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New York City Road Trip to Salem

This historical coastal town is extra stunning in the fall.

While there are undoubtedly numerous destinations for a perfect fall road trip, none of them seems as significant as the trip to Salem, Massachusetts. Famous for the Salem Witch Trials (and “Hocus Pocus”), there’s more to Salem than just spooky tales. You’ll find charming shops, fantastic seafood and a host of fun activities for the whole family.

Fuel Up

The drive from New York City to Salem is roughly four hours, so a great halfway point can be found in Hartford, Connecticut. There are numerous ways to fuel up and plenty of great spots at which to stretch your legs. If you’re in the mood for art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is a perfect place to enjoy some quiet and admire some fantastic work. If you’d prefer something a bit more educational, the Connecticut Science Center is also located in Hartford. 

Exhibit at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art Hartford | WhereTraveler
Museum Reopening (Courtesy Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT)

There’s a variety of food finds in Hartford—everything from pizzas to Mediterranean cuisine. Grab a casual bite at The Bling Pig Pizza Co., home to BBQ pizzas and various fun flavors. Republic at The Linden serves up dinner, happy hour and brunch with a variety of small plates and pub favorites. The Place 2 Be is an excellent spot for weekend travelers in search of brunch. 

Eat

You’re in New England along the coast, so you can’t go wrong with seafood. You’ll find some fantastic fresh catches at Sea Level Oyster Bar. The raw bar inside features several samplers of oysters, clams, shrimp and lobster. The Roof at The Hotel Salem serves a variety of tacos and Mexican appetizers like the lobster quesadilla, along with some fun specialty cocktails. 

Menu Variety at The Roof at Hotel Salem | WhereTraveler
Menu Variety at The Roof at The Hotel Salem (©Tamara Flanagan/Courtesy Lark Hotels)

If you’re in search of some hearty pub fare on a chilly fall day, you’ll find that and more at Olde Main Street Pub. Mercy Tavern offers bar favorites and Mediterranean specialties on their menu in addition to a selection of cocktails. For those looking for a quick meal or a bite to go, Red’s Sandwich Shop offers a full breakfast menu and an extensive selection of sandwiches perfect for a bite on the go. 

Olde Main Street Pub Interior Salem | WhereTraveler
Pub Interior (Courtesy Olde Main Street Pub)

Play

There’s more to Salem than just the Salem Witch Museum (but definitely check it out for a more accurate retelling of the witch trials). The House of Seven Gables is undoubtedly worth a visit for literary fans of Nathanial Hawthorne. You can visit the historic home that inspired the novel and take a stroll through the gardens. 

The House of Seven Gables Salem | WhereTraveler
The House of Seven Gables (©David Mark)

For some quintessential nautical vibes, make sure to get some photos of the Derby Wharf Light Station and the Friendship of Salem, which sits right in the harbor as a perfect example of maritime history. In search of more educational opportunities? You can enjoy another fun history lesson at the New England Pirate Museum

Friendship of Salem | WhereTraveler
Friendship of Salem (©Robert McClurg)

Stay

Accommodations in Salem range from charming bed and breakfast stays to boutique properties and waterfront views. While lodging may be a bit steeply-priced during certain seasons, you can save a little cash by staying further out of town near Peabody. If you’re in search of a memorable stay, check out some of the fabulous boutique hotels such as The Merchant. Feel like splurging? You’ll get stunning views at Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites. 

Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston-Peabody

57 Newbury St., Peabody, 978.536.5050

The Merchant

148 Washington St., 978.745.8100

Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites

225 Derby St., 978.740.8788 

Lounge Space at The Merchant Salem | WhereTraveler
Lounge Space at The Merchant (Courtesy The Merchant/Lark Hotels)