At Thanksgiving, thoughts soon turn to the bountiful feast shared centuries ago by Pilgrims and Indians, and Plymouth, Mass., sails into full view.
At Plymouth's waterfront is the Mayflower II, a reproduction of the 16th century ship that brought the Pilgrims to the New World. A few steps away is Plymouth Rock.
At Plimoth Plantation, it is 1627. Museum staff take on the identities of the original inhabitants and "live" in the thatched and clapboarded houses, with dirt floors, straw mattresses and fires burning in open hearths. An exhibit, "Thanksgiving: Memory, Myth & Meaning," traces the history of Thanksgiving from present-day customs back to the 1621 harvest feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, the native people who lived alongside the colonists in the 1620s. Hobbamock's Homesite, a re-created home of a Wampanoag family, is a short walk from the Pilgrim Village. Native people wearing traditional clothing and performing traditional crafts and skills of the Wampanoag speak from a modern perspective about the history and culture of the Wampanoag. (Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Nov. 27. Admission: adults $21; children (6-12) $12; ages 5 and under free; seniors $19. Pass is for two consecutive days. A Combination Ticket is available, which includes the two-day pass to Plimoth Plantation and a one-day pass to board the Mayflower II. Adults $24; children (6-12) $14; age 5 and under free; seniors $21.)
Head back to the waterfront and the Mayflower II, where role-players will tell you about life aboard the Mayflower and modern-day staff will answer technical questions about the historic voyage and the reproduction ship. A new exhibit, "Provisioning a Ship," addresses the difficulties that packing for a journey to the New World presented. Mayflower II admission: adults $8; children $6, and seniors $7 (or see combination ticket at Plimoth Plantation)
View authentic Pilgrims' possessions, such as dishes from the Miles Standish household, a white cradle, an original Pilgrim hat, the Bradford Bible, a portrait of Pilgrim Edward Winslow painted during his lifetime, and some of the earliest-known American-made samplers at Pilgrim Hall Museum on Main Street. Open through Dec. 31. Adults $6; children ages 5-17 $3.
Historic houses, a wax museum devoted to the Pilgrim story with more than 180 life-size wax figures, and America's only Cranberry Museum are a few of the sites within walking distance of each other in historic Plymouth.
Colonial Lantern Tours offer a unique way to see Plymouth -- by lantern light. Call 800-698-5636 or visit www.lanterntours.com.
WHERE TO EAT AND STAY
Plimoth Plantation guests can enjoy quick-service dining at the Visitors' Center daily. Featured are a turkey dinner, beef or turkey roll-ups and the "Turkey Gobbler" -- turkey, cornbread stuffing, lettuce, tomato, and cranberry mayo on a roll.
On Thanksgiving Day, by reservation only, are a Thanksgiving Day buffet and a Victorian Thanksgiving dinner. Reservations are taken beginning June 1 and, although this year's events are sold out, a Thanksgiving meal is available in the courtyard 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis for $16.99 a person. Homemade breads, wood-pressed apple cider, deli sandwiches and more are available at the museum without reservations.
Stay at the John Carver Inn in the heart of Plymouth. The Pilgrim Theme Pool, with an 80-foot slide, waterfall, island hot-tub and water cannon, would have been a no-no for Calvinistic 17th century Pilgrims, but for 21st century pilgrims, it's a go. On-site dining at the Hearth & Kettle Restaurant. Rates start at $149 a night. Ask about the Family Vacation Package, which includes a $30 dining voucher. Call 800-274-1620 for reservations.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer.
A pilgrimage to Plymouth
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