Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A great way to connect Salem and Boston

Salem Trolley and the Salem Ferry have partnered with Old Town Trolley in Boston to provide a great package option for visitors looking to explore both Beantown and the Bewitching Seaport.

This combination ticket includes round-trip travel between Salem and Boston aboard the Salem Ferry, an all-day pass for Salem Trolley, and an a pass for Old Town Trolley in Boston.

This package costs $70 adults / $64 seniors / $35 children and can be purchased in Boston through Old Town Trolley or Boston's Best Cruises, which is the operator of the Salem Ferry.

Monday, June 28, 2010

How Conductor Dirk Hillyer Sees Salem

July Fourth in Salem is a fantastic celebration of all things patriotic. 2010 marks the eleventh year that Salem's celebration of the Fourth will be led by Conductor Dirk Hillyer and the Hillyer Festival Orchestra on Derby Wharf at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

This year the musical celebration will celebrate "Rising Stars" and feature:
  • Puccini favorites sung by Manhattan School of Music graduate student Anna Lawrence;
  • Mozart's Marriage of Figaro performed by Salem State College students Kathryn O'Connell and Robyn Higgins;
  • A beautiful tenor aria from I Pagliacci sung by Dan Kamalic;
  • A Salem March written by local Ian Bunker for the Fourth;
  • Broadway overtures;
  • Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and
  • Igor Stravinsky's very challenging Firebird (celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the ballet).

And, of course, the orchestra will perform patriotic favorites while the fireworks explode above the tall ship Friendship, Derby Wharf, and Salem Harbor.

The man behind the program, and in front of the orchestra, is the very talented Dirk Hillyer. You may have seen him performing in the band for Salem Theatre Company's recent production o Hair, or at one of the HFO's many other regional events.

In anticipation of another wonderful 4th of July in Salem, here is how Dirk Hillyer sees Salem.

Dirk Hillyer, Conductor
The H
illyer Festival Orchestra

Where are you from?
Portland, Oregon

How long have you worked in Salem?
25 Years

Your Top Five:
  1. Place to eat: Pig's Eye
  2. Place to shop: Harbor Sweets
  3. Special Event: July Fourth!
  4. Museum or Attraction: Salem Witch Museum
  5. Hidden Gem: Harbor Sweets!
What or where do you recommend to guests from out of town?
Go to Salem Beer Works and the Salem Witch Museum.

Describe Salem in ten words or less:
A happenings city that is rising to terrific regional prominence, especially in the arts, such as July 4th, Salem Film Festival, Salem Theatre Company.

* * *
If you want to dine and explore like Dirk, here are the links to all of the places he recommends:

In a Pig's Eye
Victoria Station
Salem Beer Works

Salem Witch Museum
Peabody Essex Museum
Salem Film Fest
Salem Theatre Company
Salem Celebrates the Fourth!

To learn more about the Hillyer Festival Orchestra, visit

Friday, June 25, 2010

Six Ways to Raise Your Spritis in Salem this Weekend

1. Get your pirate on. Visit the New England Pirate Museum, where guides dressed as pirates will lead you through Salem and New England Pirate history. After your tour, test your sea legs aboard the Schooner Fame and set sail aboard this replica wooden schooner that was one of Massachusetts' most lucrative privateers during the American Revolution and War of 1812. Arrh!

2. Oh, the Comedy! There are two great shows on stage in Salem this weekend. The Salem Theatre Company is performing Rounding Third at their new space on Lafayette Street, and Summer Theatre at Salem is featuring Lend Me a Tenor. Rounding Third features the tumultuous, and hilarious, journey of two little league coaches through an entire season. Continue down Lafayette Street to take in the hysterical Lend Me a Tenor on the Salem State College Main Stage.

3. Live Music at Gulu Gulu. From electronica/pop to folk/rock, Gulu-Gulu Cafe has a great music line up this weekend, culminating in their monthly LGBTeaDance on Sunday night. Check out the eclectic beer and wine list at one of Salem's hippest cafes. (If you're hungry, the crepes and panini are quite delicious, too!)

4. Family Fun aboard the Friendship. Climb aboard the replica tall ship Friendship at Derby Wharf in the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and participate in ranger-led family activities. Admission is $5 adults, $3 for kids. Saturday, 10am - 4pm. Check out the online family resources on for more park fun for kids!

5. Swing, Run, Play. The new playground on Salem Common is open for play! This state-of-the art new playground features climbing structures, slides, and swings. It has all the ingredients for free family fun!

6. Shop! The fabulous J.Mode on Front Street is celebrating its third year in Salem with a summer sale. While you are on Front Street, check out roOst, The Behive, and Maria's Sweet Somethings (among other wonderful shops), and don't forget to go around the corner onto Washington Street to discover Treasures Over Time. Visit for more shopping inspiration.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crowninshield-Bentley House to Reopen for Tours this Weekend

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) today announces the reopening of one of its most storied properties, the Crowninshield-Bentley House. The house, one of 22 historic properties stewarded by PEM, is located at 126 Essex Street in Salem, MA and designated by the National Register of Historic Places. Docent-led tours of the house will resume on June 26, and a public opening celebration for the house will take place during Salem Heritage Week in August.

Built at 108 Essex Street in 1727 by fish merchant and ship captain, John Crowninshield, the house was home to one of New England’s most renowned diarists, Reverend William Bentley, from 1791 through 1819. The house was sold to Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel in the late 1940s. The Hawthorne Hotel donated the house to the Essex Institute in 1959, and the house was moved to its present location.

Under the curatorial leadership of Dean Lahikainen, PEM’s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts, the house has been restored to its 1794 appearance with the exterior and all public spaces repainted. Restoration efforts thus far included restoration of objects and window treatments, new chimneys, refurbished interior décor and site upgrades.

The next phase of the ongoing Crowninshield-Bentley restoration will include Reverend William Bentley’s library and study. Bentley, whose fame spread far beyond Salem, was a pastor, politician, linguist, naturalist, antiquarian, and diarist. The diary kept by Bentley is considered one of the most important New England diaries of the period.

Tours featuring Crowninshield-Bentley and other PEM historic houses are offered on a daily basis. Further information is available at

Monday, June 21, 2010

How Phoebe Cole Sees Salem

One of the best ways to experience Salem and New England is from the water. One of the best ways to do that in Salem is aboard Mahi Mahi Cruises. Cruising out of Salem Willows, Mahi Mahi offers narrated tours of the harbors and coastline, thematic cruises (including Cape Ann Brewing, Lighthouses, Fireworks), and a great opportunity to get away from it all.

This week we are hearing from Mahi Mahi Manager Phoebe Cole, and how she sees Salem.

Phoebe Cole
Manager, Mahi Mahi Cruises & Charters

Where are you from?

How long have you worked in Salem?
Five Years

Your Top Five:
  1. Place to eat: Finz
  2. Place to shop: Roost and The Behive
  3. Special Event: Farmers' Market tied with the Salem Jazz & Soul Festival at Salem Willows!
  4. Museum or Attraction: Salem Trolley, and although I’ve never tried it Salem Kayak seems like a great new addition to the park, can’t wait to try ‘em out!
  5. Hidden Gem:
    Can I say Rudder, our boat dog? He’s just so handsome. I guess it’s not so hidden but I’m gonna go with Passage to India, so good!
What or where do you recommend to guests from out of town?
To be honest, we bring them on a cruise; it’s a great way to see the entire area without all the hassle. I’m also a fan of simply relaxing and grabbing a drink at Vic Station or any of the great restaurants right on the Wharf.

Describe Salem in ten words or less:
A beautifully unique sea-side city rich with history and itching to be discovered and explored. There’s more to Salem than October, come discover it!

* * *

If you want to shop, dine, and explore like Phoebe, here are the links for more information:

roOst urban country design
The Behive

Passage to India
Victoria Station

Salem Farmers' Market
Salem Kayak
Salem Jazz & Soul Festival
Salem Trolley

For more information on Mahi Mahi Cruises, visit them online at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Six ways to raise your spirits in Salem this Weekend

It's gonna be a hot one!! Here are six ways to stay cool in Salem this weekend.

1. Eye Spy at the Peabody Essex Museum
Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm |
Enjoy a fun-filled day of magic, illusion and art in celebration of the opening of Eye Spy, Playing wiht Perception in the interactive Art & Nature Center. Participate in a magic show, investigate optical illusions, meet featured artists, and create your own illusion-inspired art. Free with admission.

2. Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair Saturday, 10 am - 3 pm |
Visit with exhibitors, learn about green living, hang out in the Kids Zone at Old Town Hall. Cinema Salem will screen "Fresh the Movie" at 10am, and the Green Speaker Series will feature lectures at the Gathering, 217 Essex Street.

3. Picnic at Winter Island
Saturday, 4 pm - 7 pm |
Head down to Winter Island for a fundraiser to benefit the maritime park that will feature live music by Black Dog Brother, Lucas Custer, Hannah Cranton, Clay Ventre, performances by The Rebel Shakespeare Company, sailing and fun. Bring your own picnic or buy delicious food from Rothwell Catering. $10 donation, Children free.

4. Laugh at Lend Me a Tenor
June 17 - 27, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 2:00 pm | Summer Theatre at Salem kicks off it 16th season with Lend Me a Tenor this weekend. Don't miss this hysterical evening of plot twists, mistaken identity, and double entendres.

5. Celebrate the Solstice
Sunday, 11:30 am - 4:30 pm |
The Temple of Nine Wells will host a celebration of the Summer Solstice and all-day Witches' Midsummer Gathering at the Pavilion at Winter Island on Sunday. Events include children's crafting, Ocean blessing and healing rite, guided path working, face painting, raffles, live music, and a Magick Circle Ceremony at 4:30 pm. Entrance donation is $10 per person (6 and older), and they will be collecting canned foods for local shelters.

6. Free Admission for Fathers at the Phillips House
Sunday, 11 am - 4 pm |
Celebrate Father's Day with a tour at the Phillips House! This 1821 mansion is home to five generations of the Phillips family's art, antiques, and furnishings. The carriage house features two Pierce-Arrows, a 1929 Model A Ford, and five of the family's carriages. Admission is free for fathers of all kinds! Otherwise, admission is free to Historic New England members and Salem residents, and $5.00 for adults.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spend Father's Day in Salem

Salem's a great place for dads. Here are a few ideas to help you celebrate the dad in your life this weekend:

Mahi Mahi Father's Day Brunch Cruise
Enjoy Father's Day with a two-hour laid-back, yet informative, narrated cruise with Mahi Mahi Cruises. The Father's Day cruise includes a complimentary, Caribbean-inspired brunch that includes baked goods, fruit kabobs, coffee, and a cash bar for all those who deserve a toast! Departs at 10:00 AM on Sunday, June 20th.
$25/adults, $15/children. Reservations recommended by calling 978.828.0001.

Rockafellas is Golfafellas!
Enjoy an all-you-can-eat BBQ at Rockafellas this Sunday for $19 per person, and enjoy a round of golf in the restaurant between courses! Fabulous prizes for dad, including Red Sox tickets and a gas grill. Reservations recommended by calling 978.745.2411

Keep Dad on Time
Treasures over Time at 139 Washington Street is offering a 15% discount on their Skagen Watches for dad. These Danish watches are stylish, elegant, and affordable. If Dad doesn't need a watch, Treasures over Time has a wide selection of gifts, from ties to pocket knives.

That's just the beginning... it's going to be beautiful this weekend, so check out a sail aboard the Schooner Fame, head to the Willows for skee-ball and ice cream, stay cool in the galleries of the Peabody Essex Museum. Visit for lots more activities ideas, restaurants (Green Land Cafe is open!), and shops.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

'tis the Season! Farmers' Market Opens Thursday!


Are you feeling my enthusiasm? I could just sit here and write, "Yay! Yay! Yay!" all morning, getting more excited with each exclamation. Why, you ask? Well, because the Salem Farmers' Market returns to Derby Square for its second glorious season tomorrow, Thursday, June 17th.
The market will be open on Thursdays from 3pm - 7pm from June 17 through October 21, 2010.


I love the Farmers' Market because it is convenient - right down town - and it brings farms from around the region to Salem; it generates a sense of community; and, most importantly, it gives us great food!!

Monkey bread, strawberries, greens, squash, tomatoes, corn... oh, I love the growing season. And I hold a special spot in my heart for Essex County and Massachusetts farms. The farmers of Essex County are not only farming and producing great food, but the farms are preserving the landscape. Supporting the farms, whether it is at their farm stands or at farmers' markets like Salem's supports the preservation of Massachusetts' amazing, living landscape.

Last year the Salem Farmers' Market served an amazing 38,000 people during the season. This year they hope to entice more people to the market by being open one hour earlier - at 3pm - each week.

There will be fresh produce, live lobsters, baked goods, and crafts for sale. (You may remember the Swiss baker from last year, and unfortunately, we have learned that he is not returning. My kids will certainly miss his pretzels.)

Here's what's old and new at the Salem Farmers' Market:

Returning Farms
  • Clark Farm
  • First Light Farm
  • Gibney Gardens
  • Salem egg farmer
  • Maitland Mountain Farm
  • Green Meadows Farm
  • Long Hill Orchard
  • Simone Farms
  • Wally's Vegetables
Returning non-farm vendors:
  • Rowand Seafood
  • Rowell Fishing Company
  • Ellies Salad Dressing
  • Magick Moon Soap Wurks
  • Living With Pets
  • Creative Spirit Design
  • Salem Soapworks
New Farms
  • Flats Mentor Farm (an Asian vegetable farmer)
  • Cider Hill Farm of Amesbury
  • West River Creamery
The market will have numerous new vendors and products this year as well. Green Meadows Farm intends to bring local meat to sell at the market. West River Creamery is expected to bring a variety of cheese and nitrate free bacon and sausage. Rawberts Organic will also be a regular vendor at the market.

New non-food vendors
  • Little Monkeys Photo Company
  • Old Town Nantucket Baskets
  • Ara Leamar Custom Art Glass
  • Historic New England Phillips House
  • Little Birds Fly (baby and toddler clothing)
  • EMP (jewelry made by a local 11 year old girl)
The market is made possible through the generous support of Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and the City of Salem as well as numerous volunteers and the dedicated Salem Farmers' Market Committee.

The market is embarking upon a new program this year SNAP and will accept the EBT card at the market.

See you at the market tomorrow!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

3rd Annual Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair this Saturday

The 3rd Annual Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair, organized by The Salem Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Salem Renewable Energy Task Force, will take place Saturday, June 19, 2010 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

The Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair will feature 40 + exhibitor booths, a screening of “FRESH the movie”, a Green Kids Zone, bike workshops and information on green transportation, collection of unwanted books and a Green Speaker Series. The fair has something to offer the entire family, don’t miss this FREE event!

Schedule of Events:

Vendor Booths & Exhibits
Location: Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Free Screening of the "FRESH” the movie
Location: Cinema Salem, Museum Place Mall
Time: 10:00 AM (70 min.)

Green Kids Zone presented by Crunchy Granola Baby
Location: Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square, 2nd Floor
Time: 10am - 3pm

Bike Workshops & Green Transportation
Location: Outside Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
Time: 10am - 3pm

Got Books - Unwanted Book Collection Truck
Location: Outside Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
Time: 10am - 3pm

Green Speaker Series
Location: The Gathering, 217 Essex Street (on the Pedestrian Mall)
Times: 11:15am; 12:30pm, 1:45pm (each session will be approximately 60 minutes)

The fair is made possible with the help of a number of local and regional green businesses. Title Sponsor of this year's fair is Atlas Glen-mor, offering customers a full array of innovative services, energy-efficient equipment, competitive financing options and service agreements. Presenting Sponsors are National Grid and Salem State College. Event Sponsors include Achieve Renewable Energy, LLC, Rescom Exteriors, Whole Foods and Zipcar.

For more information on the 3rd Annual Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair, visit

Monday, June 14, 2010

How We See Salem: David Allen George, Artistic Director, Summer Theatre at Salem

This week we get to see Salem through the creative and dramatic eyes of David Allen George, who is a Professor of Theatre at Salem State College and the Artistic Director of Summer Theatre at Salem.

David Allen George is starring in the Summer Theatre at Salem production of Lend Me a Tenor, which opens Thursday, June 17th. This is a great opportunity to see professional theater in Salem.

We've changed the questions a bit. I hope you like the new format!

David Allen George
Theatre Professor, Salem State College
Artistic Director, Summer Theatre at Salem

Where are you from originally? Napa Valley, CA

How long have you worked in Salem? 35 Years

Your Top Five:
  1. Place to eat: Grapevine
  2. Place to shop: Bernard's Jewelers
  3. Special Event: July 4th on Derby Wharf featuring the Hillyer Festival Orchestra
  4. Museum or Attraction: Peabody Essex Museum
  5. Hidden Gem: Salem State Theatre!!
Describe Salem in ten words or less:
A small city with a big heart.

What or where do you recommend to guests from out of town:
Amelia Payson House or Hawthorne Hotel

* * *

If you want to shop, dine, and explore like David, here are the links for more information:

Bernard's Jewelers


Peabody Essex Museum
Salem Celebrates the Fourth
Salem State Theatre

Amelia Payson House
Hawthorne Hotel

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Gables Inspires Two New Fabric Lines!

The House of the Seven Gables has inspired a lot of people to do a lot of things. It inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne to write a novel, it inspired Caroline Emerton to use its historical signifinance to operate the settlement house, it has inspired many brides and grooms who have married in the gardens, it inspired Brunonia Barry's new novel, The Map of True Places, and now it has inspired two new lines of fabric.

This is really exciting and unique. It is a fantastic new way to connect with this remarkable historic landmark.

Here is the scoop from The Gables:

In recognition of their centennial anniversary, The House of the Seven Gables has collaborated with Blue Hill Fabrics to produce two fabric lines inspired by architectural and decorative motifs found inside and outside the Mansion over the past three centuries. Blue Hill fabrics presented the first line at the International Quilt Market in Minneapolis in May and will unveil the new line locally at The House of the Seven Gables on Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 2:00pm in the fourth of the Seven Lectures at Seven Gables series, Creating Fabric Inspired by History, Place & Time.

Formed in August of 2009 by Roger Roby and Dan Weidmuller of Windham Fabrics, Blue Hill Fabrics demonstrates a devotion to superior quality fabrics, offering quilting basics, vintage reproduction fabrics and contemporary trend-setting styles. After several visits to The Gables and archival research, Roby and Weidmuller will ultimately create two lines: the first based on interior motifs including historic wallpaper and the second to be presented at the International Quilting Market in Houston this October will be based on exterior architectural details.

“There are 100 years of wallpaper samples in our archives,” says Anita Blackaby, Executive Director at The House of the Seven Gables. “They represent a variety of stylistic periods; everything from Jacobean to Oriental.”

In addition to introducing the first of The Gables fabric lines, Roby and Weidmuller will also discuss the history of fabric in the United States and Europe, exemplifying how modern fabric making techniques reflect past advancements in textile production.

The fabric lines inspired by The Gables will be available to the public in the fall of 2010. A portion of the proceeds generated from the fabrics will go to the House of the Seven Gables to fund its community service efforts in Salem.

The lecture will be held in collaboration with The Bowditch Institute on Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 2:00pm at The House of the Seven Gables. Tickets are $10 for non-members and $5 for members of The House of the Seven Gables, Historic New England or The Salem Athanæum. For tickets, please call The House of the Seven Gables at 978-744-0991 ext. 104.

For more information on this year’s centennial events, please visit

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 Free Concert Series Continues this Weekend

The Salem Jazz & Soul Festival is great at building excitement. So great, in fact, that they started inspiring our excitement for the August festival via free concerts that began in May.

The Free Berklee Summer Series continues this weekend on Saturday, June 12 behind Old Town Hall (at Front Street) with a performance by Tubby Love from 5-7 pm.

Mark your calendars for the festival itself, August 21-22, at Salem Willows. It's always an excellent weekend of music.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How we see Salem: Innkeeper John Brick

Salem has some great bed & breakfasts, including Stepping Stone Inn. Stepping Stone is located in the heart of downtown Salem, next to the Salem Witch Museum, across the street from Salem Common and the statue of Salem's founder, Roger Conant, and around the corner from the Peabody Essex Museum.

Stepping Stone was built in 1846 for naval officer Benjamin True. When the inn was restored each of the eight unique bedrooms were refurbished in the elegant style of the 19th century. Each room has its own private bath. You can watch a video I took inside the Stepping Stone Inn here.

Here is how Stepping Stone Innkeeper John Brick sees Salem.

John W Brick, Innkeeper
Stepping Stone Inn

Where are you from originally?
Des Moines, Iowa

How long have you lived & worked in Salem ?
19 years

What is your favorite thing about Salem?
Love the Farmers' Market, shops on the waterfront, and the beautiful beaches.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Salem?
I have two wonderful places where I like to eat: The Grapevine & Bella Verona

What’s your favorite place to shop in Salem?
There are three great places to shop in Salem: The variety of shops on Front Street, Pickering Wharf, and the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall.

What is the first thing you do with guests from out of town?
First, I explain that they are in the heart of the city and all attractions are within walking distance. I point out that there are great places of interest, and I recommend they use the Trolley tour to get an overview of the city.

* * *

If you want to shop, dine, and explore like John, here are the links for more information:

Bella Verona

Pickering Wharf
Visit for information on other shopping and dining districts.

Salem Farmers' Market
Salem Trolley

For more information on the Stepping Stone Inn, visit