Daytrip to Salem by Ferry
Earlier this year I wrote that Boston/Salem was one of my top destinations in the US. When I knew I was headed to Boston, but only for a few short days, I really struggled with whether I should take this trip. But I didn’t really wind up liking the Boston Tea Party Museum so I skipped that and suddenly had time in my day to take a daytrip to Salem by ferry! This post took awhile to get out because I was sick and the original got deleted so here we are 😛
How To Get There
Now you can get there by commuter rail but that sounded like a hassle in terms of time and less enjoyable. I decided to have my daytrip to Salem by ferry instead. It was about $45 round trip via the Salem Ferry which picks you right up from Long Wharf in Boston. It takes a quick 55 minutes. You’ll be dropped off in Salem in an interesting part of town – the part of town that definitely felt the most “real” if I may say so, but more on that later. I was already considering taking a harbor cruise so I feel this was a great combo!
What’s It Like?
I think there is a lot of confusion about what Salem has to offer. In a lot of ways it is a witch-y Disneyland. There are going to be a lot of tourists and as such, most of the businesses cater to the tourists. After some searching it became quite clear many of the “attractions” aren’t really worth it. The Witch Museum, according to some, provides a rather inaccurate and biased presentation of the famed Witch Trials that resulted in 19 people being executed. There was a movie shoot going on while I was there! It was for a new Adam Sandler film and I totally accidentally walked onto the set. Whoops. However, I think there are definitely moments of “realness” so read on!
Where to Shop
If you’re here for witchy shopping I actually wouldn’t stick to the main downtown. Most of the popular stores that will pop up on a Google shop are pretty much carbon copies of each other. A certain jewelry selection, some tumbled polished rocks, and someone to give you a reading. If you have never been to a shop like this then I suppose they have what I’d consider standard fare and they are worth a look. However, if you were to ever go to one in your hometown it probably wouldn’t be that much different. Even, sadly, the oldest witch shop in the US, Crow Haven Corner fell into this category. Although this shop did have some lovely reasonably priced artwork for sale and a few interesting objects that were massively overpriced…
The best shops that I went into in Salem were those nearer the drop off from the ferry, Haus Witch and Hive and Forge. These two felt “legit.” In Haus Witch there’s a sense of the Modern Witch. Elegant homewares and designs and an all around peaceful vibe that was fun to look through. Hive and Forge had some absolutely awesome pieces. It was one of the few to feature indie tarot decks rather than the mass produced. They had a pretty wide and well stocked variety as well. All from natural handmade soaps to true witch-y staples like pickled animal things. Do recommend.
Where to Eat
I was really craving Italian so that’s what I got. The Italian at Firenze Trattoria was excellent. I absolutely love handmade pasta but it is shockingly hard to find even in larger cities in the States. I knew I likely wasn’t going to have time to explore Little Italy all that much in Boston so I took my chance here. Very very good gnocci. Very very good chocolate mousse I definitely didn’t need.
What to Do
As some above passages can attest, this is an odd one. If you are looking for a Disney-esque experience you should absolutely just wander around and head to the regular museums. If you want some of the more “real” history of Salem I’d recommend wandering among the houses near the wharf. There are several information plaques about the different homes and who lived there. The House of the Seven Gables seems interesting and legitimate and if I’d had more time I would have gone. The Witch House is another such option, and the only standing building actually related to the Trials. It’s not that much different than any other house from the time period in New England so keep that in mind. Beyond these two, I was lucky enough to catch the Farmer’s Market on Thursday which was quite fun.
The Burying Point is something I really wish I had managed to visit but as I am still working my way up to not being afraid of dead things it’s probably for the best. The Burying Point is one of the oldest burying places in the US. It features many graves related to the Witch Trials as well as someone who sailed on the Mayflower!
Besides the well-known stuff…
Mind you I didn’t actually go to any of these and still managed to enjoy myself. There aren’t actually a lot of people wandering around the various neighborhoods. It was around these areas that I “felt something real” as it were. A lot of the central town feels fake and created solely for tourists but wandering among the houses, many of them well over 300 years old, you could begin to understand the setting of the historical events of Salem. I wouldn’t say that’s something you can easily do in other famous places. Normally you have to pay a ticket price, or there’s only small vestiges. Here you can wander among houses that are still being used as actual homes. Although there was definitely one house that felt haunted so I’ll leave you with this one. It doesn’t look so bad in the photos but golly it was absolute creep-ville walking by.
Anyways! I hope this has helped some people decide whether to take a daytrip to Salem by ferry. I’d say if you have a vested interest in weird history or you haven’t had the chance to go to a small New England town, this is a good option 🙂 I certainly don’t regret it.