Salem Casts A Spell On Travelers

Located about an hour north of Boston, the cobblestoned, coastal town of Salem, Massachusetts may play up all things witchy and supernatural, yet the 200 individuals persecuted and 20 ultimately executed during the 1690’s Salem Witch Trials were in fact not witches. They were innocent Muggles, if we may appropriate Harry Potter parlance, victims of public hysteria. Today, ironically enough, the town serves as a safe haven for those who feel different or persecuted, including self-identified witches, Wiccans, goths, and LGBTs. It’s a delightful day-trip destination, and, on June 21, 2014, visitors will be able to join in the North Shore Gay Pride celebrations. While you’re here, make sure to visit the glass-and-brick Peabody Essex Museum, which exhibits a comprehensive collection of works from the 1700s-onward, including an actual 16-bedroom, Qing Dynasty house called Yin Yu Tang (the only antique home of its kind outside China).

As for the witchy stuff, take in the Salem Witch Museum’s panoramic production about the infamous trials (interesting fact: witches were never burned stateside, they were hanged). Stroll downtown to pose with the bronze statue of Elizabeth Montgomery from TV series Bewitched, shop for occult/witch/psychic provisions at the gay-owned shops Hex and Omen, and marvel at the wax museum-esque Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery of horror film characters and monsters. Want to soak in Salem’s magic overnight? Check into gay-owned Morning Glory B&B, a 19th-century Georgian federal-style home smack dab in the center of everything.

The Gulu-Gulu Café, with its industrial décor, serves as buzzing social hub for locals, with a selection of crêpes, café fare, and beer and wine, while waterfront seafood spot Finz serves über-fresh oysters and a croissant lobster roll.

—Lawrence Ferber