Plymouth is just 40 miles from Boston – the perfect destination for family vacation, a day trip or a weekend away. We’re fortunate to live here and love sharing our town, America’s Hometown, with our family and friends. There’s something for everyone in Plymouth, Massachusetts!
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Kid’s Guide to What to Do in Plymouth, MA
With a lively downtown area, living history, and almost 30 miles of ocean front coastline, Plymouth is a great place for a visit at any time of the year. But it’s in the summer that Plymouth excels for families. Whether you have a week to enjoy or just a day, there’s much to do for children and teens in the area. Summer in coastal New England is a time to be outdoors. Pack swimsuits, hiking boots, bikes, and even the skateboards to make the most of your visit.
Plymouth Harbor – the heart of Plymouth
It’s no wonder that the Pilgrims chose to settle in Plymouth with its beautiful, protected harbor. The barrier beaches off shore, as well as the landmass of Cape Cod, keep the waters of Plymouth Harbor relatively calm. Ideal for taking the kids out on the water! You can rent kayaks or skidoos near the jetty or take a harbor cruise.
- Go on a Whale Watching Cruise – Captain John Boats on the town wharf will take you out for a day on the water. Fun for all ages!
- The Pilgrim Belle is a classic paddleboat that offers day and evening harbor cruises.
- Youngsters of all ages might enjoy a Pirate Cruise. Kids dress up, play games, and MIGHT even be called on to fight a pirate ship!!!
Plymouth Beaches, Parks, and Playgrounds
- Beach lovers – head to Long Beach, a 3 mile barrier beach. The southern section of the beach is staffed with lifeguards during the summer months. During the season, beach parking is limited, either with a resident sticker or a paid day pass, but the Plymouth shuttle stops at the beach entrance. [note: COVID-19 capacity restrictions may be in place. Check the town website for current information.] Food and restrooms are available at the beach.
- Families with young children will love Nelson Memorial Beach Park with its playground, sprinkler park, and protected beach. (235 Water St – walkable from downtown Plymouth!) The playground has been recently renovated to make it accessible to all kids. At the end of the Nelson Beach parking lot is a lovely one mile walking/bike path that everyone will enjoy. Parking is available free of charge but can fill up early on the weekend.
- Ellisville Harbor State Park is just off rt. 3A in the southern end of Plymouth (1861 State Rd). It’s a nature reserve with a trail leading to a sandy beach (no lifeguards at this beach). Walk to beach is about 15 minutes and is not accessible for strollers or anyone with mobility issues.
- Not Just the Ocean! Plymouth is unique in having 450 ponds within its borders, 83 of which are ‘great ponds’, meaning a pond of 10 acres or more. Check on conditions for the activities your family would enjoy. Some ponds allow swimming and some are more suitable to kayaking, etc. Kayaks can be rented at Billington Sea Kayak.
Parks in Plymouth, and Playgrounds
There are over 40 public recreation areas in Plymouth, including the town beaches, Plymouth playgrounds, playing fields, and parks. In addition there are three Massachusetts state parks, and an Audubon wildlife sanctuary. With all these to choose from it’s challenging to recommend the best for families with children. Here are the ones our grandchildren enjoy-
- Nelson Beach Park and Ellisville Harbor (described in Plymouth Beaches above)
- Stephens Field – another waterfront park with kayak launching area, small playground, and tennis courts. This park is scheduled for renovation soon. (we hope VERY soon as it’s a lovely property within walking distance of town!)
- Myles Standish State Forest, a 12,000 acre park, has 13 miles of hiking and bike trails, as well as lakes and ponds for swimmers. Campsites on the crystal clear lakes are in demand so book early if you’re interested!
- Morton Park, over 200 acres of woods and ponds. The park has a lovely quiet swimming area the little ones will enjoy. (Morton Park Rd)
- Forges Field recreation area. (83 Jordan Road) This is where many of our playing fields are located. The fields may be in use when you visit but it’s worth visiting for the walking trails and small playground.
- Plymouth Skatepark (Summer St.) Our newly rebuilt basketball and skate park. Accessible from Summer St., OR walk the Town Brook trail from Pilgrim Memorial State Park through Brewster Gardens and over Jenney Pond to the skate park – a lovely walk!
- Hedges Pond and Fresh Pond both offer freshwater swimming and port-o-potties. We haven’t visited either of these parks… YET!
Living History Your Kids Will Enjoy
The Mayflower II is the centerpiece of our waterfront! Kids will definitely want to go aboard to see this lovely (and newly refurbished!) ship.
Plimoth Patuxet is a living history museum where you can chat with interpreters who play the parts of the Pilgrims and the local Native American people, the Wampanoag. Kids will enjoy exploring the village and trying out some of the children’s games. Plimoth Patuxet (formerly known as Plimoth Plantation) is located on Warren Avenue (rt 3A) or can be reached from Rt 3, exit 12.
Admission packages are available that include the Mayflower II ship and, on weekends, the Plimoth Grist Mill. Massachusetts residents should check with their local library as many carry discount tickets to Plimoth Patuxet.
Indoor Activities for Kids in Plymouth Area
As a resort destination, Plymouth has lots to offer for the evenings or rainy days. The downtown area is easily walkable. Between Main Street (rt 3A) and Water Street along the harbor, you’ll find cafes, ice cream shops, boutiques, and an arcade – Ryan Family Amusements.
The Kingston Collection – an indoor shopping and recreation mall just off Rt. 3 (exit 17) has a movie theater, indoor amusement attractions, and dining opportunities.
Art, Theater and Music in Plymouth
Our summer stock theater, the Priscilla Beach theater, is a treat for the whole family. The show barn has been renovated, but still has the smell and ambiance of old barn. This is summer stock, so performances may vary, but we have never been disappointed. If you’ll be in Plymouth for the summer, see if your children would like to attend one of their Children’s Workshops!
Kids will enjoy the town’s Scallop Roll, a public art installation celebrating the 400th. Artist painted 4′ scallop shells are located all around town. Find them on your own, or follow the Plymouth Scallop Roll map.
Many weekend festivals offer music and fun for the whole family. The Thursday afternoon Farmers’ Market on the lawn at Plimoth Patuxet is a great way to relax with the family.
Check out the calendar for what’s happening when you’re in Plymouth.
Kid-Friendly Dining in Plymouth
Plymouth has all the usual fast food options but we suggest you try a local spot when you’re visiting.
For a sit-down restaurant on the water – Surfside Smokehouse (14 Union St.). Barbecue & seafood options. Enjoy eating on the covered deck with a view of the Mayflower II, and the marina. Best eat-in view in Plymouth.
Best seafood counter style spots – a tie – Woods Seafood and the Lobster Hut. Both located on the Town Wharf and both offer cafeteria style ordering, and seating. Lobster Hut has more extensive outdoor seating on the water.
Other favorites –
- KKatie‘s Bar (38 Main St. Extension) Best hamburgers around (and get the loaded fries) Helpful hint: order the small burger or split a regular one.
- Sam Diego‘s (51 Main St.) – Mexican – get points for ambiance. It’s in a renovated fire station with brick walls, big windows, and a gorgeous staircase. Nice place for the kids. Sam Diego’s website.
- Best pizza? Mamma Mia‘s on the waterfront! (122 Water St.)
For oyster lovers, we recommend heading to neighboring Duxbury to the Raw Bar at Island Creek Oyster Farm. You’ll sit at picnic tables right on Duxbury bay, while the kids enjoy lawn games. (limited offerings)
Where to Stay in Plymouth with Kids
Note: as residents of Plymouth, we have not stayed at any of the hotels and inns below. Our opinions are based on recommendations from family and friends.
There are many options for your overnight stay in Plymouth. Many of the major brands have hotels in Plymouth. B&Bs are also great options, with several in the Plymouth harbor area. The three hotels below are recommended based primarily on location and may not be the best choice for your family. For other recommendations for accommodations in Plymouth read Plymouth at 400: a local’s guide to the perfect weekend.
Beach front: Pilgrim Sands Hotel – Warren Ave. – a simple motel (with outdoor pool)
Why we recommend it? – The Pilgrim Sands is situated right on Long Beach in Plymouth.
Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor (180 Water St.) – great location! Why do we love it? It’s within a short walking distance of Nelson Park and waterfront restaurants and has an indoor pool.
John Carver Inn and Suites (25 Summer St.) – a traditional New England style inn
Why your kids will love it – the indoor pool featuring slides and a pirate ship!
Books About Plymouth and the Massachusetts Coast: Reading Suggestions for Kids
|A Kid’s Guide to Native American History by Yvonne Wakim Dennis|
|Barnacle and Husk by Mary Shields (series)|
|Grandma Drove the Lobster Boat by Katie Clark|
|Lobstah Gahden: Speak out against pollution with a wicked awesome Boston accent! by Allie Brydon|
|National Geographic Ocean Animals Sticker Activity Book|
|Plymouth, MA: A Scavenger Hunt by Barbara Tibbetts|
|Sarah Morton’s Day: a day in the life of a Pilgrim girl by Kate Waters|
|Samuel Eaton’s Day: a day in the life of a Pilgrim boy by Kate Waters|
|Seashells in My Pocket: AMC’s Family Guide for Exploring the Coast by Judith Hansen|
|Tapenum’s Day: a Wampanoag Indian boy in Pilgrim times by Kate Waters|
|Time for Cranberries by Lisl H. Detlefsen|
|Whales: Amazing Pictures and Fun Facts by Kay De Silva|
The Plimoth Patuxet gift shop has a wide selection of books for all ages. Definitely worth a visit to find some great titles. And you don’t need to purchase a museum entry to shop the store.
Further Afield: Things for Kids To Do in Southeastern Massachusetts
Cape Cod Canal and Scusset Beach Reservation – just a short drive from Plymouth. Paved bike trails line both sides of the canal and are well used by walkers as well as cyclists. Scusset Reservation is a Massachusetts State Park with a bathhouse, snack bar, and a lovely sandy beach.
For more cycling suggestions read Most Beautiful Cycling Paths in Southeast New England
Edaville Family Theme Park , Carver – a fun spot for young children and one of the oldest heritage train operations in the U.S.
Heritage Museums and Gardens, Sandwich – In addition to the gorgeous garden, and antique car museum, the museum has an antique carousel and play area devoted for kids.
Water Wizz, Wareham – “Southern New England’s Largest Water Park” is just a short drive from Plymouth – 35 minutes with light traffic.
Hope to see you and your family in Plymouth! Let me know if you find more things to do in Plymouth while you’re here!