Thanksgiving in Plymouth

The pilgrims first set foot in Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts in 1620. One year later, the pilgrims and Wampanoags Indians celebrated the harvest with a feast in November, the first Thanksgiving Day. Four hundred years later, spending Thanksgiving in Plymouth is a fantastic way to observe this holiday devoted to giving thanks.

View of Plymouth and Plymouth Harbor

The town of Plymouth is only 40 miles south of Boston, so it makes a great day trip from the city.

Many businesses were closed on Thanksgiving, even in Plymouth. However, we found a few gift shops and a place to eat lunch.

Gift shop and restaurant store fronts in Plymouth, MA.

Plymouth Rock

We started our day trip in Plymouth, where it all began, Plymouth Rock.

Thanksgiving in Plymouth: View of Plymouth Rock with 1620 carved in the rock.

Plymouth Rock is located in Pilgrim Memorial State Park. The park also includes other points of interest, such as the Mayflower II, Pilgrim Mother Fountain, Massasoit Statue, the William Bradford Statue, and the Pilgrim Sarcophagus.

Sarcophagus with remains of Pilgrims on Thanksgiving in Plymouth

Plymouth Rock is housed under a portico and surrounded by a fence.

Thanksgiving in Plymouth view of the portico under which Plymouth Rock lies

During our visit, park interpreters were on-site to talk about the history of the rock, including the crack and subsequent repair.

Plimoth Patuxet Museums

After viewing Plymouth Rock, we toured the Mayflower II. This replica of the original Mayflower is one of the sites operated by Plimoth Pauxsite Museums.

View of the Mayflower II ship on Thanksgiving in Plymouth

I highly recommend a tour of Mayflower II. It gives visitors a better idea of the hardships and cramped conditions crew and passengers experienced on their journey to America. Interpreters were onsight to answer questions and provide additional information.

View inside the stern of the Mayflower II on Thanksgiving in Plymouth

We enjoyed lunch at Tavern on the Wharf, down the street from the Mayflower II. They serve Thanksgiving fare for the holiday. However, we planned to eat our traditional meal at dinner. So I opted for my favorite northeast seafood, lobster.

A lobster grilled cheese sandwhich with bacon, lettuce, and avocado and fries
Lobster Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Truffle Fries. YUM!!!

The highlight of our visit to Plymouth was the Plimoth Patuxet Museums. You might wonder, as I did, about the spelling. The museum uses the historical spelling of the Plimoth.

The Plimoth Patuxet Museums includes multiple sites to give visitors an idea of the life of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. Exhibits include the 17th Century English Village, Grist Mill, the Mayflower II, and the Patuxet Homesite.

Large round mill stone at the Grist Mill

In addition to the Mayflower II, we toured the Grist Mill, English Village, and Patuxet Homesite. Each exhibit featured interpreters or actors to explain daily life in the Plymouth Colony.

Wood home with thatched roof and 2 women in period costumes at Plimouth Patuxet Museums.

Thanksgiving in Plymouth: Dinner

Plimoth Patuxet Museums offers special dining programs on Thanksgiving Day to commemorate the first Thanksgiving. We were fortunate enough to reserve tickets for the 6 pm seating for the Thanksgiving buffet. While some walkup tickets may be available, most are sold months before Thanksgiving Day.

Chart showing Pokanoket vs English attendees at the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.

Seating was pre-assigned at this Thanksgiving dinner in Plymouth, so we were at a table with two other families. We enjoyed dining with the other families and exchanging stories of Thanksgiving traditions.

Thanksgiving dinner plate with turkey, dressing, beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and cornbread

The buffet included traditional holiday favorites. Options included carrots, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad, cornbread, beef, turkey and dressing, and of course, pie.

Piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top at Thanksgiving in Plymouth

Our traditional Thanksgiving meal was an incredible way to end our Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth. I now have a different perspective on this holiday which I’ll carry with me for many Thanksgivings to come.

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