Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Plimouth Plantation, Old Sturbridge Village, or neither

Plimouth Plantation, Old Sturbridge Village, or neither

Apr 2nd, 2007, 09:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Plimouth Plantation, Old Sturbridge Village, or neither

During our "historical Massachusetts" trip, do you advise that we visit Plimouth Plantation, Old Sturbridge Village, or neither? Our kids are ages 16, 14 and 11. From a search of this board, they seem like the kind of places where locals never bother to go.
missypie is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 110
No we don't because we go there as part of our school trips when we're kids. They are somewhat touristy really although I'm hearing second hand now having not been to either one in years. If the kids are really into history, maybe you'd like Concord where there are several historic houses to walk around, some outdoor "famous" spots, the town is nearby- with kids who usually like to be active, you might like Concord. Also, last time I checked, the tickets to the villages were pretty pricey. Warning- if the Medieval village thing (I forget its name) is at Endicott Railroad in Carver- avoid it at all costs- grossly expensive, very hoakey, just a complete waste of money. They usually do that around early Fall I think. Plymouth Center used to have a few historic houses to walk around and there's always the Mayflower (reproduced) ship which could be fun for the kids and is in a nice spot right on the water. Finally, there's the downtown Boston Freedom Trail which is pretty good and should keep the kids active. You'd have to google that one as I have no idea how pricey it is but I think its fun to move from spot to spot within Boston to see some great historic sites.
Cookiew is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,618

Well, I think the locals just go once, and their kids go with school groups. How often does a local go to the history museum, after the first time, really?

You should go to at least one, if only because N.England is chock-full of these outdoor museums, and that has to be part of the ``historical'' experience. But if you are already going to another one (Mystic, Shaker Village ...) then maybe you don't have to bother.

As for choosing between them, well, I don't know -- are you more interested early settlers or late settlers? Is one more convenient to your travel? At Plimoth they observe the convention that they are living back in that era, and converse in old-timey ways; at OSV, they are demonstrating old-timey ways to modern visitors, without the fictional gloss. Otherwise, toss a coin.
capxxx is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
All the locals have been there during school trips, or with their own kids. Both are very interesting, and indeed if you can see both, it's an amazing contrast between the dirt-floor hovels of 1630 and the burgeoning technology of Sturbridge, in the early 1800s. The buildings in Sturbridge are authentic, mostly moved there piece-by-piece in rescue endeavors. Why not have the kids look through the two web sites and discuss/choose for themselves? See osv.org and Plimoth Plantation.
Anonymous is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
I am a 'local' and have been to both many times and not only on the school sponsored field trip, which most schools in the vicinity of either tend to do at some grade level.

If this is a historical trip, then I would include one of them. They are set up like an old village, with character actors in homes and businesses (the shoemaker, the iron/metal worker, women explaining cooking/meals, farming, etc) - they can walk through, listen, ask questions -

How much they will enjoy it is a tough question to answer now knowing your children. If they are true history buffs they will love it, if not, and this is the family'history trip' and you are,which I think from other posts of yours appear to be doing, combining it with some totally 'fun' and non-educational stops in between, then I think they will enjoy it for a few hours and you should include it.

Which one depends on which works better for you for your travels -
As said, keep in mind that in Plymouth you can also drive down to see the harbor area before or after, and see the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock (which most find extremely disappointing as a rather normal looking rock encased in a protective fencing ) - and there are great harbor seafood/burger restaurants, ice cream, etc along the waterfront and if you want you could walk/drive up to the Jenny Grist Mill - America's first Grist Mill - which is in a lovely spot -

here is a good web link with info on the Jenny and other sites you could include if you went to the Plimoth Plantation -

if you are going to be near both, then I would go on both websites, see what is happening near your visit, and choose the one you like best -

If you are driving by the Strurbridge area before you come into Boston, then I think that would be a good stop for a few hours, and a good intro before they start hitting the Boston freedom trail, etc and if you do a side trip to Concord/Lexington -

then, if you do drive south of Boston towards the Cape or any beaches, Plimoth is only about 45 - 60 minutes out of Boston (without traffic) so even if you do not stop there, but get off the highway and do the harbor/waterfront/Mayflower/Rock/Jenny and have lunch or a snack, it could break up your ride south.

I f you are not going south of Boston at all, then i would not make the trip just for Plymouth harbor/Mayflower/Rock and would visit Sturbridge and choose another harbor area to visit waterfront sites.

Either way, at that age, I don't think you need more than 2 hours at either stop, to walk through, listen, browse gift shop, etc, perhaps snack, - max of 3 if they are really interested.
escargot is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 11:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
You Massachusetts folks are so helpful!
missypie is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
But watch yourself, according to folk lore, we turn into unruly, rude and despicable people once behind the wheel of an automobile
escargot is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,671
It has probably been ten years since we did our New England trip, and we visited both Plimouth and Old Sturbridge Village.

At that time, I found Plimouth much more interesting and educational. OSV had a lot of farm stuff and I grew up on a farm, so that wasn't my "cup of tea." If your children have not seen farms, then that would make a difference; but I still think Plimouth would be better American-history-wise.
carolyn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Sturbridge was part of my New England tour, and the tour guide was not enthusiastic about it, she just let us off the tour bus.

On the contrary, I LOVED it! A lot to learn, especially for me as a city dweller. I would definitely take (grand)children there. Some day, some day
FainaAgain is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
Oh, Carolyn made me think about Drumlin Farm -
if your kids in fact have not seen a working farm - this one is fabulous for visits all seasons -
here is the link to see if it would interest you for a stop - it is in Lincoln, MA (Lincoln/Concord) so it might fit in with your plans

escargot is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 02:08 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 215
Hi missypie,

I'm a Mass resident and my two favorite historical areas are Salem (Witches, Pirates, House of Seven Gables) and Stockbridge (Norman Rockwell Museum, The Berkshires, Main Street) ...

I guess the best advice is to choose a place and enjoy it ... slowly ... don't rush ...
DonnieD is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
missypie, I looked quickly but couldn't find your other posts and thought of a few links I have tht might help you with areas, hikes, nature areas, beaches that I remember you mentioning elsewhere you wanted for breaking up the trip with the kids and inserting some down time and fun !


(which lists swimming holes and other such places for cooling off)

(which includes Walden Pond/ for your time near Concord/Lincoln/etc part of MA)

(If you scroll down on the above link it lists area festivals, etc that might fall within your visit too)

escargot is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 03:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,217
Hi missypie -

As has been said here, I like them both. At Plimouth Plantation the settlers stay in character and don't know how to answer "modern" questions. However, the Natives are not in character and are very interesting. The people on the Mayflower are really cool too. Sturbridge Village is a much later time but equally interesting. I am jealous. I love history and try to get my fill when we travel. But since we rarely value what is under our noses, I feel that we never really take advantage of what our area offers. Have a wonderful trip.
shaz60 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 04:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Both are very worthwhile - and you kids are old enough that they shold know the history and meaning behind all of it (sometimes an issue with littler kids that just want to run aorund). So - I would do both - but mixed in with a couple of thigs the kids pick out - time at the beach or hiking or biking or ???
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,643
I like them both, but if I had to choose just one then I'd go with Plimouth Plantation. Everybody on this board seems to think Plymouth Rock is stupid but I kinda like it, if for nothing else its simplicity and the place it holds in my consciousness, being an American - go there too.

And if you happen to find yourselves in these areas, then also visit these places for a taste of history:

Stawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH
Old Deerfield Village, Deerfield, MA
Beauport House, nr Gloucester, MA
Saint_Gaudens Nat'l Hist. Site, nr Cornish, NH
House of Seven Gables (already mentioned above), Salem, MA

bluestar is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 06:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 29
I am a Calif transplant to my beloved adopted W. Mass, and strongly recommend Deerfield village. It's gorgeous, extensive, fascinating authentic, 17/and 18th cent. w/ hands-on stuff for the kids that you grownups will like, too. Great staff. NOT hokey at all! Also the area is lovely, and there's a live butterfly museum not far (and on the way!) as well as a home-made candy store also on the way. Tha Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield is worth an entire day to explore with the kids to appreciate their unusual lifestyle. Also lots of hands-on stuff for the kids including exotic farm animals, the amazing kitchen, the weaving, the garden.
GrandeRandonnee is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,760
Missypie -- I think I mentioned them before to you, but I am a fan of both locations. There are some subtle differences between the two.

At Sturbridge, we asked the shopkeepers about some of their goods, the banker about the gold standard and had some lively responses. A lady was baking in this huge wall of an oven with niches for pies, and a fire roaring.

(With Sturbridge, if your kids love basketball at all, stop halfway back to Boston in Springfield and go to the National Basketball Hall of Fame. It was surprisingly fun for a non-sports nut such as myself.)

But Plimouth is such a mythic part of our history, it is more "over the top" to talk to the staff. We had lots of fun with this. We asked one man what he would do if two Jesuits washed a shore. In another house, I offered to read the Bible to the man studying. Or just ask where they hang their Christmas decorations. The actors really have a lot of fun with this. If I had to choose just one for teens, it would be Plimouth.

5alive is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 02:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,534
Just to add another alternative ... I really enjoyed the Indian Museum at Foxwoods casino in CT. The building is completely separate from the casino. One section is an audio tour of a recreated village (indoors) where you can listen to as much information as you like at each spot. I think there were 3 options for brief, more info, and very detailed. We never studied their view of early American history. When our son's history teacher asked how many had visited places like Monticello, our son was the only one who had. The northern New England students don't usually visit Plymouth and Sturbridge because of the distance. We visited Plimouth when our young niece from Houston was visiting since her mother wanted us to do something educational. I think she and our son liked the go-cart rides better that we found nearby. But both Plimouth and Sturbridge are very well done esp if you ask the right questions. (i.e. children did not drink milk)
dfrostnh is online now  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 02:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
"if the Medieval village thing (I forget its name) is at Endicott Railroad in Carver- avoid it at all costs- grossly expensive, very hoakey, just a complete waste of money."

"strongly recommend Deerfield village. It's gorgeous, extensive, fascinating authentic, 17/and 18th cent.... Great staff. NOT hokey at all!"

The Renaissance Fair held on weekends each fall in the town of Carver is called King Richard's Faire, and it's the usual RenFairemish-mash of anachronistic theater, complete with archery booths, human-powered "rides", beguiling wenches, and snakcs that include "steak on a stake". Lots of fun if you're into that stuff, but not much of a history lesson. Also in Carver is the attraction known as Edaville Railroad, though not on the same property. And not remotely related to historic Deerfield village in any way.

Anonymous is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 04:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 459
I've been to both, grew up in Massachusetts now living in MO, and have taken my kids to these places for vacations while in MA.

Depending on your travel itinerary, I think asking your kids which interests them the most is a great idea.

OSV also has it's own shopping brand and catalog. Some of their endeavors are market oriented, but it is a great place to visit.

Plimoth also has the Correct version of the first winter, very much including the Native American perspective. If your kids haven't heard that factual story, it might lead to more interesting discussion than what you will have after visiting OSV.

Short answer: really can't go wrong with either, but they are very different.
beentheretwice is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:15 AM.