Why Salem, Massachusetts is So Much More Than ‘Hocus Pocus’

Credit: Kate Fox

It’s a travesty that I never personally visited Salem, Massachusetts during my college years as I went to school about 45 minutes from this enchanting area. I had known about it for such a long time largely thanks my super gay knowledge of Hocus Pocus being filmed there.

My interest in Salem grew last summer when a girlfriend of mine treated me to dinner at this gorgeous Italian restaurant right in the heart of town. There were so many adjectives I could use to describe everything I saw that evening. Some words that come to mind include relaxing, beautiful, breathtaking, and so on and so forth as I was taken by its wonderful architecture, friendly locals, and fabulous shopping outlets.

Luckily I was able to return in November and stay there for a couple of days which is something I have fond memories of all this time later thanks to how amazing the experience was. Salem is an area that’s a bit off the beaten path for the typical gay man, as it’s not a city one usually thinks of when it comes to it being a hotspot, however it is really a fantastic place for a perfect winter vacation if you want to get away from your daily norm.

I do have to recommend following the safety protocols when traveling during the Coronavirus pandemic. Salem isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so if you feel its more comfortable to do this when travel restrictions lessen up and/or COVID becomes a thing of the past, that’s absolutely fine. Read more about this by clicking here.

First, let’s talk about hotels. Salem provided me with a bit of old school with new school in this department, both of which were fabulous in their own ways. I stayed at The Hampton Inn, which is steps away from all the best places this city has to offer. The views from my room were stunning as I was able to see how magical everything was from a heightened level. The comfy beds and great amenities were also nothing short of pure perfection.

Another one that I want to highlight is The Hawthorne Hotel. It was a place I only dined at (more on that later) however their liaison was nice enough to give me and my friend an unbelievable tour that began in its lobby and ended all the way at its amazing rooftop.  

The Hawthorne is much more classic compared to a modern hotel like The Hampton Inn, not to mention its lush history in Salem. It was established in 1925 and has provided thousands of its guests with memorable experiences inside its majestic ballrooms which continues to host lavish receptions as the years have gone by. Also, some episodes of the classic television series Bewitched were filmed there!

It’s shop til you drop time! Salem has an assortment of great shops to visit, some with a spooky theme while others fall into different categories. One place that I had a great time in was Witch Pix, a witch-themed portrait studio and international tourist destination that’s been open for almost twenty years.

Inside you can get dressed up in one of their fab creations and pose the house down in front of a bunch of fun backdrops. Some of the items they feature have also been seen in major fashion magazines, proving that you don’t need to live in NYC or LA if what you’re rocking is sickening and on point.

Credit: Peabody Essex Museum

A must when you visit Salem is the Peabody Essex Museum. Here you will find a range of exhibitions that highlight the history of its area but also includes international works in the worlds of art and fashion.

You must, while there, see The Salem Witch Trials exhibit. Outside of Hocus Pocus it’s something Salem is mostly known for yet many only know the basics as to what happened almost 400 years ago. Here you get a clear view of what these people had to endure with many dying in the process. It’s interesting as it is emotional and, again, is something worth checking out while inside this fascinating museum.

And now onto my favorite part of any trip… the food. I’m a surf and turf kind of guy so naturally my happiness was in full throttle when I went to Finz Seafood and Grill. It’s situated right next to the water, so you have that to look forward to but they also have a mouthwatering menu filled with everything you could ever want from both of these cuisines. I’m still salivating about it all this time later.

Another that put a big smile on my face was The Tavern on the Green at the Hawthorne Hotel. Here you will feast on yummy dishes that range from over-the-top burgers to fantastic pasta creations and so much more.

Before I headed home I was fortunate enough to stay at the beautiful Harborview Inn, located in Gloucester. If you’re looking for more of a bed & breakfast kind of vibe then this is the place for you. It’s coziness and comfortability are just two of the things that make this place so special as well as the unbelievable water views you will experience the minute you wake up.

For more information on Salem, please click here.

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