Summer: Plymouth, MA

Summer: Plymouth, MA

When we took our first family camping trip to Cape Cod a few weeks ago we decided to make the most of our first day, leaving early and stopping half way to have a wander around Plymouth, MA.

Plymouth is where the Pilgrims chose to found their colony in 1620, after arriving in America on board the Mayflower, and is where New England was established. It is now home to the replica Mayflower II and is of course the site of the eponymous Rock.

We arrived early and found parking immediately, and were greeted by this beautiful view across the bay.

Plymouth 1

We decided walk down to the pier first, towards the Mayflower II, having driven past it on the way into town.

Plymouth 2

Plymouth 3

We hadn’t planned on actually boarding the ship, but the 9yo had studied the Pilgrims last year and was interested to see on board. So, we decided to give it a go, and we were so pleased that we did. It was fascinating, and I learnt a lot!

Mayflower 1

Mayflower 2

On entering, we found an exhibition detailing the history surrounding the voyage on the Mayflower.

Mayflower 3

The Pilgrims were a religious group who wanted to remain separate from the Church Of England and fearing the volatile political landscape of England fled to the Netherlands. They then arranged passage to America, to establish a colony on behalf of a group of English investors. On arriving in the UK, in Southampton, the Pilgrims were joined by additional colonists, hired by the investors. After a few false starts, a total of 102 colonists set sail in the Mayflower from Plymouth (UK!), and the crossing took about 65 days…

The exhibition was fascinating, I didn’t know much of the detail of the journey or subsequent colonisation. It was interesting to discover that the Pilgrims first landed on the tip of Cape Cod, in what is now Provincetown, in November 1620, but found the Cape too inhospitable (weather and Native Indians!) and they sailed further west, before choosing to settle in Plymouth in the December of 1620. The weather was of course a huge issue and half the colonists died that first winter.

The Mayflower II is a full scale replica of the original ship and my first thought on boarding was that it was tiny! How did 102 passengers live in the tiny below decks area, especially considering that there were children and pregnant woman on board. In fact, one baby was born on the voyage and was named Oceanus. What a fabulous name!

Mayflower 4

Mayflower 5

Mayflower 6

Mayflower 7

There are costumed role-players on board to tell you all about the journey and the early days of the colonisation, and it is really well done. The 9yo was fascinated, completely absorbed by the tales of this gentleman in particular.

Mayflower 8

The below decks area was really cramped, and trying to imagine that many people, probably sea sick people, living there for 65 days is hard. In fact, it doesn’t really bear thinking about!

Mayflower 9

Mayflower 10

Mayflower 11

We left the ship, taking in a final section of the exhibition, before walking along the pier to get one last shot of the ship itself.

Mayflower 12

Mayflower 13

Mayflower 14

We couldn’t leave Plymouth though without a visit to Plymouth Rock! Although there is no real historical evidence that the Pilgrims first disembarked on to Plymouth Rock (it is not mentioned in writings until 121 years later!) it has become symbolic of this hugely significant historical site.

Plymouth Rock 1

Plymouth Rock 2

Plymouth Rock 3

Plymouth Rock 4

There are several other interesting historic sites in and around Plymouth, and we will head back at some point to visit the others. But on this occasion, the heat and the excitement about getting to our campsite won, and we headed back to the car. A diversion due to road works on the way out of town though took us past the National Memorial to the Forefathers (the Pilgrims). I just had to get out and take some photos, it is really quite something!

Monument 1

Monument 2

Monument 3

We spent a lovely couple of hours in Plymouth, learning more about the very early history of the US. The Mayflower II was excellent and it has certainly made me want to come back to visit the other Plymouth sites.

A lovely start to our mini-break camping!

I’m linking up with the wonderful Country Kids at Coombe Mill, as always. Click on the badge to see what everyone else has been up to and be inspired to get outside!

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44 thoughts on “Summer: Plymouth, MA”

  1. Fascinating to see and read about the Mayflower as it’s amazing how the pilgrims made a journey to an unknown and unexplored land. Your post almost made me pause and think how I had ancestors who sailed across the sea later on in the 17th century. Definitely must take my two to visit Plymouth when we’re next in New England.

  2. I was about to chastise you for visiting Plymouth and not coming to see me before I read on! What an amazing voyage across the pond that must have been and harsh too for the 102 inhabitants, not luxury for giving birth! The replica ship looks really well done and a great insight into how their voyage must have been. Thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids.

  3. I love old boats/ships, I can’t wait until N is a bit older to take him on the Cutty Sark and Victory. Great photos – I always think visits are a great way of kids becoming interested

  4. That’s really interesting. I know nothing of US history (although my son will be learning about it for his GCSEs), so I’ve learned something new there! The thought of being cramped up in that boat for 65 days – yuk!

  5. I’ve read a little about the Pilgrims and their journey to America but to see your photos and really be able to visualise how cramped it must have been on board for those 65 days really brings it to life. The National Monument to the Forefathers is really quite something – no wonder you stopped to take photos. I love things like this that really bring history to life in such a vivid way – they always make me want to go away and read more. I have to confess that I’ve never had a strong desire to travel and visit America but your posts over the last couple of weeks about your weekend in Cape Cod and Plymouth have definitely made me want to go there some day, which is something that hubby has never managed to do with his various trips to LA in the time we have been together! I think it must be the historical significance that appeals though! :-)

  6. This takes me back-my husband and I visited here years ago. A lot of fun. My husband’s family (who live in Maine) can trace their family history back to the pilgrim’s, which is fairly impressive :)

  7. Looks lovely! For awhile I too, thought it was Plymouth here in the UK, but then remembered that you are based in the States :) I do like visiting historic places too, especially places like this one :) #countrykids.

  8. I hadn’t realised the Pilgrims fled for religious reasons, I kind of thought they migrated to settle in a new land for more economic reasons. The history sounds really fascinating and the pictures are really interesting!

  9. I love a bit of maritime history! I really enjoyed looking around the HMS Victory at Royal Historic Dockyards Portsmouth – it is just amazing to try and imagine what it must have been like – probably pretty horrible for those poor pilgrims. Looks like you had a very history filled day! Xx #countrykids

  10. I did not realise that Plymouth had such a history. We shall be going there a lot more as my son is moving there so will be sure to check this out as it seems so educational but fun – just the sort of thing my 7 year old would love.

    1. Ah, all these New England names… having said that I wouldn’t be surprised if there was reference to the Pilgrims and the Mayflower in Plymouth UK. It’s such a major part of American history x

  11. One day I am going to make it to Boston! This trip sounds so interesting and raising my children outside the USA they are missing some of this elementary history. Nice post!

  12. We stayed in Plymouth, MA during our first visit to Boston and the surrounding area in 2009. There is so much to see and do here and I’d recommend the Plimoth Plantation next time you’re here. My daughters loved it!

  13. This looks so fab! I can’t wait for Oliver to get involved and learn some history like this! He loves boats too so he’d definitely enjoy this. Looks like beautiful weather too! #whatevertheweather

  14. What a fascinating and interesting trip. It looks like a beautiful place with a lot of history. How lovely to listen to tales from people dressed in costumes too. Sounds like a lovely day.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

  15. Wow, that sounds a fascinating place to visit and looks a beautiful location too. You’ve taken some great photos and I felt like I was following along with your visit as I read your post. I love the costumed guides and it sounds like your son got heaps out of this visit.

  16. This is fascinating. How can so many people have survived in that small space for so long! And Oceanus – what an incredible name. I wondered a few weeks ago if Plymouth was named after UK Plymouth. It’s so interesting to hear the history of it, I would have been absolutely engrossed on the tour. What beautiful pictures too in such a stunning place, definitely a lot prettier than Plymouth UK as well. Thank you so much linking this up to whatever the weather. x

  17. I didn’t realise the ship itself was so tall! I couldn’t imagine having to have sailed over to America from the UK in that sort of time, it would be quite grim on the boat, they must have been so glad to see land when they arrived. I also didn’t realise that they had brick ovens aboard to cook on, no idea what I expected, but it looks just like an oven from a house placed onto a boat. I love it when they have actors telling you stories from the past, it really brings the whole experience alive.
    Thank you so much for linking this up to #Whatevertheweather :) x

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