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5 Tips for Surviving Halloween in Salem, MA

HalloweenSalem

For a few years after college I lived in Beverly, MA which is just a stone’s throw away from the better-known Salem, MA. The Salem tourism swells in October to traffic-jam-headache, no-free-chairs-at-the-coffee-shop levels of insanity. I know people whose commute triples in time during October just because of the tourism draw the town has.

BUT, going to Salem for Halloween is also a ton of fun and an experience like nothing else and is something to be experienced!

Haunted Happenings, the official website for Halloween tourism in Salem, provides a lot of helpful information and can be found here.

As a Salem Halloween veteran, here are my five tips for surviving what may be your most interesting Halloween ever:

1. Use Public Transportation

Do not under any circumstances plan on driving to Salem. Use the T. One year we decided to drive back with a friend who had worked in Salem that day to avoid the crowded train car. A 3 minute train ride became a 2.5 hour nightmare.

Tip: If you are coming from the Beverly Depot stop they usually don’t bother checking if you have a ticket because there’s too many people on the train.

2. Go all out with the costumes!

Trust me, you won’t be overdressed. 75% of the reason people go to Salem is to people-watch and check out the crazy costumes of everybody else. Plus, if you’re wearing something fun you’ll look like less of a lurker while staring at everybody else’s getup.

Tip: Hopefully this is common sense as New Englanders, but dress warmly! Once that sun goes down the chill sets in and there aren’t a lot of open shops at that point in the day to step into for a quick warm-up.

3. Don’t Plan on Site-seeing

Don’t have your heart set on doing anything in particular. Going to Salem on Halloween is more about walking around and experiencing. Salem, which is a great place to spend a Saturday, is mobbed in October and you’ll enjoy your visit much more if you wait until the hoopla passes.

Tip: Instead of hitting up the popular sites, aim for lesser known attractions: The statue of Samantha from Bewitched, or gazing at the Friendship from afar are easy things to do among the crowds.

4. Get Away from Downtown for a Break

The restaurants will be crowded – if it looks like they have an empty table, grab it while you can. The farther away from the masses, the better.

Tip: Engine House Pizza usually has a quick turn-around. Jaho’s Coffee & Tea is a great place for a warm cup of coffee and a restroom. Both are just far enough from the main drag that you won’t have to wait too long before finding a seat.

5. Get out Early

Around 7:00pm a lot of people start showing up to town. It’s fun to walk up and down Essex Street and experience the pandemonium for a while, but then you start to feel crowd-induced stress. I like to leave by 10pm. You know when your mom used to say “nothing good happens after midnight?”. Well, I’d bump this up a few hours for this particular adventure. Besides, once the carnival shuts down and shops close up, I’d rather be at home watching a scary movie with a bowl of Baby Ruth miniatures.

Tip: Be sure to get back to the train station extra early for your return ride home. There are a lot of people coming in and out of town on the train and the platforms get really congested, so you’ll want to make sure you make your time.

North Shore Autumn Classics (You’re Welcome)

Download this adorable autumn watercolor printable from Jones Design Company here!!

Crowds mingling around a crackling bonfire. Temporarily dyed hair. Spirit week. Parades. The season of Homecoming is the inauguration of fall. When the yellow school buses make their reappearance, pumpkin flavored everything debuts on menus, and candy corn teases you from the grocery store end-caps, autumn’s arrival is just a tease. It’s homecoming that lights theĀ  torch for this fall-loving girl.

I’m well out of school, but I still love everything about homecoming. This last weekend we returned to my alma mater for my five year (I weep) class reunion.

The North Shore of Boston is my happy place. People of New England, continue going to the Cape for all your beachside gallivanting, because the North Shore is perfect just the way it is.

After we finished reminiscing all our favorite old spots, and checked out all the new updates to campus in recent years (can I go back to being a student again?), we launched our own proverbial homecoming parade past some of our favorite North Shore haunts. woodmans

Woodman’s of Essex

If you’re into Zagat-rated food served on paper plates, Woodman’s of Essex is the place for you. They claim to have invented the fried clam – I can’t tell you if that’s delicious or not, because I’ve never been able to pass up my standard order of popcorn shrimp, clam chowder, and fried fish sandwich. (All of which are best to split unless you’d like to be towed home.)

When you live on the coast of Massachusetts, it’s common to debate where the best chowder is served. Woodman’s is usually my pick.

To get the maximum Woodman’s experience, go on a sunny fall day in the late afternoon. Take your food outside and pick a picnic table – and enjoy. Watching the setting sun over the salt marshes and enjoying a delicious cup of chowder is one of my favorite mental snapshots of New England in the fall.

woodmans3

If you like your fish grilled and to eat off real plates, within a stone’s throw are two more delicious seafood restaurants right on the marsh that I highly recommend – Shea’s and Periwinkle’s.

Richardson’s Ice Cream

A great dinner should always be followed up by an even better dessert. There are a number of local ice cream spots on the North Shore – and you couldn’t really go wrong. But, if you wanted to pick the right one, you’d go to Richardson’s Ice Cream. (Technically I wouldn’t even call this ice cream place “North Shore” locale, but it’s totally worth the 15 minutes to get there. Captain Dusty’s is the local North Shore favorite – and it’s good. But no one can top King Rich.)

As evidenced by the number of ice cream posts on this blog, I love ice cream. So the fact that I look forward to the fall flavors at Richardson’s should mean something!

richardsonsicecream

One scoop of Apple Crisp and one scoop of Pumpkin *(note – this is a size small) and send me off to heaven.

They’ve since added some new additional Fall Flavors to choose from (like Cranberry Harvest) but I don’t like to mess with perfection.

There you have it.

A walk on the beach, dinner at Woodman’s, topping off with Richardson’s fall flavors sounds like the perfect way to usher in autumn to me.

Now – it’s October 1! I can officially start decorating for fall. So you will have to excuse me!!!

What is your favorite way to celebrate the beginning of fall? Football games? Apple picking? A hayride?

Day Trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

I’ve long maintained that Rockport is my favorite Massachusetts town. And that’s still true. Mostly. Rockport IS my favorite, but if I could choose to live in any town, it would be Newburyport. (If only it weren’t quite so far north!)

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

Newburyport is best-known for being the first port in New England. There is a short, but lovely, boardwalk along the river where you can watch sailboats – and on the rare occasion gawk at the out-of-place larger-than-life yachts that come up from the Cayman Islands.

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

Shopping in Newburyport

Another reason I love Newburyport is that it is a great place for browsing and window shopping.

My personal favorite stores to poke around in are Souffles (a great little kitchen store and coffee shop), Pretty Poppy (for affordable jewelry and accessories), the Brass Lyon (for nautical themed gifts), and Vintage Goods.

There is a great men’s shop (John Farley’s) and those are hard to come by. There are a few local chains here as well – Modern Millie’s (a vintage/consignment dress shop) and Bobbles and Lace (more ladies clothing). Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

My favorite place to shop in Newburyport is Oldie’s Marketplace – it’s a huge barn at the end of the riverwalk. It’s full of old thrifted goods – everything from old bottles, to antique furniture, to old records.

Exactly my type of place that I like to hunt through.

Eating in Newburyport

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

If you are there for lunch, stop at the deli counter in Fowle’s Drugstore and get a panini! It doesn’t look like much, but it’s delicious!

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

If you’re there for dinner, another favorite of ours is Agave – for delicious Mexican fare. There is usually a wait – so call ahead!

If you are heading out to the beach, like we were, stop at the Black Duck Market for some goodies. It is located in the Tannery, which just happens to be the best (free) place to park in Newburyport.

Plum Island

Directly off the coast is Plum Island – a reserve. While many Massachusetts beaches are more cove-like, Plum Island is a tried and true Atlantic Ocean beach.

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

This means the waves are bigger, the water is colder, and the drop-off is pretty quick.

While it’s not my favorite beach for swimming (at least my kind of swimming – which is more like floating in a bathtub), it’s a great beach for lounging! The long beach means the shore’s not congested and everyone is able to spread out.

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

It costs $5/car to get into Plum Island reserve. While you’re there don’t forget to drive around the reservation and enjoy the beauty.

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

Day trip to Newburyport and Plum Island

What’s your favorite way to experience the beach?

I like a good book and a nice breeze!

To Boston, With Love

Boston Skyline

I cry every Marathon Monday.
Usually it’s because I’m reading so many inspirational stories about the thousands of people who train to run 26.2 miles through the beautiful state of Massachusetts, ending in our lovely city of Boston
However this year I cry because of the tragedy that happened in Boston earlier today.
Marathon Monday, officially known as Patriots’ Day (commemorating the anniversary of the battle of Lexington and Concord), is a celebration in our city.
I’ve stood on Heartbreak Hill and cheered for all the runners of the Boston Marathon, caught in the frenzy.

I love Marathon Monday because it’s full of dreams and hard work.

And strangers cheering on strangers.

(We tend to stick to ourselves in New England, thus it makes it all the sweeter.)

To this day, when I’m slugging up a hill on my runs, I think about some of the people I’ve watched pass by and it spurs me onward.

Sometimes there are just no words. Prayers for Boston.

(We are both safe.)