Anyone who attended a public school in southeastern Massachusetts probably remembers (fondly or not) the annual school day trip to Plymouth, MA. It was here, after a brief stop in Provincetown, where Myles Standish and the passengers aboard the Mayflower landed in 1620, bringing the first official party of Europeans to found a new nation.
Plymouth is still a great town to visit by boat, and the conditions awaiting the modern-day captain and crew will be a lot more welcoming than the harsh winters and scary neighbors that Standish et al found.
The entrance to Plymouth Harbor is well marked. Boaters pass by Gurnet Point on the end of Long Island and the sandy finger of Long Beach, passing Bug Light and the low-lying Brown’s Bank along the way.
Once inside, proceed to port down the Plymouth Channel and into the protected area off the town. Hail the Harbormaster (508) 830-4182, VHF 16) to locate a free mooring off the Town Dock. There’s a fee for overnight stays, but the town also operates a launch service to take you into the Town Dock.
Alternatively, contact Safe Harbor Marina (VHF 9, (508) 746-4500) and ask about transient slips.
Once you’re tied up safely, you’ll find Plymouth a walkable town full of sights to see and shops to visit. First-time visitors should take one of the 50-minute trolley bus rides through the town which will provide an excellent introduction to Plymouth’s rich history. The First Parish Church of Plymouth, located at the foot of Burial Hill, is one of the oldest congregations in the United States, although the current building dates only from 1899.
After a multi-year restoration project, the Mayflower II, a replica of the original Plimgrim vessel, has returned to the State Pier within the Pilgrim Memorial State Park on the waterfront. It’s well worth a visit to see the ship that started it all.
Of course, Plimoth and Patuxet Museums and Plimoth Plantation—where kids were taken on those school field trips—is still a remarkable renovation and living museum that tells the story of the Pilgrim mothers and fathers with actors in costume and character explaining the ins and outs of daily life 400 years ago. The facility is just south of the waterfront at 137 Warren Ave. (508) 746-1622, or visit www.plimoth.org.
If you’re looking for a good place to eat, relax! Plymouth has a bunch of great places to eat, offering every kind of cuisine. Of course, you’re probably looking for great seafood places, and there are several right on the waterfront.
East Bay Grill offers three seating choices: outside on the patio with waterfront views, a lively bar area, and the indoor (air-conditioned) dining room. Located on the Town Wharf, this place offers seafood, pasta, and steaks. 173 Water Street. (508) 746-9751.
Tavern on the Wharf has a 50-seat outdoor patio, 35-seat bar, and 230-seat indoor dining area, serving family-friendly fare like fresh-off-the-boat seafood, coal-fired pizzas, and juicy burgers. Live music and Sunday brunch. 6 Town Wharf, (508) 927-4961.
Anna’s Harborside Grille offers a Greek and Mediterranean alternative to the usual seafood fare. Grilled octopus, Tzatziki Dip platter, Aegean fries, and Calamari are just to get started. Then there’s the santorinis, lamb kabobs, souvlaki, or fish tacos. 145 Water Street, (508) 591-7372.
Salt Raw Bar + Fine Cuisine is a relatively new restaurant in Plymouth, but its combination of raw bar and Asian fusion cuisine has proved to be a hit. Sleek and contemporary surroundings and the small-plate food is outstanding: from oysters, farmers cheese dumplings, seafood fried rice, duck buns, steak tartare, and baked halibut, it’s a culinary experience. 170 Water Street, (508) 283-4660.
Lobster Hut has been a Plymouth icon for almost 50 years now. Right on the Town Wharf, this unpretentious restaurant serves fresh seafood by the ton, with all the fixings and sides. Fried, broiled or baked, fish, clams, or scallops, you won’t go away hungry. 25 Town Wharf, (508) 746-2270.