What better way to get into the Halloween spirit than by visiting Salem, Mass.? Although now a bit of a tourist trap, Salem still manages to capture that historic, quaint New England feel. But, James, Emily and Kitty didn't just go for a fun roadtrip -- they bought tickets to the Salem Harvest Fest, a beer, wine, mead and cider tasting.
Emily had gone five years ago and remembered it as a great time, walking away with a nice buzz, and she wanted to take James and Kitty since then. The three of them tried last year, but because of a motorcycle fatality, the highway they were on was shut down for four hours.
This was a infamous trip where they were all hungry and thirsty, searching Emily's car for something to eat or drink, but could only find her emergency single-serve bottle of wine (don't judge -- she keeps it in her car for just such an occasion). After a few hours, Kitty looked over at James and saw he was drinking a can of diet Coke, which he failed to mention to the others. After Kitty and Emily scolded him for not offering it, they noticed the can even said "Share a Coke with a Friend," which James did not. After a year, Kitty and Emily still bring it up to James to torment him.
This year, the three made sure to pack the car with snacks and beverages; James even brought three cans of Diet Coke. When the three of them passed the location they were stopped the year before, they breathed a sigh of relief.
Once getting to Salem and finding parking ($20-cash for the parking garage), they wandered around downtown Salem, checking out the Visitor's Center, weekend festivities and street fairs. It wasn't uncommon for others to have their Halloween costumes on or wearing novelty hats or capes.
Kitty and Emily joked they should rent a place in Salem for the month of October just to wear costumes every day.
Emily's favorite place was The Cheese Shop of Salem -- which also sold wine! This place was magnificent, plus we were treated to a wine tasting, even before getting to the Harvest Fest! That day's tastings were boxed wines, but don't put your nose in the air just yet -- these were amazing boxed wines!
But now, on to the Harvest Fest!
In line at the Knights of Columbus were people sporting homemade pretzel necklaces, which Emily found out was quite common at beer tastings. Basically, these were pretzels strung onto a ribbon and tied around your neck; a great idea to remember for the future -- and not just for beer tastings.
Walking in, James, Emily and Kitty were drawn to different tables around the loop of vendors. Emily migrated mostly toward the wines, Kitty stuck with ciders, and James tried everything offered to him.
The group made a few loops, ending up back at the snack table, which was filled with crackers, fruits, brownies and, of course, cheeses, including an amazing dip that was available at the Harvest Fest's sponsor, Pamplemousse.
After making three of four laps, and getting a nice buzz, the crowd just got to be a little too much for the group and they decided to head out and explore more of Salem.
One thing to note: Finding a good place for a sit-down meal is tough; most places in the downtown area had long waits, and they decided to start the drive home and find something on the way instead.
All-in-all, if you're in the New England area, and want a nice roadtrip with tons of opportunities for foliage-spotting and getting into the Halloween spirit, check out Salem. One thing not mentioned was the historic aspect of going to Salem -- old graveyards, witch museums and other landmarks were quite crowded, so the group avoided them. But Emily had been there previously, and they are worth checking out if you have the time.