Whale breach 7 Seas Whale Watching

Spreading Out from Salem for Fall Fun

by North of Boston Convention & Visitor’s Bureau 

There’s no better celebration than Halloween in Salem, MA. But due to COVID-19 pandemic, things have changed. The City of Salem recommends that you postpone your visit until November or even 2021.  If you do not have lodging booked or tickets or reservations purchased in advance, don’t show up to wander the streets. Special events planned for Salem Haunted Happenings have been canceled and all venues are working with limited occupancy and public health guidelines. We want to keep everyone healthy and safe so you can return another time.

So, what to do instead? The North of Boston region is chock full of history, art, stunning scenery, shopping, attractions, and delicious dining. Find out why we say there’s a “story in every mile” in Essex County. The first stop: www.northofboston.org for itineraries, events and more. We’ve gathered some regional favorites for your safe and socially distant fall excursions, including many virtual options.

Photo by Holly Perry

Interested in the Witch Trials history? Follow the Salem Witch Museum’s Witch Trials Online Sites Tour around Essex and Middlesex County from home or in person to see some of the significant locations of 1692.  The Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers (formerly Salem Village) is a 300-acre farm where 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse and her husband lived and raised eight children prior to her being accused of witchcraft. It is currently open until November 1 on Saturdays & Sundays ONLY from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last admission tickets sold at 2:30 p.m.) Special guided sunset tours on Oct. 23, 24 and 31 are the ONLY guided tours available this October, with a maximum capacity of 10 people. The tour length will be roughly 60-75 minutes. Click here to purchase tickets.

Take a foliage ride up the Essex Heritage Scenic Coastal Byway. The 85-mile coastal byway guides visitors and residents on a journey of discovery though one of the country’s most picturesque and historically significant regions: Boston’s legendary North Shore. The state-designated byway features mile after mile of breathtaking vistas, working harbors, quaint villages, world-class art and culture, and distinctive food, shops, lodging and visitor services. Seek out open space at beaches and lighthouses throughout the region.

Photo by 7 Seas Whale Watch

There’s still time to get out on the water for an October weekend whale watch (Cape Ann Whale Watch, 7 Seas Whale Watch) or harbor cruise (Essex River Cruises, Schooner Thomas E. Lannon).

Go on a hunt for public art. Celebrate diversity and the public art sprouting up across Essex County with the North of Boston Mural Map. This fun and free activity (the art is outside) encourages people to support arts and culture, while promoting some lesser known areas that have much to offer. Organizations like Beyond Walls in Lynn and Punto Urban Art Museum in a less-crowded part of Salem help create neighborhood pride and boost community businesses. The website allows visitors to find the murals by grid or map view and filter it by town or city.

The North of Boston region is well known for its artistic heritage including the nation’s oldest continuous art colony (Rocky Neck Art Colony). Get inspired and maybe even pick up a painting for holiday gift-giving at art associations (Rockport Art Association, North Shore Arts Association, Newburyport Art Association, Marblehead Arts Association), galleries (Montserrat Galleries), and studios (Cape Ann Artisans).  Museums such as the Cape Ann Museum and Addison Gallery of American Art have world-famous art as well as changing exhibits.

Photo by Discover Gloucester

Eat, drink & shop local. Small businesses and the main streets of cities and towns are hurting. Boost the economy by getting take out meals from your favorite restaurants or dining al fresco. Enjoy fresh seafood with a waterfront view (The Landing, Mile Marker One, Sea Level Newburyport, Blue Collar Lobster, Woodman’s of Essex, Seaglass, Beauport Cruiselines) or regional chef-inspired classics (Davios of Lynnfield, Grove, 1606 Restaurant). This year, Peabody Main Streets has expanded its Restaurant Week to Restaurant Month during October to help showcase its eateries.

For the latest tastes in sips, suds and spirits, check out Toast the Coast for a self-guided tour of microbreweries, craft distilleries, cider houses, wineries, and meaderies North of Boston. Head to Beverly (Gentile Brewing), Cape Ann (Ryan and Wood Distillery), Ipswich (Ipswich Ale Brewery, 1634 Meadery, Russell Orchards Farm & Winery), Amesbury (Cider Hill Farm), and Haverhill (The Tap Brewing Company). Most offer beverages to take home and many have created outside seating areas complete with games, firepits, and visiting food trucks. Gentile Brewing opened The Dock with a “distinctly European vibe” on Thursdays and Fridays from 6-10 p.m. and Saturdays from 2-8 p.m. through the end of October.

Take a break from online giants to shop in such quaint towns and cities as Marblehead, Beverly, Rockport, Gloucester, Newburyport, Amesbury and Andover. Find one of a kind pieces antiquing in Essex or browse the many name-brand retailers at MarketStreet Lynnfield.

Photo by Holly Perry

Step back in time by walking the properties of historic sites throughout the region at Historic New England, The Trustees of Reservations, and Winnekenni Castle.

Word nerds unite! The Museum of Printing is holding a Printers’ Flea Market at the Museum on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open every Saturday year-round (with appropriate safety precautions), the Museum of Printing lets you type on a vintage typewriter and leaf through Gutenberg’s Bible. Learn about book and print history, see a range of computers and equipment, and celebrate the printed word.

Lastly, learn and engage online via Virtual Tours, Live Videos and Digital Experiences. Our members and cultural organizations have pivoted to give virtual experiences and real fun for the whole family. You can find many offerings on our Adjusted Services page on our website at https://northofboston.org/support-resources/.

Whatever you decide to do, please stay safe, support local, and plan ahead! Visit www.northofboston.org for the latest updates and suggestions.

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The North of Boston CVB encompasses cities and towns within a 45-minute radius of Salem, offering coastal scenic beauty, activities on and off the water, unique shopping, and plenty of fresh seafood. Learn more and plan experiences around the region at northofboston.org.

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