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Plymouth, Massachusetts: Plymouth Rock, Rye Tavern, more places to go

For those dreading the traffic out to Cape Cod this summer, Plymouth, Massachusetts, located at the base of the cape, makes a perfect alternative.

Aside from the famous rock, it’s chock full of lovely beaches, quaint shops, waterfront seafood joints and, of course, history.

Where to go

The waterfront Pilgrim Memorial State Park is home
Photo Credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

The waterfront Pilgrim Memorial State Park is home to the famous Plymouth Rock, located on the shore under a Neo-Classical Revival-style granite portico (seen above). You can also climb aboard the Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the 17th-century original that brought over the first pilgrims, or just enjoy strolling along the beautiful harbor. 79 Water St., 508-747-5360

Step back in time and experience the way things were when the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth in 1620 at Plimoth Plantation. The recreated 17th-century English village, a homesite of the local Native American Wampanoag tribe, employs Wampanoag and other Native Americans to educate visitors. The Nye Barn, where historic heritage breeds of sheep, pigs and cows that represent animals found in Plymouth at that time, can also be seen here. 137 Warren Ave., 508-746-1622, admission starting at $28, $11.50 seniors, $8.50 ages 5-12, plimoth.org

For some beachfront R&R, Plymouth Long Beach is about 2.5 miles south of the city center. This gorgeous strip of sand juts into the Atlantic and is home to many migratory birds, like plovers and terns. Just a heads up: The shore is quite rocky, especially during high tide. 1 Ryder Way, 508-747-1620, plymouth-ma.gov

Where to eat

Housed in an original 18th-century tavern on the
Photo Credit: Devorah Lev-Tov

Housed in an original 18th-century tavern on the oldest public country road in the country, the rustic yet homey Rye Tavern (seen above) makes the perfect setting for a fresh-cooked meal. If it's a nice day, sit outside on the large patio as you munch on crispy Brussels sprouts with goat cheese cream and potato encrusted red fish. 517 Old Sandwich Road, 508-591-7515, ryetavern.com

For a great view of Plymouth Harbor, head to local favorite Wood's Seafood. The fish market sells freshly caught fare like live lobster and rock crabs, as well as has a casual restaurant where you can order a lobster roll and fried clams for a true New England experience. 15 Town Pier, 508-746-0261, woodsseafoods.com

At the friendly, pubby KKatie's Burger Bar, chow down on tater tots tossed with Buffalo sauce and Angus beef burgers with toppings like potato chips and grilled jalapeños. Wash it all down with a Mayflower Brewing Company Pale Ale while you enjoy live music from local singer-songwriters. 38 Main Street Extension, 774-773-9444, kkaties.com

Where to stay

For a luxurious retreat, there's the Mirbeau Inn
Photo Credit: Mirbeau Inn and Spa

For a luxurious retreat, there's the Mirbeau Inn and Spa (seen above), a 50-room French manor-inspired hotel, complete with a pond and landscape reminiscent of Monet's garden in Giverny. The spa is the main attraction here; book a treatment and arrive early to relax by the heated foot massage pool or outside on the terrace in the large whirlpool with individually controlled massaging jets. In the evening, dine on French specialties at the Bistro & Wine Bar. 35 Landmark Drive, 508-209-2626, mirbeau.com

For a room with a view, the charming By the Sea Bed and Breakfast is located across from the waterfront, with views of the harbor from two suites. For breakfast, there's coffee and cake on the premises for guests, who are also given a voucher to use at Cornerstone Cafe or Blue Blinds Bakery, two popular breakfast spots nearby. 22 Winslow St., 508-830-9643, bytheseabedandbreakfast.com

For a central location, Hotel 1620 is ideally located across the street from the bay, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Take a break from exploring the area by swimming in the indoor pool or relaxing in the sauna. Formerly a Radisson, the hotel is open as it renovates its lobby, banquet facility and rooms. 180 Water St., 508-747-4900, hotel1620.com

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