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Plymouth: Come for the History, Stay for the Happenings

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Here’s something your fourth-grade teacher left out of the lecture on early American history: Plymouth is cool. Known worldwide as the landing point of the Mayflower, today’s Plymouth boasts a burgeoning arts scene, a diverse population, and a community that welcomes visitors to "America’s Hometown." Located 50 miles south of Boston, just above Cape Cod, its landscape runs the gamut from beaches to pristine forests to working farms. In addition to beautiful natural surroundings and a living link to the past, Plymouth has a surprisingly cosmopolitan flair. Its annual film festival attracts international attention, the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra boasts a full schedule of musical events, and the Thanksgiving celebration and parade grow every year. Plymouth is flourishing with cuisine, craft, and commerce.

Your day here is going to be long and busy, so get an early start and fill your belly with the best breakfast in town. The Blueberry Muffin is a quaint country shop, located in the southeastern corner of Plymouth known as Cedarville, about eight miles south of Plymouth Center. Eating on the run? Pick up coffee and some of their fresh, homemade doughnuts, scones, and namesake muffins. Time to spare? Relax in a booth and dig in to traditional breakfast plates ranging from sweet to savory.

Take the scenic route up 3A, past Plymouth Beach and Warren Avenue’s mansions to "downtown," where a step back in time will give you the perspective to truly appreciate the day ahead. Spend the morning at Pilgrim Hall Museum on Main Street, home to actual Mayflower artifacts and Pilgrim possessions. Here you can see Myles Standish’s swords, the only surviving original Pilgrim hat, and an extensive collection of rarities from the Native American Wampanoag tribe who inhabited the area for thousands of years before the Colonists’ arrival. Pilgrim Hall also has a changing roster of exhibits on other topics from local life and history.

When you’ve burned off your breakfast, enjoy an all-American lunch of burgers and fries at The Run of the Mill Tavern, a short walk from Main Street, and a frequent winner of "Best Burgers" and "Best Bar Food" honors in local award polls. Situated by the Jenney Grist Mill, overlooking spring-fed Town Brook, a 370-year-old water wheel provides a beautiful view, and the wisecracking wait staff provides entertainment while you eat.

Next, hop in the car and head a few miles west to visit Plymouth Colony Winery for a cranberry bog tour and samples of their "Cranberry Grande," "Bog Blanc," and "Colonial Red" varieties of vino. Pick up a bottle (or two, or three) to take home and sip some night while you look through your photos of Plymouth’s landmarks.

Late afternoon is a great time to stroll Plymouth Center and the waterfront. Main Street is lined with all manner of shops, including antiques dealers, art galleries, import stores, chic boutiques, a chocolatier, and Common Sense, which sells natural foods and furniture made from reclaimed wood. Don’t neglect the short streets that connect Main Street to Water Street. On these narrow ways are specialty shops and houses hundreds of years old and are open to the public as museums. Soak up the sea air and harbor views by winding up your walk at the northern end of Water Street in Village Landing Marketplace, where you can create a remembrance of Plymouth at Not Simply Beads. A bracelet or necklace crafted from beads and ornaments you’ve selected is a unique and meaningful souvenir to treasure.

When it’s dinnertime, seafood lovers will find it worth a quick drive up Samoset Street (Route 44) to revel in the aquatic atmosphere of Sushi Joy. Sit at the bar and watch the chefs’ fingers fly as they work their magic on the edible artwork. Or, take a table and explore the full menu of Japanese and Korean soups, entrees and desserts. If fish is not your thing, you’ll find authentic Indian, Thai, Italian, TexMex and more in town.

As night falls, sign up with the spirits of Dead of Night Ghost Tours. The guides on the Twilight Lantern Tour will lead you on a 90-minute narrated walk around Plymouth’s spookiest sites and cemeteries, the town’s oldest streets and buildings, and the scenes of long-ago crimes and legendary curses. Haunted? Maybe! For families, or those looking for more fun than fright, Dead of Night offers a Scavenger Hunt Tour and a History Tour.

After phantom-hunting, make your last stop in Plymouth a nightcap at The Cabby Shack on Town Wharf. It’s the most popular nightspot in town, known for its hip atmosphere, live music and tempting midnight snacks. Pizza is Cabby’s trademark, and the fried calamari appetizer is divine.

Hundreds of years of history and hundreds of things to see and do, all within a hundred square miles: Plymouth is the place to spend your perfect day.

What and Where:
The Blueberry Muffin
(2298 State Rd; 508-888-9444)
Pilgrim Hall Museum (75 Court Street 508-746-1620)
Run of the Mill Tavern (6 Spring Lane 508-830-1262)
Jenney Grist Mill (6 Spring Lane 508-747-4544)
Plymouth Colony Winery (56 Pinewood Road 508-747-3334)
Not Simply Beads (170 Water Street 508-747-9222)
Sushi Joy (148 Samoset Street 508-732-9288)
Dead of Night Ghost Tours ( 508-866-5111)
The Cabby Shack (30 Town Wharf Road 508-746-5354)
Plymouth Philharmonic (16 Court Street 508-746-8008)

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About the Author

Norma Walsh
Norma Walsh was born, raised, and educated in Boston. She is a freelance writer who has lived in Plymouth since 1999.

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