Mayflower 2

Going Back to 1620 in Plymouth, Mass.

Plymouth Mayflower

The coastal town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is rich in U.S. History. It was the site of the first Pilgrim settlement in 1620 and there are several different places to visit here. We only had the morning (this was part of our East Coast trip- more on that here) but we knew we wanted to do something in Plymouth! We found a great parking spot right along the coast and a short walk later, we made it to the Mayflower II. The Mayflower II is a full-scale reproduction of the ship that brought the Pilgrims here. It was amazing to see and really made us think what it would be like to live on a ship (without bathrooms!) for more than 10 weeks. There were several ‘actors’ who were in full-attire and character that you could ask questions about the voyage. We learned a lot of interesting facts: most of the women and children stayed below deck because it was too dangerous above, nobody died on the voyage, and it was often cold and damp below deck. Our kids really had a great time during the hour we spent aboard. Unfortunately/fortunately the Mayflower II is currently under renovation until 2019, in preparation of the 400th commemoration of when the Pilgrims reached New England’s shore. However, if you have more time you can tour Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum dedicated to telling the history of Plymouth Colony from the perspective of both the Pilgrims and the Native Wampanoag people. Find out more information of Plimoth Plantation, including pricing and hours, here.

Mayflower II tour Mayflower

Mayflower tour Plymouth Plymouth, MA

Plymouth Rock

A short walk from the Mayflower II is Plymouth Rock. (It is located underneath the white columns pictured above.)

Plymouth Rock Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock Plymouth Rock

We waited a few minutes to get a front row view, but we’re glad we did.

Then, we drove around and loved the feel of this charming city! It was a quick visit here, but so glad we made made the stop.



East Chop Lighthouse

An Afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard

Cargo Ship to Martha's Vineyard Martha's Vineyard transportation

Em here: Confession. Thanks to those darn Gilmore Girls I’ve always wanted to explore Martha’s Vineyard. We had the chance to go back east for a couple of weeks fall of 2016. And it was amazing! It was a jam-packed trip and as soon as we started to plan it, I knew Martha’s Vineyard had to be a stop.  First, a little bit about Martha’s Vineyard. It is an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and is divided into six towns. It’s primarily known as a summer colony, with a population reaching over 100,000 in the summer months. It is accessible only by boat or air. In early October, we took the Steamship Authority Ferry from Woods Hole, MA to Martha’s Vineyard. Or at least that was the plan. We ended up taking a little longer playing in Rhode Island, and missed our original ferry that was set to leave at 11 am and our backup ferry- but just barely! (I know–how did we miss both?!) The off-site parking lot for the ferry is a few miles away in Falmouth, MA, where after parking, a complimentary shuttle transports you to the port. We didn’t realize this and would suggest you plan to arrive at least 30 minutes (or an hour, during peak summer season) prior to your depart time. Thankfully, we were able to take the 45-minute-ride via cargo ship from the same port, which had limited seating for the public (pictured above). Tickets are available the same day, unless you plan to take a vehicle with you. If you plan to take your car, you do need an advanced reservation. To find more information about the ferry we took, visit here. There are several other ferry options available, through different companies that we personally haven’t tried out, that depart from Rhode Island (1 1/2 hour ride), New York and New Jersey (about a 5 hour ride for both). You can find out more about those options here and here.

Light House on Martha's Vineyard

There are five lighthouses on the Island:

West Chop Lighthouse East Chop Lighthouse Edgartown Lighthouse Gay Head Lighthouse                                                                                           Cape Poge Lighthouse
The West Chop Lighthouse, East Chop Lighthouse, Edgartown Lighthouse, Gay Head Lighthouse, and Cape Poge Lighthouse (Pictured from left to right). Images courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

Aren’t they all beautiful?!! I’m so sad we weren’t able to visit all of them. We only had time for one, the East Chop Lighthouse.


Gingerbread Houses Gingerbread houses

Another stop on our quick tour of the Island: the Gingerbread Houses! More than 300 Victorian Homes in Oaks Bluffs are known as the ‘Gingerbread Cottage Village,’ some of the cutest and most colorful homes you’ll ever see. Check out this Image Gallery from Country Living here). Once home to the Methodist Summer Camps, these darling cottages replaced the tents originally used. During the summer, there is even a special day where, for a fee of about $30, you can tour six of these homes (aren’t you dying to get a peak inside??) and includes a treat. Find more about this one day special event here. There is a museum as well that is open during the entire summer season and gives you a glimpse of what life on the campgrounds in the 1800s would have been like. Find more information about the Cottage Museum and Shop here.

Flying Horses

Maybe the only bummer about traveling in the off season to this most ‘summery’ Island, was that we missed out on riding the Flying Horses Carousel (only open on weekends during off-peak). This is the nation’s oldest carousel, originating from Coney Island, New York. It costs about $2.50 to go ’round and ’round. Find more information here.

Martha's Vineyard Shopping

We grabbed some delicious ice cream from Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium and ate it outside, pretending it was about 30 degrees warmer and easily imagined what summers must be like on the Island.

Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium

Popcorn on Martha's Vineyard

The many different shops were charming and fun to explore.

Martha's Vineyard Ferry

And thankfully, we did make it on time for our return ferry. The vessel is very large, filled with tables and soft seats. If you’re worried about sea sickness, it traveled just slow enough that we didn’t feel any effects (unlike our Whale-Watching Cruise– haha!). There are restrooms, snack bars, free wi-fi, tv, etc. Our kids did great round trip. I know I’ve typed this a few times, but we definitely hope to go back and spend a few days on the Island, hopefully during the summer- crowds and all!



north bridge

Historic Concord, Massachusetts

Concord is rich with both U.S. and Literary History. This was such a charming and patriotic town to spend the afternoon in!  Our fist stop was the Concord Museum. We picked up a map with the city’s 11 main highlights. Although we didn’t have enough time to tour the museum, it is filled with Revolutionary War Artifacts- including the lantern Paul Revere used at the Old North Church. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, with ages 5 and under free. Hours vary, so visit their website for more information.  (For a similar driving map to the one we used, check out this one).

Old North Bridge

Minute Man Statue

A huge highlight for us was walking on the North Bridge. This is the historic site of the Revolutionary War “shot heard ’round the world,” in April 1775. It was absolutely beautiful, with the many trees and fall leaves secluding it. Our kids had so much fun running back and fourth over the bridge, pretending to be soldiers. To learn more facts about the bridge, visit here.  We were lucky to hear a few ranger talks/school field trip presentations adding to the experience.

concord ma

Minute man park Drive Minute Man Map Minute Man Drive Map

After we finished up with the North Bridge, we visited some of the famous homes in the area. There is a small fee for tickets to tour each of these homes.  Unfortunately, with our tight schedule (this was part of our East Coast Road Trip) we weren’t able to tour any of them this time. We still had fun following our map and driving past each one of them.

The Old Manse

The Old Manse: A short walk from the North Bridge, this home is rich with history. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandparents built the home and had a front row seat to the the ‘shot heard round the world’. Can you imagine?! At one point it was also home to Emerson himself as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne. Tours are available for $10 per adult and $5 for youth.

ralph waldo emerson home

Ralph Waldo Emerson House: Wanting to return back to his roots, Emerson purchased this home in 1835. Tours are available at select times for a fee. Find more information here.

Orchard House

Orchard House: Louisa May Alcott wrote and set Little Women here while living with her family. The home is available to tour for $10 per adults and $5 for youth.  Note: there is an online coupon for .50 cents off each ticket available here if you plan to tour Orchard House.

The Wayside: Part of Minute Man National Historic Park, writers Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Harriett Lothrop (Margaret Sidney) all lived here at one time.  Tickets are $6 for adults and free for children.

Thoreau Farm Thoreau Farm Entrance

Thoreau Farm: The birthplace of Henry David Thoreau. Guided tours are available with tickets free for children and $6 for adults.


Sleepy Hollow Cemetery: Resting places of Thoreau, Emerson, the Alcotts and Hawthorne. For more information, visit here.

Other points of interest not pictured:

Robbins House: Learn the history of African American in Concord. For more information, visit here.

Walden Pond: Historic site of Henry Thoreau’s experiment in living simply.  Visitors can swim, hike, canoe, picnic at this lake. For more information, visit here.

This was such a charming town, filled with many bed and breakfasts, antique shops, and of course so much history. We hope to come back and spend a weekend here someday!