This is a true day trip from Boston. You can take the ferry from downtown Boston, the commuter train, or if traffic is light, it's about a 40-minute drive to Salem.
Salem is synonymous with witch trials, even though it's been more than 320 years since the infamous bloodletting took place. In 1692, 14 women and 6 men, accused of being witches, were tried and executed in the Massachusetts town. The Salem Witch Museum retells the gruesome tale with 13 stages feauturing life-size figurines.
There are two memorials to the innocent victims. One is on Charter and Liberty Streets; the other is at Proctor's Ledge on Pope Street. The latter is where most of the victims were actually put to death. Both are somber sites of remembrance and reading some of the last words of these people - who were, of course, wrongly accused - will send chills down your spine.
While the witch trials were a dark alcove of our history, the city embraces its past. Why not? The legacy brings in revenue. Today, the town even has an Official Witch, Laurie Cabot. There are ghost tours and several psychics if you're curious about what your future holds. October is an excellent time to visit. The fall air is crisp, and the people-watching is, well... interesting in the run-up to Halloween.
Salem is proud of its rich maritime history, which dates back nearly four hundred years. The town was once a hub for international trade, and The Salem Maritime National Historic Site, including The Custom House and historic wharves, honors the town's symbiosis with the sea. The visitor center is open every day from May-October.
The most recognizable home in Salem also has ties to maritime history, but it's better-known today for the book it inspired. I'm talking about the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, more commonly called the House of Seven Gables.
During its first 135 years, two sea captains resided there. In the mid-1800s, author Nathanial Hawthorne visited his cousin, who was living there, and the home became the setting for his iconic Gothic novel The House of Seven Gables. 350 years later, it's one of the largest timber-framed mansions in North America, and still sits on its original foundation.
Hawthorne's birthplace is also part of The House of Seven Gables campus. The home is one of several that was moved from its original location to this area. The Hawthorne home was originally on Union Street and was moved in 1958. You can visit it, tour the beautiful seaside gardens, and peek into the rest of the buildings during your visit.
If you get hungry during your day-trip, and you know you will, try The Olde Main Street Pub. There's a variety of dishes on the menu sure to please every palate. But be sure to try the Smoked Gouda and Goat Cheese Fritters appetizer. The restaurant is open for dinner every day of the week, but they only serve lunch Wednesday-Sunday.