Day Trip to Plymouth Rock from Boston
On a recent trip to the East Coast, our family took a day trip to Plymouth Rock from Boston, and it was super easy and fun. Coming from California where the definition of historic means 50 years old, we were all loving the incredible American legacies we could experience by using Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall as our home base.
Door to door the drive was just 45 minutes to Plymouth, taking us from the skyscrapers and modern conveniences of downtown Boston to the historic beginnings of our nation. It was pretty darn exciting to think we would get to follow in the footsteps of the Pilgrims as they touched ground from the Mayflower. Even our girls, who are getting harder and harder to please in their early teens, looked up for a moment from staring at their smartphones to register interest in reliving a story they’ve heard since childhood.
Our knowledgeable concierge at the Hilton gave us some helpful navigation tips beyond the particulars of Google Maps, and we were on our way. Before we knew it, we were pulling into Plymouth and ready to see the sights.
Things to do in Plymouth & Sandwich, Massachusetts with Kids
The official stone where the Pilgrims disembarked from the Mayflower after their long journey from England, Plymouth Rock is the legend of schoolbooks and Thanksgiving plays across the U.S. And true to the stories, local townspeople dressed in historic Pilgrim garb were nearby to pose for photos and answer probing questions from tourists like us, such as “Where’s the restroom?” and “Is Plymouth Rock really that small?”
And yes the rock is smaller than you think but no less impressive. It’s housed in its original position at the water’s edge, surrounded by a huge granite colonnade befitting its importance in our historical record.
Funny story about this rock: locals thought it was important enough to actually move it to the center of the town square to sit for a spell. In the process of this move, they broke it (yikes!), and when they tried to fix that break they broke it again (double yikes!). Clearly, historic preservation techniques were not perfected back in the day, and their attempts to patch the pieces are evident when viewing the stone. When they placed it back in its original spot, they carved “1620” into the stone to remember the year it became famous. Ah, history.
A Plethora of Pilgrim Museums
If you are a museum junkie, you will love Plymouth for its dedication to honoring the Pilgrims. Here’s a short list of some top Pilgrim museums to entertain and educate you on your visit:
- Plimoth Plantation – Super cool activities and learning opportunities for all ages
- The Mayflower House Museum – Descendants of Mayflower Pilgrims
- Pilgrim Hall – Just a few blocks from Plymouth Rock on Court Street and chock full of artifacts
- Richard Sparrow House – Mayflower Pilgrim descendants’ home from 1640
- John Howland House – Original Mayflower Pilgrim’s home
- And there are many more!
Sandwiches in Sandwich
How could we be near a town called Sandwich and not go there for sandwiches? Only a 20-minute drive from Plymouth and a lot more quaint in the traditional Cape Cod fashion, Sandwich is one of the most picturesque places in New England.
We stopped for lunch at an amazing local “sandwichery” called Café Chew, which is voted by locals as having the best breakfast, best lunch, best bakery, and best sandwich, among other bests. The baked goods alone could fill a person for a week. We salivated over cookies and cakes and pies and tarts and all kinds of deliciousness, and Café Chew definitely lived up to its stellar reputation.
Sandwich Glass Museum
After lunch, we wandered over to the Sandwich Glass Museum. At one time, Sandwich was a center of glass making for all of the colonies, and there were many glass companies handcrafting windows, glasses, plates and more from this location. Our small entrance fee included an awesome live demonstration of glass blowing in its original form. The kids loved watching the glassblower heat the molten glass and slowly blow a bubble into the tube, making a perfectly formed vase before our very eyes.
The rest of the museum contains original examples of glass creations dating back to the 1600s, getting increasingly complex through the decades as the factories became more sophisticated. This was so colorful and interesting and definitely not something you see often.
After a full day of sights and activities, we drove the short return distance to Boston while the kids snoozed in the back seat. Back in our comfy room at the Hilton, we settled in for a little room service and a family movie night. A good day had by all!
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Editor’s Note: The Mayflower II
The Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the original Mayflower, was previously moored just a short distance from Plymouth Rock. The ship was a gift from England to commemorate our alliance during World War II and sailed from their country to Massachusetts in 1957.
However, the ship has been moved to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut while she undergoes a full restoration. Follow the progress through the Plimoth Plantation’s blog. The Mayflower II is expected to return to Plymouth in 2019 for the 400th commemoration of the Pilgrims’ arrival in New England.