THE WITCH CITY OFFERS A WORLD OF ENCHANTMENT, HISTORY AND CULTURE FOUND NOWHERE ELSE ON EARTH.
By B.C. Rausch
Even though we live in paradise, the occasional out-of-town excursion is a treat. From Hilton Head and Savannah we’re fortunate to have nonstop flight options that afford exploration of many popular North American destinations rich in abundant sights, sounds and flavors. LOCAL Life brings these nonstop cities to you through the eyes and recommendations of local foodies, shopaholics, sports fans and cultural aficionados that will ensure that your next out-of-town adventure is just that — nonstop.
Chances are that just hearing the name “Salem, Massachusetts” sends shivers down your spine and conjures up images of witches. As it should, because the Salem Witch Trials really did occur — back in 1692 — and the city does a booming business in ghost tours, Halloween revelry and other witch-related tourism. But there is much to recommend Salem that is not spooky, even if the local high school mascot is a witch. The city’s slogan for visitors is “Salem — Still Making History,” and you’re sure to have a boo-tiful time there.
This city sits along Massachusetts Bay on the region’s historic North Shore, 16 miles northeast of Boston, about a 45-minute drive. It’s easily accessible from Boston/Logan Airport by public transportation.
A significant seaport for trading commodities in early American history, the city’s past is celebrated at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site (free admission), which includes the Tall Ship “Friendship,” films, and other exhibits that tell the stories of Revolutionary War sailors and merchants who brought the riches of the world to America.
The city center offers many places to admire art, shop, eat and meet, all within easy walking distance. Book lovers will want to visit the House of Seven Gables, which was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel. Also nearby are Pioneer Village, a living history museum set in the 17th century, and the Peabody Essex Museum, one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States, with 22 buildings of art from around the world.
Three blocks from the museum’s main campus is the McIntire Historic District, an easily strollable area rich with Georgianand Federal-period houses designed or influenced by renowned architect Samuel McIntire (1757-1811).
One of the best ways to explore the city is on a bike (but be careful in the center of town), and be sure to ride to Salem Willows Park along the oceanfront. The park is packed with games, food, and fun for all ages: ride the carousel, rent a rowboat, attend a concert, and play whack-a-mole or other games, from “antiques” like PacMan and Skeeball to the latest high-tech NBA Hoop Shot and Dance Revolution.
You’re sure to work up an appetite, so here’s where the locals go to eat.
A&J King Artisan Bakers, named for founders Andy and Jackie King, is an incredible bakery offering scrumptious pastries (don’t miss the croissants), sandwiches and great coffee. There are two locations in Salem.
Adea’s Mediterranean Kitchen is a tiny Israeli restaurant only open for lunch. It’s fresh, inexpensive and tasty.
Bambolina is famous for Neopolitan pizzas—handcrafted and made to order. Its rustic pizzas are 11 inches in diameter and feature a charred, soft raised outer crust. Toppings are balanced, so sauce and cheese are cooked equally in an incredibly hot oven.
Need some liquid refreshment? Try Notch Brewing, a tap room, biergarten and brewery serving a variety of Polish, Czech and German beers on tap. There are communal tables on the South River basin in the warm months and heated stand-ups in the cold months. It’s a great place to watch the tide come in and out while spying on harbor seals, birds and, in season, striped bass. Kubb and Cornhole games are popular when it’s not busy.
Blue Fez prepares Moroccan cuisine, while the Gulu Gulu Café is a popular coffeehouse where you can catch an eclectic mix of artists and trendy young professionals, local bands and singer-songwriters. The food is a wholesome, veggie-friendly assortment of soups, sandwiches and an expansive crepe menu of sweet and savory fillings.
If you simply can’t resist the ghosts and goblins, witches and warlocks, visit Salem in October when it fills up with a scary assortment — and number — of tourists. According to locals, coming to town for Halloween truly is a trial. LL
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
Duration: Flight (2 hours, 26 minutes); public transportation (a 45-minute drive from BOS to Salem).
Airlines: jetBlue, Delta