halloween is my second favorite holiday, right behind thanksgiving. i love the scary movies, the candy, the costumes, and general spookiness that accompanies the time leading up to and including the glorious night. so, it only makes sense that i would also love salem, aka halloween central. my first visit to the city was actually ON halloween night in 2009, and i was immediately smitten. since, i've been several times (both in october and otherwise, because it's a dope town regardless of its history). but i started getting that witch itch again last week, and my lovely friend katie accompanied me for a little sunday funday yesterday. i have to say, it was perhaps my favorite visit to date.
once we arrived by t and commuter rail (DO NOT DRIVE. I REPEAT, DO NOT DRIVE), we kicked things off with brunch at the brand new ledger restaurant & bar, which is located in the former salem savings bank downtown.
the place is owned by the proprietor of the fabulous blue ox in lynn (i know, lynn is scary, but i had lobster risotto there once that was absolutely worth risking my life). anyway, like its sister restaurant, ledger did not disappoint. of course, we ordered brunch cocktails--a downsized bloody mary for katie, and an apple pie mimosa for me.
i forgot to take a picture of the open-faced smoked salmon english muffins we both got, but they came with breakfast potatoes and mixed greens and were absolutely delicious. things were off to a great start!
next up was a stop in front of the ropes mansion ... better known to us millennials as alison's house in hocus pocus. we wandered through the gorgeous garden in the back of the property, and i was reminded that i'm old now because i care about flowers. :(
we then took a stroll down historic chestnut street, which is home to some of the most beautiful homes in town. leaves were falling and a breeze was blowing and it felt so perfectly fall i just wanted to cry into a mug of mulled cider.
and then! we saw those two magical words: open house. the couple who was walking behind us was talking about checking it out as well, but the girlfriend was all "the broker is going to ask us questions." i turned around immediately. "you don't owe them ANYTHING! let's all go in." and so we did.
y'all. this house will haunt my memory forever, it was so damn creepy. there were three floors of what seemed like eight rooms each, two kitchens, a million fireplaces, terrible floral wallpaper all over the place, and a weird-ass painted bathtub. at one point i honestly felt like we might not make it out so we took a selfie for posterity.
i'm shuddering just thinking about how eerie it was. to top it all off? it was nathaniel hawthorne's former home. that shit is 1000% haunted. but it was certainly an unforgettable and uniquely salem experience, so there's that.
after escaping the house of horrors, we made our way to the essex street pedestrian mall, which is full of artisan vendors, costumed characters offering photo ops, and top-notch people-watching. you can truly feel the energy of salem so i'd recommend that any first-time visitor take a stroll down here.
i'm not a big jewelry person, but when i see something super special, i gotta have it. such was the case with this gorgeous citrine pendant, handmade by the lovely ladies of freyja jewels, which i'm now obsessed with. they bill themselves as selling "mystical adornments for the modern goddess" and i'm all about that. oh, and that's a snail on top, because why wouldn't it be?
our last stop was the famed house of the seven gables. i'd somehow never been, and it seemed like the most worthy of all of the salem tourist traps (confirmed: very worthy). we grabbed some bomb iced coffee at nearby derby joe, and got on with it.
the house was so interesting and cool, and the woman that inherited the house in the 1800s, susanna ingersoll (nathaniel hawthorne's second cousin, natch), is my new role model. dig this: she ran her own business, turned down like 12 marriage proposals so she could keep all of her family money, and adopted a son by herself. ladies is pimps too.
they said no photos, but you're talking to a girl who snuck a selfie in the sistine chapel, so:
if you've never been to salem in october and have the opportunity to go, i highly recommend it! it's a quirky, crazy town that's a little bit spooky, a little bit campy, and a whole lot of fun.