The Cultural Coast of Massachusetts

By | Category: Travel destinations

Mayflower II at Sunrise, Massachusetts

Mayflower II at Sunrise, Massachusetts

This is the name given to an area just south of Boston in the USA. The name meant nothing to me but then neither did one of the other names, Quincy County. But if I had been told that this included Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrim fathers landed in 1620, and Nantucket where the US whaling industry was once based then I might have realised just how important, historically, this region is. The subheading for the area, “Where American Begins” probably reflects the area better.
As Boston has direct flights to Dublin and London it is easy to tag a few days onto a Boston trip and spend a weekend exploring this area to the south. As to what to see, here are just a few suggestions.
The saga of the Mayflower with 100 puritans leaving England to set up a new life is well known. We have journals to tell us what they thought. From the side of the native Americans, there is a tour through Plymouth led and given from the perspective of the local tribe, the Wampanoag. Here is also a replica of the Mayflower. Open to the public, it is one of many local heritage sites along with the oldest museum in the US, the Pilgrim hall which has a collection of Mayflower relics.
Nantucket and it’s lighthouse means whaling, stories like Moby Dick and sea adventures. Today whaling has long since gone (but you can take a tour out and indulge in some whale watching) and today it is a tourist destination. With probably the largest collection of pre Civil War houses (over 800), it combines heritage with food (scallops in particular), an artist’s colony and a range of antique shops and art galleries.
Cape Cod is renowned for its hundreds of miles of beaches and its small villages that almost but don’t quite merge into each other.
This whole area is linked with presidents. John Adams and John Quincy Adams lived here in Quincy, and in our own time, the Kennedy dynasty in Martha’s Vineyard although the Kennedy Library is just up the road in Boston, there is a local museum in Hyannis. John Hancock who signed the Declaration of Independence first and whose name in the US is often used to mean to sign something came from around here.
In many ways, travelling around here is like being back home. You can go from Plymouth to Bristol to Taunton, Bedford, Wareham and Falmouth. Mixing memories of England with native American names like Nantucket reinforces the fact that this is where modern America springs from.

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