Monday, August 18, 2008

Newsday writer is "Bewitched by Salem"!

Many thanks to writer Aimee Martin who's article about Salem appeared on the front page of the travel section of Newsday in the Long Island, New York region.

Here is the lovely article:

Bewitched by Salem
October is high season, but there's plenty to do year-round
Special to Newsday
August 17, 2008

Fortunately or unfortunately, Salem, Mass., is known around the world for its infamous past. It was the location of the macabre Salem witch trials around 1692, which resulted in the deaths of 20 innocent people and the imprisonment of hundreds more.

Today, practicing Wiccans are a vibrant part of the city's fabric, composing an estimated 10 percent of its population of 40,000, and witch museums, psychic readers, haunted houses, ghost tours and New Age gift shops lure 800,000 visitors to the historic seaport each year.

More than a third of Salem's visitors arrive in October, says Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, which has become the city's recognized "fifth season."

Once the nation's sixth-largest city, Salem has a world-class art museum, a secret staircase buried within the walls of the House of the Seven Gables that begs climbing, and street after street of exquisite mansions that showcase early American architecture. Down at Derby Wharf, visitors can climb aboard a reconstructed 1797 merchant ship and learn about Salem's heyday as a prosperous fishing, shipbuilding and maritime trade center. Best of all, they're all worth exploring during the four "other" seasons of the year.


A visit to Salem deserves at least two days. Here are a few spots to stay:

16 Winter St., 978-744-8304
Rates: $125-$175
Situated in the Historic District, this elegantly restored 1845 inn is one of Salem's finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. Antique furnishings complement the modern amenities.

18 Washington Square West, 978-744-4080
Rates: $104-$309
Historic, full-service hotel with 93 rooms, reproduction 18th century furnishings, a tavern with fireplace and upscale dining room.

22 Hardy St., 978-741-1703
Rates: $125-$200
A stone's throw from the House of the Seven Gables, this 1808 Georgian Federalist style house has comfortable guest rooms decorated with country antiques, a roof deck with expansive water views, and free wireless Internet access.

225 Derby St., 978-740-8788
Rates: $119-$309
Newly built and next to Pickering Wharf, these are Salem's most luxurious accommodations, with 86 guest rooms and an indoor, heated pool.


Whenever I visit my friend Jer, who lives in neighboring Swampscott, the first place we head is downtown Salem to explore the Peabody Essex Museum ($15, 161 Essex St., 978-745-9500,

The romantic in everyone will appreciate the artistic inspiration of weddings in "Wedded Bliss: The Marriage of Art and Ceremony," on view through Sept. 14. It includes paintings (by the likes of Picasso, Chagall and Winslow Homer), sculptures, photographs and several centuries of wedding gowns. While you're there, check out the Yin Yu Tang, an authentic 200-year-old, 16-bedroom merchant's home brought over from China and reassembled at the museum.

Also downtown, Salem Common is great for strolling. Hotels, quaint bed-and-breakfasts, trendy restaurants and shops that go beyond the witch paraphernalia can be found along the brick-lined streets. With its fine examples of Federalist mansions, some say Chestnut Street is one of the most beautiful streets in America. The only home here open to visitors is Phillips House ($5, 34 Chestnut St., 978-744-0440,, which is filled with Federalist-era furniture, Chinese export porcelain and ship portraits.

If historic mansions are your thing, then a visit to the fabled House of the Seven Gables is a must ($12, 115 Derby St., 978-744-0991, Guided tours take you through New England's oldest mansion (1668), which inspired author Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his legendary novel of the same name.

Next, head to Derby Wharf and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site (160 Derby St., 978-740-1660,, where you can watch a free film about Salem's past in the Orientation Center and sign up for $5 tours of the Custom House (1819), where Hawthorne once worked and wrote "The Scarlet Letter," or the Derby House (1762), home of America's first millionaire, shipbuilder Elias Hasket Derby. The West India Goods Store sells stick candy, books and nautical tchotchkes. A short stroll down Derby Wharf leads to the Derby Lighthouse, where you can take in the sea air and enjoy views stretching to Marblehead.

If you're hungry after all that and want to buy souvenirs, the adjacent Pickering Wharf (978-740-6990, is a harborside "village" lined with boutiques, art galleries, antiques shops and restaurants. The Fame, a replica of an 1812 privateer, also sails three times daily ($25, 978-729-7600, from there.

About a mile-and-half outside downtown is Salem Willows, a quirky (and slightly run-down) Victorian-era seaside park that's a sure hit with families (open April to October, 978-745-0251, salem It features a beach area, picnic grounds, a historic 1866 carousel, vintage arcade and kiddie rides, and a row of restaurants serving old-fashioned treats such as saltwater taffy and lime rickeys. Here, you can get a chop suey sandwich at Salem Lowe Chinese Food (978-744-6132) for $1.71, and enjoy buttery popcorn at E.W. Hobbs (978-745-7691), the self-proclaimed home of America's first ice-cream cone.

If you still must go in October
OK, OK - so Salem IS the Halloween Capital of the World and its annual Haunted Happenings Festival, complete with a parade, costume balls and walking tours, will be held from Oct. 2 to Nov. 2. For a free guide, visit

After experiencing all the haunted hoopla, take a reflective moment at the Witch Trial Memorial (Liberty Street, between Charter and Derby streets). This symbolic, award-winning memorial sits behind the Old Burying Point Cemetery.


Waterfront seafood restaurants are aplenty, but upscale Italian, Thai, Indian and Mexican cuisine can also be found.

107 Essex St., 978-825-9911
This is the type of romantic Italian trattoria where you're tempted to order a carafe of red wine and eat spaghetti. Affordable specialties include tagliatelle with veal, peas, artichokes and mushrooms in a light cream sauce.

15 Central St., 978-745-3527
If you want to know what's going on in Salem, this is where locals gossip and politicians cut deals while eating pancakes the size of manhole covers. Open for breakfast and lunch only, the restaurant is housed in the Old London Tea House (1698), the meeting place of the patriots before the American Revolution.

62 Wharf St., 978-744-0062
At this newly opened Pickering Wharf bistro, the Mediterranean-inspired menu features locally sourced and all-natural ingredients. Cocktails made with house-made purées draw a lively bar crowd, too.

231 Essex St., 978-745-2411
A nice menu, outdoor dining and one of the few places in Salem with nightlife. Depending on the night, you can dance to a 30-piece big band or take Latin dance lessons.


Ye Olde Pepper Companie
122 Derby St., 978-745-2744
yeoldepeppercandy.comSaid to be America's oldest candy company, dating back to 1806, the store sells chocolates but is famous for its centuries-old recipe for Gibraltar mints and Black Jacks, an old-fashioned molasses stick candy.

105 Essex St., 978-741-1809
Romance is in the air at this boutique housed in the childhood home of artist Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, wife of Nathaniel. In homage to their passionate love story, proprietor Marie Cardillo sells his-and-hers Nathaniel and Sophia fragrances.

Wicked Goodz
6 Central St., 978-745-3119
Off-the-wall goodies include Last Supper lunchboxes and pirate shower curtains.

Artemisia Botanicals
102 Wharf St., 978-745-0065
Essential oils, teas, soaps and bulk herbs.

10 Front St., 978-741-2323
Make the jewelry you want to wear.


Salem is roughly 4½ hours by car from Long Island. To break up the drive, take the 80-minute Cross Sound Ferry ride from Orient Point to New London, Conn. (631-323-2525,


On foot: Salem's "Red Line" is painted on the city's sidewalks and creates four loops connecting the most important stops and neighborhoods.

By trolley: Narrated tours of the city are available through City View Trolley Tours (978-594-0969, and the Salem Trolley (978-744-5469, Both offer a hop-on-and-off option.

By pedicab: Historic Salem Pedicab Tours offers transportation for two adults via foot-pedaled "green" pedicabs. (978-744-0223,

Photo credit: Salem is a city that celebrates its past. (Photo by Coleen Bruce / National Parks Service / August 14, 2008)
Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

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