientation show, exhibits, a gift shop, a bookstore, and a cafeteria. Above the entrance of the Plimoth Plantation is the caution: you are now entering 1627.
Enter by the hilltop fort and walk down the hill to the farm area, visiting homes and gardens constructed with careful attention to historic detail. You can stroll downtown on Leyden Street and get to know many of the families who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 to farm in the New World. They're actors who, in speech, dress, and manner, assume the personalities of members of the original community. The Fullers, Howlands, Aldens and Standishes will greet you in period costumes and invite you to share their history -- and their lives. You can watch them framing a house, splitting wood, shearing sheep, preserving foodstuffs, or cooking a pot of fish stew over an open hearth, all as it was done in the 1600s, and using only the tools and cookware available then. Feel free to engage them in conversation about their life, but expect only curious looks if you ask about anything that happened later than 1627. Visit the fort/meetinghouse that was used as a church and a courthouse; then, see rows of thatched houses complete with accurate reproductions of the furniture, cooking implements and tools used by the Pilgrims
Local tribes included the Wampanoags, who are represented near the village at Hobbamock's Home site where staff show off native foodstuffs, agricultural practices, and crafts. At the Nye Barn you can see descendants of 17th-century goats, cows, pigs, and chickens, bred to resemble animals raised in the original plantation. .
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