Family Travel: 17th Century Plimoth Plantation, Flickr: dicktay2000

Experience the Way Things Used to be!

If you ever wondered what life was like in 1627, visit Plimoth Plantation, located in Plymouth, MA, just a short drive from Boston, The museum is backed by the prestigious Smithsonian Institute and features sprawling acres of interactive and historic fun.

Families should start their visit at the Henry Hornblower II Welcome Center. Friendly staff  helps you purchase tickets and plan your day. I recommend starting with the History Channel orientation film which helps kids understand the context of the museum. The visitor center is also the home to the Shelby Cullom Davis Gallery and the Family Discovery Center where kids can get hands on dressing up into Colonial costumes, playing Native Indian games, and exploring the truth behind the nation’s first thanksgiving.

After orienting yourself at the visitor center, begin your adventure across Plimoth’s sprawling outdoor grounds featuring at 17th century English Village, a Wampanoag Homesite, and the Mayflower II.  

At the 17th-century English Village, the year quite literally is 1627. Walk among the timber houses, gardens, and livestock. Costumed actors portray actual pilgrims and love to chat with visitors about their lives. The pilgrims don’t know anything about modern life, but love to engage you and your kids with facts and information about their lives including answering questions like, “What does an 8-year-old do?” or “What do you eat for food?” Asking probing questions like these will help you make the most out of your visit, so try not to be shy. 

The Wampanoag Homesite has a distinctly different feel to it. Although you can explore how Wampanoag tribes would have lived during the 17th century by viewing their mat-covered homes, observing their techniques during the growing season, and even watching as they make a boat for the river, the staff at the Homesite are not actors. The Native People who work here are certainly dressed in historic clothing, but they don’t live in the past. They speak to visitors with a modern voice in hopes to share more about the Wampanoag culture. Again, to maximize your visit, be sure to ask a lot of questions.

While at Plimoth, be sure to visit the Mayflower II, a careful reproduction of the original Mayflower that sailed to America in 1620. As your family boards the boat, you will learn the incredible history of the historic and dangerous voyage. History comes alive as your kids not only imagine the cramped living spaces for 102 people, but sit in them for themselves. 

Back at the visitor center, be sure to shop for artisan Indian jewelry and art, toys, books, and a variety of specialty foods. The visitor center also features Patuxet Café, a unique dining experience that features both modern snacks and meal options as well as menu items from both the Native and Colonial cultures. Where else can you try Stuffed Quahog, Seasonal Succotash, Indian Pudding, and Mayflower Beer?

Visiting Tips: Wear comfortable shoes.  1627 didn’t have pavement and neither does this museum.  Mornings are typically busy with school groups; afternoon visits are much less crowded.  Although the visitor center remains open year-round, the three main sites of the museum are only open from spring-fall when the weather is more tolerable.


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photo: dicktay2000

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