Thursday, July 29, 2010

Winter Island Maritime Park

One of Salem's best spots for hanging out is Winter Island Maritime Park. It is one of the few locations in Massachusetts north of Boston where you can camp with water views. It has a boat launch, a beach named after Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, a function hall, playground, community gardens, and hiking trails.

It is a great spot.

Winter Island is a great green space that makes you forget you are anywhere near suburbia or the urban confines of Boston.

Camping facilities include tent sites tucked away in the woods, and RV sites with harbor views.
Originally Fort Pickering, Winter Island was one of Salem's earliest military forts. Prior to being a military fort, it was used for drying fish and launching fishing vessels. More of Winter Island's history can be found on

Pickering Light still guides vessels into Salem harbor today, and it's a great backdrop for scenic photographs!

You can learn more about Winter Island, the camping, parking, and function fees and calendar on

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Salem's HOT! Here are our Best of North Shore Winners for Nightlife

We have more BONS Winners to share! Here are the Salem winners for Entertainment and Nightlife. Congratulations!!

Bar Scene

Readers’ Choice:
Lobster Shanty
25 Front St., Salem

Live Theater Venue

In late 2009, Salem Theatre Company got a new lease on life, so to speak, with its new 60-seat venue on Lafayette Street. What hasn’t changed is the quality of performances you’ll find here, ranging from cultural to classic to contemporary. Whether it’s a musical, a play, or a concert, you’re bound to see a great show every time.

Readers’ Choice:
Salem Theatre Co.
90 Lafayette St., Salem

What separates Cinema Salem apart from its megaplex competitors is that it invokes the true essence of film viewing. Here, the personal touches go a long way. The popcorn is freshly made and right before each movie is about to begin, an employee comes down to the front of the screen to greet and thank everyone for coming to see the show.

Readers’ Choice:
Cinema Salem
2 East India Square Mall, Salem

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kayak in Salem - a great way to explore the coastline

Salem Kayak, out of Winter Island, offers paddles for all ages and abilities by day and night. They run programs, classes and guided tours for all abilities.

This Sunday, August 1st, they are offering a leisurely Sunday afternoon paddle (that may include an ice cream stop - who can beat that?!)
This paddling excursion is appropriate for all ages and all abilities. They will make a couple of beach stops for swimming (and the aforementioned ice cream).

The tour departs Salem Willows at 1:00 pm (participants should meet at Salem Kayak at 12:45) and returns at 4:00 pm. Participants will paddle along the Danvers River to Beverly and back to Salem Willows.

Cost is $55 per person for a single kayak, $50 per person for a tandem. Email Kevin and Gillian at to reserve your space on the tour.

Here's a map link to help you find Salem Kayak at Salem Willows.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Best of North Shore: Dining - Salem eateries that made the cut

Northshore Magazine has released its 2010 Best of the North Shore list, and we aren't surprised to see some of our favorite restaurants recognized for their greatness. Here are some of the Salem restaurants who got the nod this year.

General Excellence!

Some of the most ambitious, authentic, and skillfully crafted dishes available anywhere can be found at Sixty 2 on Wharf in Salem. Chef and owner Antonio Bettencourt cooks like an obsessive Italian grandmother while the wait staff is comprised of convivial, articulate, well-informed food aficionados who love their jobs, love the restaurant, and, above all, love the food. You will, too. With plenty of house-made items (charcuterie, cheeses, pasta) and thoughtful portions, this relative newcomer on the Salem culinary scene has quickly raised the bar as the top dining destination.

Sixty2 on Wharf,
62 Wharf St., Salem

Al Fresco Readers’ Choice:
Finz Seafood Restaurant
76 Wharf St., Salem

Beer Menu Readers’ Choice:
Gulu- Gulu Café
247 Essex St., Salem

Breakfast Readers’ Choice:
Red’s Sandwich Shop
15 Central St., Salem


Sure, their Sunday brunch has your typical eggs and bacon, but when you eat at Nathaniel’s in Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel, you’re in for more than just a meal—it’s an experience. An elegant atmosphere is accentuated by live jazz and an assortment of menu options that feature virtually any ingredient that your appetite can crave. This is what Sunday mornings were made for.

18 Washington Sq., W. Salem


When you take your taste buds for an exotic tour at Passage to India in Salem, they will thank you afterwards. Try blends of savory spices in their samosas, tandori, and curry soups; also try the Garlic Naan, which is always fluffy and flavorful.

Passage to India
157 Washington St., Salem


Bella Verona is a little taste of Italy, right in Salem. Small and cozy, this Italian haven is perfect for an intimate date or cocktails with friends. The food is flavorful without being overly saturated with oil, butter, or garlic. We’re fans of the Caprese Salad and the Veal Scallopini. Throw in a bottle of Chianti and it could be a while before you finally say “ciao.”

Bella Verona
107 Essex St., Salem

For a complete list of all of the winners in the Dining category, visit

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pillage the Village this Weekend!

Pioneer Village at Forest River Park will be overrun by a notorious bunch of sea-robbers this weekend, July 24-25!

Pillage the Village: Pirates Invade Salem!” is a special event for the entire family that will feature a treasure hunt, period music, sword fights and more. Guests can wear pirate finery for adult and children’s costume contests, bring a picnic for the day, or join a pirate crew while witnessing the chaos of the Salem village under ‘attack.’

Local actors will bring famous pirates from New England’s past to life. The village will be crawling with characters including Captain Ned Low, “Black Sam” Bellamy and even Lynn’s Rachel Wall, who was the last woman hanged on Boston Common.

Here are the details you need to know for an excellent day of Piracy at Pioneer Village:

Admission: $10 Adults, $8 students, seniors, and military, $6 for children 4-12 . All proceeds will go toward the continuing restoration of the Village.

Saturday, July 24: 10am - 4pm

Sunday, July 25: 12pm - 4pm

Pioneer Village is America’s oldest living history museum, built for the 300th anniversary of the founding of Massachusetts in 1930. It features thatched cottages, the colonial governor’s “Fayre House,” and even an English-style “wigwam.” Interpretation at the Village is provided by the Institute for Public History at Gordon College, which also produces Cry Innocent!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There's an App for that - Salem, that is!

Destination Salem has just released its first iPhone App! This free App is the Salem Visitor Guide in App form.

You can download it now, for free, in the iTunes store!

The App includes our calendar of events, things to do, restaurant and shop listings, and ticket sales for the Salem Trolley and Phillips House.

Check the app often, because we already have updates and improvements in queue for version 2!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How Trolley Guide Ron Olson Sees Salem

The Salem Trolley is one of the best ways to see Salem, especially if it's your first visit. (I have been known to recommend trolley tours for first-time-visitors to any destination. If a trolley is available, take advantage of it!) The advantage of the Salem Trolley is two-fold:

1) You get a one-hour narrated tour that includes downtown Salem, Salem Willows, Winter Island Maritime Park, the McIntire Historic District and Chestnut Street, Salem Common, Pickering Wharf, our two lighthouses, historic districts, and Salem's multi-faceted history.


2) Your ticket is good all day, so you you have a shuttle between 13 stops in Salem so you can easily navigate back to the sites you see on your trolley tour.

If you do take a trolley tour, you may be lucky enough to have Ron Olson as your driver and guide. In addition be being a great driver, Ron gives an awesome tour of Salem, and - as you'll see from his picture - he has a great sense of humor.

Here is How Ron sees Salem.

Ronald K. Olson, Driver/Guide
The Salem Trolley

Where are you from originally?
Revere, MA

How long have you lived in Salem?
26 years

How long have you worked in Salem?
20 years

Your Top Five:
  1. Place to Eat: Bella Verona
  2. Place to Shop: Trolley Depot
  3. Special Event: Halloween in Salem
  4. Museum or Attraction: Peabody Essex Museum
  5. Hidden Gem: Winter Island Maritime Park
Describe Salem in ten words or less:
A multifaceted historical city replete with pleasant surprises and great restaurants!!

What is the first thing you do with guests from out of town?
Take them on a Salem Trolley Tour!

* * *

If you want to shop, dine and explore like Ron, here are the links to the places he recommends:

Trolley Depot

Bella Verona

Halloween in Salem (Haunted Happenings)
Peabody Essex Museum
Winter Island Maritime Park
The Salem Trolley

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Salem Six

I love summer.... so many great activities to choose from! Here are six ideas to start your weekend. For a complete list of special events and things to do, visit or follow the links below. Have a great weekend!

1. Cruise & Dine on the Salem Ferry. Whether you are cruising to Salem or cruising to Boston, your Salem Ferry is worth a discount (usually 10%!) at restaurants on both ends of the trip. Here are links to the lists of participating restaurants: Cruise & Dine Salem / Cruise & Dine Boston.

2. Stroll along the new South River Harbor Walk, which officially opened yesterday! This beautiful walk connects downtown Salem at Derby Street (across the street from Rouge Cosmetics and Engine House Pizza with Pickering Wharf). The path along the South River includes tables, seating areas, and a playground. Check out the tiles painted by Salem children along the way! Map

3. Discover treasures at The Common Yard Sale, hosted at the Hawthorne Hotel. This community-wide yard sale will feature craft items, oriental rugs, light fixtures and more! Saturday, July 17, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM in the Ballroom.

4. Dip your toes in the water at one of the beaches at Salem Willows, while eating an ice cream cone, of course! This classic amusement park gives you a taste of yesteryear with its arcades, kiddie land, mini-golf, fishing pier, and Hobbs' famous ice cream and popcorn. The Hobbs family was the first to introduce the ice cream cone to America in 1906! Who doesn't love edible history?!

5. Check out the Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea and The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family, Photographs by Richard Avedon exhibits at the Peabody Essex Museum before they're gone! Both close on Sunday!

6. Discover the secrets of Curious Punishments of the Puritans and Courting in Colonial America, both special exhibits at The Witch House. This is the only structure with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials that is still standing in Salem. Tour the home of Trials judge Jonathon Corwin, and learn about Colonial American lifestyle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Salem Kids Tours

I'm really excited about Salem Kids Tours, a brand new walking tour in Salem that is geared specifically for kids. The tour is geared for kids and their parents, age 4 and up, and features "Ghost Stories, Gross Stories, and a Time Machine!"

This is a cool addition to any family trip to Salem.

Tours, led by the ever charming Prudence Adams, are held Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1:00 PM.

Amesbury Sports Park

We attended a North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau meeting (Yes, really, a meeting. Business was conducted.) at Amesbury Sports Park yesterday, and after the meeting we were invited to have a bit of fun.

Amesbury Sports Park less than an hour north of Salem in Amesbury, MA. They do winter tubing and summer tubing, priding themselves on the steepest tubing hill in New England. In the summer, they also OGO, which is the 11' plastic orb that people climb into. There are to options for the OGO - dry and in a 7-point harness, or in a suit with 5 gallons of water (think indoor private water slide). We were dressed for work, so the water option was out yesterday. I may have to go back to try it, though. They say you can put two or three people in with the water... and then they push you off the hill.

Here are a few pics from our experience. It's a great family-friendly option if you're staying in Salem for a few days. There's a restaurant on site, too, so you can grab a bite to eat and then head back out to the tubing hill.

Here's the tubing hill. The trails are lined in plastic and have berms, so your tubes stay on track as you race down the hill. The tubing is fast (at least for my mind). And wear sneakers!

Here's Susan from the CVB heading up the hill. One of the best parts about Amesbury Sports Park is the lifts! You ride a conveyor belt to the top of the hill. No huffing and puffing!

Climbing into the OGO.

This is Destination Salem's fabulous summer intern, Tatyana, strapped into the OGO and ready to go!

And here is the OGO coming down the hill. You roll head-over-heels inside of the orb for about 45 seconds. Notice the other OGO being pulled back to the top on the right.

This is a fun place to check out. I have it on good authority from a 9-year-old that the summer tubing is, "Wicked!"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New England Pirate Museum is one of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts!

Congratulations to the sites in Salem that were chosen for the newly released list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts! More than 12,000 places were nominated.

Included in the list was the New England Pirate Museum, which had a nice write-up on today:

Frankly, the most pirate history Mass. vacationers seem to get these days come from those miniature golf courses down on the Cape. Enter Salem's Pirate Museum though, and visitors can learn about the notorious characters that once roamed the North Shore.

Here's the list of other sites in Salem that made the list:
  • Charter Street Burial Ground
  • Chestnut Street
  • Essex Street Pedestrian Mall
  • The Hawthorne Hotel
  • The House of The Seven Gables
  • Misery Islands in Salem Harbor
  • Peabody Essex Museum
  • Phillips House
  • Pickering Wharf Lighthouse (Derby Light)
  • Salem Maritime National Historic Site
  • Salem Willows Park
  • Salem Witch Museum
  • The Salem Athenaeum
  • Winter Island
  • The Witch Dungeon Museum
The complete list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts is available here (PDF).

Monday, July 12, 2010

How Roost & Beehive Owner Kate Leavy Sees Salem

Last October a new retail show on Front Street arrived , and much to our shopping delight we had lots of new options for holiday shopping. That shop, Roost: Urban Country Design turned many shoppers into Roosters, inspiring owners Kate and Jamie to open a second shop, right next door.

The Beehive
will celebrate its grand opening with a party on Monday, July 19th, 5pm - 9pm. The Beehive offers the sassier side of cards and gifts. The shop is filled with laugh-out-loud items that will make you call your friends over from the across the store (it's true, I've done it). Featuring cheeky greeting cards and coffee table books to slinky dogs and squirrel underpants, The Beehive is filled with gifts you've gotta get and give.

But wait, there's more! The Beehive is not only adjacent to Roost, but the two stores are attached inside. So, there will be drinks, eats, and store(s)-wide discounts! If you won't be around on the 19th, no need to wait. The stores are both open now.

We are going to start the celebration a week early on by finding out how Roost and Beehive owner Kate Leavy sees Salem. Congrats and best wishes to Kate and Jamie on both stores.

Kate Leavy, Owner
Roost & The Beehive

Where are you from originally?
Born in Virginia, but call Portsmouth, NH home

How long have you lived in Salem?
1.5 years (we opened Roost 8 months ago)

Your Top Five:
  1. Place to Eat: Sixty2 on Wharf
  2. Place to Shop: (Other than Roost!) Two Girls Shop for clothing
  3. Special Event: The Scooper Bowl
  4. Museum or Attraction: PEM
  5. Hidden Gem: Mahi Mahi Cruises
Describe Salem in ten words or less:
Fun, friendly and quirky with a very bright future.

What is the first thing you do with guests from out of town?
Grab a drink at the Shanty

* * *

If you want to shop, dine and explore like Kate, here are the links to all of the places she recommends:

Two Girls Shop

Sixty2 on Wharf
The Lobster Shanty

Mahi Mahi Cruises
The Scooper Bowl (On August 4, part of Salem Heritage Days)

To learn more about Roost and The Beehive, visit them online at and

Friday, July 9, 2010

This weekend's six

It's been crazy-busy at Destination Salem lately. We are pulling together Destination Salem's 2010 Guide to Haunted Happenings, talking with cruise lines (Blount Small Ship Adventures is coming to Salem three times this summer!), working on budgets, and talking to travel writers and group tour operators.

AND we've been helping a few visitors who are standing on a corner looking from map to street sign to map in a confused manner. I hope the families and couples I ran into this week found the Witch Trials Memorial, the Witch Dungeon Museum, the Tall Ship Friendship, the visitor center, and the right restaurants for cooling off and chilling out!

Here are a few thoughts for this weekend. The weather report looks a little spotty, but we desperately need the rain so don't let it stop you. (Besides, how many times has the weather forecast been completely WRONG?!) Salem beckons...

1. Take in the free film, To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, 193 Derby Street. This free (did I mention free?) 18 minute film presents the history of Salem's maritime trade and the traditions it inspired.

2. Make a weekend out of it with a package at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites. New packages include Mahi Mahi Cruises or Salem Kayak, so you have a place to stay overnight and a way to see Salem from the water. Packages include an overnight for two, breakfast in the Regatta Pub and either a 90-minute paddling tour with Salem Kayak or a two-hour harbor cruise aboard Mahi Mahi.

3. Find out what happens in "happily ever after" at Summer Theatre at Salem's production of Into the Woods. Characters from various fairy tales take to the stage through July 18th.

4. Don't let the scaffolding scare you away, and visit The Salem Witch Museum, which is open through restoration of the building's exterior. We're really excited to know the Salem Witch Museum is preserving its iconic building, and you should know that the presentations and gift shop are open for business behind the curtain. The Salem Witch Museum's presentations will leave you with lessons of tolerance from 1692 and a new understanding of what the word "Witch" really means.

5. Make Art in the Garden at The House of the Seven Gables. This program is for families with children ages 6 and up, and you will create art using a variety of art materials. The fee includes all supplies, and the program is limited, so do make reservations. 10:00 AM Saturday. Please call 978.744.0991 x.104 to make reservations.

6. Explore Salem by foot. Salem has excellent guided walking tours that will illuminate all sides of Salem's history. Whether you are interested in Salem's architecture, the haunted history, or Witch Trial heritage there's a walking tour for you. Check out the options on

However you spend it, have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tickets still available for Beer + Chocolate Tasting Event Tonight!


Thursday, July 8th at 6:30 P.M. |

Take a delicious journey into the art, culture, and history of Maya chocolate beverages with Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) curator George Schwartz and locally-based Taza Chocolate co-founder Alex Whitmore at Beer + Chocolate = Food of the Gods on Thursday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Known to the Maya as kakaw (cacao), the chocolate beverage was a cherished luxury good considered fit for the gods. Recent archaeological research has confirmed that a fermented chocolate "beer" preceded the non-alcoholic chocolate drinks of the New World. Chocolate continues to inspire brewers today.

Beer + Chocolate begins with a tour of Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea led by Schwartz. Following the tour is a presentation and tasting featuring beers such as Dogfish Head’s Theobroma and Southern Tier’s Choklat, along with Taza’s renowned stone-ground organic chocolate. Guests will also try their hand at creating a chocolate beverage in the style of the Maya, and enjoy Maya-inspired cuisine.

Schwartz and Whitmore will discuss the importance of cacao and chocolate beverages in the Maya world, linking the discussion to the watery themes of Fiery Pool, and revealing through imagery and demonstration how Maya beverages were made and continue to be made today. The event closes with a tasting of modern Taza chocolate and discussion of how it is inspired by ancient Maya and Mesoamerican cacao beverages.

THURSDAY │ JULY 8 │ 6:30PM │ Members $55; Nonmembers $65

Spots available for Arts Day Camp at the PEM



This summer, immerse your children in a world of art and culture without leaving the North Shore! PEM’s Arts Adventures Club invites children ages 8 to 12 to creatively engage with PEM’s collections and special exhibitions. Each day is filled with gallery exploration, art-making and behind-the-scenes adventures. Participants are guided by museum educators and visiting artists to explore the creative process and to make original artwork in a range of media and techniques. On the last day of each session, the artwork is shown in a gallery opening for family and friends.

PEM’s Arts Adventures Club | Session I | July 26 - July 30, 2010

For information or to register, please call 978-745-9500, ext. 3129

Members: $220 | Nonmembers: $250

Camp runs daily from 9am - 3pm


Monday, July 5, 2010

Salem Celebrates the Fourth

Here are a few pictures of the awesome Fourth of July celebration hosted by the City of Salem at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site last night. I think Congressman Tierney had the quote of the night when he said, "People had to go to Boston tonight because they couldn't get into Salem!"

This was the eleventh annual Salem Celebrates the Fourth. I hope to see you back on Derby Wharf next year.

Above: Britannica warms up the crowd with classics from the Sixties and Seventies. (And there was much dancing.)

Above: Free games, ice cream, and Italian ice in the Kid Space from 4:00 - 7:00 pm.

Above: The Hillyer Festival Orchestra takes the stage, and opens (after the National Anthem) with kids conducting.

Above: Beautiful light on the tall ship Friendship and Pedrick's Store House.

Above: Cast members from the Summer Theatre at Salem production of Into the Woods entertain the crowd during intermission. (Into the Woods opens on Thursday.)

Above: YES, that is a rainbow. It was a spectacular night on Derby Wharf.

Above: The crowd and a beautiful sunset over the Custom House.

I didn't take any fireworks pictures, but they were spectacular. It was a Top Ten night in Salem.

Friday, July 2, 2010

History Alive in Salem

Cry Innocent: The People Verses Bridget Bishop opens for the 2010 season this weekend. This is a great way to be immersed in the Salem Witch Trials history. If you haven't done it before, put it on your itinerary. If you have done it before, you know every show is different, and it's worth seeing more than once.

There are two great videos of Cry Innocent on YouTube. The first is their promotional video, and the second is a bit more fun - the cast of Cry Innocent was featured in the "ambush" from an episode of TLC's What Not to Wear in 2010. Watch the intro here.

Cry Innocent is produced by the Institute for Public History at Gordon College, which also runs the interpretation and tours at Salem Pioneer Village 1630. Pioneer Village is Massachusetts' oldest living history museum. Dormant for a number of years, visitors today will have an "immersion" experience, where they can interact with villagers and get a sense of what it was like to live in Salem in the 17th Century.

For more information, visit:
History Alive! Gordon College
Salem Pioneer Village 1630