Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Take a break, already!

Gracious, vacationing is hard work! All those sites to see, museums to explore, tours to follow, shops to browse, signature cocktails to try, lighthouses to locate, local cuisine to sample. It's exhausting!
Thank goodness for massage. And yoga.
Body & Soul Massage and Wellness Center in downtown Salem is here to help the weary traveler. Rejuvenate with a Swedish Massage, Reiki therapy, Reflexology, or hot stone massage. Drop by for the Monday night Kripalu class (I do recommend calling first to ensure there is space). Or stop by for a chair massage to loosen the knots between the McIntire Historic District and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.
Packages with Body & Soul are available with some of the local accommodations, so you can turn your Salem vacation into a luxurious spa retreat! Massage parties are available, too - perfect for pre-wedding parties (or post-wedding if your the parents!) and girls' day out.
Body & Soul is open Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm; Saturdays 9am-6pm and Sundays by appointment. Visit www.bodysoulsalem.com or call 978-825-0040 for more info.
Discover the magic of relaxation and wellness in Salem!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Lace Reader

There are some very cool things afoot in Salem these days. One of them is the upcoming publication of the novel, The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry. The book takes place almost entirely in Salem, and features some of our favorite spots including The Hawthorne Hotel, Salem Common, Derby Wharf, The Custom House, The Salem Ferry, Reds, The Peabody Essex Museum, The Ropes Mansion, the First Church, Chestnut Street, The Willows (need I go on?).
In preparation for the promotion of the publication of the book, William Morrow sent Fireman Productions to Salem to shoot two short videos. They shot all over town, and did a lot of work with Brunonia Barry. I can't wait to see the final product!
Because The Lace Reader is about women who make Ipswich Lace (Lace making in Ipswich is believed to be one of the first female industries in America), local lace maker and historical reenactor Linda Lane was brought in to demonstrate the impressive art of lace making. These photos are of Linda's lace making pillow and her beautiful bobbins, and of Linda and film makers Claude and Jeff at work in the Hawthorne Hotel.
The novel comes out on July 29. Visit www.lacereader.com for more information.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Free thing to do in Salem

The page on Salem.org that features free things to do in Salem is by far the most popular page on the site. I commend all of you for your frugality (and hope you are rounding out your Salem experience with visits to some of our non-free sites, restaurants, accommodations, and shops).

There are other things to do in Salem that are free - especially now that spring is springing and summer is coming. I recommend connecting with Cornerstone Books for entertainment, enrichment, local lore, and children's programs. And most of their events are free!

There are a number of events and readings scheduled this week for school vacation week. Check out their calendar on their website, cornerstonebooks-salem.com, or on the calendar at salem.org.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy the Bride who uses the Salem Guide...

Many thanks to The Boston Globe / Globe North section for running, and to Erin Ailworth for writing a story last week called Visitor guides a hot item at weddings. The story talks about the trend of brides using the new visitor guide as a resource for their guests.
It's true, the guides are a handy tool for wedding guests who are using a wedding as an excuse to explore Salem and the region.
The guide is also a great resource for the newly engaged, and for anyone planning a special event or function, as we added a section in 2008 that for weddings and special events. It features function halls and distinctive locations for special events (like Hamilton Hall, featured in the photo in this post).
Discover the magic of your special event in Salem!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

First Muster and Sendoff for Troops

The annual commemoration of the First Muster and sendoff for troops is today, Saturday, on Salem Common from 10am - 12 noon. The event will celebrate the 371st anniversary of the Salem Muster of 1637 and the founding of the National Guard, there will be a memorial service for all who served in the military, inspection of troops, cannon fire, and a deployment ceremony for those heading to Iraq.

We Commemorate the First Muster in Salem because (and this is excerpted from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site's website):

For over two hundred and twenty years, the Second Corps of Cadets has served this country with honor. Founded in 1785 as the Salem Cadets, the unit was originally an officer's training corps. Today, the Second Corps of Cadets is Battery B of the 101st Field Artillery of the Massachusetts National Guard. There are exhibits in the breezeway and in the Regional Visitor Center that highlight the history of this distinguished unit of the Massachusetts National Guard. The Regional Visitor Center is housed in the drill shed of the old Salem Armory, the former home of the Second Corps of Cadets.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Garden Spots

Today I want to shout to the world, "The Dogwoods are blooming! The Dogwoods are blooming!" The Hawthorne Hotel has bright yellow pansies in its flower boxes, and gardens are coming alive all across Salem.

Here are three of my favorite garden paths to follow:

  1. The seaside garden at The House of the Seven Gables, which incorporates "four centuries of floral color" into the property's landscape.
  2. The 18th century formal garden behind the Derby House at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, which "contains more than 150 varieties of heirloom annuals, perennials and bulbs, all documented to 1798 or earlier."
  3. The Ropes Mansion, 318 Essex Street - The Peabody Essex Museum meticulously cultivates and maintains the Colonial Revival garden, which dates to 1912, behind the Ropes Mansion.
It is still early for gardens, but they are budding and this is a great time to begin observing the gardens, and chart their development as the season continues.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Salem FAQ

Salem.org continues to expand and improve. This week we added a much-needed FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, that I hope will answer your questions before you submit them with your visitor guide request or as an independent email. If you have a question that is not answered here, let me know by either emailing me at info@salem.org or commenting on this blog post.

Here's the current list of FAQs:

Where do we park?

There’s lots of parking in Salem! We recommend using one of the two parking garages for long-term parking. The City of Salem Parking Department offers a great map on their web site to help you find parking. Meters are $.25/hour and most street and lot parking has 1 or 2 hour meters. The Museum Place Garage, South Harbor Garage and Church Street lot cost $1.50/hour. Click here for complete pricing information. The Museum Place Mall is located directly across the street from the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center, which is the perfect place to start your exploration of Salem.

When can I get a schedule for Haunted Happenings 2008?

The schedule will be published by July. We are in the process of updating HauntedHappenings.org now. As we update information on the Haunted Happenings web site, the best place to find a current schedule for October 2008 is the calendar on Salem.org. We post events there as they are submitted to Destination Salem.

How much does a taxi from Boston's Logan Airport to Salem cost?

Approximately $50.00 one way.

When does the Salem Ferry run?

Salem Ferry Service between Boston and Salem begins May 23, 2008 and runs through October.

Can we take a train or bus to Salem?

You can! The MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) Commuter Rail connects Salem to Boston’s North Station, Newburyport, Rockport, and Gloucester. The fare between Boston and Salem is $5.25 per ride (one way). You can walk from Salem Depot to downtown shopping, dining, attractions, waterfront. For bus service, take #450, #455 from South Station and Bus #459 from Logan Terminal C.

What is the weather like in Salem?

New England weather is unpredictable year-round. Monthly averages, in degrees Fahrenheit, are:

  • January 37 high, 20 low;
  • February: 40 high, 23 low;
  • March: 47 high, 30 low;
  • April: 57 high, 38 low;
  • May: 67 high, 48 low;
  • June: 76 high, 58 low;
  • July: 82 high, 63 low;
  • August: 80 high, 62 low;
  • September: 73 high, 55 low;
  • October: 62 high, 45 low;
  • November: 52 high, 37 low;
  • December: 42 high, 27 low.

Where can I purchase a combination ticket to Salem’s attractions?

There are a few combination tickets available in Salem:

  • Visit The Land of Witches & Pirates with a combo ticket to the Witch Dungeon Museum, Witch History Museum, and New England Pirate Museum;
  • The Salem Hysteria Pass includes the Salem Wax Museum & Salem Witch Village;
  • The Discover Salem Passport includes admission to the House of the Seven Gables, The Peabody Essex Museum, The Salem Witch Museum, and the Salem Trolley (in season).

How big is Salem?

Salem is a very walkable city. How fast you walk it is up to you! Most people can walk a half-mile at a leisurely pace in 15-20 minutes. Here are some sample distances:

  • To walk from the MBTA train station to the Salem Ferry at Blaney Street is less than one mile.
  • The National Park Service Regional Salem Visitor Center to the Phillips House on Chestnut Street is just over a half-mile.
  • The House of the Seven Gables to the Salem Witch Museum is a half-mile.
  • The Peabody Essex Museum to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site is less than a half-mile.
  • Salem Willows and Winter Island Maritime Park are each about 1.5 miles from the center of downtown Salem (at Salem Common). While people do walk these distances, most prefer to drive. There is ample parking at both destinations.

What is the Red Line drawn on the sidewalks?

Salem’s Red Line connects the most important stops and neighborhoods in Salem. The line is painted on the sidewalk and creates four loops through the city to help you explore. It is painted on the map in the Salem Visitor Guide, on the maps in the information kiosks around Salem, and in the Salem Best Maps.

We are traveling in an RV/Motor Home. Where can we park it while we see the sites?

Motor home and RV parking is permitted at Salem Willows Park and along Fort Avenue adjacent to the Dominion Power Plant. From downtown Salem, driving north-east, Derby Street turns into Fort Avenue. The two trolley companies in Salem run tours to Salem Willows and can provide transportation to the downtown for the cost of their ticket prices. RV camping is available seasonally at Winter Island Maritime Park.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cast a spell at Hex

Salem has a new shop that is casting spells on and with locals and visitors alike. Hex: Old World Witchery is now open at 246 Essex Street, adjacent to Lappin Park where the Bewitched Statue sits. Hex offers a nice balance of spells and magic for non-magical people as well as supplies for practicing witches. There is a great array of candles, jewelry, hats, Voodoo dolls (Don't tell me you don't need a Voodoo doll!), signs, and other collectibles. I was admiring the broomsticks, and when I asked Christian if they flew, he advised me that I would have to find out for myself.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Audio Tours of Salem Maritime National Historic Site Now Available

This just in from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site (they make blogging about Salem so easy!)

A new audio tour of Salem Maritime National Historic Site is now available for downloading from the site’s web site at www.nps.gov/sama/photosmultimedia/audiotour.htm.. The self-guided tour consists of ten stops, and informs visitors about the wharves, buildings, and replica tall ship at Salem Maritime. A map of the site with the tour stops marked on it is also available on the web site and at the Orientation Center on Derby Street.

The audio tour was produced by the National Park Service from a script written by Salem Maritime’s curator, Dave Kayser. “This product was initially developed as a tour for visually impaired visitors,” stated Kayser, “but we realized that all of our visitors, especially local residents who use the park in the mornings and evenings, could benefit from the tour.” According to Salem Maritime’s webmaster, Emily Murphy, the National Park Service has been using podcasts and downloadable audio tours to reach new audiences. “Many National Parks have been offering audio tours for some time now,” says Murphy. “With the addition of sound effects, and even music, an audio tour is a different way of experiencing a park from taking a guided tour or reading the informational signs.”

In addition to professional actors reading the script, the audio tour features music by two local Salem groups: the early music duo Poor Richard’s Penny, and the sea chantey trio Ye Mariners All. “Music was a very important part of life in the 18th and 19th centuries,” says Larry Young, a member of both groups. “People would sing and play instruments on the ships, in Salem’s houses, and even on the streets. We are glad that the Park Service was interested in using music from the time period of the historic houses at Salem Maritime.”

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site audio tour is only one of many exciting things available on the Salem Maritime web site. Besides information about upcoming events, tour schedules, and exhibits in the Salem Visitor Center, the web site also contains information about items in the collection, printable copies of the highly popular McIntire Historic District walking tour, and many other printable tours and activities. Visit Salem Maritime on the web at www.nps.gov/sama.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Salem Spring Restaurant Week: April 13-17, 2008

I love restaurant week in Salem. Really, I love eating out... and there are so many choices in Salem! Indian, Italian, Thai, Seafood, American, haute cuisine, hot dogs... it's endless.

[Side note: My love of restaurants seems to be overly evident in the blog lately. I promise I have some great posts on art and culture in Salem, the museums, shopping, tours... it's all coming. And the weather is getting warmer, so it is a great time to get out and explore.]

Back to restaurant week... Restaurant Week is organized by the Salem Chamber of Commerce as an easy way for everyone to return to their favorite restaurants, or try something new. Three-course meals at participating restaurants are $26.26 (beverages, tax, and gratuity are not included, and please remember to tip for good service!).

In case you're wondering why the prix fixe is $26.26, it's because Salem was founded by Roger Conant in 1626. You can visit Roger while you're walking off that fabulous meal - his statue is at the northwest corner of Washington Square / Salem Common, adjacent to the Salem Witch Museum.

The Chamber advises that reservations are recommended. Please call restaurants directly.


The Black Lobster at Stromberg's Cove, 2 Bridge Street, Tel.: 978-744-1863 http://www.strombergs.com/

Capt.'s Waterfront Grill & Club, 94 Wharf Street, Tel.: 978-741-0555http://www.capts.com/

Cilantro, 282 Derby Street, Tel.: 978-745-9436 http://www.cilantrocilantro.com/

Finz Seafood, 76 Wharf Street, Tel.: 978-744-0000 http://www.hipfinz.com/
(Finz gets the photo credit for the Lobster & Asparagus picture. I can't guarantee it's on the menu, but it sure looks good!)

Grapevine Restaurant, 26 Congress Street, Tel.: 978-745-9335 http://www.grapevinesalem.com/

Lyceum Bar & Grill, 43 Church Street, Tel.: 978-745-7665 http://www.lyceumsalem.com/

Nathaniel's, 18 Washington Square West, Tel.: 978-744-4080 http://www.hawthornehotel.com/

Passage to India, 157 Washington Street Tel.: 978-832-2200

Regatta Pub, Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites, 225 Derby Street, Tel.: 978-740-8788 http://www.salemwaterfronthotel.com/

Rockafellas, 231 Essex Street, Tel.: 978-745-2411 http://www.rockafellasofsalem.com/

Sixty2 on Wharf, 62 Wharf Street, Tel.: 978-744-0062 http://www.62onwharf.com/

Spirits at 300 Derby, 300 Derby Street, Tel.: 978-744-8889

Strega Restaurant & Lounge, 94 Lafayette Street, Tel.: 978-741-0004 http://www.stregasalem.com/

Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square West, Tel.: 978-744-4080 http://www.hawthornehotel.com/

Victoria Station, 86 Wharf Street, Tel.: 978-745-3400 http://www.victoriastationinc.com/

These are great restaurants! We need more time. What's especially nice is that two of our newest restaurants, Spirits at 300 Derby and 62 on Wharf are participating, which gives us all an excuse to try something new. That said, there are a few restaurants on this list that I haven't visited in too long a time. This may be my excuse to get back out there!

Let me know what you think - send me your comments and pictures (G rated, this is a family program) to info@salem.org. I may use you in a future blog post!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Architecture in Salem

It is delightfully sunny here today. Forecasters say spring is really here, and the days will get progressively warmer from here on out. This sort of news inspires me to want to go for a walk. On the off-chance sunny spring weather inspires you to walk and explore, too, here's a Salem suggestion:

Experience Salem's glorious boom of the 18th century by following the Samuel McIntire Historic District Walking Tour. McIntire was one of America's most remarkable wood carvers and architects, and he left an indelible mark on Salem in the homes and decorative arts he carved here. The walking tour was redone last year by the Peabody Essex Museum and National Park Service, with a grant from the Essex National Heritage Commission, and it will be both guide and interpreter for your self-guided tour of Salem's Federal Architecture heritage.
If you want more architecture, the National Park Service produced a walking guide to all of the architectural periods in Salem - First Period, Federal, and Colonial Revival are the three big ones. The properties highlighted in the guide are those that are open to the public.
You can download your copy of Architecture in Salem from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, or pick one up at the Salem Regional Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Street.

Salem's rich architectural history gives the city a remarkable sense of place. Because of great preservation efforts, we are fortunate that our streets are lined with homes and public buildings from the past 400 years. Through buildings, we are able to learn about how people lived, how they spent their wages, and where they spent their professional and personal time.
Discover the magic of architecture in Salem.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

There is so much to do in SALEM...

The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism has launched a new campaign to attract visitors to 90 corners of the Commonwealth. The campaign boasts that there is so much to do in Massachusetts that they had to create a different ad for each day. We could probably do the same thing in Salem!

Salem is featured in a few spots. Check out The House of the Seven Gables in Spot #23 and The Salem Witch Museum in Spot #65.
If you are planning to visit The House of the Seven Gables and The Salem Witch Museum, you may want to look into the Discover Salem Passport, which is a combination ticket for these two sites as well as The Peabody Essex Museum and The Salem Trolley. It also includes a couple of restaurant discounts. The Discover Salem Passport must be purchased in advance.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Upper Crust

The Upper Crust Pizza, which opened in Lapin Park (118 Washington Street) in October, makes awesome pizza with innovative combinations of toppings.
At the risk of sounding like a food-reviewer (which I'm not - I'm much too finicky), I love The Upper Crust because it's not greasy pizza. It tastes almost healthy, which makes it a bit less of a guilty pleasure! Chunks of vegetables, really fresh sauce and crust, it's very good stuff!
(Did I mention they serve beer and wine? I know that's important to some people!!)
Michael told me they are ready for spring and the outdoor seating is being dusted off this week. They deliver, too, which is always nice!

The guys at Upper Crust are ready to serve you great pizza!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Salem Haunted Happenings 2008

Believe me when I tell you that we in Salem are working really hard to get all of the information on Salem Haunted Happenings together and posted. Lots of you are already planning your trips to Salem - wisely so, I must say - and you have been asking for information to be sent to you.

Here's the scoop: The Official Calendar of Events for Salem Haunted Happenings will be printed in July. If you would like to be put on the mailing list, you can either send an email to info@salem.org requesting it, or you can fill out a visitor guide request form on Salem.org and check off that you are interested in Haunted Happenings. The Official Haunted Happenings web site at HauntedHappenings.org is being redone, and should be live this summer.

In the meantime, please use Salem.org for your information and updates. The calendar is updated continually. Other online resources for October in Salem are Festival of the Dead and Haunted Happenings Salem.

Here's what we know so far:

October 2nd... Haunted Happenings Grand Parade
October 11th - 12th... The Haunted Bazaar (visit the Salem Chamber of Commerce for more info on this very popular street fair)
October 18... Salem Harvest Fest
October 31st... Halloween Fireworks

There are lots of details to fill in the middle. We are waiting for confirmation on the PT Cruiser Car Show, the Harley Davidson ride, Spirits of the Gables, the Psychic Fairs, Children's Day on Salem Common, the Costumed Pet contest, Concerts, balls, and so on.

I promise you there will be lots going on during Haunted Happenings 2008, and the weekends of October will be chock-full of Haunted Fun for all. Accommodations are going fast, so if you're planning to come, book your stay now and fill in the details later!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

No Place for Hate Committee to Host Panel Discussion on the Faith and Lifestyles of the Wiccan Faith

The City of Salem’s No Place for Hate Committee will be hosting a panel discussion the evening of April 12th which will focus on practices within the Wiccan faith and the everyday lifestyles of those practicing Paganism. The objective of the event is to bring understanding and educate those in attendance about the religion, lifestyle and culture of those who practice Wicca while also touching on the history within the Salem community.

The panel discussion, which will be held on the second floor of Old Town Hall, will be moderated by Salem State College Professor Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello. The discussion will be led by No Place for Hate Committee member Jerrie Hildebrand and Margot Adler of National Public Radio (NPR) and is sponsored by the Salem Witch Museum.

Ms. Adler is the host of NPR’s Justice Talking and is a regular on shows such as All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. She has been a Wiccan priestess for over 35 years. In 1979, she wrote the book Drawing Down the Moon, a classic study of Neo-Paganism and Wicca which was recently revised and updated. Ms Adler also wrote Heretic's Heart, a 1960's memoir of her life. In addition, she is also a co-producer of the award winning radio drama, War Day.

Ms. Hildebrand is creative principal of a Salem-based marketing company. Since 1986, Ms. Hildebrand has worked with various national religious freedom organizations on issues pertaining to the Wiccan and Pagan religions and in 2005 was ordained by Circle Sanctuary. More notably, Ms. Hildebrand was part of the team from Circle Sanctuary that led the effort in getting the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to add the pentacle to its list of official emblems for the headstones and markers of Wiccan veterans. She illustrated the final version of the official emblem now used.

Both Ms. Adler and Ms. Hildebrand have traveled throughout the country and internationally to conferences separately and together doing presentations and discussion on subjects related to Wicca and Paganism. After the two are through speaking, the panel will open to questions from the public.

This will be the second event sponsored by the No Place for Hate Committee within its second year of existence. In June of 2007, the City of Salem was officially named a No Place for Hate community by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) after the Committee organized three events which focused on promoting respect and diversity. The Committee will need to sponsor two events each year in order to regain the City’s certification as a No Place for Hate community.

The Panel Discussion on Wicca and Paganism is free and open to the public. It will be held on Saturday, April 12th at 7-9 pm at Old Town Hall in downtown Salem. The event will also feature opening remarks by Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and will conclude with a song from Rev. Amy “Gypsy” Ravish from the Temple of Nine Wells located in Salem.