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Salem, MA: Food Ideas, Things to Do, and More

We know thousands of people swarm Salem, MA around Halloween… but what are the wonderful attractions of this town beyond the cliches of “Witch City?” Here’s some “food for thought” of places to add to your next visit to this New England getaway favorite.

Salem, MA Restaurants

So… where to eat when touring Salem, MA? There are so many great options, but here are a few ideas to get you started in the food department.

Brunch at Ledger in Salem, MA is excellent.
Brunch at Ledger in Salem, MA is excellent.

Ledger Restaurant, Salem

In the words of my Salem expert friend, “Brunch at Ledger is unbeatable.” This beautiful restaurant is housed in an old converted bank, and features high ceilings with chandeliers, and vaults, too! (You know from my Lowe Mill article that I love me some converted buildings.)

Ledger Restaurant in Salem used to be a bank!
Ledger Restaurant in Salem used to be a bank.

Make sure to make reservations, because Ledger’s brunch books up fast. Here are some luscious photos of dishes to order when you’re there.

Chicken and waffles at Ledger!
Chicken and waffles at Ledger — yum.

On the server’s recommendation, I ordered the chicken and waffles, which did not disappoint. I definitely helped myself amply to the hash and salad ordered by my friends, too, though.

Ledger's brunch salad.
Ledger’s brunch salad.

Don’t miss Ledger’s “Donut of the Day!” As we visited right after Valentine’s Day (or “Valentimes Day,” as some folks tend to call it), there was still a heart-shaped strawberry donut on offer… Yummy!

The daily donut at Ledger.
The daily donut at Ledger.

Gulu Gulu in Salem, MA

The cafe and restaurant called Gulu Gulu has a huge advantage in that it’s located directly next to the famous “Bewitched” Elizabeth Montgomery (Samantha) witch statue in Salem. Despite its potential to be a tourist trap, it actually has an authentic, soulful atmosphere, and great offerings in food and drink.

Gulu Gulu cafe, Salem, MA
Gulu Gulu cafe, Salem, MA

We ended up going back to Gulu Gulu multiple times because it was such a homey and welcoming atmosphere (including live music!), and has diverse menu offerings for a range of occasions. Here I am trying to fit a massive bagel with lox into my mouth for breakfast, while wearing the extremely bright tank top I designed

Me eating a giant bagel with lox at Gulu Gulu in Salem.
Me eating a giant bagel with lox at Gulu Gulu in Salem.

Nightshade Noodle Bar in Lynn, MA

Though it’s not directly in Salem, if you’re an adventurous eater who doesn’t mind spending a chunk of change on an epic tasting menu, Nightshade Noodle Bar is just a few minutes away in Lynn, MA. Yes, that’s right — the James Beard Award-nominated, super romantic and wild spot from chef Rachel Miller. We adored the vibe… and the live sea urchins, too!

“Salem So Sweet” Festival

Around Valentine’s Day, Salem has a fabulous festival called “Salem So Sweet.” Ice sculptures adorn the town, as well as activities, special foods, and events. Check out the “Hocus Pocus” ice sculpture, below…

A "Hocus Pocus" ice sculpture in Salem, MA.
A “Hocus Pocus” ice sculpture in Salem, MA.

The Peabody Essex Museum

I particularly enjoyed the massive “Lite Brite” installation shown in my photo below, which was stationed right outside Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum (click for my article about that must-see spot). That piece of public art brought back so many nostalgic memories about the toys of my youth.

A giant "Lite Brite" in Salem.
A giant “Lite Brite” in Salem.

The Salem “Bewitched” Statue

Ok, I know I said I was steering away from cliches, but if you go to Salem and don’t photograph the “Bewitched” statue, did you really even go??? In all seriousness, the metal witch is great, and provides all sorts of photo opportunities.

Salem "Bewitched" statue.
The famous Salem “Bewitched” statue.

Though I didn’t go inside the Witch Museum (pictured below), or the haunted tours of Salem, both come highly recommended by folks in the know. Even if you don’t go inside this museum, though, isn’t the architecture splendid? Speaking of which…

Salem's Witch Museum.
Salem’s Witch Museum.

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Salem, MA History and Architecture

Paired with my trip to Pittsfield, MA, Salem has given me a new appreciation for the deep history of New England. If you look at Salem’s history, the city was founded back in 1625 (!!!), and became one of the most robust and bustling ports of the area.

I love the red brick architecture of Salem, MA.
I love the red brick architecture of Salem, MA.

Salem, MA Rentals

Many of the buildings from its heyday endure today in a glorious feast for the eyes of red brick and stately trees. I found simply wandering the city to be tremendously fulfilling. You can even rent a stay in one of the historic structures!

The Salem Common is so pretty.
The Salem Common is so pretty.

Salem Common and the Hawthorne Hotel

I kept finding myself coming back to the expanse of green that is Salem Common. Pair that with the storied Hawthorne Hotel, and you’re almost transported back in time. (Side note: Did you know that Nathanial Hawthorne had a super intense friendship with Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick?)

I love how the trees cast shadows on the red brick.
I love how the trees cast shadows on the red brick.

Other New England Getaway Ideas

As you can see, I toured Salem in March — not Halloween high season at all — and still had a ball. Looking for ideas on other New England getaways that are great for any season? Here are some thoughts…

Salem, MA, in Sum

Clearly, I only scratched the surface of the surface of the surface of Salem, MA, but what I CAN say is that there is much to offer in this spot — far beyond the chaos of October. If you’ve been to Salem, what are your favorite things to do and eat? Do share!

Searching for more spooky Salem-related fun? Check out the easy Halloween Drawing ideas on my educational art site…


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