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a day in the witch city

This past weekend we braved the October mob and journeyed to Salem for the day.  After grad school, my husband and I lived in downtown Salem for over a year and fell in love with the city.  The amount of history and gorgeous architecture packed into their little downtown is staggering.  Our apartment was on Essex St near the House of Seven Gables and we walked everywhere – to the library, to the YMCA, to the market, to the train, to our favorite swimming cove.  Add in my running routes woven through the city and it was heaven for a history and navigation nerd like me.  We got married in the stone rotunda on Salem Common and soon after bought a house in New Bedford.  After which we bawled our eyes out for a few years because we were so homesick for Salem and had zero friends in New Bedford.  But my job required me to be closer to Cape Cod Bay and we couldn’t afford a house in downtown Salem anyway.  Ultimately, it was for the best – we have an incredible group of friends in The Bej and love our life here.  BUT….if we could afford our dream house in downtown Salem and plunk all of our friends and our life from NB there….I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Maybe this gem on historic Chestnut St.

Okay, back to our trip….we put on some serious miles walking around, like 6+ miles.  Our feet were so sore when we got home and we all went to bed at 8pm but it was a good, happy tired.  The crowds were ridiculous, as we expected, but the kids had a blast and loved the spectacle of it all.  It was an awesome day.

Of course I took a zillion pictures, so buckle up.  We parked near this beauty on Federal St.

The lovely potting shed in her carriage house

We then made our way to the pedestrian mall on Essex St and the throngs of people.

Egon….your mucus.

Following the red line of the Heritage Trail around.

We popped into the Custom House, which I’d never been in before.  Here’s the view of Derby Wharf from the upstairs landing.

They had a cool exhibit out back with a replica of their warehouse from olden days, in case you need gunpowder and a cask of molasses.

Next door is the gorgeous Hawkes House.  Oh, the symmetry.

A lot of houses in Salem use rocks as landscaping….and it’s awesome.


The Witch Memorial was mobbed with people but the kids loved the cemetery, checking out the names and dates on the graves.

I’d never seen this urn and weeping willow motif before.

This door handle and lintel are amazing.

We made our way down to the House of Seven Gables after that.

And photographed all the black houses along the way.

There were “blood” fountains all over this side yard.

Back to the masses on Essex St so the kids could spend their mad money.  (June got a pink amigurumi squid she named Steve and Hollis got a toy gun that we only realized was SO LOUD when we weren’t surrounded by 50,000 people).

Then down to historic Chestnut St and the Ropes Mansion from Hocus Pocus.

My favorite….the Pickering House.  Holy fence and finials!

By the point, we were all tired and decided to start heading back to the car.

Hollis said “Mommy, take my picture like I’m in the Walking Dead.”  (He can talk to his therapist about this someday).

They’re officially smoked.  Hollis fell asleep in the car by the time we got back to 95.

Sorry for the really long post!  But it was an awesome day, so much to see, we only scratched the surface.  Next year we’re going to try to hook up with an Airbnb so we can stay longer and most importantly….wander around at night.  My kids don’t scare easily and they were definitely ready to crank up the spookiness.  After a nap, of course.

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  1. This looks like so much fun! I’d love to take my boys there someday. And all of those pics of black houses really makes me want to paint my boring gray house black 😉

  2. so, 1. i’m with you. salem is amazing. the houses and the crookedy streets and alleyways and the subtle feeling of sadness and fury at the history of the place … it’s such a unique vibe. 2. every time you post, i feel compelled to tell you that we should somehow be best friends, even though you are there and i am here. i so wanted to be a marine biologist when i grew up, but i was an indiana girl who ended up in minnesota … not so much with the whales, where i’m from. i have always felt new england call to me on a visceral level, though, and would totally join you on a boat to, you know, count flukes or something, then hit an antique store on the way home. it isn’t creepy to say that, right? okay then.

    • says:

      Lol – thanks, Michele! As luck would have it, I’m in the market for a fluke-counting, antique-loving wingman. A junk hunter with a little bit of a whale problem. I’m also mostly just glad people don’t think I’m nuts in my blog posts. Because you’re sitting there, typing away, making yourself chuckle, drinking a glass of wine…and no clue if you sound like a complete tool. So thanks for the mental health props 😉

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