Bewitched by a Visit to Salem
(a Roguetrippers 48-hour-or-less itinerary)
I LOVE traditions.
I love the anticipation of looking forward to an annual event. While I definitely love going to new places, I also love returning to places I’ve enjoyed. One of our yearly traditions is to see a production of Evil Dead the Musical to celebrate my birthday, which falls on Hallowe’en. Another is to visit Salem, MA to do new Witch Pix photos, and sometimes these events are combined!
As a lover of Halloween, a visit to Salem holds a natural affinity for me. I enjoy the combination of USA history, folklore, unique architecture, and theatrical spookiness that makes up this American icon. I mean really, how can you NOT love a city with a prominent Bewitched statue? In fact, that statue is another tradition! We just completed our 4th trip to Salem as a group, so we have photos of the 4 of us with the statue, then Random the first year we brought a dog, later the following year with Random and Hazzard, and now with Random, Hazzard, and Danger.
We have a similar progression with our witch-y dress-up photos… the 4 of us, the 4 of us with Random, the 4 of us with Random and Hazzard, and then this year: the 4 of us with Random, Hazzard, and Danger. I am not sure how I am going to take things up a notch next year, maybe bring a parrot?
Follow the adventures of these well-travelled Dalmations on Instagram: @RandomsTravels
Historic (& Haunted?) Hawthorne Hotel
Last year we discovered the Hawthorne Hotel. We’d been familiar with its existence already, a beautiful building right at the heart of the town, but hadn’t been IN it. A bit pricier than our usual hotel (I’m a solid budget-conscious kind of traveller), but MAN WAS IT WORTH IT. First, and most importantly, to me, they are mega dog-friendly. I am nearly always travelling with dogs, and I get very tired of “pet-friendly” hotels who really meant to say “will grudgingly accept pets for an extra charge”. Hawthorne Hotel is the polar opposite, their warm welcome of Random and Hazzard last year meant they were top of my list to stay again this year. More than that, though, they truly epitomise Salem.
This old hotel (though well kept up) is poised across the street from the Salem Witch Museum and beside Salem Commons engenders thoughts of hauntings. Our goal is to come across one of their resident ghosts, but no luck yet. The hotel team is young and gregarious, eager to make your stay something unique. The piece de resistance for us? Doggie room service menu. So. Much. Fun.
Fun Fact: This is the hotel where Elizabeth Montgomery and the rest of the cast of the “Bewitched” tv series stayed when they were filming the original episodes “Salem Saga“, and “Samantha’s Hot Bedwarmer“.
Getting familiar with Salem
One of the best things to do in Salem is just to walk around. There are tons of famous houses/buildings from different movies, lots of interesting and unique architecture, and a resident population who takes decorating for Halloween, and their witchy past very seriously :). The city is imminently walkable. Everything is quite concentrated in the core area.
We headed to the wharf for a belated birthday supper shortly after we arrived in town. We narrowed down restaurant choice partly based on “who is still serving food?” as by the time we settled in, walked the dogs, and ordered their room service (necessary!) it was around 930pm. We totally lucked out with our choice to head to Sea Level Oyster Bar.
It is in a fantastic location, right on the wharf and a quick 5-minute walk from the hotel, and a charming little restaurant! Great nautical theme (classy, not overdone) and extraordinary food. Everything was fresh and delicious, with some very unique dishes. I love a good chowder (and despise a poor chowder), so I decided to go with the chowder and a pumpkin salad. The chowder was extraordinary – definitely, in my top three all-time chowders and the salad was SO impressive! It is served atop a generous slice of baked pumpkin, and everything was fresh, crisp, and full of rich flavour.
There is no eye of newt here.
No visit to Salem is complete without a stop at “Bunghole Liquors”. I’ve never asked where the name comes from, and honestly, I do not really want to know. We picked up a bottle of bourbon to make drinks in the hotel and had the unique experience of being upsold on booze. We chose the Jim Beam black, and the proprietor said, “just so you know, we have the white, its 100 proof, and just a couple dollars more.” You make a strong argument, sir.
There are also a couple of craft breweries in town, where you can enjoy a pint with your coven.
Embrace your inner witch
The next morning, we started out with Witch Pix. I can’t even really explain why I love these so much that I insist we go back. Every year. Forever. The dogs always have new costumes custom made, but in a crushing birthday disappointment, this year’s didn’t arrive in time, so we had to recycle past years (gasp!). Fortunately, the addition of Danger puppy still made the photos uniquely different. Wrangling four people and three dogs for photos is… well, a bit of a nightmare. But totally worth it for the end result!
I put a spell on you
Once the pics were off our list, we went back to wandering the town. We found one of the houses from Hocus Pocus, wandered around the old pilgrim cemetery, and walked through the charming cobblestone streets of the pedestrian-only shopping area. The dogs were their usual show stoppers, being ogled by nearly every passerby. We had planned to check out one of the very fun looking diners but weren’t up to the wait, so grabbed a quick lunch in a pub, got this year’s Bewitched statue photos, and walked around a bit more before hitting the road to Maine and our 2019 Evil Dead the Musical production.
Season of the Witch
You could easily spend more time when you visit Salem, and probably should. There are tons of great stops ranging from well-done museums to kitschy and fun monster-themed features, with plenty of haunted houses, a myriad of psychics, and a rather creepy wax museum. Salem is still tons of fun for a quick stop, though, and it’s always fun to leave something for the next trip!
Halloween is, by far the most popular time for tourists to visit Salem, for apparent reasons. However, this is a great place to go any time of the year. Get started planning your visit to Salem here.
Get on your broomstick, and Visit Salem
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