If you are visiting the Boston area, one of the best things to do is take a day trip to Plimoth Plantation with kids. Now called Plimoth Patuxet, this historical site is a wonderfully educational and fascinating step back into history.
Located about 45 minutes south of Boston in the season picturesque town of Plymouth (spelled differently than Plimoth Patuxet), this town and site have significant importance to America. It is where pilgrims first arrived in what is now America, on the Mayflower ship in the 17th century at Plymouth rock, and created a new life.
It is also where the first Thanksgiving feast took place, which is now one of the most important holiday traditions in the United States. Our family loved this experience when we visited last November. It is one of my favorite things to do with kids for visitors to the Boston area.
Here is everything you need to know about how to visit Plimoth Patuxet (formerly Plimoth Plantation), and why your kids will love it! It is definitely one of the best day trips from Boston for families.
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On November 11, 1620, Pilgrims from England seeking religious freedom from King James I arrived on the ship called the Mayflower. After landing in Plymouth, the Pilgrims set up a colony and a new life, and celebrated their first bountiful harvest in what has since become known as Thanksgiving, one of the most important holidays in America. Members of the Wampanoag Nation are believed to have joined the pilgrims in this feast.
Plimoth Patuxet is a fascinating living history museum and a great opportunity for children to bring their history books to life. Not only is it interactive, where they will meet modern-day members of the Wampanoag Nation and other Native Nations, who offer a modern perspective of their ancestors. But they can walk through a replica of the English colony created by the Pilgrims.
It is important to note that the representatives of the English Colony ARE ACTORS who will remain in character as they take on the persona of a real person or represent a real person of the colony. They will speak in the way the pilgrims spoke, aware only of life as it was in the 17th century.
In other words, if you ask one of them to take a “selfie,” they will ask what you are holding and what is a “selfie.” If you ask the actors questions about what life is like during the time, you will learn a great deal of fascinating, historical information.
My kids loved this and actually learned quite a bit about what was happening both in England during this time in the 17th century and what foods were common then. They actually enjoyed sitting there for some time. Our visit was during a freezing cold November day, which gave quite an insight to what the pilgrims must have experienced!
By contrast, members of the Wampanoag Nation ARE NOT actors. They are there representing their ancestors and Nation and offering a modern-day perspective on life of the Wampanoag Nation during the 17th century.
It is important to remain respectful of their Nation, culture, and heritage, as well as the way of life of their ancestors. It is also a fantastic way to learn a great deal about history.
Our kids had learned about the Wampanoag Nation in school. Getting to see an example of a longhouse, cooking tools, children's toys, and hearing from and representatives really brought their history lesson to life!
The Wampanoag Homesite is a living history exhibit you can walk inside and around to learn a lot about the Wampanoag Nation during the 17th century. You can learn about and explore the different types of homes and structures, how the Wampanoags gathered and cooked food, and the traditional skills Wampanoags used on the homesite. My kids loved this experience, especially watching the basket weaving and hide tanning!
Take a step into the living history museum of the Pilgrim's 17th century English Colony, and meet some its residents! Dressed in period attire, who carry on conversations not just with the visitors but with each other (even when no one is around!) just as they would in 1620.
Our kids learned a lot about what foods were being prepared, the harsh winters, what was happening with religion in England at the time, and so much more. They also got to see what each cabin looked like, including where they slept, children's toys, and where they dined.
The Nye Barn is a fascinating stop where kids can see examples of and learn about live animals that were present during the 17th Century at Plimoth Plantation's English Colony. Because many of these animals are rare, Plimoth Plantation is part of a global breeding program to save these endangered breeds. Types of rare breeds they may see include types of cattle, sheep, goats, fowl, swine, and wild turkeys.
My kids loved visiting the Craft Center to learn more about crafts, headdresses, pottery, and more that was typical during the 17th century. Members of the Wampanoag Nation and artisans are available to answer questions and share information about what you are seeing. It is definitely worth a visit during your time at Plimoth Patuxet.
The Plimoth Plantation Cinema during normal operating hours is a great place to watch a short video to get an overview of Plimoth Patuxet and what you will see. It also serves as a traditional movie theater showing one feature picture, Sunday – Saturday, at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Open seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Prices are dependent on whether you are purchasing a ticket just for Plimoth Patuxet or a combination pass to also include the Grist Mill and the Mayflower II.
Onsite dining is available at Plentiful Cafe, located in the Visitor Center. Meals and foods inspired by Wampanoag and English Colonial traditions is available, as are modern-day cafe options.
There are many ongoing Plimoth Plantation events worth enjoying throughout the year at Plimoth Patuxet. Be sure to check the calendar to see if you may be there for a special event or demonstration.
Two events that are very special are the New England Harvest Feast and Thanksgiving Dinner at Plimoth Patuxet! There are also a variety of themed dining Plimoth Plantation events. All of these special experiences include role players in historical costume, meals, and foods connecting to history, and even table manners from the 17th century! For more information, visit the themed dining of Plimoth Plantation.
There are several souvenir shops on-site with special and unique finds kids will love! My daughter picked up a craft kit that included materials and instructions for making a corn husk doll. There are so many unique and special gifts available for purchase at the gift shops on the property as keepsakes of this historical and special place.
A short walk from the Plymouth waterfront and the Mayflower II, this spot is significant to Plimoth Plantation. It tells the story of the mill built by the Pilgrims of Plymouth to grind corn. After years of grinding corn by hand, a water-powered mill was built in 1636 to grind corn. The current Plimoth Gristmill is a recreation of the one built-in 1636.
Located at the Plymouth waterfront, you can see the actual Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrims Mayflower ship arrived in 1620.
A recreation of the original ship, the Mayflower, you can climb aboard and meet costumed role players who will share with you the story of the Mayflower. Our kids loved exploring this recreation of this historic ship, learning about what life was like living aboard a ship during this time, and the reasons the Pilgrims left England for a new life. It is a great addition to your visit to Plimoth Patuxet.
Driving from Boston is the easiest way to get to Plymouth. Take Route 93 south to Route 3 south, getting off at exit 4 (Plimoth Plantation Highway.) The Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock, and The Grist Mill are located in downtown Plymouth, where the Plimoth Patuxet is not right into the center of town.
You can also take Public Transportation from Boston's South Station to the Kingston/Plymouth station. Then, take Uber/Lyft or a Taxi from there to Plimoth Patuxet and the Mayflower II. There is also a bus from Boston on the Plymouth/Brockton Bus Line to the Visitor Center. From there, you will need a taxi to get to Plimoth Patuxet.
If you are visiting Boston, be sure and add Plimoth Patuxet (Plimoth Plantation) to your list. It is one of the best things to do with kids in Boston. Whether you are looking to expand your kids' homeschooling experience with a field trip, or just want to open your kids' eyes to American History, this is a fantastic family experience. Kids will love this living history museum, and will remember it for years to come!
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