For the past few years, I’ve been doing a lovely tradition of Friendsgiving with my best friends who you may also know by their blogs or as co-hosts of Secret Sister, Alyssa (from Books Take You Places) and Amy (from Tripping Over Books). We started the Friendsgiving sort of unofficially when they came into town to stand up to my wedding back in 2014. Basically, almost the entire wedding party got along so swimmingly and we had such a good time together that we wanted to have that magical wedding week continue. We decided to do a Friendsgiving in the years to come to get together with our friends, old and new, and celebrate the friendships that we’ve built despite the distance between all of us. Although this trip wasn’t exclusively bookish, I wanted to share this fun experience and special adventure because we experienced so many new and fun things in Salem!
This year instead of coming to Illinois, Alyssa, Amy, and I got together out in Salem, MA! Why Salem, you ask? Alyssa and Amy were already set to attend the Juliet Marillier event at a teashop in Salem and with so much going on in our lives this year, the trip for the two of them all the way out to Illinois was a bit too much, especially having just come out to IL for BEA back in May. It was much easier for me to meet up with them, so I headed out to the east coast for a reunion with my two best friends!
We headed out to Salem on a Friday morning and it was shaping up to be a chilly but gorgeous weekend! The leaves were falling, the sun was shining, and I was ridiculously basic with my big sweater, boots, flannel shirt, and Starbucks drink. We drove from Alyssa’s place in CT out to our Airbnb in Salem, which was so lovely! We ended up renting a house right off of the water instead of staying in a hotel and the experience was just perfect. We got our own little space (the house was a multi-residence but each residence with a separate entrance aside from the entry hall) and it was great to have the amenities that came with an Airbnb instead of the limited options when staying in a hotel. The house was a little ways away from downtown Salem so we did have to drive back and forth but it was a quick drive and the parking garage in the downtown area wasn’t too expensive if we wanted to jet back and forth between the house and the town.
Friday night, we headed into town for the Marillier event and it was hosted by Jolie Tea Company off of Essex St. It was a very small and intimate gathering which was a very cool experience compared to other book events. The tea shop even had a special tea blend specifically for the event and it was quite delicious too! But the best part of the experience was being able to see Alyssa meeting one of her all-time favorite authors and getting books signed that were so special to her. The tea shop was so lovely, very cute, and the staff was so helpful and kind, even to tea newbies like me! We even went back later on in our trip to warm up with a few cups of tea after a chilly trip around the shops. I also couldn’t leave without sampling some of their macaron selection! I ate them on later in my trip but the creme brûlée one was probably my favorite!
Saturday was our day to be tourists about town! It was so much fun to be able to do because whenever we get together, it’s always for events like BEA or ALA and we never have time to go walk around, visit shops, and just be a little touristy. Alyssa has visited Salem many times and Amy has been at least once, but it was a first time for me so I was excited to see anything and everything new! I just loved the feel of Salem in general and it was so neat to be somewhere with so much history. We headed out to the Salem Witch Museum as one of our first stops and the attraction itself (which you’re not allowed to photograph inside) is a little outdated but I had a fun time! I actually kind of liked the cheesiness and oldness of the figures of the production because let’s be honest — I’m a huge scaredy cat so I need a little levity in places that are trying to be a little spooky! It was a neat attraction and also educational! I actually didn’t know nearly as much about the Salem Witch Trials as I had thought so it was a great place to get all of that information. And naturally, I picked up some souvenirs!
After the museum, we visited a few more places around town including Wicked Good Books (naturally), Wynott’s Wands (where Amy bought her own wand and I was seriously tempted), and had an absolutely delicious lunch at Howling Wolf Taqueria! The book store was small and cozy, but any bookstore is a good bookstore! I was tempted to buy some bookstore merch but managed to stick to a bit of a budget! I also really wanted my own wand from Wynott’s (made to have a look and feel like Olivander’s) but they were a bit on the pricy side and I couldn’t quite part with the money for one.
We also stopped by Old Burying Point Cemetery which was just so neat. History like that always amazes me and it’s so neat think of things and places that people had interacted with hundreds of years ago. I’m from Illinois so it’s not like it’s that new but we don’t have a lot of historical attractions in Illinois and if they do exist, it’s a single house that’s still standing or in the middle of a giant tourist attraction. Granted Salem is kind of one big tourist attraction too but it’s much more authentic-feeling and the history is truly everywhere.
To close out the night, we went on a ghost tour, or as the flyer advertised it, Salem Night Tour. Let’s remember here that I’m a huge scaredy cat and I was convinced to go on a ghost tour. What. Happened. No, but really, I’m kidding. I wouldn’t have normally agreed to go on a ghost tour but it was one that Alyssa had been on before and she promised it wasn’t scary — and it wasn’t. A little creepy at times since we were learning about ghosts but it wasn’t made to be a scary tour — it was educational, historical, and interesting (and no ghosts followed me home). Our tour guide was also a lot of fun! It was pretty freezing out but I had my new Ravenclaw hat on and bundled up as best as I could for not bringing a jacket with me. I had a really fun time and it was so neat to learn about the different spots around Salem and some more of its history! And we also got to pass by one of the locations from Hocus Pocus (the “I Put a Spell on You” scene) which was really fun!
Sunday allowed us a few more touristy stops, but first we had to grab some coffee. We had plans to go on a tour of the House of Seven Gables so we were in search of coffee and breakfast before we did so. We were heading down the street when we came upon a coffeeshop called Derby Joe and decided to stop in and I’m so glad we did! The coffee was strong, the breakfast sandwiches were delicious, and the staff was so much fun! We instantly felt welcomed and ended up chatting for quite a while as we ate and drank our coffee. I just love experences like that where you really make a human connection at an establishment because long after we left, we kept talking about how much fun we had at Derby Joe, which wasn’t even supposed to be a highlight of our trip and yet it was one of those places that we really connected with.
The House of Seven Gables was a really neat tour! I actually had no idea what to expect and I had such a great time on the tour. It was another place where I got to see some really interesting history and another place where we had a great tour guide. Parts of the house had been updated in order to be a better tourist attraction so they weren’t really historically accurate anymore but really the whole experience was historical in its own right and just really so interesting to experience. I don’t often get to take historical trips anymore (we used to take all kinds of family vacations as a kid) so this was really just a wonderful experience.
After our tour, we headed back home to make Friendsgiving dinner! It was a great night of good food but even better, full of great friendship talks. As much as we talk all the time, it’s so different and so special to be able to talk and hang out with person and it was amazing to have that time with my friends. We had a really nice night just hanging out and talking — and taking photos of the super moon!
First thing Monday morning, it was time to pack up and head home but I think we all had a really amazing time. I absolutely loved staying in that Airbnb and it became our little home for the weekend. We had such a great time in Salem and I’m so glad we made a weekend out of it so we could all get together again!
Have you been to Salem before? What were your favorite attractions/shops/restaurants? Did we do any of the same things?