When you need an escape, do you dream of waving palm trees and clear blue water? Or maybe exploring a foreign city would be your ideal getaway? Sometimes you don’t need to venture far from home to still leave the daily grind behind. Whenever I return from a weekend away I’m always surprised by how rejuvenating it is to have a short break from the standard routine. We recently had a chance to escape for a short mother-daughter getaway to the John Carver Inn in Plymouth, MA. While Plymouth is only an hour away from home, it offers small town charm and a bounty of historical attractions. Just an hour south of Boston and less than a half hour from Cape Cod, this seaside village is a great getaway destination and the John Carver Inn is perfectly situated for families looking for a home base for exploring Plymouth.
Where to Stay in Plymouth MA
Plymouth is very walkable, with most of the main attractions, including Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower II, the Grist Mill, and the Pilgrim Hall Museum all within a few block radius of the waterfront. However, the John Carver Inn is only one of two hotels in downtown Plymouth. Built in 1969 originally as a Holiday Inn, it has been the John Carver Inn since 1988. Unlike many hotels in town centers, parking at the John Carver Inn wasn’t a problem as there was plenty of free parking in the lot.
When we entered the lobby, we were greeted by helpful and cheerful desk staff who graciously provided guidance on where to find a quick lunch in town and suggested a scenic stroll to the waterfront. After checking in, we made our way up to the third floor to a large suite on the third floor. The John Carver Inn is a full service hotel, with 74 rooms, many adjoining, as well as six suites, some connecting for families or groups. There are two restaurants on site, the Hearth ‘n Kettle, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as providing room service; and the new WaterFire Tavern. The hotel hosts many social and corporate events, and also serves up a massive Thanksgiving feast to over 1,500 diners in its numerous function rooms. They are also home to the Beach Plum Spa, available to both hotel guests and day visitors (read all about our mother-daughter experience at the spa here.)
In addition to the many adjoining rooms and suites, what makes the John Carver Inn & Spa so suitable for families is the indoor Pilgrim Cove Pool. After our massage, we headed down to the Pilgrim Cove Pool. There were towels in the room to use at the pool but if you forget yours, don’t worry, there are more at the pool, and they are pretty small towels so you will need quite a few. Luckily when we were at the pool, it wasn’t very crowded so there wasn’t a line at the waterslide. There was a lifeguard on duty but she seemed to leave it to the kids to police when it was safe to go down the slide after the one in front of them had cleared out of the way. While my daughter tired herself swimming and sliding, I decided to check out the hot tub in the center of the pool, where I could keep an eye on her while extending the relaxation started with the massage. The hot tub is on a raised platform, accessible by bridge, but it is really just a plastic whirlpool and it seemed a bit worn so I actually didn’t stay in there very long.
Adjacent to the pool area is a sauna, small game room, and restrooms. One thing to keep in mind is that, while not a waterpark like CoCo Key or the Great Wolf Lodge, the John Carver Inn does offer a day pass for $20 per person, so you might find some additional swimmers during peak vacation times. However, during December and February vacation weeks, the hotel also offers offer family activities, like bingo, crafts, cupcake and cookie decorating, and special events like magicians, face painting, and live animal shows to provide other entertainment options.
The John Carver Inn Review
When we first walked into room 304, our jaws dropped, not expecting that we would be put up in a suite. In addition to a dining area that seated four, the main living space had a pull out couch and a dual-sided gas fireplace. The bedroom offered a king size bed and a whirlpool tub on the other side of the fireplace. We detected the faint smell of chlorine and sure enough, when we peeked out of our bedroom window we saw we were overlooking the Pilgrim Cove Pool. Luckily it was pretty quiet when we were there and the pool does close at 9 pm anyway.
Just off the bedroom was a large bathroom with a walk in shower and something I love to see in hotels — robes! I’m glad the robes were there because, like the pool towels, the bath towels were small and rough so it was nice to dry off quickly and then snuggle up in a cozy robe, crank up the fireplace to get rid of the chill, and relax. The suite also offered a large dressing room, with a Keurig machine and another one of my favorite amenities, two complimentary bottles of water, which I quickly popped into the suite’s small refrigerator to chill.
With all this space, it seemed silly not to take advantage of it. So we did something we rarely do, instead of going out for dinner we ordered room service and settled down by the fire to watch the Patriots game. We had considered heading down to the WaterFire Tavern and checking out the in-table firepit and light fare but the draw of eating in our own space was too strong. The food arrived quickly and was adequate and what you would expect from a room service burger and fries.
The thing I love about family suites is the separation of living and sleeping spaces so it was nice to have the extra space to be able to work a little after my daughter went to bed. Once I finished up for the night and crept into bed, I was pleased to find the bed soft and welcoming. Except for little feet kicking me all night long (next time she’s on the pull out!), I slept soundly and comfortably. The beds at the John Carver Inn feature triple sheeting, which are washed daily, so no worries about sitting down on used comforters.
In the morning, we were treated to breakfast at the Hearth ‘n Kettle, a comfort food restaurant featuring Cape Cod cuisine. Since we slept in, we had the restaurant practically to ourselves and our server was extremely cheerful and welcoming. Since my daughter couldn’t decide between chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes, they offered to split the children’s meal and provide her one of each (plus bacon!) I went for the Plantation Special with two eggs, sausage, bacon, toast and home fries. It was way more than I could eat but the eggs were cooked as ordered and the bacon was just the perfect amount of crispy. The Hearth ‘n Kettle is convenient and affordable, but if you feel up to exploring you can probably find even more interesting options in town such as KKatie’s Burger Bar, The Lobster Hut, Cabby Shack, and Kiskadee Coffee.
After our hearty breakfast, we needed to walk it off and opted for a stroll down to the waterfront to see Plymouth Rock, since the little one didn’t fully remember our last visit to Plymouth Rock and Plimoth Plantation. We headed across the street from the John Carver Inn over to Jenney Pond, where we seemed to happen upon prime bathing hour for the ducks, geese and swans that call the pond home. The water was a riot of wings flapping and water fowl splashing. We regretted not bringing our leftover toast with us as the birds caught wind of our arrival and quickly came to see what we had to offer.
After watching the birds frolic for a bit, we strolled past the quaint Grist Mill and followed the path along the river and through the Brewster Gardens to the waterfront. We’d already been to the Mayflower II, but we took in the view, checked out the famous Plymouth Rock, and strolled past the monuments honoring Massasoit, the Pilgrims lost in the first year in the New World, and a plaque for Remembrance Day, recalling the mistreatment of Native Americans.
If you haven’t visited Plymouth before, you’ll want to enjoy some of historic and maritime sites, take a boat cruise, and spend a day at the Plimoth Plantation just outside of town. For more information on what to do in Plymouth, visit the See Plymouth website.
Note: Our stay was hosted by the John Carver Inn, we appreciate their hospitality and generosity, but this did not impact the opinions expressed above.