The day before Thanksgiving my mother and I took the boys to Plimoth Plantation. Even though we live about a half hour away, the boys had never been there; and I hadn’t been since I was in elementary school! For those of you unfamiliar with Plimoth Plantation, it is a non-profit cultural center dedicated to teaching the public about the lives of the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians.
When you arrive at Plimoth Plantation, you have the option of choosing between the single site admission (Plimoth Plantation, Mayflower II only, or the Plymouth Grist Mill), the combination ticket (two locations), or the Heritage Pass (all three locations). You can purchase tickets online or at the ticket booth at Plimoth Plantation. It’s open 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from the second week of March until the end of November.
While some things at Plimoth Plantation are as I remembered, there have definitely been some changes! One of the biggest changes I noticed was the addition of the Wampanoag home site. Right after you head out of the main building onto the path, you see the walkway up to the Wampanoag home site on your right hand side.
I think it’s so important that Plimoth Plantation decided to recognize the important role that the Wampanoags have played on Cape Cod, and it was fun to see their homes and listen to the staff speak about Wampanoag history and the current state of the tribe.
When you arrive at the Wampanoag home site, the first thing you will notice is the beautiful water view. On a clear, sunny day it’s absolutely GORGEOUS! One of my favorite things at Plimoth Plantation is that there are staff members who dress and act in the character of the Wampanoags and Pilgrims, right down to their accents!
You can speak with the residents about their lifestyle, current events, etc. The boys really loved this aspect of the visit. After visiting the Wampanoag site, we made our way past a building housing a gift shop, working bakery, beeswax candle making and pottery spinning (we stopped on our way back!).
We then found ourselves at the 17th century English village, ready to start exploring! You enter the village through the meeting house (a two-story building) complete with cannons on the second floor! The ground floor is set up as a meeting space, with a pulpit and benches.
After exiting the meeting house, you make you way into the village proper. Each home has a resident there to speak with you about their dwelling, their position in the village, what their daily life was like, etc.
For example, at our first stop, the woman of the house was preparing handmade sausage. You will see villagers completing daily tasks, including cooking, the way they would have in the 17th century!
You will meet Priscilla Alden, the mayor of the village, and many other figures who are there to help you get a real sense of 17th century life. Villagers are constantly out walking about and love to engage you in conversation or show you their trade! The boys enjoyed watching barrel making and playing with some of the toys that would have been popular at the time.
Along with staff members in character, you will also find museum guides (dressed in contemporary clothing), who will share information on 17th century life from a modern perspective. You move self-guided through the village, so spend as much or as little time as you want in the area.
After the 17th century village, we stopped briefly in the building with the bread bakery and other activities, before checking out the Craft Center, where you can view artisans manufacturing headdresses from porcupine quills, making hand-coiled clay pots, and much more.
If you’ve worked up an appetite you can stop for a quick bite at the Patuxet Café, which provides quick service food inspired by Wampanoag and Pilgrim traditions. You can also stop in one of the three shops: the Main Shop, the Native Shop (featuring traditional Wampanoag crafts) and the Children’s Shop.
Don’t forget to stop by Nye Barn on your way out (or in) to visit rare and heritage breed animals like Wiltshire Horned sheep and San Clemente goats! Plimoth Plantation helps in the effort to save some of these breeds that are now endangered because of modern agricultural practices. The kids loved the animals, so it was a must on our list.
If you find yourself in Plymouth, or nearby, definitely check out Plimoth Plantation. Adults and children (check out the Parents Guide) alike will have a great time learning about our early ancestors and enjoying some beautiful views!