Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The newest way to see Salem

Since arriving in Salem last October, Jeff and Brad at Witch City Segway have been inviting me to try a Segway, come on a tour, check it out.  I finally got there today for a tour, and - oh, my goodness - THIS is a great way to see Salem!

Six of us descended upon Witch City Segway's store front / training facility to take their 10:00 AM tour today.  We started with a brief introduction to how Segways work (they are intuitive), how to lean our bodies forward and back to move forward and backwards, how to turn, how to stop. We received a primer on Segway safety (No texting, no phone calls, no reading, no applying of make-up... a list that we learned continues to grow as people engage in unsafe behavior while atop the wheels).

And then we were off.
At Salem Maritime

Heading down Turner Street to see the House of the Seven Gables

Beginning at Witch City Segway on Derby Street, we zipped along to Salem Maritime, the National Park in Salem, where Jeff talked briefly about the maritime heritage, privateers, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  We then rolled down to Turner Street, where we talked a bit about the House of the Seven Gables, Salem harbor and Shetland properties, which occupies a large portion of the landscape with its distinctive roof line.

Going the max - 12 MPH - up to the top of Winter Island.

Winter Island, Pickering Light

From Turner Street we got to "open them up" and go the full 12 MPH as we headed out past Smith Pool to Winter Island Maritime Park.  We explored Winter Island, stopping at the highest elevation to enjoy the view and then heading over to Pickering Light for a photo opp.  From Winter Island we rode over to Salem Willows, passing the arcade and food stands, talking about the fabulous popcorn and Chop Suey sandwiches, and then stopping by the fishing pier for a few more pictures.

Heading into Salem Willows

From Salem Willows we headed back toward town, riding along Collins Cove and then across Salem Common.  The tour talks about the Salem Witch Trials on Salem Common, and during this (and each) interpretive break participants are able to step off their Segway and stretch their legs a bit.

The fishing pier at Salem Willows. Hospital Point in Beverly is in the background.

From Salem Common we rode down Essex Street and over to the Old Burying Point on Charter Street and the Witch Trials Memorial.  Our tour ran out of time at this point, but the two-hour tour would go over to the old jail on St. Peter's Street, the Witch House, and down Chestnut Street before returning to the storefront on Derby Street.

Because the tour size is so small (limited to six, minimum age 14, minimum weight 100 lbs), Jeff and Brad are able to customize the tour to your interests. They are great hosts and guides, and I'm pretty sure they were having as much fun out there as we were.

Pickering Wharf, admiring the Friendship
Visit Witch City Segway at 283 Derby Street (behind Brothers' Deli) to for a most memorable view and tour of Salem.  They encourage you to book online at WitchCitySegway.com, and tours do sell out so buying tickets in advance is wise. 

To see more pictures of our Segway adventure visit Destination Salem's Facebook page.

Friday, May 27, 2011

10 reasons to visit Salem this weekend

Schooner Fame
The weather forecast is perfect for exploring, for shopping, and for dining al fresco.  Here are our TOP TEN reasons to visit Salem during the Memorial Day Weekend.

1.  The Schooner Fame sets sail for the season this weekend.  Take the the water like a true privateer aboard this replica schooner, which sails daily from Pickering Wharf beginning May 28th.  

2. Pirates! Arrrggh!  From privateers to their inspiration, real live pirates, explore the pirate's cave and learn Salem's pirate history at the New England Pirate Museum

3. Wharf Rats. This is the official kick-off to summer, so head to the patio at Victoria Station (and the new Vic's Boathouse) for a Wharf Rat.  It's good that this concoction of a drink comes with a souvenir glass, because you might need a reminder that you drank it once it's down the hatch!

Painting Churches at STC
4. Seeing tall ship Friendship under sail. She's going out for crew training on Friday and Saturday, which means she won't be at dock for tours, but the opportunity to photograph her as she rounds Derby Light or Pickering Light at Winter Island is rare, so grab your camera and find a scenic spot!  She should return on the high tide, which is at about 8:00 PM Friday and Saturday. 

5. Take in our wonderful local theater scene by seeing Painting Churches at Salem Theatre Company.  Get advanced tickets online, though, because the small theatre does sell out!

Tall Ship Friendship
6. Have your cards read! It's the beginning of the season - the perfect time to sit down with a psychic to see what the summer holds.  Looking for love? Looking for money? Salem psychics may be able to shine some light on your life!

7. Stroll Artists Row, which opens for the season this weekend. Visit stalls brimming with local art, including the Salem Arts Association booth and the new Fished Impressions booth where kids can make their fish prints.

8. Visit Salem Willows for popcorn, ice cream, Salem's famous Chop Suey Sandwich, the arcades, kiddie land, and beaches.  It's going to be a perfect weekend to dig your toes in the sand while enjoying an ice cream cone from E.W. Hobbs - the first to sell ice cream cones in New England. 

Artist's Row
9. Check out the new, classic Vincent Price character at Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery.  If you haven't seen this exquisite collection of characters that document the history of horror cinema, this is a great excuse to stop by for a visit. 

10. Make a weekend of it!  There's nothing better than staying right down town and immersing yourself in Salem for the weekend. Get up early and walk out to Derby Light. Have a delicious dinner and then sample the live music at Rockafellas, Gulu Gulu, Seaport Cafe, Vic's Boathouse.  Idle away the afternoon in the galleries of the Peabody Essex Museum, without a care of having to be somewhere else.  Our accommodations would love to have you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Great Day in Salem

Each year Destination Salem kicks off the tourism season by inviting members of the Greater Boston Concierge Association and tourism professionals from Massachusetts and New England to Salem for a day of exploration, fun, and good food.

Yesterday was that day. We were thrilled to welcome thirty industry professionals to Salem for the day.  Since our itinerary may inspire your own, here are the highlights.  Pictures of the day's events can be found on Destination Salem's Facebook page. 
  • Salem Ferry from Boston to Salem (passing the mega-yachts in Boston harbor is always a highlight!)* 
  • Salem Trolley tour highlighting the rich history of Salem 
  • A cemetery tour led by lead guide Eric of Salem Night Tours
  • Lobster rolls, chowder, and aged top sirloin appetizers at Capt.'s 
  • A tour of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, also known as The House of the Seven Gables, and time to shop in the Gables gift shop. 
  • Hors d'Ĺ“uvres at Rockafellas, and a tour of the new Colonial Hall function space upstairs. 
  • Docent-led tours of Yin Yu Tang, a 18th-century Chinese House at the Peabody Essex Museum.  This is the only authentic example of Chinese architecture outside of China that you can visit and tour.
  • Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Mousse in the Atrium of the Peabody Essex Museum (thanks to the Hawthorne Hotel!) 
  • Finz for fried oysters, tuna tar tar, hummus and pita, crab cakes, and cocktails!
We didn't have time for psychic readings while we were in Salem, so the psychics from Omen joined us on the Salem Ferry back to Boston, doing tarot readings for all who wanted.

We also met Brad and Jeff from Witch City Segway, Brittany from Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises, and ate lobster rolls from The Lyceum aboard the Ferry.

And, demonstrating how fantastic our shopping is in Salem, we gave away gift baskets from the Trolley Depot, The Salem Witch Museum, The House of the Seven Gables Shop, the Peabody Essex Museum shop, Omen, and Pamplemousse.  The love basket from Omen was a huge success!

We learned about Salem's literary and architectural history, maritime heritage, the stories of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, and some fascinating cemetery facts.  And we ate really good food.  We only wished we had more time to shop!

You can plan your own Salem adventure at Salem.org

A Memorial Day package at the Emerson Inn by the Sea

If you're looking for an excuse to get away this weekend, the lovely and historic Emerson Inn by the Sea might just have one for you.  Check out this last-minute promotion! 
Memorial Day Weekend is officially the beginning of the summer season at the Emerson Inn By The Sea. “Inn” celebration, we are offering a free night on Friday, May 27! It is simple, stay Saturday and Sunday and get Friday night for free. It does not matter what time you arrive on Friday night, your free room will be waiting for you! A non refundable two night deposit is required for this special. Offer not valid for previous reservations and offer valid for this weekend only (May 27-May 30) and can not be combined with other specials. Limited availability, call us now at 978-546-6321"

The Emerson Inn is just 40 minutes from downtown Salem.  Take the scenic coastal Route 127, or the slightly more direct Route 128.  This is a great excuse to explore the region North of Boston. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Improving upon "The Witch City"

An article from the July 30, 1925 edition of The Salem News found its way onto my desk last week, and I have to share it.  You may have noticed that we have launched a new logo and tag line for Salem this year - officially declaring that Salem is Still Making History.

We spent months in meetings working to find the best graphic and slogan for a city that has such a breadth of assets, a wealth of history, and a very eclectic nature.  It would seem, from this 1925 article, that our quest for the perfect trademark predates us all. 

It is hard to read, so I've typed the content of the story:

"The Witch City" Might be improved upon... 

"The Witch City is a fairly good trade mark.

"Hawthorne Land" sounds good, too. It tells of the famous author and brings in the new hotel, too.

"Blubber Hollow" is a rugged trade name. It satisfies tanners.

"City of shoes" no longer fills the bill. Salem has lost too much shoe business of late.

"Where we make your sheets" might get a cheer from the Naumkeag cotton mills.

"Settle in Salem and Succeed" once was heard. But the population is less than it used to be.

"City of Homes" is too commonplace. 

"Historic Salem" is familiar, but it tells of the past. Somebody ought to get up a new trade mark for Salem and everybody ought to sound it. 

A city can struggle along without a trade mark, just the same as a man can struggle along without a name. But it sounds better to have a trade mark.  

You can still find information on Salem's tannery history and blubber hollow and the Naukeag Mills (now Shetland Properties) on some of Salem's walking tours and at the National Park Service.

I'm happy to say that more and more people do "settle in Salem and succeed," which is testament to our great downtown and the wonderful shop, dine, explore, live, play atmosphere that has been fostered in Salem by people, organizations and businesses that are invested in the success of Salem.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Exploring the North of Boston Seafood Trail in Salem

There's a new trail to explore north of Boston, and you won't need for fat tires or hiking boots to get from point A to point B.  This fabulous trail is all about fresh seafood, so bring your appetite and a taste for culinary adventure!

The Escapes North Seafood Trail features the best in fresh fish in 54 restaurants in 18 communities north of Boston, including nine restaurants in Salem.  Travel writer Andree Lebel from La Presse in Montreal recently visited Salem to explore the Seafood Trail, and I got to tag along and sample sumptuous seafood at four of the featured restaurants, and I'm here today to tempt your palate!

Victoria Station
The first stop on our tour was Victoria Station on Pickering Wharf.  Known as more of a prime-rib-and-salad-bar joint, it's time to challenge your assumptions about Victoria Station!  Executive Chef John Andrews blew us away with his Sweet Chili Shrimp Martini with Asian Pears and Plums.  The chili was very subtle, adding a gentle kick to the sweetness of the fruit.  Also worth noting was Chef Andrews' interesting twist on a lobster roll slider - serving it on a soft pretzel.

Just up the Wharf a bit is Capt.'s, where more lobster awaited.  Capt.'s served creamy, never-too-heavy Clam Chowder, followed by Fish & Chips, traditional lobster rolls, and their signature, and perfectly cooked, Grilled Lobster. In addition to fantastic fish, Capt.'s has one of the best views in Salem, overlooking Salem Harbor, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and the tall ship Friendship.  Sitting on Capt.'s deck overlooking the harbor with a lobster roll and cold beverage is one of the finest places to be on a warm summer day,

Any Seafood Trail stop in Salem should include Finz, with its hip blue fish out front, and its waterfront deck.  Owner George Carey joined us to talk about the seafood on the menu at Finz, especially the Oysters.  As we ate fantastic Wasabi Stoli Oysters, George explained that horseradish and cocktail sauce is traditionally served with oysters on the half-shell to mask the gamy taste that old oysters acquire.  As you can imagine, oysters at Finz are fresh and plump, so I ate mine with just a squeeze of lemon.
Lobster Shanty
On to The Lobster Shanty in Artist's Row.  Chef Diane Wolf makes a fantastic lobster roll, and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives made the Shanty's Lobster Martini famous, but this year there are two notable additions to the Shanty's menu: Pan-seared  Scallops and their new Seafood Stew.  The scallops were a lovely appetizer, with an Asian flair, and the Seafood Stew had a lovely tomato-bouillabaisse.

Other Salem restaurants on the Seafood Trail include The Lyceum (the chowder is fantastic!), Dube's, and the Black Lobster at Stromberg's Cove.  Navigating the trail will be particularly easy for iPhone users when an App for iPhone is released later this spring.  I'll let you know when that App comes out, and in the meantime, happy eating!

Here's a summary of what the four restaurants featured today served during our La Presse Seafood Trail excursion:

  • Lobster Rolls 
  • Grilled Lobster 
  • Traditional Fish & Chips
  • Clam Chowder

Finz Seafood 
  • Wasabi-Stoli Oysters
  • Shucked Oysters with Saki, Ginger & Cucumber
  • Furikake Seared "Rare" Tuna with Green Soba Noods & Ginger SEsame Vinaigrette
  • Grilled Swordfish

Lobster Shanty
  • Pan-seared Scallops
  • Seafood Stew

Victoria Station
  • Fish Tacos
  • Sweet Chili Shrimp Martini with Asian Pears & Plums
  • Notch Ale Steamed Mussels with Bacon, Apples and Carmelized Shallots 
  • Lobster Salad Sliders 

For more information on the Escapes North Seafood Trail, and their other trails, which include architecture, art, literature, and festivals, visit EscapesNorth.com.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paws for Independence Walk comes to Salem

The Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation is holding its first annual Fidelco Paws for Independence Walk in Salem on June 4, 2011.  This walk around Salem Willows Park will raise money for the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, an organization that promotes increased independence to men and women who are blind by providing them with the highest quality German Shepherd Guide Dogs.  

And this is more than just a walk!  Here are some of the special activities planned for participants...

Photo contest!  Walkers are encouraged to email a picture of their favorite canine pal to Jan Adams at jadams@fidelco.org prior to the event to be entered into a competition to select most regal, most athletic, best holiday pose, best costume, cutest puppy, and the dog that most closely resembles its owner.  Fidelco staff will select the top six photos in each category to be displayed at the walk where walkers can vote for their favorites.  Winners from each category will receive a free pet portrait sitting from “Photography by Corrina.”

Fidelco Puppy Demonstrations - Fidelco puppies and their volunteer puppy raisers will touch your heart as they share and demonstrate the journey that our German Shepherd Guide Dogs undertake as they grow from puppies to guide dog partners. 

Salem Pet Psychic – Not one but two Pet Psychics from renowned Omen Psychic Parlor and Witchcraft Emporium will be offering canine readings. What will you learn?!     

Fidelco Guide Dog Demonstration – Our training staff will impress you with the training that each Fidelco German Shepherd Guide Dog must undergo prior to being partnered with a person who is visually impaired.  

Nail Trimming – Professional groomers from It’s Raining Pets will be on hand to pamper your pet’s paws with a pedicure.  Donations only.  

Essex County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Demonstration – Marvel at the versatility of the German shepherd.  With proper training a Shepherd can guide a handler safely across the street or take a bad guy down before he gets half way there.

Barbeque Dinner – “Tennessee Barbeque” voted best of Boston, will be on hand to feed participants after the walk.  BBQ tickets are $12.00 and can be purchased in advance at www.fidelco.org or at the registration tent on Walk day.  A tempting choice of. Award winning chicken or pork BBQ, 3 sides and a slice of killer corn bread will make your mouth water.  Fear not, Canine friend, four legged friends will receive their own “doggie bag” filled with healthy, tasty dog treats.

Click here for more information and to register for the walk.   This is a great way to contribute to increased independence for men and women who are blind by providing them with the highest quality guide dog. 

We look forward to welcoming all of the walkers and their dogs to Salem on June 4th. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Salem Community Gardens to Host Free Seed Swap at the Living Green and Renewable Energy Fair

The Salem Community Gardens will host a Seed Swap table at the Living Green and Renewable Energy Fair. People are encouraged to bring their extra vegetable and flower seeds for swapping. Save money and connect with local gardeners! You may find rare seeds and heirloom varieties that are better adapted for this region and you’ll have to opportunity to unload your leftover seeds from previous years.  

Saturday May 21, 2011 
10 am – 3 pm 

Old Town Hall
32 Derby Square Salem, MA 01970

About The Salem Community Gardens

SCG is a nonprofit organization managing organic community gardens in four of Salem's public parks: Mack Park, Palmer Cove, Winter Island, and Pickman Park.   SCG's primary goal is to provide a safe, fertile place for Salem residents to grow plants for food and enjoyment.

About The Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair

The Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair brings together green industry professionals and consumers to discuss products, services and information that encourage healthier, more sustainable consumption and lifestyles for businesses and families. The fair will feature 50+ vendor booths and exhibits, a free screening of “Truck Farm Movie” at Cinema Salem, the Salem Beautification Committee’s Annual Plant Sale Fundraiser, an Ethical Electronic Waste Recycling Event and much more!  This is a free event. The Living Green Fair is organized by the Salem Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with Salem’s Renewable Energy Taskforce. For more information on the fair visit www.salem-chamber.org “Living Green Fair”. 

Bicycle Powered Band “Melodeego” to Perform at Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair!

Reminder: 4th Annual Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Old Town Hall, Downtown Salem
10 am – 3 pm

Wind energy and bicycle-powered generators will supply enough electricity to host Salem’s 4th annual Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair.  The fair is free to attend and will take place on Saturday, May 21st at Old Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Salem Chamber of Commerce and Salem’s Renewable Energy Taskforce, organizers of the fair, have taken this annual “green” event to a whole new level.  The fair’s electricity use has been matched with clean and healthy wind power from Mass Energy’s New England Wind Fund and musical entertainment will be provided by Melodeego’s bicycle-powered sound system (thanks to Salem Alliance for the Environment (SAFE) sponsorship). 92.5 the River, Boston's independent and solar-powered radio station, will also be on hand entertaining the crowds.

With a custom-designed bench that has bolted-down bike frames attached to small generators, audience members can pedal roughly 100 watts of energy per person, allowing the band Melodeego to play off-the-grid.  “When I was first approached with the idea of having a bicycle powered band play at the Green Fair, I was a little skeptical.  It wasn’t until I actually listened to their music that I knew we had to do this” says Ben Bouchard, Assistant Director at the Salem Chamber of Commerce. To hear and see Melodeego in action, stop by the fair between 10 – 11 a.m.

Along with bicycle powered music, this year’s fair will feature 40+ exhibitor booths and a number of events that will offer something for the entire family.  The City of Salem Beautification Committee will host their annual Plant Sale Fundraiser offering a wide assortment of home-grown perennials, a variety of annuals and a selection of hanging baskets. Fair attendees are encouraged to bring their extra vegetable and flower seeds for swapping at the Salem Community Garden seed swap table. 

Also new to the fair is a recycling event for old and unused electronics.  Do you have a closet at home filled with old computer monitors, stereo equipment, telephones, etc. that you don’t know what to do with?  Bring it to the fair and it will be recycled according to TOXTOUR’s “Electronic Waste Code of Ethics”. The cost to recycle your electronics is $1/pound.

The Living Green Fair is free and open to the public.  Stop by Old Town Hall at 32 Derby Square between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for tips on how to live a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. The fair is sponsored by the Hawthorne Hotel, Salem State University and 92.5 the River. For the entire schedule of events and for more information visit www.salem-chamber.org “Living Green Fair” or call (978) 744-0004.