The world is bigger than we could possibly imagine, and it’s scary to think we will never even scratch the surface in this lifetime. Even if we do travel to the same places, we see the world through different eyes, creating a unique experience. I am inspired by each of your stories, just waiting to be told.Salem, Massachusetts is a unique mix of actual history and fantasy. It’s an odd little city where you can go from a historical site that has been around since the 1600’s to a tourist attraction filled with props and fake witches within a few minutes walk…and you know what? I love it. Salem is one of my favorite places in the country and I knew that from the first time I visited long ago.
My heart lies in many places in the city. It’s in the uneven bricks that have been around forever, it’s in the walk down the wharf to the lighthouse, in the gardens behind the Peabody Essex Museum, in the energy of the crowds in October, in the historic homes of the McIntire district.The month of October sees hundreds of thousands of visitors, but there is tons to do in Salem, regardless of the time of year. Local businesses host events and the city of Salem puts on larger ones. Even in the cold months, you can likely find something to do. It’s hard for me to pick an ultimate bucket list of events to attend and sites to visit, regardless of yearly timing but if I had to, it would probably start with Salem’s So Sweet FestivalThe Salem’s So Sweet Festival takes place in February of each year, and just happened a few weeks back. It’s a chocolate, wine and ice sculptures festival that brings in bundled up, smiling crowds. It happens to be one of my favorites and for the last two years I’ve enjoyed wandering around to all two dozen sculptures to take pictures. Complete with a wine tasting party at Rockafellas restaurant, sculpture lighting by LED at night, discounts at local businesses and more it’s a good time all around.Shortly behind the Salem’s So Sweet Festival is the Salem Arts Festival. Happening in the early summer it’s a celebration of all things creative. Located on Artists’ Row in Salem you can find poetry being read, interpretive dance, murals being painted, belly dancers, musicians, handmade vendors and more. One of my favorite parts of the Salem Arts Festival is Mural Slam. This is when local artists who have been selected by the city paint murals down the backside of a section of the businesses in Artists’ Row. Last year we saw everything from a brightly colored jungle scene to witches, to a large cat. I would be presenting an incomplete list if I didn’t mention Haunted Happenings in Salem. The entire month of October is a Halloween celebration and the calendars are loaded with options. “Haunted Happenings” is the collective name for October events in Salem.If you can only pick one time of the year to visit Salem to add onto your own bucket list, I’d suggest October. As long as you’re okay with crowds, I say it’s entirely worth it because there is truly no place like it and the energy of the city is amazing. Salem is home to hundreds of businesses and if I had to select a few for a bucket list, I know it would include the House of the Seven Gables. The Gables offers tours of their grounds which is absolutely worth it; I have learned something new each time I’ve gone. The gardens behind the gables are stunning in warm weather, you have a lovely view of the water, multiple historic buildings in one place and a really nice gift shop.Artists’ Row was already mentioned once before in regards to the Salem Arts Festival but it bears repeating. Artists’ Row is located behind the old town hall and is an adorable, brightly colored, lined with lights and generally gorgeous collection of handmade artists. Stopping in to check it out is well worth it.Near Artists’ Row is Goodnight Fatty which is honestly the location of the best cookies you’re ever going to find. Goodnight Fatty began as a popup business in Salem and quickly grew to massive popularity. The lines will be long and they’re not priced like cookies in the grocery store but trust me, it’s worth it. Just order literally any of the cookie flavors they are offering for the weekend and go for it. You won’t be sorry – Goodnight Fatty is a bucket list must.
Lastly, if you find yourself wandering Salem and looking for a place to stop for drinks, I’d say Far From the Tree Hard Cider is a bucket list item. With unique flavors and combinations, they’re sure to please. Seasonal varieties include strawberry basil cider, pineapple jalapeno cider, chai spiced cider, cranberry herbed cider and oaked maple cider.
There is truly no “wrong way” to do Salem. Even coming in for a visit empty handed without much of a plan besides wandering is a successful trip. It is one of the most unique cities I have ever experienced and I know if you make your way there for a visit you’ll leave a piece of your heart there just as everyone else does. More often than not I hear sentiments of wanting to come back as soon as one leaves, or feeling drawn to visit again and again over the years. It’s a witchy city on the North Shore and is sure to cast its spell on you.Alyse Grimm is a 32-year-old Pacific Northwest native who now resides in beautiful New England. After first visiting Salem, MA roughly 10 years ago, she fell in love with the old town and has been frequenting the Witch City ever since. Things To Do In Salem came about as a result of wanting to help visitors get the most out of their trip to Salem and keep up to date with events, year ’round. Outside of covering the city’s happenings Alyse is an avid reader, writer, artist and coffee drinker. Get yourself the insider guide to Salem!
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