It all started with a conch shell that we found in Panama…
As we were quarantined in the Dry Tortugas with our friends on Paanga, they taught us to turn conch shells into horns on our aft deck one day.
Each night at sunset, the kids would blow their conch horns to say goodnight to the other boats in the anchorage. (Oh, and by the way, if you’ve never tried it, blowing a conch horn is actually really difficult. I can’t do it.) We continued to do this with them each night on our way up the coast.
When we arrived in Salem, Evie decided to blow her horn for any tours that came close enough to Litha to hear her. The Schooner Fame, and the floating Tiki Bar would sometimes get a little show.
Well, then Justin started working as crew on the Fame and it was a way for Evie to say hi to dad as he was working each night. Captain Mike started sailing much closer to Litha so she could be seen and heard.
A couple weeks ago, she started wearing her old mermaid costume from three Halloweens ago. She has become quite the little star. Justin yells, “Mike! I see a mermaid off the starboard bow!” And all the tourists on board think he’s nuts, “Say what now?” 😂 And then they pass by Litha to Evie‘s music and clap and shout. It’s really cool. One lady gave Justin $10 and told him it’s for the Mermaid of Salem Harbor.
So, Captain Mike and his wife Melissa, decided they needed to get Evie a little present because the tourists on board love her and it’s so fun. We suggested a new mermaid costume since hers is so small and tattered. We dinghied into shore today to visit the Fame and surprised Evie with her new dress, complete with crown, gloves, jewelry, and scepter.
I’ll tell ya, our life at sea with a mermaid is definitely not boring. 😉
Aww my little mermaid. She’s 11 now and she isn’t so mermaid-y as she used to be. She used to love doing this on the harbor. The past 2 summers we have been at the dock and not at a mooring ball so, even though her dad became one of the captains, she wasn’t out there blowing her conch shell anymore. HOWEVER, she was in the Little Mermaid musical at the Salem YMCA and blew her conch shell to begin every performance. Enjoy your kiddos while they’re little. I mean, she’s still little but she’s definitely becoming a pre-teen now. I was always told “It goes fast” and it does, it really does.
The bottom of our boat gets so much sea growth that Justin needs to use our small air compressor and a hookah to dive down and scrape the bottom every few weeks. Today, Evie opened a can of soup and put it in the microwave… and I forgot that Justin was under the boat. If we use the microwave and the air compressor at the same time, the breaker trips and Justin would run out of air. (It happened once. He was ok.) So we stopped the microwave and slowly microwaved her soup in 30 second increments between the air compressor filling with air. Bet you’ve never had to worry about that!
Bugs. I’m so upset about the stupid little weevils that end up in EVERYTHING. I grabbed the paprika off the shelf the other day and there were tons of them inside the little jar. How do they get in there? We throw so much food overboard because of these damn things. We even vacuum seal our flour, rice, and pasta, and sometimes they still make their way in. I bought some Near East Rice Pilaf when we arrived in Key West. I love that stuff and haven’t had it since we left San Diego. I was SO EXCITED for US convenience foods (there isn’t much else I’m excited about as we arrive back in this country right now.) And I poured it into the boiling water today and dozens of tiny bugs floated to the surface. Honestly, I cried. $4 overboard.
And lastly, the US is so crowded with boats. So many people do dumb things on the water. Jet skiers and small motor boats loaded with bikini clad women zooming too close to MY HOME while drinking too many beers. Ugh!!! I have so much anxiety. Litha is all we have.
And then I feel guilty for complaining about these small things when so many people have it worse. I think I need to go camping in the mountains or something soon and find a much different slice of paradise.
It’s that time of year again! I’ll be writing a short log of the most interesting paranormal findings at my After Hours Ghost Hunt at Gallows Hill Theatre every night for the next 31 nights. (Interested in last year’s log? Click here)
Also, this year I’m trying to be better at using TikTok so I’ll be telling stories from each night over there. I’m Kim the sea witch. Find me. 🙂
9/29/23- As we were about to break off into our groups, everyone in the main room heard a man yell, “Hello?” coming towards the stairwell. No one was there. Interesting way to begin the season. One group heard footsteps and saw what looked like someone waving around a flashlight past the Ouija board room, no one was there. One guest was holding the spirit box as we walked through room 2 and she said, “Oh man” and the spirit box repeated her words. Names: Christoper, Tim, Edward.
9/30/23- Heard footsteps and saw a flashlight past the Ouija board room again. I was telling one group that I think there’s maybe a mason here who doesn’t like women and the spirit box said, “Bastard!” Both nights people were saying they think there’s a kid in room 1. I swear we had that happen last year. Okay and the craziest thing I think I’ve ever seen here… someone was taking a photo of the 3 sunken heads in room 3 and in one of the photos it looked like one of them opened it’s eyes. I sh*t you not. I was like, “Nope nope nope. I’m out.” I do not do dolls, mannequins, etc. Freaks me the hell out. That’s it, I quit. (Just kidding… maybe.) The meters were also going off as this was happening. I’ve never seen them go off right there ever. Who took those photos?? Are you reading this?! Send them to me please! Names: Paul, Betsy, Andrew, Michael, Casey.
10/1/23- Spirit box said, “I died” in the stairwell. The number 3 came up a lot. A child/boy came up in room 1. George is his name possibly? Are you happy? Answered yes. Asked, “How many people are in this room” in room 2 and spirit box said 6 when there was 6 of us. “Let’s Go” and “Mad” in stairwell. Names: Patrick, Robert, Jonathan, Steven, Ben, Jackson.
10/2/23- A bit of a quiet night. The spirit box said “Brooke” twice in room 2. Went into room 1 and asked if anyone was named Brooke and, yes, there was a Brooke. Was hoping she’d get a lot of activity in room 2 but did not. The whole group left the stairwell. (That happens a lot if you look back at last year.). Said they heard “Above you” and “Walk now.” Two groups got the name George in two different rooms. And it was also brought up that there is a child/boy in room 1. One guest said that there’s a mason there who does not want to talk using electronics. Names: George, James, Rory, Ray.
10/3/23- “I am here” in the stairwell, and then “kill” (yikes). Flashlight in room 1 was very active with responses on command. EMF top left corner of the safe? As I was exiting room 2, the whole group got a whiff of smoke. Never had that happen before. Room 2: “Hell, God, stop, leave” on the spirit box. Names: Paul, Robert, Anthony, Emily, Emmett, Charles, Ray.
10/4/23- Room 2, asked spirit box if name was Robert and clearly said “Bobby”. Got the word, “here” was we were walking back. And “one” when we were with group 1. Other words on the spirit box in room 2: Excellent, Gavin (quite a few times. No one knew a Gavin) “I’m not far” and “You’re welcome” after we said thank you. Names: George, Walter, Jackson, Luke.
10/5/23- Slow quiet night. Got the word “Help” on the spirit box, and then what sounded like a list of foods. Gyro, coconut, dinner. And then the word “trapped”, and “sure” when we asked if he was hungry. And also the word “wait” a lot. Also heard the name Bobby again in there. Someone caught what looks like a face in the “mirror”/tv screen. One guest said she almost ran into the wall and the spirit box said, “Careful” two different times. Names: Thomas, Jeff, Sam.
10/6/23- Still pretty slow and quiet but a little more active than the last couple nights. We heard “People not funny” on the spirit box in room 2. When I told everyone at the end of the night that we were going to head back into the main room, the spirit box said, “Stay here”. I was also telling them that it says the word “wait” all the time and it said, “Stay.” A lot of temperature fluctuations tonight, chills, etc. In the stairwell a group asked, “Is that your wife?” and it said “my husband”. Names: Richard, Camilla, George, Peter (Pete on spirit box), Henry, James, William, Ron, Emily, Paul/Paula.
10/7/23- Very active compared to the past few nights. Words like suffer and sickness. Responses on the spirit box: Can I take your picture? “No”. Can you light this up? “Which one?” We heard nothing for a while and all of a sudden it says, “I’m back. Room one, someone knocked on the door and their app said “Arrived”. A lot of flashlight responses in room 1. Got the word “Fire” on the spirit box in the stairwell. Names: Patrick (asked on spirit box and repeated the name twice), Elizabeth, Rebecca (in room 3… they thought it was Rebecca Nurse), Alice, Eli, Paul, Colton (young boy room 1… who drowned?) Julia, Tom, Luke, Samuel, Ray.
10/8/23- My phone said, “iphone unavailable. Try again in 1 minute” while walking through room 2. I asked, “Was that you who messed up my phone”? Spirit box said, “Stop it.” Every single group tonight heard the word “Stop” over and over in different rooms. We asked “What’s your name?” and heard “Buster”. No one in the room knew a Buster though. We heard “Have a weapon” as the train rumbled below us. Other words/phrases: Hello, he fell over, and then a woman said “Can you hear me?” clear as day. That one gave me chills. Other names: Mike, Mason, James, River?
10/9/23- “Leave” was heard on the sprit box on the stairs. Other responses to questions… “stuck”. Can you move on? “Can’t” and Are you forced to stay here? “Exactly”. Okay, we’re going to go now. “Where?” People were again getting a young boy in room 1. In room 2 someone said, “My name is Dominic. Can you say my name? I’ll settle for Nick” and the spirit box clearly said Nick. Someone’s app said, “Julia” so they asked if there was a Julia here and the spirit box said Julia. Names: Henry, Joseph, Cooper, Alexander, Charlotte, and we got the name Hunter a lot tonight. I was putting everything away after the event and noticed there was a Hunter on my list that didn’t show up that night. Maybe someone really wanted to talk to him and was disappointed he didn’t show up?
10/10/23- Heard “Hey” right off the bat in room 2. And then it said, “no, no, no”. The name Michael was heard by every group tonight. The spirit box was extra chatty but couldn’t make out what was being said. Someone said that they heard both of their brother’s names so I asked if someone on the other side might be trying to say hello and she said it might be her mother. We asked the spirit box if it was this woman’s mom and it said, “I’m father” so that was weird. It also said, “Wait” on our way out. A group heard knocking on the door in the stairwell and the dowsing rods crossed simultaneously. The spirit box said, “Watching”. In room 3, they were getting the word “bridge” many times… cold spots, felt like someone was there. Another guest was getting words on their app like “Mountain, foliage” and he asked, “Are you describing my shirt?” and it said, “Sure.” Names: Tom, Levi, Adam, Luke, James.
10/11/23- I was explaining how the equipment works at the very beginning of the evening and the spirit box says, “Here we go”. I’ve never heard it say a phrase like that as I’m demonstrating how it works. Heard, “Grab me” while walking through room 2. We heard what sounded like “horse shit” and we all laughed and the meters lit up, almost like it was giggling. At the end of the night, I said, “Anything else you’d like to say? We’re almost done for the night. You have a minute left to to say anything you want to say.” and the spirit box said, “I said it.” Someone said they saw what looked like ash flying around the stairwell. Again people were picking up on a young boy in room 1. In room 3, someone got the word “priest” on their app. They said, “Are you guilty?” and it said, “Frustration”. Names: James, Michael, Julia, Murphy, Nick, Levi, Ray/Roy.
10/12/23- A relatively slow night… BUT… all of the groups heard footsteps while in room 2. I swear it sounded like Tyler was walking up but as soon as he would have arrived in the room, the footsteps stopped. It sounded like boots but Tyler was wearing sneakers. I said, “Is that you walking around out there?” and was telling the group it sounded like boots and not sneakers and the spirit box said, “Boots on.” A while later I asked, “What’s your favorite color?” and we all heard “Orange” as the meters lit up and the temperature gun was fluctuating between 68 and 80 degrees. We also heard “Stand up” and “We’re here” in that room. Other names: Charles and Matthew.
10/13/23- A bit of a chaotic night with a high energy group. The spirit box in room 2 said, “What the f*ck”. Spirit box said, “Hi Taylor” to a guest named Taylor. Got the name Luke and the meters were going off a lot on command. Someone said, “Do you know Krissy?” and it responded, “No idea”. Names: Gail, Jack, Robert, Dominic, Anthony, Rick.
10/14/23- A slow night. I explained room 2 and started walking everyone back further and the spirit box said, “Let’s go!” Every group got the name Nick over and over. Other names: Paula, Olivia, George, Adam, Luke, Bella.
10/15/23- One guest said she had the song Ave Maria stuck in her head and the spirit box said Maria. I asked “What’s your favorite color?” and heard pink. Heard the phrase “Don’t get that”, and “Let’s go” as we were heading in with a group again just like last night. I told the group to turn left and the spirit box said, “ok”. In the stairwell, they asked, “Did you die here?” and it said, “no.. and laughed.” Anthony was heard a lot tonight. (I had a personal experience with that.). Other names: Mike, Adam, Henry, Raymond, Ashley, Erica.
10/16/23- Tonight as I was walking one group back, the spirit box said, “ready to go”, and “I’m ready” then as we were leaving it said, “Let’s go” (just like the last two nights) Heard “Hello” in a woman’s voice. We also kept hearing a child’s voice over and over. The meters were going off on command and everyone kept feeling a presence by the door so I took 3 photos. One of them looks like someone is standing there. Room 1 got “I feel”. “Shook” and it said Rachel, which was the name of a guest present that night. One group tried to speak French to the spirit box and we got what sounded like French words back? When I said we had about a minute left before we were finished for the evening, someone’s app said, “Extension.” Names: Richard (lots of Richard tonight), Simon, Charles, Carl.
10/17/23- A group was getting info from a Paul age 41, words heard: Angry, stay, under cable, and “hi” that sounded like a kid. We asked for the spirit to light up the K2 meter and it lit up as the spirit box said, “I did”. One guest said she smelt smoke all of a sudden, and at the same time someone’s app said “Ashes”. Other names: Michael, Edward, Scott, John, George, Henry, Tom,.
10/18/23- When someone asked, “How old are you?” We heard 41 (which I think is interesting because we got that number the day before too) Stairwell: Lots of dowsing rod activity. “Are you a fireman?” responded “yes”. When I went to move them to the next room, the spirit box said, “Come back”. Room 2: “I see you”, “It’s important” as the meters went off. We heard footsteps again just like we did a few nights ago. Other words heard: Stop it, high school, Adams (a guest’s hometown), hi, and when we asked their favorite color we heard blue. A lot of people connected with passed loved ones tonight. Names: Walter, Joe, John, Ben.
10/19/23- Asked, can you light up the meters? Spirit box said, “I’ll try” and then the meters lit up. We heard footsteps again and it sounded like they were leaving, and then the meters stopped and the spirit box got quiet. One guest connected with her parents who passed. Another guest connected with her grandmother and cousin. At the end of the evening as we were about to walk back into the main room, someone said, “Thank you. Good night.” and the spirit box said, “Good night”. In the stairwell someone asked, “Are you stuck here?” and they heard “I’m here forever.” and “It could be worse” on the spirit box. Names: Anthony, Tom, Dylan, Maverick, Adam, Nathaniel, Amanda, Doug.
10/20/23- Quiet night. I was teaching someone how to use dowsing rods and the spirit box said, “Don’t break them”. Someone asked, “Can you turn the meter on” and heard “I don’t want to” and another time “I don’t feel like it.” on the spirit box. Someone in the stairwell asked, “Did you die in a fire?” and heard “Yeah” in response. “You’re lying” was heard in room 3. I thought that was interesting since we get a lot of witch trials words in there. Names: Robert/Bob, Walter, Simon, Michael.
10/21/23- We heard the word “Ouija” on the spirit box. “Can light” in a woman’s voice when the meters went off. I was telling a group about the day the spirit box said a bunch of food-related words and the spirit box said, “Waffle”. We asked, “Did you leave” and heard, “I’m back”. Someone asked, “Are you a student” and we heard the whole phrase “No I’m not a student”. One guest’s earring fell off like it was being pulled, and two pendulums she was using also broke and fell to the floor. Dowsing rods pointed to the door and the spirit box said, “Door.” Someone knocked on the door against the wall, and the door against the pole knocked back as the flashlight lit up. Names: John, Edward, Rick, Anthony, Ray. Okay, and this was the craziest thing I’ve probably ever heard on the spirit box in the stairwell…. We heard, “Be ready”. Someone asked “Are you a fireman?” and we heard, “It was me.” I asked “What’s your name?” and it said, “Ray”. And then it was as if we were listening to the fire department’s VHF (UHF?) on the night of the arsons. It was wild. We heard, “We’re fighting all those fires” “In response ma’am” “Arson” “Chief” “Training” “Hot” “Go home” “We’re here” and “Smoke”. It was amazing.
10/22/23- One group said they were talking to a spirit named James who doesn’t like women. He had an affair with a woman. He didn’t want guys in the room. Two people were sitting on the bench in the Ouija board room with KII meters and we asked, “Can you light up the meters?” They lit up in response as the spirit box said, “The bench”. They jumped up immediately. We heard footsteps again in the other room and as we were talking about it and trying to debunk it, the spirit box said, “I heard it”. “Get out” was heard in the stairwell. A group possibly connected with Giles Corey. A photo was taken of a figure behind one of the guests. Names: George, Elijah, Isabel, Charles, Tyler, Brad.
10/23/23- In the stairwell, the spirit box said, “Get out” and “Kids need to get out.” A woman heard her name, Amy, and had a conversation with her grandfather. I walked into room 3 and opened the safe, and the inner door on the safe would not open. I turned on my flashlight to see if I could figure out why it was stuck. I yanked and tugged and twisted. It wouldn’t budge. Someone put the meter up to the handle and it started picking up EMF and beeping. We asked, “Can you open the safe?” and someone’s app said, “Never”. And then Tyler went in there and opened that door up just fine, like it was completely normal. Also in room 3, a group of girls asked, “If you don’t want us here, make the meter blink” and it blinked over and over again so they yelled for us to come get them. In room 2, we asked “How many spirits are here” and it said, “Spirits” and I possibly heard “One”. When we asked to light up the meters it said, “I just did” and then they lit up again. Oh, also, we put a maglite in the ouija board room to use as a light because we’re missing one of our regular flashlights. It was twisted all the way on. When I came back in there with another group it had turned off. I text Tyler to bring me some batteries and I replaced them, twisted it all the way on again, and it started turning on and off by itself again. Note that this was not set to that sorta sweet spot half on/half off setting that we use for when we’re ghost hunting. It was all the way on. Names: Michael, Mark, John, Sandra, Blake.
10/24/23- A group got the word “leave” in the stairwell as dowsing rods were spinning in circles. Someone asked, “How did you die?” and heard “Burned”. We heard “We’re here” and “Welcome” in room 2. A guest had unexplainable red dots in their photo. Names: Joe/Joseph, Bill, Anthony, William, Frank, Daniel, Robert, Jacob.
10/25/23- Did you used to live here? “Exactly”. Have you been here a long time? “Forever”. Also heard “Hello” as we were walking back. We also heard “Megan” which was a guest’s name. I was talking about how the spirit in room 2 doesn’t like me and the spirit box said, “Freak”. We also heard the phrase “How’d you like that?” when the K11 meters went off. Someone asked, “Were you 70?” and heard “No I’m not” in response. Someone had their hair touched and he jumped as the spirit box said, “Gotcha”. Ray was whispered into a guest’s ear as she was in the stairwell. Other names: Olivia, Jack, Dave, Art, Marlin, Everly.
10/26/23- I heard a shuffling noise as we were in the Ouija board room so I started walking into the other room to investigate it and heard “Don’t go”. Other words in that room, “We’re here”, “Hey” (A few times) What’s your favorite color? “Pink”. Were you murdered? “Terribly” with EMF and flashlight responses. The doors in room 1 were constantly knocking by themselves. Someone heard “Hi” in their ear, and then it also said hi on their app. Names: Walter, Roger, Colton
10/27/23- Can you light up the meters? “Not really”. “We’re back” and the EMF meters started lighting up. Lots of flashlight play in room one. The flashlight actually rolled across the table by itself. I said, “Hey, we’re only down here for 3 more days this season. Anything you’d like to tell us?” and heard “Thanks for your help”. We asked, “Come closer to the meters” and heard “I’m trying”. A guest got the name Ray strictly using their intuition. Other names: John, Dave, Charles, Braydon, Nancy.
10/28/23- Very slow night for activity. Maybe the slowest night we’ve had this season. There was a group of guests who were very cynical, and quite frankly, completely obnoxious. They didn’t listen to instructions (one man was taking a nap as I was giving my presentation at the beginning of the evening), they kept walking through the haunted house in rooms I asked them not to go in. I feel like their energy kind of made the whole evening weird. It started to feel better after they left early, thank goodness. We all found out that Matthew Perry passed away during the evening. Some guests were seeing if they could contact him. In the stairwell, the spirit box said the number 33, one of the guests is a 33rd degree Mason and had that number on his ring. They also got the words “friend” and “perfect”. One group was getting a lot of activity in room 3. A woman said her hands were very cold as the dowsing rods moved a lot. Names: Tom, Steve, Paul, Ron, Zachary, Aaron, Derrick.
10/29/23- Really all we got was a bunch of names tonight. Except as I was talking about the Ouija board and that it’s just a haunted house prop and that we wouldn’t be using it, the spirit box said “Ouija” very clearly. We got the name George at least 4 times that evening. Other names: Frank, Robert/Bob, Tom, Edward, James, Riley, William, Joe, Bed, Camila, Nathaniel, Olivia,
10/30/23- Spirit box said, “Is someone here?” And then otherwise it was a pretty slow night with one very high energy group. We get so much less activity when people are not calm and quiet. Names: Patrick, Murphy, Adam, Jackson, Frank, and “Ask Alice”.
9/9/22- We have been hosting an “After Hours Ghost Hunt” at Gallows Hill Theatre for the past year. I keep saying that I’m going to start a blog post with all of our paranormal investigative findings. I present the history of the building but I purposefully don’t tell people too much about the spirits that linger there when they come to our event. I want them to discover their own evidence. I wait until the end of the evening to tell them what names have come up for us over and over as tourists become our trained ghost hunters. I’m amazed that the same names come up each night with different guests. So, today is the day to start a quick blog post… A Ghost Captain’s Log if you will. I will update this as we discover more but the names we get most often are Paul and John. We also get the number 19 coming up, which is the number of people hanged during the witch trials. That’s all for now. More later!
9/10/22- We heard a female voice but couldn’t make out the words. We heard footsteps and when they stopped, the K11 meter went crazy for a bit. One of our attendees took a picture of what looks like a man in robe standing in the corner.
9/18/22- The K2 meter went to red 3x in a row when I asked it, and then I said “stop” and it did. Someone said that the name Robert came to their mind.
9/23/22- A medium got the name Robert and Phil.
9/30/22- First sold out ghost hunt of the season. Two different groups got the names Joe and Mike. A photo was taken of what looks like a thick streak of light very similar to what tourists on my walking tours get in front of the Pickman house.
10/1/22- Robert again by two different groups. Also the name Joe from two different groups. A photo was taken of a shadow person, the other two photos showed nothing.
10/2/22- A kid did the “shave and a haircut” knock on the door and the K11 meter lit up twice to answer.
10/3/22- Had the most activity on the spirit box I’ve ever seen, ever, anywhere. Direct answers. Same male voice. A group came from Spain and it answered them in Spanish. Cinco (age? A kid?). Next group in that room (English speaking) got the name Rick which was the name of the man’s dad. They had a little chat through the spirit box.
10/4/22- Lots of names tonight. Phil, Paul, Robert, Sam, Kristin, John. Also got age 5 again (in English this time). The air compressor went off and someone’s ghost radar app said, “Surprise!”
10/5/22- Rick again. Also John. Spirit box said, “Can you hear me?” Pretty good spirit box activity but not quite as much as the last few nights.
10/6/22- The spirit box said a man’s first AND last name. He is named after his uncle who passed before he was born and we all felt that is who came through to say hello. A photo was taken of a face in the mirror. (I’ll attach it soon)
10/7/22- We asked if the spirits in the room like watching tourists go through a haunted house during the day and the spirit box said, “amusing”. We asked the meter to light up on the floor and we heard, “Ok” through the spirit box, and all of a sudden the lights on it started going crazy. Two groups in two rooms got the name Jim at the same time. Also Rick, Mike, Ana.
10/8/22- People usually say that they feel tired in the stairwell, and also that their legs feel heavy or they have leg cramps. This happened a lot tonight. People got the name Daniel in two rooms. Ana again, maybe Anita? The dowsing rods spin in circles for all for groups in the curiosities room.
10/9/22- Dowsing rods still spinning for everyone in that room. Mel meter raised EMF # over by the door in the storage room. No other meters picked anything up. Daniel again, Rick, Richard, Maggie/Mattie (with two groups).
10/10/22- Slower night than usual. Got Carlos again, Mike, and Steve(n). Rods still spinning in circles in the curiosity room.
10/11/22- Spirit box said 45 for two groups in a row. Heard footsteps in the room next to us and we all swore Justin was about to come into the room but no one was there. Got the names Mark, James, Wes. And February (the fire in 1982 happened in February)
10/12/22- Spirit box said Arthur. Arthur is the name of a woman’s father, she brought her son with her and said that Arthur is his middle name after him. Then spirit box said “miss.” She said she misses him too and they had a beautiful conversation with direct answers from either the spirit box or ghost radar, and the K11 meter would light up when asked. Many other loud words with multiple syllables in the spirit box tonight but hard to make out. Dowsing rods were spinning like crazy again in the curiosities room. Two groups got the name Mike. Also Paul, and the word winter.
10/13/22- Spirit box said a couple words but we couldn’t tell what it said. We asked if they could repeat it. We heard the same words in the same voice again but still couldn’t make it out. We said, “Sorry but we can’t understand you.” And the response was, “Bullshit.” Super clear, we all heard it. It was hilarious.
10/14/22- Spirit box said, “Tired” (Me too ghost buddy, me too.) Direct responses on the K11 and spirit box. Heard “I have a problem.” , “I didn’t leave”, “Hanged”, and when I got up to check on another room it said, “Wait.”. When the K11 meter was raised towards the ceiling it would light up (because there are electrical wires up there) and someone said, “Is this you?” and it said, “Not me”. When it went off closer to the ground, it said, “Me.” Two different groups got Billy and Jean. Also John and Paul again. And Henry. Someone said they think the skeleton on the other side of the wall is named Henry and I swear I’ve heard that before.
10/15/22- Slow evening. The groups were very high energy on a very crowded day in Salem so they didn’t quiet down and sit as much. We asked the spirit box to say the name of someone in the room and we heard, “Let me guess.” And then said my name “Kim.”
10/16/22- The spirit box played a jazz song for at least 30 seconds. It was scrolling through stations like normal so it definitely didn’t get stuck on one station. We got the number 5 again. Age? A lot of K11 answers on command. Spirit box said, “What’s your name?” And we got the names Richard, Matt, and Mike tonight.
10/17/22- Two groups got Henry in the curiosities room. Also Jack, Mitch. Little boy. Two groups left the stairwell early because they said the spirit box told them to leave. Spirit box said, “Dylan” which was the name of someone in the room. Other names for the evening: Betsy, Paul, David, William, John. The number 5 again. And there was some weird intuitive synchronicites going on with two different attendees who looked familiar to each other and they both got the other’s names on their spirit boxes. Kristen and Paris.
10/18/22- Another slow activity night because there was a large group with very high energy. We heard footsteps back in the haunted house when we were in the Ouija board room and no one was there. I told the spirit box, “You better chat with us now because there’s only a week and a half left, and then we won’t be back until summer.” and it said, “K, ciao!” A couple groups got the name Rick.
10/19/22- As we were walking back to the ouija board room, half of us made it, the other half of the group was slow behind us. The spirit box said, “Wait”. And then, “Everyone’s in” when the rest of the group caught up. Another group, we asked it to say the name of someone in the room and it said, “Chris” which was the name of someone in the room. He said that his full name is Christian though and the spirit box said, “Christian.” Another group, someone asked, “Where are you?” and it said, “Turn around.” Many groups got the name Mike tonight.
10/20/22- Ghost radar said Ben in the curiosities room and then the ghost meter started lighting up and beeping. The group asked questions in the hallway and kept getting direct responses on it. When asked to light up the meter 2x, it did. A group got Jim on the spirit box after they got Jim in the previous room. Asked, “Can you light up the meter?” And heard, “Sure” and then it started lighting up. Then heard “Robert”. “If your name is Robert, light up the meter” and both K11 meters lit at the same time. Heard footsteps in the next room, no one was there. Heard “fun” so at least the spirits are having a good time. Someone sent me another photo with those strange streaks of light again. (I’ll post photos later)
10/21/22- Lots of direct answers to questions with the K11 meter tonight. Many loved ones coming through. Names tonight: Paul, James, Benjamin, Jimmy, Tom, George, Mike. Firefighter came up for a couple different groups.
10/22/22- People were talking about how they were freaked out walking through the dark and the spirit box said, “You’re ok.” Someone asked “Why do you want to talk to me?” and it said “I don’t know.” A group of girls came who are studying the crucible and they asked questions about Abigail Williams and the spirit box said “Abby”.
10/23/22- Slow evening without a lot of activity. Names tonight: Jimmy, Bob, Carlos, Ben, Bay? Ray? Twice it sounded like the spirit box said my last name.
10/24/22- Spirit box said Dave. Two people in the room knew a Dave that passed, one was a grandfather, one was an uncle. They asked which Dave and it said, “Uncle”. Also heard “You’re with me” and “it’s fun.” Keegan or Ian maybe? Someone took 3 photos in a row and one of them had a shadow of a head and shoulders. As another group was walking back to the Ouija Board room, the spirit box said, “This way” and then when we were all in the room it said, “You made it.” Also “Captain”, “Don’t go” We also heard footsteps again this evening. And a group was told to leave the stairwell again. Other names: Brian, Peter, Thomas.
10/25/22- Spirit box said “Hi there”. Heard footsteps again. We asked, “Can you light that meter up to red?” and it said, “Trying. Light.” Someone asked, “Do you miss your physical body?” and we heard “Hurts.” Someone in the stairwell asked, “Can you help us?” and spirit box said, “With what?” Other names: Carlos, Mike, Edward.
10/26/22- Almost everyone in the room is a nurse and the spirit box said, “Bloodwork”. One woman asked if her loved ones were there. She said quite a few names in a row, one of them was Johnny. The spirit box answered back “Johnny”. Another Arthur came through which was someone’s grandfather. Someone said, “Have a nice day” as we were leaving and spirit box said, “Thank you”. Other names: Jeff, Walter.
10/27/22- Someone got the name John and then after switching rooms asked, “Is this John” and it said, “That’s my name. I’m John” Other names: Mike, Dave, Sally, Tim. Alice, Robert.
10/28/22- As soon as the first group got to the Ouija Board Room, the spirit box said, “Welcome back. Hello.” We asked if the spirit could light the K11 3x to red and it said, “Trying. It’s hard.” And then it lit up to red 3x. Other names: Jeff, Paul, Robert, Dan, Dave, William.
10/29/22- In stairwell: Paul, Steve, Wilson, Frank, burn, smoke, death. Go home. Watch out. Ouija Board Room: Mike, Joe, Andy. Ray in main room.
10/30/22- Heard “What the f*ck” on the spirit box. Richard, cheater. And then “I’m here” and all the meters in the room went nuts with dowsing rods pointing at the meters. Asked, “What’s your last name?” Heard, “Brown”. (Brown street?) Also names Jordan, Paul, Henry, Brian.
Since we both work in tourism in Salem Massachusetts, we get asked for our restaurant recommendations a lot. It’s just so hard! There’s really no such thing as bad food in Salem (with the exception of one place) It really just depends on what type of food you’re in the mood for, and what your budget is. So I decided to blog about it so next time I’m asked “Where should we eat?” I can send them to read this!
First off, disclaimer: This is only our opinion. We have been to almost every restaurant downtown, but we aren’t food critics or anything. I do think we have a unique perspective with all of the traveling we have done. We know what it’s like to want to eat the best food when you only have a short amount of time in the place you’re visiting. There’s only so many meals in a day- I’d want to know what restaurants are not to be missed.
I’m putting stars ⭐️ next to our favorite restaurants as follows:
⭐️ = A place we frequent and we like a lot.
⭐️⭐️ = A place we frequent and we love.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ = One of our absolute favorite places and you should not miss it.
❌ = The one and only place you should NOT eat in Salem (You’re really curious now, huh?) Update: I added one more. 😢
So here we go…
Washington Street. (I’m going to start with the closest place to the train station, and work my way down.)
Odd Meter Coffee: Really good coffee (and we’re from Seattle, we’re picky). Really friendly staff. But a coffee here costs more than Starbucks so be warned. Their drinks with two shots of espresso cost the same as Front Street and Wolf Next Door’s drinks that have 4 shots.
Boston Hot Dog Company: Good lunch on the go. You can usually get in there even at the peak of October tourist season I love their fries. They really should get a Seattle Dog on the menu though. 😉
Melt Ice Cream: They have the best Butter Pecan ice cream I’ve ever had outside of La Paz Mexico (but they don’t always have it, which is a bummer), and they make their own waffle cones.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Settler: OMG. This has some of the best food we’ve ever had. It’s all farm fresh, kind of an American-French mix I think. It’s one of those places where you go, “mmmmm” with every single bite. The staff is amazing and friendly. It’s pricy so we don’t go too often, but if you’re only here for a few days, and you want the best food, definitely go here. It’s a very small place so make reservations.
Koto: This place is kind of a Chinese/Japanese blend. I haven’t had anything bad here. It’s great for delivery too. The owner is super nice and good friends with some friends of ours. I think my favorite thing on their menu is the avocado salad. They also have a pretty cool night scene.
Dire Wolf Tavern: They just opened, was previously called Opus. All of the locals are making fun of them for having “Wolf” in the name when we already have a “Howling Wolf Taqueria” and a “Wolf Next Door Coffee”. Wolves are the new witches apparently. The food is decent.
Fountain Place: Basic breakfast place. I think they have lunch too but I haven’t been for lunch. It’s good but there are other way better breakfast places that shouldn’t be missed.
Rockafellas: People rave about this place. We’ve been a few times and I honestly just don’t think it’s anything special. The atmosphere is nice, the staff is nice, the food is fine, but it’s just not amazing. Update: I’m not sure if they got a new chef after they remodeled the place recently, but the food is much better than I remember. The spinach artichoke dip in the bread bowl was so good.
⭐️ Gulu Gulu Cafe: A really cool place to hang out, drink coffee, and play board games. Or, a good place for a cocktail in the evening- they have bands play there quite a bit. Super yummy breakfast crepes and I love their Barcelona sandwich.
Flying Saucer Pizza: This is owned by Gulu Gulu. Mars attacks pizza is our favorite here so far. And the space balls bread bite things are really good too.
Blue Fez: This is a Moroccan restaurant and I think it’s really good. The staff here is very friendly and happy to see you. The portion of the paella was so big that I ate the leftovers for two more meals. I think their vegetarian meals are better than their meals with meat.
Ginger: This place is new and kinda weird… not necessarily a bad weird though. It’s a cajun asian mix. So, like, they have gumbo and po’boys, and also sesame chicken and ramen. The gumbo was fantastic (and I had just gotten back from New Orleans when I tried it). I had a “Seafood Bag”. You pick the seafood and the seasoning and it’s all tossed together in a bag with corn and potatoes. I picked cajun seasoning. It was good. Big portion. Justin had ramen. He enjoyed it as well.
⭐️ Ledger: This used to be a bank so the inside is really pretty. Neat ceiling, and walls made out of old safe deposit boxes and stuff. It’s pricy and upscale. When we went on a date night, we ordered 5 types of appetizers and 2 desserts. (So, no main course). It was all really, really good. I’d give it maybe second place after Settler for amazing fine dining. Get the popovers and squash bisque for sure. Brunch is our favorite. They always have a “donut of the day”. Delicious. I’d definitely go back for that.
⭐️ Ugly Mug Diner: Probably my favorite breakfast place in town. Everything on their menu is delicious. I love the cinnamon butter on the french toast. A lot of people love the duck confit.
⭐️ O’Neill’s Irish Pub: When we lived in Salem before our sailing travels, we would go to O’Neills every Friday night for live Irish music. It was super kid friendly before 8pm and we’d dance, have a beer or two, and try everything on their menu. It was our go-to place. Everything on the menu is really great. They have the best fish and chips outside of England in my opinion. Steak tips are good, Irish curry is good, cobb salad is good, everything is good. Since we’ve been living in Salem again though, we don’t visit too often. The staff just isn’t as friendly as they used to be and it doesn’t have the same fun family-friendly vibe. They have $5 burgers on Wednesday nights so we take the kids there sometimes. I always tell people to visit here even though it isn’t what it used to be. The food hasn’t changed even though the vibe has.
Gyro Spot: They are new in town. They were super friendly and so fast, but the gyro wasn’t great, to be honest. I got a lamb and beef one and the meat was tough and chewy. Maybe they’re still working out the kinks so I’ll give them another try, but for now, I’m gonna say, “meh”. Their falafel wraps are better.
New England Soup Factory: It’s soup. All kinds of soup. If you go to their website, there’s a phone number for the “Soup Line” and it’ll give you a recorded message of today’s soup.
⭐️ Boston Burger Company: Giant burgers with weird, wonderful ingredients piled on high. Delicious fries with all kinds of toppings. And these gigantic milkshakes (Or I guess in New England they’re called frapps) that are piled high with things like candy and cake on top. I think everything is too expensive here, but most of it is so big that it’s good for sharing.
Adriatic: This is a Mediterranean restaurant. We’ve only been here once. Everything was good… I think. I don’t remember what I ordered so I guess it wasn’t very memorable. I remember thinking we should come back though, so I guess we should!
Passage to India: Good Indian food. Nice staff. This is also a great place to order delivery if you don’t feel like venturing out of your hotel room.
The Derby: Basic American food. Burgers and salads and pastas and what-not. Again, one of those places where the food is fine, but it’s nothing special. I think the prices here are better than Rockafellas and it’s the same type of food.
Rivalry- Decent sports bar food. I really liked their bloomin’ onion. It’s lighter and less greasy than Outback’s and it has bacon and a drizzle of… sriracha and ranch I think?
Church Street: (Starting at Washington)
⭐️⭐️ Turner’s Seafood: Love Turner’s. It looks like it’s really upscale but the prices are less expensive than you’d think. They’re also more kid-friendly than I would expect too. Everything we have had on their menu is delicious- From brunch, lunch, and dinner. Also, it is one of the most historic places in Salem. It was built on land that used to be owned by Bridget Bishop, the first person executed during the witch trials. And the building itself was built as a meeting house called Lyceum Hall. The first telephone call was received here. Alexander Graham Bell was in Boston and his colleague Thomas Watson picked up the phone here. Also so many famous people have been here. Edgar Allen Poe, John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, etc. It’s just a really cool place (and it’s totally haunted.)
East Regiment Beer Co: They started serving food during the pandemic because they were forced to, and ended up getting pretty good at it. They make a mean grilled cheese sandwich, and I hear they’ve added a bunch of other yummy sandwiches to their menu. They have a great beer selection. Their basement is where I used to take tourists at the end of my tours when I owned Paranormal Salem because my office used to be right upstairs. So, if you’ve read my book, the first chapter takes place in the area that now holds tanks of fermenting beer. And the story about hearing a chair being dragged across the floor would have happened in what is now East Regiment.
⭐️ Essex Pizza (Inside Witch City Mall): Our teenager and his friends go here at least 3x a week. It’s their favorite pizza place in Salem. I can always get in and out quick during peak tourist season between walking tours. Their pizza is great, salads are great (I love their greek salad that comes with a squishy-soft pita bread), and their calzones are great. Everything is great.
⭐️ Thai Place: I know I’ve mentioned that sushi is not as good in New England as it is on the west coast, Thai is also not as good as the west coast. (All Asian foods are just better on the west coast… besides Chinese. Chinese food is way better here.) Anyway, this Thai food is the closest I’ve found to west coast Thai food. It’s also somewhere I can usually get into quickly during October in between tours. I actually try to not tell tourists to go here in October so that it’s my own little secret.
Rosadellas– Their sandwiches and baked goods are fresh and delicious and they use really yummy dark chocolate in their mochas.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Goodnight Fatty: They make late-night cookies, and they also have some breakfast items. You have to continue all the way down Church Street as it turns into Brown Street and meets Hawthorne Blvd to get here. (Right next to the Salem Witch Museum) GO HERE. They’re only open Fri-Sun nights and their cookie selection changes every weekend. 3 flavors, warm right out of the oven. Always the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted. I tell every tourist I meet to make sure you get fatties. They deliver, you can pick up, or you can eat there. They also have bottomless milk.
Essex Street (Starting at Summer Street- near the Witch House)
Bonchon Chicken: Korean fried chicken and fries. Sandwiches and sides. Good for lunch.
⭐️ Life Alive: Fresh, organic, vegetarian cafe with really flavorful bowls and salads. They have wraps and smoothies too but I really love their bowls. Justin and the kids are not a fan of this place but I love it. It’s colorful, healthy, and filling, and the prices are good. It’s a great lunch spot as my office is close by.
The Counter/The Roof (at the Salem Hotel): The Roof is a roof-top bar and the drinks are crazy priced for tourists. I’ve only been once. We had some appetizers and the vibe and view was pretty cool and made us feel like we were on vacation. The Counter has great burgers and great fries. And actually, their “chips” aren’t really chips. They’re more like fries that are cut into the shape of chips. So, don’t bother paying extra for fries when the chips are really fries. I think The Counter is open during the winter months, and the Roof is open during the summer months. I think maybe they serve the same food.
⭐️ Red Line Cafe: This is my go-to place for coffee. People will disagree with me but I think this is the best coffee in Salem because it reminds me of any Seattle-area espresso stand. They have homemade chocolate croissants and their sandwiches and salads are really fresh and delicious. AND it has the best spot for people watching. Sit at the bar at the window and watch people walk down Essex Street. It’s fun.
Polonus European Deli: Pierogis are what you order here. A quick snack on the go.
Village Tavern: Basic American Fare. Burgers, Salads, Pasta, etc. Good food, great desserts. I don’t like that they charge you $5 to upgrade regular fries to sweet potato fries (or onion rings, salad, etc.) That seems ridiculous to me. (O’neills will give you whatever side you want with your burger or sandwich for no additional charge.) This place is always still hopping with loud music when we walk by after a night of tours and ghost hunts in October. Salem’s only spot for night life, if you can call it that.
Brew Box: Decent coffee. They have “cereal milk” that’s fun for the kids. It changes flavors every… day? week? It’s just like it sounds. Milk that’s flavored like it’s been sitting in cereal. They also have pretty good breakfast biscuits.
Olde Main Street Pub: This place is kind of weird when you walk in. When we first went, we didn’t really know if we were supposed to wait to be seated, or if we went in the wrong door, or what to do. And we felt like we were completely ignored. Servers would walk right past us. It happened twice when we tried to go and we gave up. We finally went in the dead of winter, and finally had a meal here. It was fine. American pub food.
Tavern on the Green (Or just “The Tavern” if you’re looking on GPS. It’s inside the Hawthorne Hotel): The Hawthorne is a cozy historic hotel and the restaurant has a crackling fireplace. The staff is so friendly and the food is very good. We have been for dinner and also weekend brunch. All was delicious.
Bella Verona: I hear a lot of tour guides recommending Bella Verona as their go-to restaurant in Salem. It’s a really authentic, quaint little Italian place with a great staff. We’ve only been once, but we plan to visit more often.
Side Streets (Most of these are between Essex and Derby, and a few off Lafayette on the other side of Derby)
Maria’s Sweet Somethings: Ice cream and candy. A big selection. They only take cash but they have an ATM inside. Update: They are remodeling right now. I think I heard there is a new owner.
Front Street Coffee House: This is my second favorite coffee/lunch spot after Red Line Cafe. They have great coffee and sandwiches and I go often for lunch.
⭐️ Lobster Shanty: I should probably give the shanty 2 or even 3 stars but we don’t go here very often. I don’t know why. We really should. It’s great food, and they’ve even been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. They close for a few months in the off-season and we sort of forget about them when they’re tucked in artist row. I do really love the vibe of the place, and their outdoor patio is a great place to hang out in the summer.
❌ 😢 Reds Sandwich Shop: Updated. This was the best breakfast in Salem and I had this marked as ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it was the restaurant we frequented the most in town. We were regulars and the servers knew what drinks we wanted before we sat down. Well, now it was purchased by a total right-wing whack job. I don’t like to get political, and I know there are restaurants in town that I frequent who have different political beliefs than I do, and I go there anyway… but this guy is really, really bad. We immediately stopped going, and I hear most of their staff quit and the food is terrible now. So, so sad.
Barrio Tacos: I like the concept. You fill out order sheets at your table and pick and choose what you want on your tacos. But everything I’ve had here is really, really salty. Like, so much salt that I can’t eat it. Their queso is decent and their margaritas are very fresh… yet not very strong. However, they serve food until 1am so sometimes when we’re out late, this is the only option.
Adeas Mediterranean Grill: Fresh tasty Israeli cuisine. Only open for lunch. Amazing hummus.
⭐️ Spitfire Tacos: Seriously amazing tacos. We order take-out here quite often. They’re street tacos, but fancy street tacos. So good. Go here.
Crave– They make delicious breakfast sandwiches. And my favorite part… you can order them as a bowl with an arugula salad instead of bread. They also make amazing pastries, but their coffee is just so-so.
Witch City Hibachi: Your basic hibachi place… you know the type where they grill the food in front of you and tell a lot of jokes and throw food at you. It’s really good though. Their sushi and bento boxes are great too.
AJ King: I don’t go here often. I’ve had their breads and baked goods all over town though and they’re delicious. They have sandwiches but I’ve never tried one. I’m sure they’re great. Will update when I do.
Paprika Grill: Middle Eastern Doner wraps, falafel and greek-style plates. It’s a take-out window next to the Salem Wax Museum just off Derby Street. They have a few small tables outside. Fresh and really good.
Derby Street (Starting at Washington after The Derby)
⭐️⭐️ Howling Wolf Taqueria: I think Howling Wolf hands-down has the best nachos, like, ever on the whole planet (and I’ve had a lot of nachos in a lot of places, so this is saying a lot.) And their margaritas are strong and decently priced.
Engine House Pizza: It’s pizza. Your basic decent pizza.
Jolie Tea Company: I have not been in for high tea yet with the little sandwiches, but their tea is great, their scones are good, the decor is adorable, and they have great macaroons.
Casa Tequila: I’m picky about my Mexican food. This place is just ok. I’d pick nachos at Howling Wolf any day over anything on the menu over here. The staff is nice and it has a much different vibe than Howling Wolf though- It’s more “Family Mexican Restaurant” rather than “Hip American-Mexican Bar”.
Flatbread: Good pizza… although they cut it in rectangles. Maybe that’s a silly thing to complain about, but rectangles? really? If you don’t cut a pizza into triangles, you don’t get a crust handle for every piece. Anyway, they have a tiny bowling alley here. It’s not real bowling, it’s candlepin bowling which is really all you can find in New England. We haven’t been here for bowling yet but I’m sure it’s fun.
⭐️ Bambolina: Super amazing fancy pizza. (You know, like, not delivery-style pizza but up-scale Italian wood-fired pizza) My best friend’s son works here and they’re good friends with the owner. Awesome all around. The owner also owned a ramen noodle place called Kokeshi, and during the pandemic, they closed it and shared one kitchen and would only offer Kokeshi for take-out. I guess they decided to close Kokeshi for good and just add all of their asian meals to Bambolina’s menu permanently. So, it’s a little different to blend Italian and Asian together, but… why not? Their Colonel Sanders Ramen is so good and enough to take home for leftovers.
Lulu’s Bakery and Pantry: I like their yogurt parfait. I think all their sandwiches and baked goods are dry. People really love this place but I’m not really impressed to be honest. I like their iced mocha because they don’t put a ton of chocolate in it. It’s just a subtle chocolatey sweetness… BUT just like Odd Meter, there’s only two shots of espresso in their large size. Front Street Coffeehouse puts 4 shots of espresso in the same size for pretty much the same price. And The Bees Knees at Wolf Next Door also has 4 shots for the same price. So choose this coffee if you are looking for a treat, not if you’re needing an extra pick me up.
Brothers Taverna: When we lived in Salem previously, this place was just called Brothers and it was an inexpensive cafeteria-style restaurant. It’s a sit-down restaurant now. They have good breakfast and are the only place in Salem that has hashbrowns in addition to homefries. (I don’t know why hashbrowns are not popular in New England.) But my favorite thing so far on their menu is the chicken kabob dinner. The chicken is so tender it melts in your mouth and it comes with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. Writing this makes me want to walk over there and order that right now.
Notch Brewing: Notch has a great beer selection. It’s popular in restaurants throughout MA, and it’s available in cans in the grocery stores. When you get it at the tap house, it just tastes even better. They have appetizers that change each.. month? I think? They’ll have Czech style apps, then change to German apps, etc. It’s a cool spot to hang out, especially in the summer when they have tables outside.
⭐️ All Souls’ Lounge: Really cool vibe, great drinks, fancy grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs at a decent price. Our go-to grown-up bar. It’s small though and can get pretty crowded.
Jodi Bee Bakes- This is a vegan bakery and they have a lot of gluten free items. It’s all delicious.
❌ Bit Bar: This is the one and only place in Salem that I tell people NOT to eat. (Well, besides Red’s now. 😢 ) Their food is awful. It’s always cold and too salty. I’m pretty sure all their food just comes frozen from some food service company and they fry it up and add salt… and then leave it back there to get soggy and cold. Their staff always seems overwhelmed. The only thing I’ve ever had that was halfway decent was their guacamole. I think it’s made in-house. That being said, it’s a cool place. Go for the drinks and go for the games. Don’t eat there. Also, something to note, teenagers cannot go here by themselves. I think that’s the dumbest business model ever. Our son and his friends all have jobs downtown and their own money. They meet up to eat at places all over town together… but they’re not allowed to go to the restaurant that’s full of arcade games? So dumb. These kids would spend so much money here if they were able. I don’t think teenagers even care if the food sucks. They’re bottomless pits. Update: I saw on their facebook page that they want to hire a new chef to create a new menu. Crossing my fingers that the food gets better soon. I’ll update when I hear more.
Brodies Seaport: We’ve only been here twice. I had a burger once and did not like it. It’s really thick and dry. And the other time I had a chicken sandwich that had pesto I think? I don’t remember what was all on it but it was delicious. I just hopped on their website to find out the name of it and I don’t see it on the menu. So, I guess I’m not sure what’s good here. I have had a 50/50 experience.
Jaho: My least favorite coffee shop in Salem (which is a bummer because it’s the closest one to us.) Every time I order a hot coffee here, it’s cold. I order it extra hot, and it’s still cold. Iced coffee is fine. An iced hanoi is really good. Sandwiches are decent. Jaho is good but really expensive. And if you look at their menu board, their drinks are not priced. I think they up their prices during tourist season, or maybe just whenever they feel like it. You never know how much you’ll be paying. It’s a little weird. Update: I hear they’re being sued for adding extra fees without disclosing them. Be warned.
Wolf Next Door Coffee: Cute little take-out neighborhood coffee shop. I like their chai lattes, and their “Bees Knees” is amazing! So, so good. It’s 4 shots of espresso with milk and honey. Their coffee is never bitter. Also, they make delicious breakfast sandwiches. Super fluffy eggs and crunchy bacon.
Witches Brew Cafe: I don’t know what’s going on with this place. They’re hardly ever open, and when they are open there’s hardly anyone inside. I have not been here since we lived in Salem previously. I have fond memories here though. My Tarot cards found me here over a decade ago. (Yes, my cards found me, I didn’t find them.)
⭐️ ⭐️ Mercy Tavern: Another of our favorite places. I’d give it 3 stars but it’s a small place and we’ll probably be there and you’ll be taking up our table 😉 The BEST burgers and they’re $8 on Tuesdays. They also have amazing mac n’ cheese (like, maybe the best ever.) and really good salads. Amazing drinks and super nice staff. Love Mercy Tavern. And they’re kid friendly too. We usually start out here with the kids and then send them home and stay a little longer for an extended date night. They also recently began serving Sunday brunch. There is no bad food here.
Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie: I know I left out all the other candy places around town (but noted the ice cream and coffee places!) but I’m putting this one on the list because it’s America’s oldest candy company and that’s really cool. Check it out. It’s right across the street from the House of the Seven Gables.
VFW: The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) is open to the public and they have a great menu and cheap food. Not many tourists venture this far down the road or even think to go inside, but it’s decent bar food and good appetizers.
The Landing: This is a tiny little outdoor bar only open in the summer at the Salem Ferry dock. Drinks and appetizers with a view of the ferry coming and going. It’s kind of cool.
Pickering Wharf (and Congress Street)
Antique Table: This is on Congress Street. An Italian steak place. The decor is really cute and it’s so much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. Cool vibe and good food. However, I think the pasta is not worth their high prices. There are plenty of other places in town that are better for the money. Their steaks are new and I haven’t tried them yet.
Deli House- This is also on congress street but further down. It’s a take-out place with pizza, sandwiches, chicken fingers, etc. They even have breakfast. It’s off the beaten path so there’s usually not much of a wait, even in October. The staff is really nice and everything is really good.
Regatta Pub (inside the Waterfront Hotel): I honestly wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this place and it was one of the last restaurants we visited in Salem. I was pleasantly surprised. The staff is super friendly and the food is really good. I like their fried fish sandwich. Their tartar sauce is amazing. Really good inexpensive breakfast. Their eggs benedict and potatoes are great and only $12 and includes coffee.
⭐️ Longboards: We come here a lot. One of my good friends works here and it has the best prices on the wharf (and if you didn’t already know, we live on our boat right here at Pickering Wharf.) Flatbreads are good, burgers are good, sandwiches are good. Bar food, bar games, tv’s, patio tables and chairs on nice days. Family and pet friendly.
Popped Popcorn: This place is owned by Longboards, and if you eat at Longboards first, your receipt will give you a discount at Popped. It’s yummy-flavored kinds of popcorn, and also ice cream.
Ocean’s Edge: This place is not open. I’ll keep this as a place-holder to write about what opens in this spot next. Updated: Longboards is moving in soon!
⭐️ Finz and Sea Level: These restaurants are right on the water and we live right on the dock next to them. They are owned by the same person so I’m just grouping them as one restaurant. (Super nice guy. He’s married to Evie’s 2nd grade teacher actually.). Everything on the menu at both places is good. It’s mostly seafood but they also have burgers and salads, etc. I believe Sea Level is a bit less expensive and slightly less upscale than Finz. We visit both restaurants pretty frequently but visit Sea Level more often.
Outside of Downtown (A few places worth mentioning within a quick drive or a long walk)
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Salem Willows: The Willows isn’t far from downtown. If you wanted to get a good walk in, you can get there on foot. It’s a park on the water with a whole bunch of tiny restaurants that are only open in the summer. Most famously, Hobbs Popcorn (the best popcorn in the whole world and anyone who comes to Salem should not miss stopping by for a bag) There’s also seafood, pizza, tacos, ice cream, an arcade, and a beautiful view.
⭐️ Deacon Giles Distillery: Really cool place to get a craft cocktail.
Salem’s Retreat: Decent breakfast place with a parking lot out back off of North Street. I like their garden omelet, they use american cheese. Melty goodness. (It used to be called Leslie’s Retreat after the story about how the Revolutionary War almost started… I think it’s dumb the new owners changed the name. Google the history of the bridge.)
Maria’s Place: Another great breakfast place just slightly out of downtown.
Phew… well, I hope that’s it. I bet I’ll be walking down the street and realize I completely forgot somewhere. I’ll update this list the more we try new things!
Long ago, the telling of ghost stories didn’t stop on Halloween, but would continue during the dark, cold winter months of Northern Europe. Disguises and costumes didn’t expire in October either, but would be worn until at least January. Harvest time was over which began a time of feasting, debauchery, and libations. At the same time, stories began all over the world about monsters, demons, and goblins (Most famously, Krampus) told to scare children into being on their best behavior during the boring winter months when they were most likely to get into mischief.
Most likely in an effort to quiet the rowdy evenings, trees were brought inside by candlelight to bring nature indoors, and wreaths were made as a symbol of the spring yet to come. Bonfires were lit to bring in the light, and Yule logs were burned as a ritual to cleanse the past year and welcome the new.
Telling ghost stories around these winter fires is a tradition that dates at least as far back as Elizabethan England. This folk custom is even mentioned in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: “A sad tale’s best for winter, I have one. Of sprites and goblins.” And also in Christopher Marlowe’s Jew of Malta: “Now I remember those old women’s words, Who in my wealth would tell me winter’s tales, And speak of spirits and ghosts by night.”
The most famous of all Christmas ghost stories is of course Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. It is the famous story of the selfish, greedy Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the ghosts of his past, present and future on Christmas Eve. What was most genius about Dickens’ particular ghost story is that it brought morals and values to the otherwise rambunctious drunken holiday season.
The Winter Solstice (Yule) on December 21st marks the darkest day of the year, and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. But it also marks the moment the light begins to return, and the days slowly become longer. Modern Pagans spend the entire evening around a blazing fire, telling stories, and singing to make certain that the light will return and the sun will once again rise. “After the longest night, sing up the dawn.”
All modern religious celebrations of the holidays have the common theme of bringing in the light. Remembering and recreating our family and cultural traditions are most important this time of year. And we are always thinking of, and missing the loved ones that are not here with us to celebrate. I believe the veil stays thin throughout these darks months, and I believe our loved ones and ancestors are most near to us.
This year I encourage you to bring back the age old tradition of telling ghost stories. Light a candle, tell your children stories of your ancestors, and share memories of your loved ones on the other side.
For more ghost stories and tips on how to connect with your own loved ones, check out my book, Ghost Stories & Hippie Sh*t. Available on Kindle, Paperback, and Audiobook. There’s still time to add it to someone’s stocking.