Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pilgrim Memorial State Park, Plymouth, Massachusetts

It's actually kind of easy to not realize you are visiting the Pilgrim Memorial State Park since it's so small and it's not much like many of the other State Parks in Massachusetts. There really is no entrance or anything to specifically call out the park. Instead, the 11-acre park encompasses Plymouth Rock along with other portions of the immediate shore front in the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. It's also adjacent to or close to several of the major attractions in the village of Plymouth.

Why a State Park for a rock? Plymouth is where the Pilgrims first landed in the new world and set up their first colony. Plymouth Rock, within the park is supposedly the rock where the Pilgrims made anchor. This park protects the rock and the immediate area around it and is host to the replica of the Pilgrims' ship.

How do I get there?
If you've made your way to Plymouth, just off of Route 3 in Massachusetts, it's quite easy to find the Pilgrim Memorial State Park, just follow Route 44 to the waterfront and then follow the signs for Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II. During the summer there really isn't that much parking available and you'll probably have to use a municipal lot elsewhere in town and then walk down to the waterfront. In the off-season, it's a lot easier to park near the park, though there really isn't any dedicated parking areas, just on-street parking in the immediate area.

What's there to see?

The biggest attraction is Plymouth Rock. This small boulder is protected by a granite monument that surrounds the boulder. You look down on the boulder, which, unlike the history and myths that surround it, is not all that amazing. My first thought was "that's it," when I saw it. However there is some important history that surrounds the boulder and it is worth seeing.

The park is also home to the Mayflower II, which is a replica of the original Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to the new world. Even though you have to pay a fee to explore the ship, I think it's worth it. I found it to be amazing at just how small the ship was for all the colonists, their supplies and their animals.

In addition, the park is adjacent to the Brewster Gardens, which are home to the springs that provided fresh water for the Pilgrims and provided an area for their first gardens. This is also part of the Pilgrim Trail, which lets you explore a number of different sites in Plymouth including the gardens and the haunted cemetery at Burial Hill.

What's there to do?

Pilgrim Memorial State Park is one of those "do it yourself" kind of parks. There isn't much in the way of guided tours or anything, but there are plenty of interpretive signs at Plymouth Rock and in front of the Mayflower II. There's no cost to explore Plymouth Rock, but if you wish to board the Mayflower II, there is an admission fee.

You can explore the waterfront area of Plymouth and for those who love souvenirs, during the peak seasons, there is a small gift shop that is open between Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II.

In addition there are public bathrooms available in the park.

Final Thoughts

Since the park is so small, there is not all that to it. That said, it is host to two different amazing pieces of our history. The first being Plymouth Rock itself and the second being the replica of the Mayflower, the Mayflower II. Both of these are worth seeing on their own and considering they are in the same park, I think that it is definitely worth traveling to Plymouth and visiting the park and its attractions.

More Plymouth, Massachusetts attractions and sites of interest

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