Approximately 30 minutes north of Boston (give or take depending on the traffic), is the spooky seaport town of Salem, Massachusetts. Thousands of tourists from all over the globe flock to Salem in October alone to get a taste of all things “witchy”. Salem is most known for the witch hysteria of 1692 which all started with a group of young girls claiming to be possessed by the devil and accusing local Salem Village women of witchcraft. What a lot of people may not be aware of is that Salem was actually one of the leading trading ports in the U.S. by the end of the 18th century, with over 40 active wharves- importing goods like spices and molasses from West India, Africa, and the far East.
I remember visiting Salem for the first time when I was about 10 years old on a Girl Scout trip and was instantly captivated by its rich history and uneven brick sidewalks (the crisp Autumn temps and breathtaking foliage may have helped). So now every August, when I’m absolutely fed up with Summer’s heat, I get the itch to book a trip to New England and I always turn to Salem. I had the opportunity to visit again this October during their Haunted Happenings month-long celebration and brought along a dear friend, which allowed me to be both the tour guide and the tourist.
Visiting Salem early in October has its perks, we beat the crowds and the weather was perfectly Autumn. Salem Haunted Happenings offers varying events throughout the entire month- so there is something for everyone! We had the chance to enjoy a little of the local scene at the beginning of our trip with the Haunted Happenings Kick-off Parade and made sure to grab a cup of “chowdah” at the Lobster Shanty to warm ourselves beforehand.
During the weekend, we packed in as much as we could- a walk through the McIntire Historic District, a stop at Jolie Tea Co. to warm up, varying museums such as The House of the Seven Gables and Salem Witch Museum, a ghostly night tour with Black Cat Tours, a scavenger hunt with Georgia Made This, snagged a picture with Borah from Salem Black Hat Society, and tons of unique shopping on Essex Street, Pickering Wharf, and Artists Row. And as every Hocus Pocus fangirl does- we stopped by Allison’s house aka Rope’s Mansion, Max and Dani’s house on Ocean Avenue, and the Pioneer Village.
But our most favorite event of the trip was hands down Salem Food Tours. I had the opportunity to take the AM coffee walk tour when I visited in 2017, and knew I had to try the weekend kick-off tour, and it did not disappoint! Karen was the perfect tour guide and hostess- her welcoming charisma makes you want to grab a glass of wine and join her for dinner. Not only did she give so many great recommendations of the Salem Food Scene but she painted such a great picture of the rich history Salem continues to offer. Some of our stops on the food tour included a chowder and spice tasting at Salem Spice, bread and oil sampling at The Branch Olive Oil Co. (the olive sourdough from A&J King Bakery was to die for), cheese tasting at The Cheese Shop of Salem, and wine sampling at Salem Wine Imports. I cannot say enough about Karen and Salem Food Tours- a must do when visiting Salem.
On our way home from Salem, because we didn’t get enough spookiness for one weekend, we decided to detour to Sleepy Hollow, NY- the home of the Headless Horseman. We didn’t have time to enjoy a reenactment of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow at the Old Dutch Church or take a walk through their haunted attractions-but I put it on the list for next October!
While I sit and enjoy a cup of Jolie Tea Co’s Caramel Apple Tea, I can’t help but wish I could bottle up Salem and open it whenever I miss New England. So, if you find yourself longing for crunching leaves beneath your feet with a side of crisp ominous air, book a trip to Salem, Massachusetts. But remember (as Kare told us so many times), “there were no witches in Salem”.
One of our favorite parts of this particular vacation was the day on the water we spent with Captain Rich and his crew aboard the Schooner Eleanor. Our boys had sailed before, but never in Maine. They were up bright and early that morning eager to see what the ride would be like.