Are you curious about a day trip to Plymouth? You’ve come to the right place as we have everything you need to know for the day!
As seasoned globe-trotters, we’re here to share with you one of our delightful day-long stops during our grand Massachusetts adventure.
Today, we’re venturing into the historical heart of America – the picturesque city of Plymouth.
You might be wondering, “Should I visit Plymouth if I only have one day to spare?”
As people who’ve devoted their lives to exploring the world, hopping from one city to the next, we can confidently tell you that a day in Plymouth is well spent.
We have navigated the globe, but our hearts always find their way back to the quaint cities that remind us that the most incredible adventures aren’t always in the most exotic locations.
So, buckle up, and let’s embark on this journey together. And remember, in the world of travel and exploration, no day is too short to make memories that last a lifetime!
Day Trip to Plymouth, Ma, Itinerary
We have created an itinerary that should keep you busy all day.
But remember that this is YOUR trip and if you want to be more leisurely than we were, hit up the stops that interest you most and forget the rest.
Activities In Plymouth In The Morning
You will want to spend the entire day in Plymouth if you can.
Start your day by arriving in the city early; we suggest no later than 9 am if you want to accomplish most of our suggested itinerary.
1. Mayflower II
The Mayflower II is a replica of the original Mayflower ship. The Mayflower carried the Pilgrims from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.
The second Mayflower was built in 1956 in England. Like the original, it sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the US in 1957.
The ship is open for tours and offers visitors a chance to learn about the history of the Pilgrims and their journey to America.
One thing we weren’t expecting was just how tiny the Mayflower is. We can’t even fathom being on a boat this size with 100 other people.
And for as many as nine weeks before landing in the New World!
2. Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock is one of the most iconic symbols in American history.
If you didn’t know, the first settlers didn’t mention the rock in Plymouth.
In fact, it wasn’t brought up until 1715 when a rock was used to describe the town boundary in a letter.
Plymouth Rock is said to be the spot where the Pilgrims set foot on American soil for the first time. But this actually isn’t true, as they technically stopped in what is now Provincetown on the peninsula first.
There is a possibility that they may have used this rock in Plymouth as a stepping stone to get off the boat, but no one knows for sure.
The rock has been moved several times over the years.
It even broke in half during a move to the Town Square in 1774, leaving the rock in two locations for over 100 years. The two parts were rejoined in 1880 at their current location, and the date was carved.
Today, you will find the rock under a granite canopy shelter to protect it.
We have heard from others that they were extremely disappointed with the rock. We can see that. It is, after all, just a rock. You only need a few minutes to look at and get a few photos.
But how do you come to Plymouth and skip seeing Plymouth Rock? You don’t.
Just set your expectations before arriving that it is a boulder with a date. But what it signifies is so much more.
3. Cole’s Hill Burial Ground
The Cole’s Hill Burial Ground is a national historic landmark and the first cemetery used by the Pilgrims in Plymouth. And it is a must-see on a day trip to Plymouth.
If you head up the hill, you will find a granite sarcophagus on display containing skeletal remains of what is believed to be many of the Pilgrims who died that first winter. The remains were dug up accidentally in later years.
The burial ground also contains a statue of Massasoit. He was the Wampanoag tribe leader vital to the Pilgrims’ survival those first few years.
Today, the Cole’s Hill Burial Ground is a reminder of the strength and resilience of the Pilgrims.
It also symbolizes the friendship between two very different groups of people.
📎 Tip: Besides its historical value, Cole’s Hill also has excellent harbor views. From the higher vantage point, you can see a nice view of the Plymouth rock granite structure from above.
4. Leyden St & Old Homes
Leyden Street is one of the most iconic and historic streets in America. It was initially known as First Street, where the Pilgrims built their first homes.
Leyden Street is considered the oldest inhabited street from the original thirteen colonies.
While none of the original homes still stand, the current houses are still quite old (from the 1700s and 1800s). Many have plagues about what home used to sit on that homesite, providing a look into the days of the Pilgrims.
In addition, the street is unique in how close the homes sit together and the small size of the lots. This is because it is based on the original land division from the settlers in 1620.
It’s a beautiful street with a lot of character, and it’s worth walking down it to take a look.
☘️ Fun fact: The first Thanksgiving was thought to have been held around this location in 1621.
Afternoon Attractions For Your Day Out In Plymouth
Take some time for lunch wherever pleases your palette and then begin your afternoon activities.
5. Brewster Gardens
Brewster Gardens is our next recommendation for your day trip to Plymouth. Established in the 1920s, it sits on a garden plot from one of the original Pilgrims, Elder William Brewster.
The gardens are home to various plants, flowers, a babbling brook, bridges, and walking paths.
If your feet hurt, take a break on one of the benches. Or look at the statues dedicated to Plymouth’s history, including the Pilgrim Maiden Statue.
We enjoyed seeing what we could find along the brook. Not only did we spot some birds and fish, but we also found a turtle or two.
While the gardens are a perfect place to enjoy some downtime, we recommend you use them as the pathway to get from Leyden Street (or your lunch stop) to your next activity, the Grist Mill.
6. Plimoth Grist Mill
The Plimoth Grist Mill is a reconstructed mill that offers visitors a chance to see how flour was made in the days of the settlers.
The original mill dates back to 1636. It was essential to the Pilgrims, who used the mill to grind corn into flour.
Unfortunately, the mill burned down in 1837. The replica you see today was built in 1970, but care was taken to see that it works as it once did.
During our visit, we spent time outside watching the water wheel that powers the mill stones. Then we headed inside to see how the corn was ground into flour. It was fascinating to see how it all worked.
In addition to watching the process, the mill has a shop where you can purchase freshly-made flour and other goods.
7. Plimoth Patuxet
Plimoth Patuxet is an interactive, living museum that offers visitors the chance to experience life in early America. Split into two areas, you can visit the 17th Century English Village and the Historic Patuxet as part of your visit.
The English Village is a recreation of the original Plymouth settlement. It’s staffed by people who dress and act like they’re from that period.
It’s interesting to see how they lived and worked, and it’s an excellent opportunity to ask questions about what life was like back then.
Historic Patuxet allows visitors to explore the history and culture of the Native American people that lived in the area at the time of the Mayflower landing.
There are some interactive exhibits and opportunities to learn about cooking and building canoes from local Native Americans.
If you arrive by around 2:30 pm, you should have plenty of time to look around. While you could certainly find things to keep you busy for a full day, we feel 2-3 hours will be plenty for the average person.
📎 Tip: Combo tickets to Plimoth Patuxet, Mayflower II, and Plimoth Grist Mill are available and will save you a bit. You can choose to do all three or pick one activity to do with Plimoth Patuxet.
8. Sacrifice Rock
Did you know there is another rock in Plymouth besides Plymouth Rock?
Sacrifice Rock is a significant historical landmark in Plymouth, Ma, related to the local Native American tribe. The rock was used by the Wampanoag tribe long before the Pilgrims ever arrived.
As Native American travelers passed through what would later be Plymouth, they would leave a small token, like branches or stones, atop the rock. It is believed to have signified a sacrifice and asking for safe passage along the route.
There was at one time a significant stick creation from the generations of travelers who had left their offerings. Unfortunately, it burned down long ago.
While similar to Plymouth Rock in that it is just a boulder to look at for a few minutes, it is worthy of a stop.
It is essential to realize that there is history in the area that is not just about the Pilgrims. There was another culture here thriving before settlers arrived, and that history is also important.
Plymouth, Ma, Tourist Attractions For The Evening
Now that evening is upon us; you have some decisions to make. Dinner is a must, but we have two options for after that you can choose from to end your day.
9. Dinner at the Waterfront
The waterfront district of Plymouth is teeming with dining options that offer culinary delights.
This area is known for its fresh, locally-sourced seafood, so this is your chance to indulge in some of the best clam chowder, lobster rolls, and fish and chips in New England.
One of the gems here is Wood’s Seafood.
Nestled in the heart of the historic Plymouth Harbor, this restaurant offers tantalizing dishes and panoramic views of the waterfront, the bustling Plymouth Rock marina, and the shimmering sea beyond.
The serene beauty of the sunset here is second to none.
Or try the Waterfront Bar and Grill.
This stylish restaurant features an outdoor seating area perfect for those long, warm summer nights.
You can enjoy a wide range of dishes, from classic seafood platters to inventive contemporary cuisine, all while basking in the peaceful ambiance of the harbor lights reflecting off the water.
Dining at the waterfront in Plymouth is more than just a meal; it’s an experience.
The aroma of the fresh catch from the ocean, the sight of the sun setting over the calm water, the sound of the waves lightly crashing against the docks, and the taste of the authentic New England flavors – all come together to create an unforgettable evening in this historic city.
10. Option 1: Ghost Tour
After dinner, prepare for an evening of intrigue and a dash of spine-chilling excitement.
The Plymouth Night Tour isn’t just your ordinary city walk—it’s an immersive journey into the eerie past of one of America’s oldest towns.
Once the sun sets and the streets grow quiet, a different side of Plymouth comes alive.
The tour is led by expert guides who are not only well-versed in local history, but are also great storytellers.
As they lead you through shadowy lanes and moonlit paths, they weave tales of actual historical events with accounts of ghostly sightings and unexplained occurrences, turning familiar streets into a backdrop for the supernatural.
One of the key highlights is Burial Hill, one of the oldest cemeteries in Plymouth. As you walk among the tombstones dating back to the 17th century, the chilling tales of those who rest here will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
The tour perfectly blends history, mystery, and just the right amount of fright for an unforgettable night in Plymouth.
Just remember, you’ve been warned; expect a few goosebumps along the way!
11. Option 2: Stargazing At Myles Standish State Forest
As your day in Plymouth comes to a close, there’s no better way to end it than with a tranquil escape to the nearby Myles Standish State Forest for a stargazing session.
A short drive from Plymouth, this state forest covers over 16,000 acres of pine barrens and scattered kettle ponds, creating a unique and serene environment largely devoid of light pollution.
This makes it an ideal location for observing the night sky in all its grandeur.
As your eyes adjust, the stars begin to twinkle into view. Constellations start to take shape, and if you’re lucky and the conditions are right, you might even glimpse a shooting star.
On a moonless night, the Milky Way spreads across the sky like a luminous ribbon, a sight for amateur and experienced stargazers alike.
Stargazing at Myles Standish State Forest is an experience that connects you with nature and the universe beyond, providing a beautiful and profound conclusion to your day in Plymouth.
Places To Go In Plymouth If You Have More Time Or Want To Swap Stops
Did you finish early? Or just aren’t interested in one of the options we provided? Here are a couple of alternatives to spend your time.
12. First Parish Church
The First Parish Church in Plymouth is a historic church that has been around since the early days of the Plymouth colony and is often cited as one of the oldest churches in the U.S.
The church was founded in 1620, though the building that can be seen today is not the original.
There have been five versions of the building to sit at this location. The Pilgrims initially started with a small, simple wooden structure.
Today, you see the final version, built in 1899, after the previous version burned in a fire.
The buildings have played an essential role in the history of Plymouth, serving as both church services and a meeting hall.
If you stop by the church and can look inside, take note of the windows that tell the story of the Pilgrims.
📎 Tip: Make sure you swing by Burial Hill, located right behind the church. This cemetery has markers so old they are now unreadable.
13. Pilgrim Hall Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about the Pilgrims who came to America in 1620, the Pilgrim Hall Museum is a must-visit.
The museum is home to the world’s most extensive collection of Pilgrim artifacts. It offers visitors a chance to learn about every aspect of their lives.
You can see everything from tools and furniture to documents and books. The museum even has items like a cradle and sword known to have been on the Mayflower voyage from England.
You can also find exhibits about the Wampanoag tribe. How they interacted with and helped the Pilgrims during those first years was critical to their survival.
And if all those artifacts aren’t interesting enough, you can touch a small hunk of Plymouth Rock during your visit.
Rundown Of The Places To Go In Plymouth
Whew! That was a lot, right? Let’s recap it into a concise list to make things easier on the go.
Recap Of Your Day Out In Plymouth
- Morning Plans:
- Mayflower II
- Plymouth Rock
- Cole’s Hill Burial Ground
- Leyden St & the Old Homes
- Afternoon Plans:
- Brewster Gardens
- Plimoth Grist Mill
- Plimoth Patuxet
- Sacrifice Rock
- Evening Plans:
- Dinner At The Waterfront
- Option 1: Ghost Tour
- Option 2: Stargazing at Myles Standish State Forest
- Extras/Other Options: First Parish Church & Pilgrim Hall Museum
Map For Spending One Day in Plymouth
We love a good map, don’t you? We have created this one just for you with all our attractions marked.
The purple icons indicate the stops we think you will have time for and are the ones we highly recommend you stop during your one day in Plymouth.
The light green icons indicate the extra options we provided in case you have extra time or want to swap something out due to a lack of interest.
Where To Stay In Plymouth
We recommend staying the night if possible so you can enjoy the evening activities without feeling rushed to head back to a nearby city. Here are some options.
Luxury 💵 💵 💵 – Mirbeau Inn & Spa
- Offers an expansive, state-of-the-art spa facility where you can unwind and enjoy a variety of treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps
- Boasts an exceptional on-site restaurant, serving delicious gourmet meals prepared using locally-sourced ingredients
- Provides a beautiful, tranquil setting with Monet-inspired gardens, a lily pond, and beautiful architecture
Mid-Range 💵 💵 – Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
- Hotel’s location is perfect for exploring Plymouth as it is conveniently situated near top attractions like Plymouth Rock, Plimoth Plantation, and the Mayflower II
- Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast, high-speed Wi-Fi, and access to a fitness center and indoor pool
- Rooms and suites offer comfortable bedding and contemporary design
Budget 💵 – Holiday Inn Express
- Offers excellent accommodations at a more affordable price point, making it a great choice for budget-conscious travelers
- Part of a well-known hotel chain so you can expect consistent, high-quality service and amenities, including a complimentary breakfast and 24-hour business center
- The location provides easy access to the highway, making it simple to reach Plymouth’s attractions, as well as nearby cities if you want to make Plymouth your hub
Best Ways To Get Around Plymouth
Plymouth’s downtown area is perfect for walking. In fact, 80% of our suggested itinerary can be done by walking between the sites as they are quite close.
Plus, walking around the city allows you to stumble across other historic sites we didn’t mention in our post that may draw your attention.
We chose to walk, and while we were there on a scorching hot summer day, we don’t regret it.
If we had been driving, we wouldn’t have seen some of the incredible buildings and homes we just happened upon as we walked from one place to the next.
Regarding our day trip to Plymouth itinerary, the only options you don’t want to walk to are Plimoth Patuxet and Sacrifice Rock. These will be a bit far as they are 3+ miles from the city center.
If you want to do less walking, you can hop on a shuttle during the summer months of July and August. It will take you to all the popular spots, including Plimoth Patuxet.
You can also grab an Uber or Lyft.
Heading to Plymouth On A Tour
If you are in Boston and choose not to rent a car, have no fear! You can still visit Plymouth on an exciting and fun tour for one day.
Immerse yourself in the rich history of New England by taking a full-day guided tour from Boston to Plymouth.
This trip, which includes pickup from select hotels, lets you explore the iconic sites of Massachusetts without any of the stress of driving or navigating.
Your day starts with a scenic drive through Quincy, the birthplace of two U.S. Presidents, and continues along the beautiful South Shore coastal area.
Upon arriving in Plymouth, you’ll get a glimpse of life in the 17th century at the Plimoth Plantation Museum with a skip-the-line ticket. You will then visit Plymouth Harbor, view the famous Plymouth Rock, and have some free time for lunch (not included in the tour price).
A tour of the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to the New World, is also included in your itinerary. It’s an immersive way to learn the fascinating history of the Pilgrims.
The tour concludes with a stop in Scituate to view the historic Scituate Lighthouse and a drive through other coastal towns, offering you a chance to marvel at the stunning coastline and lavish mansions lining the way.
Tips For Your One Day In Plymouth
Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your day trip to Plymouth.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
You will be doing a lot of walking in Plymouth.
Fortunately, most of the historically relevant locations you visit are relatively close together.
But you will still be moving and on your feet the entire day. So wear shoes you know you will be comfortable in all day.
Spend Some Time Wandering
Our suggestions will keep you busy for your day in Plymouth. But one of the best things we did during our visit was spend a bit of time just wandering around.
In fact, seeing Leyden Street was pure luck as we hadn’t heard of it before our visit and found it because we were nearby at Brewster Park.
While we have filled your day with options, give yourself time to wander and look around as you see fit.
Don’t Fret If You Can’t See It All
We have made this itinerary based on what we did on our day trip to Plymouth. Just like you, we only had one day to see the city.
But everyone spends different amounts of time at museums, etc., based on their interests. And you may want to spend more time just wandering around than we did (we spent about an hour after lunch).
So pick the top sites you want to see and hit those first.
If the day gets away from you and you haven’t seen everything, that is OK. You can always come back in the future!
Day Trips Near Plymouth
Looking for other places to see in the area? Maybe you are making Plymouth your hub and branching out from here.
But here are a couple of options you may not have thought of.
If you want to continue a historical tour regarding the Pilgrims, Provincetown is the perfect spot to head next.
Located at Cape Cod’s tip, the Pilgrims first landed here on their journey to the New World.
The landing is commemorated with the tallest granite tower in the U.S. Climb to the top for stunning views.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Also located on Cape Cod, the Cape Cod National Seashore has some beautiful beaches (6 in total!).
If you want a fun, relaxing day in the sun, this trip is perfect.
If you don’t want to lounge in the sun, consider looking at all the lighthouses along the shoreline. Or do some hiking or birdwatching.
It’s a great place to get out in nature after spending time in the local cities.
FAQs For Visiting Plymouth, Ma
Let’s answer some common questions about Plymouth.
What Is Plymouth Known For?
Plymouth, Massachusetts, is known as the site of the first Pilgrim settlement in 1620 and the celebrated location of Plymouth Rock. It’s recognized for its rich history, including landmarks like the Mayflower II replica, Plimoth Patuxet, and its picturesque New England coastal charm.
What Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Plymouth, Ma?
The best time to visit Plymouth, Ma, is from late spring through fall (May to October). These months offer pleasant weather. This makes it ideal for exploring historical sites, enjoying the waterfront, and participating in outdoor activities. Autumn is particularly scenic due to vibrant fall foliage.
Is Plymouth, Ma, Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Plymouth, Ma, is a significant historical destination worth visiting. It’s home to iconic landmarks like Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II, offers engaging tours like the Plimoth Patuxet, and provides a charming New England coastal experience with beautiful views, local cuisine, and opportunities for outdoor activities.
Is It Free To See Plymouth Rock?
Yes, it’s free to see Plymouth Rock. The monument in Pilgrim Memorial State Park is open to the public without charge. However, other attractions in the area, such as the Mayflower II have admission fees.
Which Is Better, Jamestown Or Plymouth?
Choosing between Jamestown and Plymouth depends on personal interests. As the first permanent English settlement in America, Jamestown offers rich history centered on early colonial and Native American life. Plymouth, known for the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock, provides a unique glimpse into the lives of early European settlers. Both locations offer significant historical insight.
To Finish – Best Things To See On A Day Trip To Plymouth
Concluding a day trip to Plymouth, you’ll find yourself rich in experiences that span the tapestry of America’s earliest history.
From standing on the same ground as the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, boarding the recreated Mayflower II, and stepping back in time at Plimoth Patuxet living museum, Plymouth truly is a treasure trove of historical wonder.
As the sun sets over this charming coastal town, you’re left with a deeper understanding of our nation’s roots, unforgettable memories, and perhaps a newfound appreciation for the adventure that is American history.