Built from 1907-1910 to commemorate the first landing of the pilgrims on board the Mayflower on November 21, 1620, the 252 foot Pilgrim Monument is the tallest all granite structure in the United States. Visitors can climb all 170 steps and 60 ramps to the top and be rewarded with views as far away as Boston (42 miles north). Today, the monument and adjacent museum are open to the public from early April through early November.
The indoor museum includes five galleries of exhibits featuring Provincetown history, the whaling industry, the building of the monument, and objects from explorer Donald MacMillan’s Arctic voyages. During the winter season, for five weeks in November and December the monument is lit to honor the five weeks the Pilgrims stayed at Provincetown.
10 Ways to Explore the Pilgrim Monument and Museum:
- Climb the 116 steps and 60 ramps to the top of the 252 foot monument (you’ll be 350 feet above sea level). Check out the views from the top of the monument (guests can walk the full circle around the top); on a clear day, guests can see as far as the Boston skyline, 42 miles away.
- As you climb, look at the 175 plaques commemorating the incorporation year of each town in Massachusetts, and some additional plaques honoring various organizations.
- Walk through the jawbone of a finback whale and check out various scrimshaw
- Check out Provincetown’s first fire engine built by an apprentice of Paul Revere in the 1830s.
- Learn about the beginnings of Provincetown which had a very large Portuguese population and whose population over the years has swelled from 4,000 to over 50,000 during the peak summer months.
- Follow the timeline of the Wampanoag people in the Our Story exhibit, starting in 1605 before the pilgrims arrived.
- Read about the thriving theater industry in Provincetown including well known authors and playwrights including Eugene O’Neil and Tennessee Williams.
- Look closely at the 20 foot diorama of the Mayflower and check out the various rooms, sails, and public spaces.
- Peek inside the replica 19th century Captain’s parlor and quarters and see authentic furniture, cookware, and clothes.
- Use the handicap elevator, located on Bradford Street, which allows accessibility to the grounds surrounding the monument.
Bonuses in town: Make sure to walk to the memorial (about a half mile from the monument) at the sight of the pilgrim’s first landing, with a small area. At low tide, visitors can walk to the lighthouse, but be sure to pay attention to the tides. Kids will also want to play at the Chelsea Earnest Memorial playground, a short walk from the monument.
Looking for more adventures on Cape Cod? Check out our Cape Cod in the winter guide and our posts featuring the Cape Cod National Seashore, the Whydah Pirate Museum, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Heritage Museums and Gardens, Ocean Edge Resort and Spa, and Woods Hole Science Aquarium. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.
Disclosure: Our family was given a media pass to explore the monument and museum; all opinions expressed are my own.