travel

A Salem Day Trip - New England Travel Blogger

EXPLORING SALEM, MA WITH MY SISTER

IMG_3623.JPG

So, you just binge watched the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and you want to pretend you’re a teenage witch? Say no more. I’m right there with you and I can think of nowhere more appropriate to visit this time of year than Salem, MA. Sure, it’s a town you can visit during any season, but Autumn is arguably the best time to do it and it’s usually when I make my yearly exodus! I was lucky that this year my sister and I decided to drive up and make it into a day trip. We hit some new and favorite spots along the way and I figured I’d share the highlights of our day in case you feel like hopping on your broomstick and checking it out for yourself!

The Food

GULU GULU CAFE

salem-6.jpg
salem-4.jpg
salem-5.jpg

An hour and a half in the car can work up a hell of an appetite, so once we got there we wanted to get coffee and food right away! Both of us were dying to try Gulu Gulu Cafe, so we stopped in. As soon as we got there and were greeted by the sweet hostess I could tell that this cafe was going to become sanctuary for me. I felt at home instantly. I loved that the inside of the cafe is spacious and eclectically decorated with tall loft style ceilings. All of the tables are unique and some of them are painted. We decided to sit at the table that was painted black with a big bright red heart on it. Even the bathroom was adorned with fun, quirky paintings! You’ll see what I mean if you go! But enough about bathrooms, Leah…jeesh. I need to tell you about the best part! The food and drinks!

For drinks I ordered the white raspberry latte and my sister ordered the “Mind Sweeper.” I can’t recommend the white raspberry latte enough. The flavor of the raspberry was incredible and the presence of the white chocolate was sweet, smooth, and delightfully creamy.

I noticed while there that they also have a very extensive menu of unique beers that all sounded equally amazing! That day I was only in the mood for coffee, but I made up my mind to come back to try some of the beer on the menu.

As for food there were so many options! Again, I just wish I had a week to try everything, but when I saw the “Duck Yeah!” sandwich I knew I had to get that. The “Duck Yeah” (pictured above) consists of house-smoked duck breast, gruyere cheese, apricot preserves, and arugula, on grilled rye bread served with a choice of kettle cooked chips, dressed greens, or pasta salad and house made pickles. If that doesn’t sound mouthwatering to you then there are bunches of other delicious options (also many options for non-meat eaters too!). I recommend the pasta salad as a side though - so good!

The Sights

tourist spots

salem-2.jpg

Sure there are plenty of tourist spots and we hit a few of them just for funsies!

You can do many museum-like historical tours, but I did them once before in college with friends and that was enough for me. I remember some being more fun than others, but it’s up to you if that’s what you want to spend your day doing! You can get a good package deal on them, but going to each one will take a few hours. I’m sure you’ll come out very knowledgeable about Salem, though, and that might be quite worth it to some! Another fun tourist spot to hit is the Bewitched Statue as you can see me having a moment with above. It’s a very popular spot for a selfie or group photo! But this next stop is perhaps even MORE popular for a selfie!

The Witch House

salem-1-5 FINAL.jpg

Not only is this house aesthetically pleasing and bound to get you oodles of likes on Instagram it is THE historical landmark of Salem - the home of the Witch Trials! So, I would consider it a must-go. You can do a self-guided tour of the inside that I highly recommend!

Some of the sights around town

salem-33.jpg
salem-30.jpg
salem-34.jpg
There just happened to be a carnival in town the night we were there!

There just happened to be a carnival in town the night we were there!

The Shopping

There are so many interesting and eclectic stores - I mean it’s Salem after all! Some of my favorites to hit are always Hex, Omen, and a new favorite that I found when I was there last called Vampfangs! I ended up getting some professional VFX grade blood for my Halloween costume there and a pair of black deer antlers. I was also pleased to find they carry some awesome Indie brands like Rogue + Wolf.

The Company

my sister

salem-28.jpg
salem-21.jpg

The style icon herself! My sister accompanied me for this journey and we had so much fun around Salem together! I hope we get to go back soon!

Thanks for exploring Salem with me! Where should I go next?

The Very Best of Concord, MA - New England Travel Blogger

WHERE TO GO + WHAT TO DO IN THIS RICHLY HISTORICAL New England TOWN

If you haven’t been to or heard of Concord, MA you need to change that ASAP and don’t worry I’m here to help as it’s one of my favorite places to visit in New England!

Concord is still a hidden gem in some ways. Every time I bring it up to my Massachusetts friends or otherwise people often look puzzled and ask, Concord, NH? Before I have to tell them about Concord, MA.

WHY I LOVE CONCORD SO MUCH

Concord is the cozy safe haven of a New England town you haven’t heard of yet.

It was home to the greatest Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and as you may or may not know already it bore some of the most quintessential quotes about the woods.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

-Henry David Thoreau

In fact the main spot of Thoreau’s exodus to the woods, Walden Pond, is available for you to walk and explore at all times of year. However, I venture to say the most optimal time to visit is Autumn for the foliage.

You can check out the site of his cabin while there, as well as the faux cabin they’ve erected to show what it might’ve been like.

In the Summer you can even swim Walden Pond.

THE RESTAURANTS

C73A5163.jpg

Haute Coffee

If you’re looking for some fresh pastries to nosh on or a delicious piece of avocado toast and latte look no further than Haute Coffee. I have to say it’s often an absolute pain in the you know what to get a table there, but not impossible! And as far as parking, the lot that is shared with Haute Coffee and a few other businesses is small and incredibly difficult to find parking in, as well. Even with that I say don’t give up! I didn’t anyway. If all else fails there’s an even bigger public parking lot on Keyes Lane that you could park in and then walk over. The walk through town is lovely anyway with plenty of quaint storefronts to window shop!

Main Streets Market and Cafe

C73A5186.jpg

For lunch, dinner, live music, and drinks look no further than Main Streets Market and Cafe. The atmosphere inside is homey and warm, with framed pieces of local art and history on the walls. Some nights they even have live music, which adds a special energy to the cafe. I’ve tried many of the items on their menu over the years and it’s all mouthwateringly delicious, but some of my favorites are the Parmesan Truffle Fries, Guinness Onion Rings, Turkey & Brie Extreme Grilled Cheese (yep, EXTREME GRILLED CHEESE), and the Farmhouse Chutney Chicken Salad. The Raspberry Lime Rickey is a treat, as well!

MUST SEES

C73A6591.jpg

Walden Pond

As mentioned above Walden Pond is a must-go while you are there! It’s a lovely walk through the woods that’s sure to yield beautiful photos.

C73A6711.jpg
C73A6727.jpg
C73A6710.jpg

Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Okay, first of all, how could you not want to go to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery? The name alone is enough to bring me there, but that’s just me! I happen to have a bit of a thing for cemeteries. But! This one in particular is the resting place of several famous authors including Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and many of their family members. Visitors often leave little trinkets on the gravestones.

C73A5174.jpg

The Concord Free Public Library

I don’t know that everyone finds libraries exciting, but I do and this one in particular has some interesting artifacts that you should at least pop your head in and look at! My favorite part of the library is “The Transcendental Alcove” that houses books by Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne. Sometimes they even have interesting galleries of local art and photography. While there I was able to view a gallery by a local photographer named Richard Higgins.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson House

I know what you’re thinking, ugh, a historical tour…I’m with you, but this one is an exception! This tour of Emerson’s house is actually super interesting! Not only do you get an insight on Emerson’s family and his life, but seeing his home with pretty much all of the original items inside of it intact really gives you an idea of how people lived during Emerson’s time. The tour guides are also very cool and unique! Not boring whatsoever. You can tell they’re knowledgable and passionate about the information they’re reciting and you learn many interesting facts about Emerson during the tour. You are also free to walk around the grounds. From his house is a trail that you can explore and there’s a magnificent grape vine in the garden that you’ll definitely want to check out. I highly recommend adding this to your list if it’s the only “museum-like” thing you do while here!

SHOPPING

The Concord Bookshop

Every time I’m in Concord I stop in to The Concord Bookshop to buy something new to read. The atmosphere of this bookstore is quiet and beautiful and I find it has a very good selection. This year I got myself a book of Keats as he is one of my favorite English Poets. Yes, I know an American poet would be more appropriate for Concord, but I think Keats and Thoreau could’ve been friends if they’d known each other.

Thoreauly Antiques

Wherever Thoreauly gets their antiques they have acquired quite the collection of lovely wares. I’ve found use books there, as well as unique items such as old glass slides and photographs and so much more. It’s like a little magical realm full of wonder. Definitely check out Thoreauly Antiques if you love pieces from the past.

C73A5180.jpg

FINAL THOUGHTS

Although I consider Concord a hidden gem it is often quite busy and full of interesting people, so be prepared for reasonable waits at the restaurants and cafes I mentioned (they’re much busier on the weekends!). Also, if you’re visiting in Autumn make sure to bring your camera as the foliage in Concord is gorgeous and bright - plus, the town is ripe for some unique New England street photography! I hope you enjoy your trip to Concord, MA! Feel free to reach out to me if you want anymore pointers on where to stay and what to do!

Have you ever been to Concord? What’s one of your favorite places or where are you dying to go now? Let me know in a comment!

My Trip to Portland, Maine - New England Travel Blogger

This month I celebrated the first weekend of Autumn with a trip to Portland, Maine. While there I took in the sights, sounds, and tastes of some of the best that Portland had to offer. From Maine blueberries, fresh maple syrup, warm potato donuts and homemade mead to local oysters and buttered lobster…it was a feast for the eyes, stomach, and soul.

Naturally I took many photos while there, so I figured I’d share them along with some tips I learned while there for anyone interested in going for the first time or just looking for new places to try!

Here are some of the highlights from my trip to Portland, Maine:

The Sights

portlandmaine-7.jpg
portlandmaine-1-13.jpg
portlandmaine-121.jpg
portlandmaine-120.jpg

The Portland Observatory

The Portland Observatory is well worth the price of admission for the view! For $10 you can take a guided tour to the top or go at it yourself! I was happy we decided to go on the unguided tour. We were able to set our own pace and learn about the history by reading and exploring ourselves. At the top there was even a man who works there separate from the tours who told us many interesting things about the Portland Observatory, as well as some interesting facts about the birds that nest in the area.

lighthouse.jpg
portlandmaine-1-8.jpg

Portland Head Light

This was the biggest highlight for me (pun intended!). It’s a short drive outside of the city, but I recommend either hitting it on your way in or your way out! We hit it on our way out and I’m so glad we stopped. Parking is free which is amazing! And the entire area is very well-maintained. There is a cliff walk, a few parks, a small food and drink kiosk, and the main attraction - the lighthouse! Definitely breathtaking views and great pictures to be had here!

portlandmaine-68.jpg
portlandmaine-75.jpg

The Portland Love Locks

Although the love lock fence was torn down in 2016 after it started to fall into the ocean…a piece of it has been kept alive on the waterfront! We enjoyed looking at what was left and reading the loving messages inscribed on each lock.

The AirBnb

portlandmaine-25.jpg
portlandmaine-16.jpg

A Fiery East End Flat

I haven’t stayed in many nice Airbnb’s (this is only the second one I’ve stayed in and this time I had friends to split the cost with), but this one was definitely the cream of the crop in terms of an Airbnb! The “Fiery East End Flat” was spacious, colorful, comfortable, and met all of our needs while allowing us to be in walking distance of everything we wanted to do in Portland. Along with several immaculately decorated rooms there was an air mattress provided, a tv with a dvd player, cards and games, many different brands of coffee to choose from in the cupboards, and the host even left us a bottle of wine and some cookies! I don’t know when I’d be able to afford this flat again for my own travel purposes, but with a large group it is more than perfect and I highly recommend it!

The Food

portlandmaine-43.jpg

DuckFat

Duckfat fries are the Holy Donut of fries. Yes, there is a lot of hype for them much like how there’s a ton of hype for Holy Donut, but the hype is not overstated - these are the best fries I’ve ever had and you have to get the truffle ketchup! Ugh, I’m salivating just writing this. A fun little fact, we ended up getting the Duckfat fries at the Oxbow Brewery as opposed to the restaurant…and it was made even better by the fact that it was right next to the Hardshore Distillery and Maine Mead Works. Maine Mead Works even advertised that you can get your Duckfat fries over at Oxbow and bring them in there to enjoy with some mead. So, it’s a no- brainer to head in the direction of all three. You might as well check them all out while you’re there!

portlandmaine-52.jpg

The Holy Donut

Oh my gosh, what’s there to say about the Holy Donut that hasn’t already been said? It’s the most delicious donut I’ve ever had. There are many flavor choices to choose from and they all sound amazing, but I decided to get the maple donut. It was melt in your mouth delectable. If I had one near me I’d be tempted to go every day. I’m already tempted to drive up again just for the donuts and I think I will soon.

portlandmaine-132.jpg
portlandmaine-134 smaller.jpg

Hot Suppa

Hot Suppa was suggested to us by a local who gave us some great pointers when we arrived. If there’s one thing we noticed about Portland it was that the people living there were extremely friendly and would stop to ask us if we needed help or suggestions without us even asking! If you want to go to Hot Suppa expect a very, very, very long wait. We went on our last day, a Sunday, and the wait was between 1 and 2 hours. We waited and it was definitely worth it, but be mindful of that! The menu items are on the pricier side that’s for sure, but it’s definitely filling and delicious. I got the Mother Clucker! A fun name and also a really yummy dish. Since it’s a Southern Kitchen you have to order something Southern - or at least that was my thought process! So I figured I couldn’t go wrong with fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, and home fries. You could get grits, but I just really love home fries and those were top notch home fries if I do say so myself. This is a must-go in Portland - I completely agree with the locals!

portlandmaine-82.jpg

The Porthole Restaurant & Pub

On my list of must-dos in Portland was getting a lobster roll. There are certainly many options of varying culinary delight and price ranges, but I found mine when my group suggested a seemingly off the beaten path restaurant and pub called The Porthole. I had my reservations at first, but when arriving there I actually found it to be quite quaint…but only if you’re sitting outside - I didn’t like the look or the ambience of the inside. Outside there is a large porch you can sit on with picnic style tables and umbrellas. You’re right on the water, which is absolutely perfect on an Indian Summer day and whether to your disdain or enjoyment there was a live band playing. We found it to be amusing! I also sampled the oysters while there and though I didn’t have the luxury of knowing where they were from quite like I did at Even Tide (keep reading for that exciting experience!) they were very delicious. I can only assume they were Maine Oysters as Maine has many varieties. I opted to get my lobster roll with butter and it came with a pickle and chips, you could substitute for fries, but I wasn’t in the mood for them after Duck Fat (nothing will ever be better!). Two of my other friends also got the lobster roll and we were in agreement with how pleased we were with the portion and I thought it was very tasty - it definitely satisfied my requirement of getting a lobster roll in Maine! Then it was onward to Even Tide!

portlandmaine-88 smaller.jpg
portlandmaine-92 smaller.jpg

EvenTide Oyster Co.

Myself and two of my girlfriends were determined to get oysters at Even Tide. We went into it knowing it was going to be good, but we never could’ve guessed how much of a life-changing experience it would be! I do have to say that if you’re going expect a wait. We waited at least a half hour to finally be seated, but they will serve you cocktails while you wait if there’s standing room. Make sure you go with a smaller group as they don’t have space to accommodate large tables. Once in, I have to say the Parrot cocktail is a must! Not only does it come in a delightful parrot glass, but it’s one of those drinks that has a limit. On the menu the alcohol used is listed solely as “rums” and that was enough to get us interested - so three parrots it was! Next was the oysters. The menu comprised of varieties from Maine and Massachusetts and being from MA we wanted to try Maine oysters first and foremost. So, we each got a dozen including 10 Maine oysters and 2 Massachusetts oysters. The accoutrements were a really fun touch, as well! Before then I had never tried red onion ice or kimchi ice for that matter (I preferred the red onion), but it was a flavorful and fun addition to the overall oyster tasting. We savored each and every one.

The Drink

portlandmaine-32.jpg
portlandmaine-28.jpg
portlandmaine-30.jpg

Hardshore Distilling Company

On to the drinks - of which there are many opportunities for in Portland! Obviously any of the breweries would be spots to hit, but we found many other interesting alcohol attractions along the way. If you’re a gin fan Hardshore Distillery should be on your list to check out! Although I wasn’t much of a fan of their gin per se it was certainly a strong one and there’s something to be said for that!

portlandmaine-36 smaller.jpg
portlandmaine-37.jpg
portlandmaine-35 smaller.jpg

Maine Mead Works

Next store to Hardshore Distillery is Maine Mead Works and honestly I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did! The mead was delicately delicious! I got a small Lavender Lemonade mead to try. It was sweet and complex, but not too complex…just right! This is a spot I would go to again in the future. I really enjoyed the ambience, the people who worked there were friendly and warm, and the mead was divine.

portlandmaine-51 smaller.jpg
portlandmaine-50 smaller.jpg
portlandmaine-46.jpg

Novare res

This was a must-go for me. I’m very glad I checked it out. Their beer list is expansive and it’s a great spot to just hang out and enjoy some drinks with your friends!

The Friends

portlandmaine-108 smaller.jpg
portlandmaine-76.jpg
portlandmaine-124.jpg
portlandmaine-57.jpg
portlandmaine-64.jpg
kim portland-1.jpg

I’m much more used to solo travel lately, so it was a new experience for me to go on a vacation with seven of my friends. I’ll be honest, the size of the group made me a little nervous at first, but I’m happy to say that any nerves I had melted away almost instantly - I had an an absolute blast! We did learn that if you’re going with large groups it will make it more difficult to get tables in the restaurants (many of the spaces in Portland are quite small!) so it’s good to know that you might have to break off and do different things at different times to account for that. But even with that small inconvenience we were still able to do everything we wanted to and more! So, my final review is if you’re looking for a cool city that won’t break the bank while still offering so much in terms of nightlife, food, and activities look no further! We had an amazing time and I hope to go again soon! Thanks, Portland!

portlandmaine-1-16.jpg