Erin Taylor, December 2014
Ask Kristin. I am a curmudgeon of tourist. I sneer at the gift shops, recoil at the fellow visitors replete with whining teenagers and their fanny-packed parents. So, as we planned our trip to Plymouth, I dreaded the notion of visiting Plimoth Plantation on a Saturday in November. I’m all for historic preservation, but seriously questioned the quality of historic reenactments. For the record, “Plimoth” is the spelling Governor Bradford used in his history of the colony.
Attitude, camera, and notebook in hand, I headed down to the 1627 “authentic” Plimoth village and was immediately smitten. Kudos to the nonprofit Plimoth Plantation for an engaging and transformative experience. I was especially impressed with the reenactors and their training (a new source of fascination for Kristin and myself). If there is an international standard for reenacting history, I’d wager Plimoth is setting it. Do visit – with your children or students especially – and live some American history.
Certainly, the museum needs to fund itself so there is the usual array of retail – ye old tyme thermal mug, authentic colonial fudge (cocoa wouldn’t be seen in New England for at least another century). But these are kept at a tasteful distance from the reenactment sites. And, in full, ashamed disclosure, I skipped the Wampanoag village (Native American) as I was so intent on spending time in a home similar to Alice Martin Bishop’s.
Plimoth Plantation is not in Plymouth town proper, nowhere near Burial Hill or Plymouth Rock. However, it is just a short drive from there and the museum is open seven days a week beginning at 9:00 a.m. (excluding a few holidays). One disappointment was that I was never able to connect with an educator – despite buying an annual membership, despite trying to prearrange this. I was also not as impressed with the Mayflower II although it is slated for renovation before the 2020 400th anniversary. Plimoth Plantation also owns the re-created Mayflower ship, which harbors just a block from Plymouth Rock. The ship itself is engaging and certainly dissuades anyone from romantic notions of transatlantic travel of yore. It’s the dockside entrance that looks like seventh grade stage design.
I spent six hours across two days but, I think it’s clear, I’m a little more obsessed than others. Walking through the actual settlement site (ca. 1627) with time to speak to the reenactors can probably be accomplished in two hours. There are other posts sharing what we learned from seeing the re-created homes. Make sure to ask lots of questions, make time for the natives, and enjoy the anachronistic fudge.