A Travel Guide to Salem and Gloucester
By Sydney Klecker
New England is the perfect place for all things fall-related. Crisp weather, crunchy leaves, and warm coffee cake make for the best autumnal checklist. Not only is Salem a cute town known for its spooky Hocus Pocus vibes, it is a town steeped in history.
To begin the day, park near Broad Street Cemetery and walk around the old gravestones, and then try to take the rest of Salem on foot so you don’t miss anything. Salem is full of houses from the 1600 and 1700s, so just keep your eyes peeled for the little plaques on houses that say how old they are.
After a spooky start in the cemetery, walk over to the Ropes Mansion and Garden. The garden is free to the public and this house was used as Allison’s house in the cult classic, “Hocus Pocus.” You’ll pass by the Witch House as you make your way over to the Witch Dungeon Museum if you fancy the fright. The Witch House is the only still-standing structure with direct ties to the witch trials.
Head on over to the “Bewitched Sculpture” for a cute photo-op with Samantha from the TV show, “Bewitched.” By this time I was craving a sweet treat and luckily, Gulu-Gulu Café is right next to this statue. Everything from the menu was delicious but my favorite was the warm coffee cake. Honestly the best coffee cake I have ever had!
After a nice lunch at the café, walk down Essex Street to see the townspeople dressed up as witches and other Halloween-themed eccentricity. Pop into Wicked Good Books for some reading material to enjoy on the flight home. After some literature, the Peabody Essex Museum is a great way to see some American and Asian art and artifacts. Or, go straight to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial⎯— a sobering reminder of a dark moment in our nation’s past.
Walk along Derby Street to get to the Derby Wharf where you can see the Derby Wharf Light Station, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and explore the Salem Custom House where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked.
Continue your journey up Derby Street until you see The House of the Seven Gables. If you want, you can explore the secret passageways inside and tour the 1668 home of Nathaniel Hawthorne to see what inspired his novel. On your way back, make sure you stop off at Ye Olde Pepper Company, a candy company from the 1800s where you can buy old-fashioned sweets. Be sure you leave with some peppermint and lemon Gibralters. The Gibralter was the first candy commercially sold in the United States. Treats make the best souvenirs.
The last stop in Salem is the cute Derby Square. Walk through Artist’s Row to get to the Old Town Hall and see where Bette Midler sang, “I put a spell on you” in Hocus Pocus.This is a must for all Hocus Pocus fans out there. The Old Town Hall is open to the public.
Next on the itinerary is the lovely Gloucester (pronounced “Glaw-ster” like lobster). I would highly recommend driving so you don’t miss out on any pretty stops along the way. The drive from Salem to Gloucester was stunning. We drove through Manchester-by-the-Sea and I wanted to immediately drop everything and move there.
Once you get to Gloucester, don’t forget to see the famous, beautiful statue of the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial and then walk along the harbor just before sunset. You can either grab dinner at Gloucester House Restaurant and get some fresh lobster, or for a more kid-friendly dinner, dine at Captain Carlo’s.
Right next to Captain Carlo’s is a beautiful little park called Captain Solomon Jacobs Park with a great view of the Atlantic and a little historical landmark. I would see this at sunset just before getting dinner.
Captain Carlo’s is a quaint little joint with live music and the best clam chowdah. I would definitely pick New England style over San Francisco’s every time. Dress warmly for the evening because there is nothing better than a cozy sweater and clam chowder to warm you up on a chilly October night in New England.
Sydney Klecker is an artist from Nashville, Tennessee, currently residing in Southern California. She paints subjects taken from her travels and experiences growing up in the lush greenery of the South. Sydney believes in a good book, good art, and good people. Visit sydneykleckerart.com or @sydneyklecker on Instagram to follow her next adventure and browse her artwork.