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While Salem is most notably associated with the 17th-century witch trials, this waterfront town has a vibrant culture just as fascinating as its haunted past. Brush up on your history lessons, appreciate local artwork, and indulge in some of the North Shore’s most renowned cuisine—all in one weekend! 

Where To Stay

Hawthorne Hotel $$

Since the 1920s, the Hawthorne Hotel has delighted in preserving the history of Salem, with its vintage architecture and ambience. Its in-house restaurants, pet-friendly rooms, beautifully decorated rooms, and close proximity to Salem’s attractions are sure to please. 18 Washington Square W, 978-744-4080,

The Hotel Salem $$

If colorful, modern décor piques your interest, this funky, vibrant hotel just a stone’s throw from Salem’s hot spots is the hotel for you. Aside from its eye-catching furnishings, The Hotel Salem offers onsite restaurants, a complimentary iPad to use during your stay, and all the amenities you need for a comfortable and relaxing getaway. 209 Essex Street, 978-451-4950,

The Merchant $$$

Incredibly stylish and highly acclaimed, this boutique hotel designed by Samuel McIntire in the 19thcentury is the perfect blend of quaint historic style and upscale, modern amenities. It’s no wonder The Merchant won our Best of North Shore (BONS) award for Bed and Breakfast this year! 148 Washington Street, 978-745-8100,

What To Do

Salem Witch Museum

Given how much of Salem’s history is entwined with the infamous Witch trials, it seems like a no-brainer to visit the witch museum. Learn about Salem’s fascinating past, and how the practice of witchcraft still finds its way on the modern world. 19 ½ Washington Square North, 978-744-1692,

House of Seven Gables

Made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name, the House of Seven Gables is a National Historic Landmark as interesting as it is photogenic. Take a guided tour of the house for the full experience. 115 Derby Street, 978-744-0991,

Peabody Essex Museum

Voted as Best Museum for our BONS award, this expertly curated collection of artwork—ranging from modern immersive installations to photo galleries of 19thcentury China—are sure to please any art lover. Stop by their website for an updated list of exhibitions, and be on the lookout for special events! East India Square, 161 Essex Street, 978-745-9500,

Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours

What better way to learn about Salem’s spooky past then during a nighttime walking tour? Explore Salem’s hotspots while learning about its colonial history, witch trials, and current witchcraft practices from incredibly knowledgeable tour guides. 180 Essex Street, 978-498-4061, 

Punto Urban Art Museum

If gallery art isn’t your thing, this punchy street art “museum” has over 70 colorful, larger-than-life murals with an even more beautiful goal: to break down socio-economic barriers within Salem’s community. 96 Lafayette Street, 978-745-8071,

Witch House

The 17th-century era house of Judge Jonathan Corwin, dubbed the Witch House, is a must-see for history buffs. The all-black building is the last exisiting structure in Salem with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials. 310 ½ Essex Street, 978-744-8815,

Boat Tour

Take a tour of Salem by sea aboard the schooner Fame, a replica of the first American privateer schooner in the war of 1812. Whether you’re looking for some more historical knowledge, or a unique way to explore the breathtaking Salem coast, this cruise is a fun activity for all! 86 Wharf Street, Salem 978-729-7600

Shopping in Downtown Salem

Walk around the shop-lined Essex, Derby, Charter, and Front streets and you’ll find a plethora of adorable clothing, skincare, and novelty stores. Head to Modern Millie for vintage apparel, Roost and Company for gifts, and The Cheese Shop of Salem for—you guessed it—cheese. 

Where To Eat

Coffee, Breakfast, and Brunch

$ A&J King

If expertly baked breakfast pastries are your thing, pop into this award-winning bakery for scrumptious croissants, scones, muffins, and more. Make sure to buy one of their famous loaves of bread to take home! 48 Central Street, 978-744-4881,

$$ Ugly Mug Diner

Indulge in classic brunch favorites like pancakes and scrambled eggs or try inventive breakfast specials like duck confit and waffles, chipotle hash eggs benedict, and breakfast poutine topped with a fried egg. The house blend coffee is, of course, served in an adorably ugly mug. 122 Washington Street, 978-745-6844,

$ Jaho Coffee & Tea

Cozy and rustic, this café serves up delicious coffee (and cocktails) in both classic and exciting flavors—like the French toast latte! Curl up with a book on their comfy seats, or take your coffee to go and walk along the neighboring waterfront. 197 Derby Street, 978-744-4300,

$$$ Ledger Restaurant & Bar

For a seriously luxurious start to the day, head to Ledger for weekend brunch. Begin your meal with chai-infused vodka cocktails, and dig into banana bread with rum caramel and foie gras butter, prime skirt steak and eggs with salsa verde, or an upgraded avocado toast with smoked salmon. 125 Washington Street, 978-594-1908,

Lunch and Dinner

$$$ Finz 

This upscale eatery has guests enjoying plates of fresh seafood, steaks, and even sushi in style, while views of the ocean surround them—the outdoor deck is open during warmer months for a lavish waterfront dining experience. 86 Wharf Street, Salem 978-744-8485

$$ Kokeshi 

Opt for a comforting bowl of Japanese noodle soup, or try some Asian street food favorites like pork buns with chili mayo or Thai-style lettuce wraps. Pair your meal with fun cocktails like the Cobra Kai with vodka and yuzu, a variety of “fermented grape juice,” or Japanese sake. 41 Lafayette Street, 978-594-4197,

$ Howling Wolf Taqueria 

Taquitos, chimichangas, carne asada, and loads of refreshing salsa—what more could you want? Choose from their specialty menu full of tasty options like the chicken fiesta burrito or grilled shrimp tacos with mango, or customize your meal with a variety of proteins and toppings. 76 Lafayette Street, 978-744-9653,

$$ Bambolina

Our BONS Editor’s Choice for best pizza serves up wood-fired oven-roasted pies topped with crushed tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, savory mushrooms, prosciutto, and much more! Some lower-carb options include heirloom tomato caprese, kale and strawberry salad, and grilled octopus with chili oil. 288 Derby Street, 978-594-8709,

$$ Passage to India

Breathe in the tempting aroma of toasted spices while you dig into steaming plates of delicious curries. Have a homemade mango lassi to compliment the spicy lamb vindaloo, and try one of their five naan flavors to dip into rich sauces. 157 Washington Street, 978-832-2200,

$$$ Stella’s Restaurant and Wine Bar

A menu stocked with seafood, steaks, chicken and pastas ensure that there is something for everyone at this recently opened restaurant. Their incredibly extensive (23 different Cabernet Sauvignons!) wine list is also sure to have the perfect bottle to complement every meal and palate. 94 Lafayette Street, 978-594-8960,

Ledger Restaurant and Bar

Ledger is leading the pack in terms of a stellar culinary experience. A progressive New England restaurant by chef/ owner Matt O’Neil, whose menu is inspired by regional cuisine and colonial cooking techniques, is housed within one of the city’s grandest buildings, a historical space dating back to 1818 that until recently was home to the second-oldest incorporated savings bank in the United States. Ledger’s executive chef Daniel Gursha creates an array of elevated culinary dishes. 125 Washington St., Salem, 978-594-1908,


$$ Caramel French Patisserie

Satisfy your sweet tooth at this adorable French patisserie, offering 10 different macaron flavors, eclairs, opera cakes, and more! 281 Essex Street, 978-594-0244,

$ Goodnight Fatty

This late-night weekend cookie spot has an underground feel, tucked away in a downtown Salem alley. Don’t let their mysterious façade deter you—their rotating cookie flavors are seriously worth the adventure. 1 Washington Square, 978-822-2277,

$$ Harbor Sweets

Chocolate lovers will adore this local candy store, offering a myriad of bonbons, dessert sauces, and their iconic sailboat-shaped Sweet Sloops. These treats will make the perfect gift to bring home, but make sure to buy an extra box for yourself! 85 Leavitt Street, 978-745-7648,

Where to Go for Cocktails

$$ Bit Bar

With its impressive video game-inspired cocktail list and arcade games, you can feel like a kid again while having some adult fun. Noteworthy drinks include the Ghost Eater, with ghost pepper tequila, citrus, and pineapple, the High Noon with bourbon, passion fruit, and lime, the Dankey Kang with crème de banana, rum, pineapple, nutmeg, and mint, and the Pooka with raspberry vodka, elderflower liqueur, and blackberry brandy. 50 Saint Peter Street, 978-594-4838,

$ Notch Brewery and Tap Room

Every one of the house-crafted beers at Notch has an ABV of 4.5% or lower, so you can enjoy their wide variety of brews and gorgeous biergarten for hours! Even beer haters will enjoy their radlers, made with lager and sparkling citrus juices. 238R Derby Street, Salem, 978-238-9060,

$$ Gulu Gulu café

This bohemian Boston terrier-adorned café offers quirky cocktails, specialty liqueurs like absinthe or tamarind, and a vast menu of craft beers. 27 Essex Street, 978-740-8882,