With Covid-19 throwing a wrench in overseas vacations this summer, we’ve been trying to continue to explore our [new-ish] corner of New England. Fortunately, the region has plenty of variety in things to see, particularly for its relatively compact geography.
In 2018, Jeremy did a bike ride from Amsterdam to Paris, almost 500 miles! Looking back fondly at that trip, when thinking about where to go, we decided that it might be fun for him to try some multi-day bike rides around Massachusetts, and combine that with family day trips to nearby sites. And since it’s summer, we decided to try the direction of Cape Cod.
This particular post doesn’t get quite to Cape Cod, but rather Plymouth, along the way, roughly 40 miles south of Boston.
Note: we’re still somewhat cautious about staying in hotels at the moment. But, the compact size of the region makes day trips more reasonable – after all, it’s possible to drive from Boston to [parts of] all the 5 other New England states in under two hours. (Note: read each state’s covid rules for entry if visiting this summer).
Jeremy decided to start his bike ride near the Massachusetts Ave bridge on Cambridge/Boston border, since Boston sounded like a good starting point – he’s biked there plenty of times from our house. I dropped him off there, and then we made our way down to Plymouth via car. We arrived around 11:00, somewhat later than I initially intended.
To our pleasant surprise, there was still plenty of parking along the water, between Plymouth Rock and Nelson Memorial Park and Beach. The parking meters had a convenient ticket-based pay station, were good for 4 hours, and cost $2/hour ($1.50 if you had the Passport Parking App or the Park Boston App).
The Harbor and the Mayflower Replica
James and I enjoyed looking at the boats in the harbor. From our parking spot, we could see the breakwater, then Plymouth Beach on the other side of the breakwater.
Before arriving, James had read that there should be a Mayflower replica somewhere in the harbor.
As we wandered a bit, we found that it was currently in Mystic, Connecticut for restoration.
That said, we did take a picture of where the Mayflower replica should have been sitting.
We then continued along the waterfront, seeing a very interesting tree with a strange curve to it along the way.
Eventually we made it to Plymouth Rock!
Fortunately we had been warned that it was “just a rock,” otherwise we might have been a bit disappointed. But the structure around the rock was quite nice.
We learned when writing this post that Plymouth actually isn’t where the Pilgrims first set foot on land – all our “first Thanksgiving” lessons as school kids are shattered! Rather, it’s the site of the Pilgrims’ first plantation and where they constructed their first buildings. Researching this, it seems like there was an element of oral tradition, but most historians now agree that the real first landing was near Provincetown, at the tip of the Cape.
Across the street from Plymouth Rock was a sign advertising a museum, but as it turns out, the very pretty building was actually a private residence and not the museum. The museum was around the corner and located in the downtown area.
With Covid-19, we did not go into any museums, or even research which ones we might want to go into in the future, but there appear to be several worth considering:
Plymouth has plenty to offer in this regard – hopefully we can see when things re-open.
From here, we decided to walk up the hill to the downtown area. First, we walked by the town hall.
Then the home of the teacher of the first “Dame School.”
A short time later, we found the Pilgrim Hall Museum that we saw advertised by Plymouth Rock.
If you have ever wanted to live in an old armory, this could make an interesting choice:
I really liked the look of the Church of St. Peter, as well as the Plymouth Memorial Building, which hosts a concert hall.
For being very close to lunchtime, the streets felt quite deserted. Eventually, we decided to pick up some sandwiches for a picnic lunch. The procedure seemed to be a maximum of 6 customers in the bakery at a time, then you could wait either inside or outside as they made your food.
We chose to wait outside and enjoyed our view of the Spire Center as we waited for our food.
Both James and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk.
Since our car was located directly down the hill from the sandwich shop, we decided to go get our picnic blanket and take it to Pilgrim Memorial State Park, where Pilgrim Rock was located. So refreshing. Both of us were quite warm from wandering through the sunny downtown and were happy to sit in the cool, shady, breeze.
As we cooled off and enjoyed our delicious paninis from Gunther’s Tooties, we discussed a couple of different options for the rest of our day. The first idea was to walk along the somewhat rocky beach of the harbor and then continue to enjoy the shade of the park.
The second idea was to walk down to Nelson Memorial Park and play on the connecting beach for a bit. I wasn’t sure about the parking situation if we moved the car, and neither of us were thrilled about the 35 minute round trip walk in the heat. We were leaning towards staying put when we got a call from Jeremy saying that he was a half hour away by bike. That settled it and we decided to stay put.
The walk on the beach was quite pleasant.
When Jeremy showed up, he was debating continuing a little further or hopping in the car. In the end, he decided that 40 miles was fine for day one, that the afternoon heat was picking up, and that he would head back with us.
What a fun day trip! If you are traveling with kids through Massachusetts, consider Plymouth for your next travel destination!