Nick and I really wanted to try to plan a few days away before school started again in September and originally we were going to go rent what I lovingly would call a Murder Cabin. You know, a cabin at a camp site somewhere where you are surely going to get murdered. (I’ve seen one too many horror movies.) We looked at a few campsites in upstate New York but they were all totally booked or totally overpriced for what you’d get.
Then we thought maybe we’d take that trip back to Boston that we’d talked about taking after having a nice 24 hours there back in January. But upon further inspection, it turned out that the hotel we wanted to stay at, plus most things to do in Boston, are still shut down. Plus why should we leave one big city for another one?
Then I thought, why not Salem?
It’s close to Boston and I’ve always wanted to go there after having seen cult-classic Hocus Pocus when I was 7. It’s also a smaller city that’s totally walkable.
Once I found an awesome deal for three nights at The Hotel Salem, a super hip little hotel in the center of Downtown Salem, I told Nick what I was thinking and he was on board. We booked a car and I started Googling things to do in Salem and making my usual spreadsheet of when things were open, their addresses, and how much they cost. I was delighted to learn that museums were super cheap in Salem.
Also: so much of what was on my list was located on the same street as our hotel! (Essex Street, that is.)
I also researched who was allowed to travel to Salem without quarantining and luckily New York was on the list. Wear a mask ‘y’all!
I, of course, researched historical and haunted walking tours of Salem and booked one that had the best reviews for our first night there.
I’d been told by someone who lived in Salem that they were strictly enforcing wearing masks in all public places and that was A-OK with me.
We arrived, figured out where to park (there are parking garages and long-term parking lots on Bridge Street and Church Street), put an hour or so on the meter and checked into The Hotel Salem.
I’m not going to go into what we did while we were there but needless to say, it was an awesome four days. Four days was the perfect amount of time to see basically everything had to offer PLUS a day trip into Boston.
A vegan pizza from the Flying Saucer Pizza Company in downtown Salem.
Ten Reasons You Should Visit Salem, Massachusetts:
- Cheap Parking: We paid $39 for FOUR DAYS! Enough said.
- History: Salem isn’t especially proud of it’s dark past with the Salem Witch Trials but it’s important to learn about the hysteria that caused them and how it can so easily happen again today. Every building has a plaque on it and was built in the 19th century or before.
- Walking: The entire city is walkable. Google Maps makes the city look much bigger than it is. It takes about 20 minutes, max, to walk the length of Essex Street from the very western edge of town to the very eastern edge.
- Food: There’s so much good food there and it’s all so cheap! The most expensive meal we had was $70 and that included a drink, a mocktail, two appetizers, and two entrees. In NYC, that would’ve cost $70 per person.
- Ghosts: If you love ghosts, this is your city!
- Boston: There’s not much open in Boston currently but in case you want to take a day trip into Boston, it is four stops and 20-30 minutes via the MBTA and the station is, like everything else, walkable from Downtown Salem.
- Museums: There’s a horror movie museum! It’s small but I loved it. There’s also the Salem Witch House museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and several others that aren’t yet open (the Pirate Museum, the Ropes Mansion).
- Social Distancing is Easy: It’s a small town and tourism is quiet right now so it’s pretty easy to social distance while you’re there.
- Native Salem Residents: Everyone in Salem is SO nice! And they’re nice not in the fake southern way where they’ll tell you “bless your heart,” but in the genuine “hi and welcome to Salem!” kind of way. It’s always shocking coming from New York City!
- Diversity: Okay, okay, this is kind of not true because I think most of Salem’s residents, and tourists, were white but there is some diversity and the types of people you see walking around are really diverse. There are a ton of beach bums, retired folks, families, young people, artists, gothic kids, etc. It doesn’t matter what type of person you are, you won’t feel out of place in Salem.
The Burying Point cemetery, right next to the Salem Witch Trial Memorial.
Of course, there are a couple of downsides to every city, too. I think my only criticism of Salem is how early everything closes! We had to eat dinner at an Irish pub called O’Neill’s after the walking tour ended at 9pm our first night there because everything else was closed.
Faneuil Hall at rush hour during the week. Maybe skip Boston this summer?
So if you’re from the mid-Atlantic/New England area and you can take four days away, I’d definitely suggest Salem. It’s an awesome micro city with a ton of history and it’s hard not to love it!