My friend, Coors, and I have been planning a trip to Salem for the Literary Festival in November. All the research had me fixated, so when PK had to work last Saturday I was off.
From my house in Connecticut the drive only took about two hours. Well, it should have been two hours. My oil change in the morning went a little longer than expected and I hit the beach traffic in Massachusetts.
On Instagram I follow a lot of New England people and businesses. Lately, I noticed a lot of the accounts I follow are based out of Salem. What a coincidence, since we’re planning a trip there. One thing I need to find in any city is coffee. Jaho Coffee & Tea caught my attention by promoting their pumpkin spice lattes. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s not a year around fixture in New England coffee houses to begin with.
Note of importance: Jaho has the best iced pumpkin spice latte, ever. Period.
This was the third weekend of August and the city was alive. I was blown away by how urban and modern Salem is. I was expecting a much more old school village atmosphere but the old and the new mixed so perfectly that it began to make sense why I’m seeing such a huge boost in social media presence from the residents here.
The more time I spent exploring the city, the more texts PK received from me that we need to move here if we ever left Connecticut. The street were filled with an appropriate amount of people, I never felt overwhelmed, and there was history on every street.
The SticksWorks exhibit was one of my favorite places to visit. I’m not sure if/when they plan on taking this down, but it’s something worth visiting. The pictures can’t do justice to how large these structures are.
Obviously Salem is busy during the month of October, but there is plenty to see in the summer too. The day I was visiting happened to be the Salem Jazz and Soul festival. There were musicians on every street and artwork promoting sustainable lifestyles everywhere too. This Saturday also happened to be a Derby Square Market day. Once a month from May thru September on a Saturday the Derby Square hold a pop-up flea and art market.
Anytime I’m exploring and will only be somewhere for a few hours I try to make a bucket list of things I want to visit. Included on this list are always a few local owned, small businesses. In a city like Salem there will always be large commercial, mass produced item shops trying to make a buck off of tourist. Please don’t be that tourist, support the locals! In doing my research (and browsing Instagram) I decided on Jaho Coffee and Tea, HausWitch and The Coven’s Cottage.
The HausWitch and Coven’s Cottage are amazing! Please support them, you can buy online. I actually got to meet the owner of Hauswitch, Erica, that day and she was such a nice and warm person, asking where I was from and giving great suggestions of shops to visit when I told her I wanted to support the real locals.
The women working at Coven’s Cottage were just as welcoming. The streets of Salem smell amazing between the salt air, food, and incense burning everywhere. Coven’s Cottage definitely contributes. When you walk inside you immediately feel calm and at home. Naturally grown herbs hang from the ceiling and the walls are lined with jewelry and art from local artisans.
I stocked up in both of these stores.
I had some time to spare and decided to take long way back to my car. I came across a cemetery with the graves of some very interesting historical figures. There is even a passenger of the Mayflower. Thankfully, a father and daughter read the map and I followed them to that grave marker. A long day of walking and shopping and I require the boyband voice setting in Waze to direct me everywhere.
Whenever you visit Salem make sure you stop by the Visitor’s Center. It hosts free movies and is staffed by National Park Rangers who, simply put, know everything. If you need to know anything, ask them and they will point you in the right direction.
In just a few hours I went home with plenty of memories and tea. My mom was so jealous I went without her that she surprised me and rented us a room in Salem that week! So, part two of this post is my second adventure back up to Salem with my mom! There were so many pictures that I had to insert a read more tag. Click it. You won’t be disappointed.
My mom and I drove up after rush hour traffic and made the trip in two hours. We got a great deal at the historic Hawthorne Hotel. It’s located right downtown and is within walking distance from everything. I can confirm, no ghosts.
Once we were checked it we went out for dinner. It was a week night and the streets were practically empty. The night was beautiful and cool so we ate outside at The Lobster Shanty. We shared the patio with a few locals and their puppies. The lobster mac n’ cheese was so good I almost cried.
The next morning we were up early and enjoying pumpkin spice lattes. I had to take my mom to Jaho. Almost directly next door to the coffee shop is The Salem Maritime park. It was so early that we were the only ones there for at least thirty minutes. A park ranger on bike greeted us and gave great suggestions on how we could spend out time since we’d only be there for a day. We had already planned on taking a trolley tour, but it was encouraging to hear from the ranger that it was a must-do.
Lot’s of photo opportunities here and some entertaining seagulls. It was low tide and you had to watch your head as the seagulls flew high with their clams and would drop them onto the path to crack them open.
I never take selfies, but you get two of them today. That’s how happy this place made me.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was fired from working here because he was too busy writing the Scarlet Letter.
Salem Home for Elderly Women. My mom didn’t appreciate my jokes that day.
The trolley ride really was great and totally worth the ticket price, which is reasonable to begin with. The ticket also gets you discounts at some of the shops and museums. My favorite part of our tour was the guides connection to the city. She was a local retired teacher whose son is on the board for a local charity and we ran into her granddaughter working at the local ice cream shop we passed.
One recommendation I will make if you do the tour is to sit on the right hand side. I got to see a lot of amazing sites and monuments, I just felt there were better water photo ops on the right.
Drooled over the houses we saw on the tour. We also got to see the house Clue is based on.
The weather was beautiful all day so we tried to always eat outside. Rockafellas had great food and even the inside of the restaurant was incredible. It ended up being a tough decision whether we should eat outside or not, but the weather and sites prevailed.
As our tour guide explained, a lot of the witch museums tell the same story. We chose The Witch Museum because the proceeds of tickets go towards supporting the Salem Home for Boys. At the end of the show you are guided through a display of the depiction of witches through the ages, from Hollywood portrayals to modern wiccans. The final wall before you exit was a reminder of what giving into fear can lead to, comparing the witch trials to McCarthyism and the AIDS epidemic. I really enjoyed it and thought it was an important display, especially given what’s going on in our country at the moment.
A lot was accomplished in one day, but there is still so much left to explore. I’m looking forward to going back soon!
Any suggestions of what I should see the next time I’m there?