The Plantation has two main features: a 17th Century English Village and a Wampanoag homesite. In addition, the Mayflower II, a ship modelled after the original Mayflower, is associated with the Plantation.
The pilgrim village is meant to be very authentic. It's only 1/3 the size of the actual village, but they have taken great pains to use tools and materials that the pilgrims would have used.
The setting is quite lovely, overlooking Plymouth Bay. It was very blustery and cool, but worth braving the weather.
The kids had a chance to beat some bedding. I'm pretty sure they're appreciating their mattresses tonight.
The absolute best part of the village is interacting with the staff. Each staff member is a particular person who lived in Plimoth during 1627. They are completely in character, and can only answer questions as they would answer them in 1627. We learned about sewing, cooking, farming, political views and frustrations of the time.
After the pilgrim village we walked to the nearby Wampanoag Homesite. In 1627 the Wampanoag chief asked a trusted man to move his family near the English settlement so they could keep an eye on what was going on. We visited a recreation of his homesite.
While everything was very interesting we were disappointed that there weren't many native americans for us to speak to, especially compared to the English Village we had just come from. It's possible that some of the staff were at lunch since it was that time of day. But, we felt like we didn't learn as much as would have liked to at the Homesite.
We did get to watch and learn as a Wampanoag artisan was making a mishoon, or boat, by burning out a tree.
One of the few staff available to speak with was this woman who was weaving beautiful things. In contrast to the English villagers, the Wampanoag staff are Native American who are free to talk about their history and culture from today's perspective. I especially loved hearing this woman tell a couple that the Wamponoag belief in the afterlife is that you go to the sky to be with your family who has gone before you.
After leaving Plimoth Plantation we had some lunch then drove the 3 miles to the Mayflower II.
The ship was beautiful, and again there were a few "Englishmen" on board who could answer questions about the voyage and their lives before they came to New England. The dock alongside the ship has many displays and placards explaining the building of the ship and aspects of the voyage. However, I really would've have loved a tour guide to show us around. Again, I felt like we didn't get as much out of it as we could have-- especially with 4 & 6 year old boys who don't want to stand around reading displays.
About a block from the Mayflower II is "the" Plymouth Rock, engraved with the year the pilgrims landed.