Who says you can’t visit the New England Coast in the wintertime? We decided to take a quick trip to Salem, Massachusetts to see if we could spot some witches and ghosts. We also needed a “Covid” break. Funny how being in the middle of a pandemic really makes you truly appreciate the freedom to travel and explore without hesitation or fear. After looking (mostly) at just the walls of my own home for the past year, I’ll never take traveling for granted again (not that I do anyhow, but you get what I mean). I will note that we got lucky and avoided any snow storms during our trip, but I actually think that a little snow would have made it ever more magical than it already was. There’s just something about a light dusting of snow that makes everything sparkle just a bit more brightly.
Practically everyone has heard about the Salem Witch Trials, but what I discovered while visiting Salem is that there is so much more to this area of New England than just cemeteries and witch trials. There are lovely museums, picturesque beachfronts, and plenty of delicious seafood eateries! Don’t forget to pick up all of your paranormal essentials at the local shops- you can find Ouija boards, pendulums, Tarot cards, dream catchers, and crystals. You can even pick up your very own voodoo doll or spell book if you are so inclined. If you’re daring enough, stop into one of the shops in the Salem Witch Village and have your palm read or participate in a Tarot card reading.
Where to Stay in salem
While visiting Salem I decided to stay at The Hawthorne Hotel, which was built in 1925 and is rumored to be haunted (insert ghostly sound effects). I’m so glad I decided to stay at The Hawthorne over a modern hotel…the vibes in this place definitely lived up to my expectations of historical Salem. Another big perk is that they have two restaurants attached which is super convenient, you can even order room service from the restaurants! We were assigned to room 324, a nice cozy budget-friendly room on the 3rd floor. The entire hotel just screams 1920’s. From the old fashioned letter box in the lobby to the antique candelabra’s that can be found throughout the halls of the hotel. As soon as you walk in you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Not to mention the bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in- and I’ve slept in A LOT of hotel beds during my adventures.
After settling into our room I decided to research the hotel a bit more. I soon discovered that room 325, the room RIGHT NEXT DOOR, is said to be one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. People have reported hearing a child crying, ghostly hands touching the guests while they sleep, and lights/faucets turning on and off on their own. Now, I’ll preface this next bit with a disclosure that I AM a believer in ghosts and paranormal phenomenon. During the first night of our stay I distinctly saw the closet door open about 3 inches on it’s own while my husband and I were snuggled up watching T.V. I quickly got up and closed it all the way and avoided looking at it again for the remainder of the night (lest I see a ghost!) On the second night while using the restroom around 2 a.m., a ghostly wind ruffled the shower curtain next to me. Could it have been that I was still half asleep and my mind was playing tricks on me? Perhaps. It could have also been a ghost. I’ll let you decide.
On the last night of our stay we decided to splurge and ordered room service from The Tavern on the Green, one of the restaurants located in the lobby of The Hawthorne. We decided to order the Charcuterie Board (New England Cheese Board) which came complete with a selection of gourmet cheeses, candied walnuts with fresh honey, grapes, a sweet jalapeno jam, toasted baguettes, and a fresh picked cucumber salad. We topped it off with the bread pudding, which was everything I’d hoped it would be.
What to do and see in salem
There’s no shortage of things to do in Salem, that’s for sure! Below is a list of things that you’ll definitely want to check-off your list while visiting Salem for a “tried and true” Salem experience. We were able to see everything over the course of three full days, but you may want to set aside more time if possible so you don’t feel rushed.
- A visit to the Witch House
- Tour the House of Seven Gables
- Take a haunted ghost walk tour
- Visit the Witch Trials Memorial at The Old Burying Point Cemetery
- Step back in time with a tour through the Salem Pioneer Village
- Visit filming locations from Hocus Pocus
- Take a stroll through the Salem Witch Village to find some witchy souvenirs to take home
- Check out the The Peabody Essex Museum
When you’re all tapped out on the touristy sites mentioned above, feel free to expand your horizons by visiting some of the lesser-known attractions in Salem like Winter Island (Waikiki Beach) where you can catch an amazing sunrise and check out the cutest little lighthouse you’ve ever laid eyes on. During low-tide you can literally walk right up to the base of the lighthouse and marvel at how small it makes you feel. It also makes for some pretty cool photos.
If you’re still in a beachy mood you can also check out Dead Horse Beach or Collins Cove Beach in Salem. If you’re up for a short drive from Salem, be sure make a stop by Manchester-by-the-Sea where you can visit Singing Beach– my favorite beach in the Salem area! While combing the beach I found some lovely sea glass and the tiniest little sand dollar. I still can’t believe I spotted it. One thing we didn’t end up doing that was on my list was making the short drive to Rockport, a sleep little seaside town in Essex County. I’ve always been a sucker for sleepy seaside fishing villages, and next time we make the trip to the New England Coast this will be at the top of my list of things to do.
Where to eat in salem
With all of the adventuring and walking that we did in Salem we really worked up an appetite. There are countless places to try for breakfast and lunch. One of my favorites for brunch was The Witch’s Brew Café. The lobster benedict will not disappoint! We also had breakfast at the Fountain Place which is also quite yummy and reasonably priced for a quick breakfast or lunch.
For dinner we actually went to the same place all three nights in Salem, and for good reason! I literally could not get enough of Turner’s Seafood. I have dreams about the Marsala Swordfish Tips Entrée. And the Clam Chowda, to die for! Aside from the mouthwatering food, the vibe of this restaurant really spoke to me. It had the whole 50’s speakeasy feel to it that I absolutely adored. I swear, next time we will venture out to other places for dinner, but I just couldn’t get enough of Turner’s this time around.
Overall our wintertime trip to Salem was a success. There was no shortage of things to do and see, even in the dead of winter. I’d love to see Salem in the Fall when it’s buzzing with Halloween and Harvest spirit! We will most definitely be back soon.