Just 35 mi/55 km southeast of Boston, Plymouth, Massachusetts, is where the Pilgrims made their final landing in 1620—supposedly on Plymouth Rock, one of the town's most famous sites. (The rock can still be viewed, but be prepared—the legend is larger than what's left of the white-painted stone.) Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship, has costumed guides, and the Mayflower Society Museum explores the legacy of the Pilgrims with a genealogical library and period furnishings. Pilgrim Hall Museum (established in 1824) has furnishings, artifacts and an art collection. For a peek inside a house that was inhabited by some Mayflower passengers, visit the Jabez Howland House, which was built in 1666.

Plimoth Plantation is a premier living-history museum just south of town that lets you see what life was like—for both Pilgrims and Native Americans—in the 1600s. (The unusual spelling of Plimoth is a nod to Massachusetts Bay Colony Gov. William Bradford, who favored that spelling in his written history of the region.) The plantation is open April-November, and its Thanksgiving festival and dinner make it the quintessential place to spend the most American of all holidays.

In August, a procession from Plymouth Rock to Burial Hill takes place every Friday at 6 pm. Participants wear traditional costumes to commemorate the Pilgrims who died during the colony's first winter. For your own walk through history, take one of the April-November evening Colonial Lantern Tours (so named because each participant carries a punched-tin lantern to the various sites).

It's not all Pilgrims in Plymouth. The Children's Museum of Plymouth is popular with youngsters who need a break from the historic attractions. Sightseeing and whale-watching cruises are also offered from Plymouth. Nearby Edaville USA puts on a cranberry festival every October, with a 5-mi/8-km rail tour of cranberry bogs.

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