The Mayflower Society House is an 18th century mansion overlooking Plymouth Harbor.
The Mayflower Society House is an 18th century mansion overlooking Plymouth Harbor.
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Plymouth is most famous for a rock — Plymouth Rock.

Plymouth, where the Mayflower pilgrims disembarked and began Plymouth Colony in 1620, is where the Thanksgiving tradition was born. But this charming seaside town also boasts historic homes, a living history museum, tasty wineries, fun festivals, and more. We give you five reasons to go there.

Plymouth Rock

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The historic Plymouth Rock draws 1 million visitors each year.
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Plymouth Rock may not be much to look at. In fact, we’ve heard many feel underwhelmed when they first see it. And, sure, it’s not even where the Pilgrims first landed(they landed first in Provincetown a month earlier). But there’s no denying it’s an important symbol of American history. Plymouth Rock marks the place where the Mayflower pilgrims began Plymouth Colony, the first permanent European settlement in New England. And it draws nearly 1 million visitors each year, according to seeplymouth.com. The historic boulder sits on the shore of the Plymouth Harbor in Pilgrim Memorial State Park (which also houses the National Monument to the Forefathers), one of the most visited state parks in Massachusetts. But did you know it's been moved, dropped, chipped, and broken? Read about the rock’s interesting journey over the centuries.

The Historic Homes

If you enjoy strolling through history-laden homes built centuries ago, Plymouth is the place for you. These old homes, many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places, are open for tours during the summer.

The Mayflower Society House is an 18th century mansion overlooking Plymouth Harbor. Tours take place daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult tickets are $7, tickets for kids ages 12 to 18 are $5, and tickets for kids 12 and under are free. The 1809 Hedge House is a splendid example of Federal period architecture with a rare intact carriage house. Tours are offered regularly during the summer, or by special appointment. The 1677 Harlow Old Fort House is one of the few remaining 17th century buildings. Tours take place every Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m. June through August. The 17th century Jabez Howland House is the only house in Plymouth where Pilgrims actually lived. Guided tours run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Columbus Day. The 1749 Spooner House is one of the oldest structures on North Street. Call for tour hours.

The Wineries

Sip wines produced from locally grown, native grapes and berries while gazing at the picturesque Plymouth Harbor at Plymouth Bay Winery. Be sure to taste the Cranberry Blush wine, a summer favorite. Owners Michael and Pam Carr are eager to share stories and recipes with you. They also sell creatively-named dips made from their wines, available for tasting as well (“Wicked Pissah” or “New England Sunrise,” anyone?).

Wines from Plymouth Bay Winery.
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Or head down the street to Plymouth Winery, tucked in the quaint Village Landing Marketplace (just steps away from Plymouth Rock), where owner Linda Shumway will pour her award-winning fruit and grape wines. Hers is one of the few New England wineries that produces Diamond Wine, which has the intense flavor of fresh table grapes. Cheers!

Plimoth Plantation

Step back in time to 1627, seven years after the arrival of the Mayflower. Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum (which retains the original spelling of the town) where you can explore a 17th century village and experience how the Pilgrims and Native Americans lived.

for Travel - 03newengland - A single dirt path serves as the main street of the 1627 English settlement at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. (David Lyon for The Boston Globe)
A single dirt path serves as the main street of the 1627 English settlement at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth.
David Lyon for The Boston Globe

Costumed role players take you through the homes, gardens, stores, and more. Visit the Wampanoag Homesite to learn about the Wampanoag Indians, who were already settled in this area when the Pilgrims arrived. Native staff in period clothing share tales about the history and culture of their people. Visit the Nye Barn to see historic breeds of sheep, goats, and cows. Tour the Plimoth Grist Mill. And don’t forget to tour the Mayflower II, an replica of the Mayflower. Finally, why not catch an independent film at Plimoth Cinema, located inside the Plimoth Plantation Visitor Center. Showtimes are daily from 4:30 to 7 p.m. See what’s playing this summer. Prices vary at each attraction.

Festivals and parades

Plymouth’s waterfront will come alive this August when the Downtown Plymouth Waterfront Festival takes place August 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The festival will feature more than 230 artisan and craft booths that offer everything from art to jewelry to clothing to food. There will also be food vendors, two stages of live entertainment, a car show, children’s activities, and more. And, best of all, it’s free!

In the fall, check out Plymouth’s big Thanksgiving bash, “America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration” November 21-23. The party includes a parade, food, crafts, children’s activities, and live entertainment all weekend long.