Cape Cod Winter Stay-cation: Visit Historic Plymouth

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The Mayflower II

First in a series of Cape and Islands Stay-cations.
Cape Cod is a beautiful place. There are literally hundreds of amazing postcard-perfect spots from the bridges to the tip of Provincetown. It is no surprise that thousands of people vacation here each and every year. But things that are new and amazing to visitors, can become sort of old hat for Cape Codders.
But if Aruba or Hawaii aren’t in the budget, why not try making Cape Cod, the Islands or Plymouth your winter “getaway” this year? You just might find (again) why so many visitors come from all over the world to this spectacular place.

Let’s start this series on stay-cations with a quick trip to the place that started it all. Sure Jamestown, Virginia was technically the first settlement in the New World, but Plymouth – the spot where the Pilgrims landed and called home in 1620 – is overflowing with history. Plymouth sits just over 20 minutes from the Sagamore Bridge and is a perfect quick trip for locals.
A good first stop is the Elder Brewster Gardens. Located diagonally across from the parking area for the Pilgrim Memorial State Park on Water Street, the park runs along both sides of Town Brook. It sits on the original grounds of the garden land given to Elder William Brewster in 1620.
The park is usually populated with ducks looking to be fed and includes a paved pathway that travels underneath both the Market Street and Route 3A bridges. The water rushing by echoes against the walls of the bridges as it heads down toward Plymouth Harbor.

National Monument to the Forefathers

National Monument to the Forefathers

At the end of the pathway is the Plimoth Grist Mill and Museum. The current mill is a reconstruction of the original built in 1636 by John Jenney. It was strategically placed along Town Brook because the drop in the river’s elevation there allowed for a great amount of power in the water flow. The river is spring fed, which meant in times of drought for the Pilgrims, the river never would run dry. Town Brook also is home to ample amounts of herring during the warmer months. The Run of the Mill Tavern is located next to the mill and is a great family place to stop for lunch or dinner.
Across Water Street from the Brewster Gardens is the Pilgrim Memorial State Park. The park is home to the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship the Pilgrims took from England to America, and the spot where they landed. Plymouth Rock is located on the shore of Plymouth Harbor at the foot of Cole’s Hill and is an amazing symbol of our heritage. Although it is open to debate as to whether the rock is actually on the exact location where the Pilgrims disembarked, it is a landmark nonetheless. The granite house that covers the rock was built in 1920.
Sitting a few hundred feet north of Plymouth Rock, is a replica of the Mayflower called Mayflower II. The ship was built using 17th-century building methods in a joint effort between Englishman Warwick Charlton and Plimoth Plantation in 1955-56. Plimoth Planation’s Mayflower blueprints were used for the build and the ship is considered to be nearly an exact replica of the original, but for small enhancements like electric lights. The Mayflower II is only 106 feet long and 25 feet wide which makes it even more amazing that the original ship carried some 135 people on the voyage across the Atlantic nearly 400 years ago. The ship can be toured during the warmer months.

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock

Although you can easily spend a day in Plymouth’s downtown, there is much more to see including several monuments to 30-time Governor of Plymouth, William Bradford and Wampanoag Native American legend Masasoit who is credited as being a “protector and preserver of the Pilgrims.” Plimoth Plantation, a faithful recreation of the first colony at Plymouth, is also a must. Located on Warren Avenue, Plimouth Plantaion is a memorable experience mostly thanks to the folks who are completely dedicated to portraying their 17th-century counterparts.
Away from the water is a semi-hidden monument that many people miss. The National Monument to the Forefathers, which commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims, was dedicated in 1889. It stands two blocks from the water on Allerton Street and features an 81-foot tall granite monument with the figure of ‘Faith’ standing on top. It is every bit as beautiful and impressive as the more well-known monuments in town.
Plymouth is the Holy Grail, if you will, of historic towns. No other place in the United States can lay claim to being the starting point of all that we are today in this country. Take an amazing trip back through time to the first period of American history and visit Plymouth. Have fun and happy traveling!

— By Christopher Setterlund

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