A Very COVID Halloween in Salem, MA

This year our Halloween, pre-anniversary adventures in Salem were a little different thanks to the pandemic; but we didn’t let that stop us from enjoying ourselves with safety in mind for everyone. This year, we gave ourselves an extra two days to enjoy Salem and we couldn’t be happier for the added time away!

We had the car packed and ready to go before going to sleep on October 28th so that we could wake up and head straight to the car with only the bags of things we needed the night before in hand. We were in the car and pulling out of the driveway at 2:30am on October 29th, sleep but very ready to start our adventure! Exhausted, we finally made it across the Vermont boarder and stopped off at the Hogback Mountain Gift Shop and Overlook so that we could finally leave our mark!

It was rainy and cold, but it felt very good to stretch our feet, enjoy the scenery, leave our bumpersticker, explore the gift shop and buy some lovely bath bombs, and finally check out Vermont Distillers and buy our Metcalfe’s liquors and some souvenir whiskey glasses! After our brief break, we hopped back in the car and headed on our way toward Salem!

We finally arrived in Salem at about 6:00pm and headed to dinner at Brodie’s Seaport – what is quickly becoming our go to first night in Salem spot. Despite the pandemic causing Brodie’s to be less crowded than usual, the food, atmosphere, and our server were all wonderful. Not deviating much from last year, I got the scallops plate with butter and garlic pan seared scallops and Russ got buffalo chicken tenders. I even got the same cocktails as last year, I only switched up the sangria by having it made with red wine this time. Russ, however, got a Down East Cider – something he got quite a bit this trip. To switch it up a bit we got an order of calamari to split for our appetizer. The calamari was very good and the marinara sauce was absolutely delicious and tasted homemade.

After dinner, we checked into the hotel for some much needed rest. We stayed at the same hotel as last year – DoubleTree by Hilton Boston North Shore. As always, the staff was great and very friendly and the cookies we got for being Diamond Members were to die for. We stayed on the Executive floor and had a decent view of the city, which came in handy the next morning when we woke up to snow!

The next morning we woke up to snow, much to our delight! We were supposed to spend the day in Boston going whale watching but it was cancelled due to weather, so instead we split the day with the first half being spent in Salem and the second half in Boston since neither of us had ever been before. After breakfast, we bundled up and made our way into Salem. The biggest adventure of the day was trying to get to the parking garage before it closed due to COVID precautions, explore Salem and grab lunch, and then get back to the car and out of the parking garage before being charged for a full day, all while racing through icy/snowy sidewalks! Spoiler alert: we made it and spent even less on parking than we thought we would!

Even with the pandemic going on, it being the day before Halloween, and it snowing, the streets were pretty crowded. Seeing Salem in the snow was something totally different than last year and made it even more magical. We were freezing, though, and with COVID regulations our lunch had to be eaten in the restaurant’s outside seating area and they didn’t have heaters. Womp womp. But! The food was to die for! After last year’s debacle with the lobster rolls (gag), we were a bit nervous to try it out this year, but omg are we glad we did!

This year’s (and honestly, we are probably going to make it an annual lobster roll stop now) lobster roll lunch was had at the Lobster Shanty. We both got the Connecticut style roll, but Russ got his with fries and I got mine with delicious and super duper satisfying tatter tots! Russ got a glass of Jack’s Abbey Copper Legend and I got two of their Perfect Storm cocktails, which were so good! I also got some hot coco, which wasn’t very good but helped warm me up!

After our very satisfying lunch, we headed to grab some hand warmers and raced back to the car and out of the garage with two minutes to spare. We headed across town to Far From the Tree Cider to pick up some ciders to bring home. After picking up our ciders, we headed onto the highway and toward Boston!

Let me just prerequisite this with omg parking in Boston is EXPENSIVE! We spent $40 to park for a few hours, so if anyone has any neat tricks for finding cheaper Parker in Boston, please send us a message or email! Since whale watching was canceled and it was still snowing, we decided to check out the aquarium! We haven’t gone to an aquarium together since before we were dating and I’m a total geek for aquariums, so I had a blast! It was much smaller than the one back home, but I loved seeing all of the animals! After we finished the aquarium, we walked across town (and got lost a few times, oops – don’t have me direct on Google Maps for walking, it won’t go well!) to grab dinner at Grottos.

Grottos was so charming and a literal hole in the wall! It’s underneath residential buildings and you have to walk downstairs, off of the street, to enter. It was much smaller than I thought it would be, but that only added to its charm. It was dimly lit and felt very romantic. We did the prix-fixe menu, which was absolutely delicious!

I have been wanting to try escargot ever since my mom’s birthday dinner at L’Auberge Chez Francois, so I finally did it and was pleasantly surprised by it! It was pretty good and full of buttery garlic flavor, which is always a plus for me. I definitely wouldn’t get it all the time, but I will get it again sometime. Russ’s appetizer was mouthwateringly good – he got the Cavatelle. During our appetizers, I had the Double Rose cocktail and Russ had an old fashion. Both were delicious.

For our entrees, we both got the Beef Wellington paired with a glass of Cabernet. The Wellington had a few too many mushrooms in it, which made it a touch soggy. The Cabernet was very smooth and rich with flavor, and it paired absolutely perfectly with our entree. All too soon we were engorged on food and alcohol and having our desserts placed in front of us, which we slowly enjoyed. I got the pannacotta with the Grottos cocktail (phenomenal) and Russ got the tiramisu. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it may have been our best meal we had on our entire trip!

The next day was Halloween and our last full day in Salem! The ground was still covered in snow as we made our way into Salem to get to the parking garage before they closed at noon. The streets were much more crowded than the day before, but still less crowded than last year. Unfortunately, most of the museums and tours we wanted to go on sold out before we could get tickets – the Salem Witch Museum could only be purchased the day of and we never did have luck finding another Ghost Tour to go on for Halloween night, so we spent some time wondering around the outskirts to see some of the Hocus Pocus filming sites before making our way into the heart of Salem.

We then walked to Far From the Tree Cider to enjoy some ciders and a quick bite from the food truck. After our flights, we headed back into the heart of Salem to check out the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM). We had higher expectations for PEM, so it was sort of boring but definitely fun to do at least once. After the museum, we headed across town for dinner at Finz Seafood.

Finz was super crowded and we were very glad to have had reservations. We started with an order of crab nachos to split, which were good but definitely (shocking, I know) lacking in the crab department. For our entrees, I got the baked stuffed lobster and Russ got the filet mignon, which was so good with the bacon crust and demi-glace! For dessert, we split a warm chocolate chip cookie pie, and boy was it satisfying. We enjoyed several rounds of drinks, including a Nutella iced coffee, a pumpkin spice martini, a seasonal sangria, a white chocolate raspberry martini, and a Down East Cider.

On our way back to the car, we stopped off to grab some souvenir t-shirts and shot glasses. Just shopping for souvenirs was an experience since the town closed at 8:00pm and the police were monitoring it and the number of shoppers in each shop. We finally made it back to our car and to our hotel with time to finish watching Hocus Pocus and relax before heading to bed to rest up before hitting the road for the next part of our anniversary trip in Vermont!

Make sure to check back on December 31st to read up on our anniversary adventures in Vermont! 🙂

Happy travels!

Lindsey & Russ

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