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A travel guide to Plymouth, Massachusetts

Shayla Martin is a freelance writer specializing in travel, food, arts and culture. She is the founder of YourLandMyLand, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to exploring the people, cultures and landscapes that make up the United Stat...

Exploring 'America's hometown'

Celebrate Thanksgiving in the town where it all began!

 A travel guide to Plymouth, Massachusetts

Forget slaving over a hot stove November 28; it's time to discover where the first Thanksgiving took place! In Plymouth, Massachusetts, travelers can step back in time to "America's hometown" and see a world you've read about in history books. In addition to exploring the past, Plymouth is home to great restaurants, shopping and charming bed and breakfasts.

What to do

Start at "The Rock," — Plymouth Rock, that is. The jewel of Pilgrim Memorial State Park, Plymouth Rock draws nearly 1 million people a year to see the boulder on the shore of Plymouth Harbor where the Pilgrims landed in 1620 to start a new life. A short distance from Plymouth Rock sits the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the original ship. The recent vessel was built in Devon, England and crossed the Atlantic in 1957. Guests can board the Mayflower II, learn about the 17th century voyage and get a sense of what the original vessel was like, even chatting with actors in period costume who will share their personal accounts of sailor and passenger life.

 A travel guide to Plymouth, Massachusetts

Now that you've learned how the Pilgrims arrived, head over to Plimoth Plantation to view the beginnings of colonial life in a new land. The 17th-Century English Village at Plimoth Plantation is a re-creation of the small farming and fishing community built by the Pilgrims in 1627. In the village there are timber homes, fragrant gardens, farm animals and players portraying actual residents of Plymouth Colony. They engage with guests to the village and answer all questions and comments as if the present day were 1627. Also at Plimoth Plantation is the Wampanoag Homesite, a living history exhibit dedicated to the Wampanoag tribe that occupied the land before the Pilgrims' arrival. The staff at the Wampanoag Homesite are not actors, but Native Americans in historically accurate clothing. They discuss Wampanoag history as well as modern-day culture, and are happy to talk about the traditions and stories of their ancestors.

 A travel guide to Plymouth, Massachusetts

2013 Thanksgiving Festivities

Thanksgiving festivities in Plymouth take place on several days throughout November. On Nov. 22-24 marks the America's Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration, complete with a parade, the New England Food Festival, a crafts pavilion, kids' activity tent and concerts at Plymouth's Memorial Hall. On Thanksgiving Day, travelers can observe The Pilgrim Progress procession, a reenactment of the Pilgrims' march to their original church site, followed by a worship service.

Where to stay

By the Sea Bed and Breakfast is the only bed and breakfast that overlooks beautiful Plymouth Harbor. From the front porch, guests can watch the sunrise over the Mayflower II and take in the daily sights of whale watch fleets, harbor tours, fishing and sailing boats, and kayakers. Families will love the Governor Bradford suite, which boasts a bedroom with a private bath, living room, private deck and fully furnished kitchen.

Where to eat

If you get tired of turkey and leftovers, fresh seafood is Plymouth's other claim to fame. Local favorite Wood's Seafood is located on Town Wharf Road right by Plymouth Harbor and features New England classics like fried clams, lobster rolls and the ever-popular clambake. The restaurant also offers a fish market so guests can take home live lobsters for their own lobster boils!

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