Travel

A Heritage Travel Itinerary for England

Trace the history of the Mayflower with stops in London, Dartmouth, Exeter, and other history-rich cities.


A view of Dartmouth, where Mayflower passengers stopped en route to Massachusetts. / Photo via Getty/Daryl Benson

Number of Bostonians with English Heritage: 30,090

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey to Massachusetts. In honor of the milestone, the American Ancestors Mayflower Embarkation Tour goes back to where it all began. Join scholar Robert Charles Anderson for the trip, detailed below, on June 1, or craft your own journey inspired by the six-night voyage.

Day 1

By necessity, Londontown is your first port of call. After landing at Heathrow, it’s a three-and-a-half-hour ride to southwestern England, where you’ll check into Exeter’s luxe Hotel du Vin.

DAY 2

This afternoon, you’ll walk the same cobblestone streets as your ancestors in Dartmouth, a port town Mayflower passengers stopped in, ducking into the Dartmouth Museum for a deeper look at the area’s maritime history. On your way there, make a stop at Buckland Abbey for a look at a 13th-century monastery turned private home.

DAY 3

Your third day is all about exploring close to the hotel in Exeter, one of the oldest towns in England. Kick off the day with a tour of the 600-year-old Exeter Guildhall, still the seat of local government. Later, at Exeter Cathedral, American Ancestors travelers will have exclusive access to Mayflower artifacts in the library.

DAY 4

The Mayflower wasn’t the only ship to ferry the English across the Atlantic. Today you’ll explore other towns central to the Puritans’ migration to Massachusetts. The first stop is East Budleigh, birthplace of Roger Conant, the man who established settlements in Cape Ann and Salem. Next is Lyme Regis, where you’ll take a break for afternoon tea. The final stop is Dorchester: If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Reverend John White, who was a minister there, helped send many colonists to what is now Boston’s largest neighborhood.

DAY 5

After swinging by Devon Heritage Centre for an exclusive look at the area’s historical records, it’s time for a little leisure: Namely, an excursion to the seaside town of Dawlish.

DAY 6

It’s your final full day—make it count with a visit to Plymouth, the place from which the Mayflower ultimately departed England. There you’ll get a tour of the Box, a museum that opens this spring with an exhibit kicking off the city’s extra-special Mayflower 400 celebrations.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Heritage Travel Journey