This past year my oldest daughter learned about the history of our country from the pilgrims and Native Americans; how they survived, flourished and lived.
We actually decided to head over to Massachusetts because a family via HomeExchange.com asked if they wanted to exchange our NYC apartment with their vacation home. We happily obliged since we knew it could be an educational trip for our whole family. The large home was in Barnstable, Massachusettes, about 30 minutes away from Plymouth and a short walk to a bay beach.
What to Do near Plymouth, Massachusetts (plus helpful tips!)
The Plimoth Plantation: this is a truly interactive museum where history literally comes alive. You visit with the Native Wampanoag in their homesite and learn about how they hunt, cook, eat and entertain themselves.
We were able to ask questions and talk to descendents of the Native Wampanoag’s and discuss what their ancestors ate; we took a tour of a real covered wetu (a house) and saw how they slept and kept warm.
We also saw how the Wampanoag’s made boats out of tree trunks using fire (!) to hollow out the tree and sap to make it water proof.
A short walk on a path through trees and along the water leads you to a replica of a 17th century English village. You can enter the homes and see how the colonists lived, cooked and slept, which was our favorite part. The girls walked into a home where two colonists were gossiping while making bread and they were invited to help need the bread with the colonists. Tip: Leave a good chunk of your morning to explore, listen and ask questions. And have lunch in the cafeteria on the earlier side (like at 12noon) before the big rush starts.
Take a tour of The Plimoth Grist Mill. A short 10-drive from The Plimoth Plantation is the Plimoth Grist Mill and and is a tour of a reproduction of a corn grinding mill from the 17th century. Many of the parts are from the 1800’s and shows the process of how water power grinds the corn into corn meal. Tip: Call ahead of time to see when the mill is actually running (it runs twice a week). Otherwise, you just tour the mill without actually seeing the grinding of the corn.
Swab the deck of the Mayflower II. So, the original Mayflower doesn’t exist, but this is a replica that was made in the late 1950’s. Again, it’s an interactive museum where you can interact with the colonists and ask questions on how 102 of them (!) lived on the ship and the perils that they encountered. One of the deckhands even asked S if she wanted to swab the deck. Tip: Stop and listen to the stories from the colonists. They’re really interesting and really
Plymouth Rock is right down the street from Mayflower II and there’s not much to see, its a big boulder with “1620” engraved on the side of it. The girls were much more excited about going to the Plantation, Mayflower II and The Grist Mill. Tip: You can easily skip this, but since it’s only a few blocks away from Mayflower II, you may as well just stop by.
Go on the Duck Mobile Tour. We were supposed to go whale watching, but the water was very choppy so all whale watching tours were cancelled for the day. Instead, we went on a duck mobile through Cape Cod Duck Mobile. The tour guide gave us more of a comedy show (which got a bit campy to tell you the truth) on a duck mobile tour than an oral history of this historic area, which was what we were all hoping for, but the views were gorgeous. Tip: Make sure to dress for the weather. It gets chilly out on the water.
Since the Duck Mobile Tour lasted about an hour, we had a day to fill. We were looking for a place to eat when we drove past the Cape Code Inflatable Park which is a HUGE outdoor “bouncy” castle park. Since it was the fall, the park was virtually empty and the girls had the run of the place. It literally is aisles and aisles of giant inflatable castles, whales, sharks, houses that your kids can run, jump and dive on. During the summer months there’s a water park but the inflatables were the only things that were open – but believe me, there’s a lot to explore and jump on. Tip: Make sure the kids have socks on, or you can purchase a pair for $1.00.
Because we stayed in a home, we ate breakfast at home every morning, so our dinners and lunches were out on the road. The most notable places to eat are Ann & Fran’s Kitchen in West Yarmouth, Massachusettes, which is right down the street from the Cape Cod Inflatable Park. Ann & Fran’s Kitchen is like stepping into your grandmother’s house (it looks like a house from the outside) and the food is spectacular and has kid-friendly items on the menu. Spanky’s Clam Shack, in Hyannis, is a restaurant we passed by during the duck mobile tour and upon looking it up on Yelp (our restaurant bible for when we are traveling). Solid seafood with lobster rolls, steamers, oysters, clam chowdah and of course a kids menu.
I was not compensated in any way for this post. All opinions expressed are mine.