Salem, Massachusetts ~ The Witch City Part One

The House of the Seven Gables ~   Salem, Mass.

Salem, Massachusetts…  “The Witch City”

You know, the place you always say you want to visit, but have not yet!

Follow us on our wee journey around the famous town of Salem.  Me and The Mr.’s old residence.  We’ll take you to all of the cool places to visit and hang out, eat and drink.

Let’s grab our broomsticks gentle readers and fly to one of the greatest towns on the east coast… Salem, Massachusetts.

Growing up in Maine, Salem was a place we frequented on field trips in grade school.  Yeah… Lucky kiddos that we were!  It was a quick 1 1/2 hours ride from Portland to Salem so it pretty much was a yearly excursion for us.  It was such a great historical place with so much fascinatingly scary history so it was one of those places that kids loved to go to, even if it was a learning excursion.

Mind you, I’m not making light of the atrocities to men, women and children that happened within this area.  On the contrary.  There is no doubt when you go to Salem that there are a lot of residual  vibes of its past that still linger heavily.  It’s hard to not feel like you’ve been transported back in time because so much of its history is around as if it were still the 1600’s in Colonial America.


Salem has done a  superb job in maintaining the old buildings and while I’m not super happy about a lot of the newer buildings they have slid in and around these amazing 17th & 18th century Colonial buildings, they have large blocks of houses still in their original state of grandeur.  They realize that its unfortunately tragic history is literally their primary revenue for a few months of the year and in those few months it literally becomes a worldwide pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands of Witches and tourists to this beautiful, seaside city.


The nice thing about Salem is that it’s easily coupled with a trip to Boston.  Salem literally is 16 miles from Boston and there is a train that gets you from point A to point B.  Plus, even with kids, you don’t really need a car in Salem, as all of the notable points of interest are all within walking distance of each other.  So it’s a very walkable, safe and friendly city to visit.

So, perhaps you’ve got just one day in Salem, or maybe you’ve gone all out and grabbed a room at one of their local B&B’s or the famous Hawthorne Hotel.  There are a few places that yes, are touristy but obviously, why you go to Salem in the first place.  Keep in mind that while Salem is best experienced in October, it’s hard (VERY) to get rooms.  Book at least 1 year in advance and be prepared to pay for it.  There are folks who make this truly a lifelong journey.  So rooms are not easy to find in the autumn, especially around Halloween.  If you go say around, September… early.  You’ll do far, better.  But, it does start getting busier then as well.

Before you leave for your trip, head to the library and grab a copy of that book that you were required to read in high school, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables and re-read it.  It will bring a whole new meaning and appreciation to the book during your trip.

Here I’ll give you a few of the local haunts (tee-hee) as well as the touristy must see’s in the town.


I must admit, there are a few new places that have gone in and I’m sorry I cannot include these as it’s been a few years since I last went.  That being said, I’ll give you the finer points of the great old standby’s that you cannot miss.  The rest, I’ll leave up to your wanderlust and hope that you can report back to me with your coolest findings of Ye Olde Salem!

So let’s start walking… My best explanation of how to get to this place is to have the ocean to your left and the Peabody Essex Museum park to your back and start walking through the center of town in the brick area with the shops.  Beyond that, you should talk with a local.  Keep in mind that old New England was not designed for cars, it was made for horses.  Many of the streets are strangely placed, dead – ends,  narrow and kind of well… ODD!  Directions are sort of hard to follow.  Try to use points of interest instead.

The Old Burying Point

“I can say before my eternal father that I am innocent, and God will clear my innocency.”  Rebecca Nurse


Salem’s oldest cemetery and known as the 2nd oldest burying ground known in the US, this to me is the best place to start your trip to get a good feeling of what Salem was like during the Colonial period.  It also gives you a very good overview of the victims of the witch trials of the 1600’s at the Witch Trial Memorial.

At the time when I last visited you could still do grave rubbings.  They may have abandoned this for fear of the stones demise.  However, you can freely go in and see some of the oldest stones you’ll ever encounter here in the U.S..  Many are very hard to read, but they are all beautifully crafted.

If you’re looking for the grave-sites of the Witches Holocaust victims, you will not find these in this graveyard.  They were buried in unmarked graves near the site of their hanging.  Generally near Gallows Hill in Salem or at various points Peabody, MA.

This is a bit hard to find on your own, ask a local merchant for directions.  It’s literally in the center of town, set very high on a hill.


Not to be missed when visiting the Burying Point is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.  It’s a very moving exhibit of the poor souls who bravely lost their lives during the Witches Holocaust during the 16th & 17th centuries in Salem and Peabody, MA.


After your journey to this lovely town and grave combing, I’m sure you’re hungry and thirsty.  Forget those tourist traps… Head to the big clipper ship on the waterfront  down to Derby Street follow it almost to The House of The Seven Gables and the prison.

In A Pig’s Eye ~ Salem, Massachusetts

“Essentially, “in a pig’s eye” is an expression meaning you’re pulling my leg or putting me on.

Our research has found that it was originally first penned in 1876 by a man name Petroleum V. Nasby, a political columnist from upstate New York. You might wonder how an expression such as this became the name of a restaurant. . . Well, rumor (fairly substantiated) has it that in the early 70s the two original owners purchased the restaurant but were undecided upon a name. . . one night while they were “slightly” intoxicated shooting rats at a pig farm (for amusement of course) one looked at the other and asked “what are we going to call this place?” His reply, “I don’t know. . . In a Pigs Eye?” and so the story began.”


Years ago when the Mr. and I lived in Salem, Massachusetts (yes, people actually do live in Salem!)  we used to frequent this cozy little pub called In A Pigs Eye.  One of the original pubs of Salem, apparently.

It’s a super rad traditional old style pub that serves up the most amazing Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner and some wicked good beer!  The food prices are really affordable for such a busy town, but be forewarned, the wait for a table can be a bit long especially in the busiest month, October.

A quick run down of their yummy menu, such as New England Crab Cakes served with horseradish and fresh greens for $8, Seared Sesame Scallops with wasabi cole slaw on mixed greens for $10., Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich for $6., Fish Cakes with cole slaw and fries for $7.,  Boston Baked Scrod  served with house salad, choice of rice pilaf or skillet roasted potatoes, and carrots or fresh roasted green bean for $13., Grilled Swordfish Steak with balsamic cole slaw &  choice of rice pilaf or skillet roasted potatoes, and carrots or fresh roasted green bean $13. Honey & Cashew Fried Boneless Chicken with fries and cole slaw $8.

It’s good New England pub food at good old fashioned prices.   Oh and they have entertainment on some nights too!

It’s worth keeping this pub in mind when you finally make that trip to Salem, Massachusetts you’ve always wanted to do!


In A Pig’s Eye
148 Derby Street
Salem, Massachusetts

Pleasantly full and perhaps slightly intoxicated with a few good pints of Boddingtons, let’s find our way to our next must see spot conveniently located across the street from Pig’s Eye!

The House of the Seven Gables  & The Nathaniel Hawthorne House

“Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon Street; the house is the old Pyncheon House; and an elm-tree, of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon Elm. On my occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom failed to turn down Pyncheon Street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these two antiquities, –the great elm-tree and the weather-beaten edifice.”   Nathaniel Hawthorne


Nathaniel’s Birthplace During Move  58′                   Modern Day

Hawthorne’s Birthplace

While relocated in 1958 from its original location on Union Street to its now famous location next to The House of the Seven Gables, The Nathaniel Hawthorne House, a modest Georgian styled house is a fascinating trip into Nathaniel Hawthorne’s sad, but interesting youth.

Born on July 4th 1804 to Elizabeth and Nathaniel Hawthorne, tragically Nathaniel’s father, a sea captain died on a voyage when Nathaniel was only 5 years old.  His mum was left to tend to three small children with very little money.  They eventually moved and his birth home and losses became the subject of many of his future stories.

In 1958 the house was moved down the street to its current location of Derby Street.  It sits seamlessly next to the House of The Seven Gables as if it’s been there all along.  For a mere $12.50 for adults / seniors $11.50 and $7.50 for kids you get all of this!!!

Includes a guided tour of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion (The House of the Seven Gables), a visit to the Nathaniel Hawthorne House, the Counting House, the Colonial Revival Gardens, and the waterfront.

The House of the Seven Gables

Immaculately restored this house is worth the cost of admission, all on its own.  I’ve toured this home, more than any other place and I could tour it a thousand more times and never tire of it.  It’s beautiful and fascinating.


Built by a Salem sea captain and merchant named John Turner in 1668 and occupied by three generations of the Turner family before being sold to Captain Samuel Ingersoll in 1782 it became the inspiration of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables.

Well worth it!  For $12. you get a fully guided tour through the property and its incredible  gardens.   The House of the Seven Gables is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England.   You can see the hidden staircase in the Seven Gables Home and its authentic furnishings.

The House of the Seven Gables
115 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
Phone Number: (978) 744-0991
Fax Number: (978) 741-4350


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