Honestly, Plymouth is delightful! It’s (obviously) located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, inside Pilgrim Memorial State Park. Plymouth Rock is definitely the main attraction of the area, and it is located right alongside the beach. It’s in a surprisingly tranquil and scenic location, given the hustle and bustle of the East Coast we had previously experienced, and which is only a few hours away. It’s located only 50 minutes from Boston and 1 hour from Salem, making it a very doable day trip if you’re ever in the area visiting either.
A major American historical icon, Americans grow up hearing about Plymouth Rock in every history class from kindergarten to senior year. While it’s widely believed that this was the landing place of the Mayflower pilgrims, it was just one single man, a 94-year-old Plymouth church elder named Thomas Faunce, who declared it as such. There is no written record of the rock in either of the two important primary sources on the founding of Plymouth Colony (Mourt’s Relation by Edward Winslow written in 1622 and Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation written between 1630 and 1651). Faunce made this claim when plans to build a wharf, which would have buried the rock, started being made and he wanted to save it. It’s been recorded that Faunce’s father arrived in the colony in 1623 aboard the ship Anne, just two years after the Mayflower landing. Faunce was born in 1647, when many of the Mayflower pilgrims were still alive and well, and it’s assumed he would have known them. Therefore, he was believable and believed.
The rock is completely encased in a mausoleum-type structure, which you enter and then view it from above. Viewing Plymouth Rock is free and completely open to the public, and getting a good view of the rock wasn’t an issue. The rock was obviously split in two and put back together, and there’s a reason why. In 1774, Colonel Theophilus Cotton (you just don’t hear names like that anymore) and the townsfolk of Plymouth decided to move the rock. Well, it ended up splitting in two a. They left the bottom half at the wharf and brought the top half to Plymouth’s town meeting hall.
After that, they moved a piece of it, yet again. A large portion was broken off the chunk of rock located at the town hall and relocated to Pilgrim Hall in 1834. Then in 1867, the large Victorian style mausoleum-style covering was completed at the wharf portion of the rock. Afterwards, in 1880, the top portion of the rock located at Pilgrim Hall was moved back and rejoined the bottom half of the rock at the wharf. The number “1620” was then carved into it.
While Kristi wasn’t as impressed with Plymouth Rock as I was (in her words, “I wasn’t expecting it to be so small”), I thought it was amazing, probably because I’m the history nerd. We stayed mainly around the beach area because that is where the rock is, as well as souvenir shops and restaurants. After visiting the souvenir shop Pilgrims Corner, which is basically right across from Plymouth Rock, we headed for lunch. We walked a short distance from the rock to where all the dockside restaurants are located. We ended up going to The Cabbyshack, which is mainly seafood but has plenty of non-seafood options as well. I liked it a lot, and they have indoor or outdoor seating, located right on the ocean. It’s located at 30 Town Wharf, Plymouth, MA 02360 and is open daily from 11am to 1am.
One last thing – there are these adorable painted lobsters sprinkled along the walkway, right near the ocean. They are part of the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce Lobster Crawl, which is a public art display. It features 29 lobsters and each one is sponsored by a different local business. All of the lobsters stand around five feet tall and are unique in design.
Plymouth is wonderful, cute, and holds one of the most famous pieces of American history, but we didn’t realize that there is much more to do there other than visit the rock. Aside from the rock, there is Plimoth Patuxet Museum (a reconstruction of the actual original Plimouth plantation), the National Monument to the Forefathers, The Jenney (the oldest grist mill in the country), Pilgrim Hall Museum, Burial Hill (centuries-old cemetery), the Mayflower II, and Plymouth Bay Winery. Unfortunately, we still had a long drive ahead of us (as this was during our 2018 East Coast road trip and did not plan accordingly), so we headed out after lunch. This is one piece of American history I fully intend on revisiting one day!