Salem, MA: The Perfect Halloween Getaway Destination

More than a quarter of a million people visit the city of Salem, MA during Halloween season every year for the Haunted Happenings Experience. Notorious for the “Salem Witch Trials,” it’s no surprise that the city has acquired a somewhat chilling atmosphere. The city isn’t shy about its darker past with local sports teams named “The Witches” and a neighborhood called “Witchcraft Heights.” Though the trials put Salem on the historical map, there are so many other things that make the city a spooktacular place to visit. For instance, take a walk through Salem’s maritime past and discover its history as an early international trading port as well as its infamous “sea-robbers” Captains Blackbeard and Kidd who roamed the waters of Boston’s North Shore.

If you’re staying in the Salem area, why wouldn’t you stay in an old haunted hotel or inn? Check out The Hawthorne Hotel or The Salem Inn for a one-of-a-kind experience and a cozy place where you can (hopefully) get some sleep after a long day of adventuring.

The Hawthorne Hotel opened its doors in 1925 and was labeled as a modern hotel for the business traveler. Today, the timelessly designed hotel remains in the heart of Salem and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. It has become a staple in the city for both locals and visitors. It’s had famous visitors like former President Bill Clinton and has been featured in major motion pictures. In 1991, the first Halloween Party was thrown at The Hawthorne and it has now grown to be one of the biggest Halloween bashes around with DJs, bands and food taking up three floors of the hotel. And, if you dare to stay for a night or two, you may encounter the famous “spectral hands,” an apparition of a woman wondering the halls or you may even hear the disembodied cries of a child. Whether you’re visiting or staying, this historic haunted hotel is a must see!

The Salem Inn is the place to stay if you’re looking to immerse yourself into the history of the city. Dating back to 1834, this old Inn, once home to Captain Nathaniel West, has seen its fair share of events. In the middle of it all, this old quaint bed and breakfast is ideal for the travelers as it is within walking distance of nearly all that Salem has to offer. Is it haunted, you may ask? Well, it all depends on who you ask.

The owners of the inn are sure that the Salem Inn is absolutely NOT haunted. However, if you look through the countless stories written by guests, then you’ll find that it is quite possible that someone or something paranormal is taking up residence at the inn. The paranormal “presence” that has been felt around the inn has come to be known as “Katherine,” though her true identity is unknown. If your curiosity is getting the best of you, then there is truly only one way to find out! Book a room at this cozy bed and breakfast and get ready for a potentially haunting experience!

After your restful sleep, you can walk amongst the dead at the Howard Street, Broad Street and Charter Street Cemeteries, which are all connected to the Salem Witch Trials. After visiting the centuries old graves, you can make a stop at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. The Memorial consists of 20 granite benches that are marked with the names of the accused and the dates of their deaths.

Next, take a tour of “The House of the Seven Gables,” the house that inspired the novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel is set in the house that was owned by Hawthorne’s cousin Susanna and was inspired by his ancestors who had played a part in the Witch Trials of 1692. The novel follows a family who lives in a haunted New England mansion and explores themes of guilt, retribution, the supernatural and witchcraft. You’ll have to tour and see for yourself if the house is truly haunted.

You can also take a frightening guided walking tour through the dimly lit streets of Salem after the sun goes down. Choose from Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours of Salem or Haunted Footsteps Walking Tour. Both tours provide a glimpse into the city’s shaded colonial past, witch trials, creepy stories and ghosts. Each tour is unique and has its own stories and history to share. No matter which you choose, you’re sure to be thoroughly spooked!

And no trip to Salem is complete without paying a visit to The Witch House also known as the Jonathan Corwin House. This infamous house is the only remaining structure with direct ties to the Witch Trials. A tour through the house gives better insight to the lives of those who lived there as well as their seventeenth-century lifestyles and details of the trials. Also, don’t be surprised if you encounter a spirit or two!

Finally, you can complete your historical adventure by visiting Gallows Hill and museum. Until 2016, it was unclear where exactly Gallows Hill was located. Today, you can pay your respects at Proctor’s Ledge and tour the museum. On your visit you can also watch live theater, take a ride on the “Ghosts and Legends” trolley or listen in on the “tales of terror” while sipping on samples of local ales.

After taking in as much history as you can, you can get a good old-fashioned scare at one of the many haunted house attractions. Next to all the historically spooky places and paranormal activity, these terrifying attractions add a sense of classic Halloween fun. Here are a few haunted house attractions to add to your list.

Witch Mansion is Salem’s scariest haunted attraction. This house was professionally built to scare the pants off of even the bravest soul who dares to enter. With highly technical animations and 4D illusions, this thrilling experience is not for the faint of heart!

Frankenstein’s Castle is Salem’s newest haunted attraction and is based on the classic horror story written by Mary Shelley. Enter the Salem Wax Museum, feel your way through the dark curvy hallways and then down the stairs make your way to Dr. Frankenstein’s dungeon. Feast your eyes on his horrid monster creation before making your escape (if you’re lucky)!

Lastly, The Haunted Witch Village is Salem’s longest running and largest haunted attraction. See a darker side of the village as the witches come out to play! Attempt to find your way out of the indoor maze and explore the museum along side the creepiest of ghosts, ghouls and goblins.

There is more history in Salem than any one person could learn in a lifetime with a long list of things to do, places to see and places to stay. Those who have visited the city can say with the utmost certainty that you are sure to have an experience that is nothing short of magical (no pun intended).

https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/boston/things-to-do-salem-ma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem,_Massachusetts

 

Resident Feature: Michael and Sue Menof

Proud residents of The Saxony in Dallas, TX, Michael and Sue Menof have no plans to move anywhere else. After 22 years, the couple has come to know the property as their forever home. “We would certainly not be able to find a better apartment community in all of Dallas, or should I say Texas.” Originally from South Africa, the couple came to the United States 32 years ago and are now proud citizens, saying it was, “the best decision we ever made!”

Both Michael and Sue have had successful careers. Sue was a prominent journalist and worked for the Sunday Times and Michael worked as a CPA and ran the second largest travel group in South Africa. After working in travel for 45 years, Michael was ready to set off with Sue to start their own travel company, Golden World Tours.

The two now spend their days helping others plan their dream vacations around the world at a lower cost. They often travel with groups of people acting as tour guides with their shared experience and knowledge. They are dedicated to creating fun, well-organized trips at an affordable price. Over the years, Michael and Sue have visited many countries, but still have some they have yet to visit. Some of the tours they offer include places like Spain, Australia, Dubai, Africa, India and China, just to name a few. They also handle cruises in Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean and many more.

When asked what their favorite destination has been thus far, their answer was surprisingly, “here in the U.S. – Mt. Rushmore with the four presidents sculpted into the mountainside. It is the only place that you can stop and smell the roses. (And) Hawaii isn’t far behind!” After traveling the world for so many years, Michael points out a couple of tips that every traveler should keep in mind, “Travel light, stay safe and always have fun!”

If you’d like to learn more about the tours they offer or would like them to help you plan your next getaway, visit their website www.GoldenWorldTours.com!

Travel: Weekend Getaways

Charleston, South Carolina

 

Where to stay?

21 East Battery (bed & breakfast) – This charming little bed and breakfast is said to have “the best address in town,” as it is located right on Charleston’s famous Waterfront Battery. Discover what it’s like to live in a private residence of this high-end area with all the amenities of a hotel. Choose between the Carriage House or Private Quarters with private entrances and experience fresh breakfast every morning, views of the garden or Charleston Harbor and complimentary tickets to the Edmondston-Alston House Tour, just down the street. Historical sites, award-winning restaurants and the many beautiful churches of the “Holy City” are just a short stroll in any direction.

Wentworth Mansion – The Wentworth Mansion is a grand historic hotel in downtown Charleston. You will find it tucked away in a beautiful neighborhood next to other historic Charleston homes. Make the most of your visit and experience complimentary breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres and wine, spa, athletic club, nightly housemade chocolates and evening port, sherry and brandy. And for one of Charleston’s best restaurant experiences, look no further than out the back door of this beautiful mansion hotel. Located in the old carriage house turned restaurant, you’ll find an on-property farm-to-table restaurant, Circa 1886. Drawing inspiration from historical Southern dishes, this high-end meal is not one to miss!

What to do?

Cobblestone Streets – Charleston has preserved many of its historical cobblestone streets that send you back in time. Originally, cobblestones were used to weigh down ships that didn’t have enough cargo. They were then unloaded and left on the dock. Eventually, the people of Charleston grew tired of their muddy roads and began using the left behind Cobblestone to make travel easier for horses and carriages. A few of the most popular cobblestone roads worth visiting when you’re in town are Maiden Lane, Chalmers Street and North Adgers Wharf.

Historic Plantation Homes and Tours – There are many beautiful historic plantation homes throughout Charleston. Three must visit locations include Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens and Boone Hall Plantation. At Middleton Place, there are several tours available including tours of the lovely gardens, the house museum and even a horse-drawn carriage tour around the property. There are also planned events that take place on the property throughout the year. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens boasts one of “America’s Most Beautiful Gardens” by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Not only are the gardens beautiful, but there are so many other things to experience. You can take a tour of the historical house and the gardens, explore the zoo and nature center and take a ride on the nature train. Last, but not least, you’ll want to stop over at Boone Hall Plantation to admire the perfectly aligned oak trees that greet you as you enter the property. While you’re there you can go on a variety of tours that are both educational as well as entertaining and be sure to stop by the peaceful butterfly pavilion. Visiting one or all of these properties will take you on a journey through the past and allow you to experience what life was like in 1800 to 1900 Charleston.

Horse-drawn Carriage Rides – If you’re wanting to explore the city of Charleston in style, consider taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. Not only is it unique, but it is the perfect way to see the old grandiose architecture while learning about the city’s history. There are many carriage tour companies to choose from, Palmetto Carriage Works, Old South Carriage Company and Charleston Carriage Works, just to name a few. These companies are highly rated and would make for a great experience and memories!

Beaches – After soaking up all of the history that Charleston has to offer you can kick back and relax on one of its many beaches. If you’re feeling adventurous there are many water activities you can take advantage of like kayak and paddleboard rentals. A variety of kayak and boat tours offering a close-up view of the natural beauty of Charleston.

 

Nashville, Tennessee

 

Where to stay?

Hermitage Hotel – If you’re looking to make your hotel part of your Nashville experience, then look no further than the Hermitage Hotel. The Hermitage opened its doors in September of 1910 and has since seen its share of historical events. It has also see its fare share of famous faces come through its doors and if choose to stay, you will be amongst the likes of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, comedy legend Charlie Chaplin and of course some of country music’s earliest stars Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash to name a few. During your stay you should be sure to check out “the oldest and longest-running Southern restaurant in the state,” Capitol Grille located on the lower level of the hotel adjacent to the notorious Oak Bar.

Union Station – Go back in time when you stay at one of Nashville’s most iconic buildings. Once a bustling train station, this deemed historic landmark is now a luxurious hotel with 125 uniquely decorated guest rooms. In the center of it all, Union Station Hotel is the perfect place to stay to be just minutes away from all of the Nashville hot spots like the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Ryman Auditorium and Nissan Stadium. For an added convenience, the in-house restaurant, Carter’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an added happy hour menu from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

What to do?

Live Music – It’s no secret that Nashville is also known as “Music City” and “Songwriting Capital of the World.” Even its earliest settlers were known to celebrate with song and dance. From there the city’s music history continued to grow. Today you can walk for blocks and music can be heard on every day and night of the week. There are an array of concert halls and small clubs featuring almost all genres of music, not just country. You can also take a walk down “Music Row” and see the famous Symphony Center, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Music City Walk of Fame and the Bridgestone Arena as well as recording studios, record labels and entertainment offices. Last but not least, when visiting Nashville, it is imperative that you visit what has become known as the most famous concert venue in America, the Ryman. The Ryman was the original location of the Grand Ole Opry which began in 1925. Today it has seen countless performances by legends like Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Neil Diamond. If you don’t have tickets for a show, the Ryman is open for daily tours where you can feel like a star on its famous stage.

Microbreweries – There’s no shortage of microbreweries throughout the city of Nashville. No matter what area of the city you end up in you’re bound to find some tasty brews to sample. Some of the hot spots you may want to check out include Yazoo Brewing Company, Blackstone Brewing Company, Southern Grist Brewing Company and The Black Abbey Brewing Company, just to name a few. Each brewing company has their own unique signature IPAs, ales, sours, porters and more. And nothing goes better with beer than some tasty eats like mac and cheese, burgers and frog legs…yep…frog legs…if you like that sort of thing.

Country Music Hall of Fame – The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must see when visiting Nashville. Whether you’re a country music fan or not, the sheer size and the amount of history it keeps is a wonder to behold. With 350,000 square feet filled with memorabilia (over 2 million items) and exhibits of the evolving history of country music, it is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of country music.” Inside the museum you can also see the famous letterpress operation Hatch Show Print and down on Music Row you can visit the Historic RCA Studio B where stars like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings recorded.

Centennial Park – Centennial Park was established as a City Park after the it’s Exposition in 1897. With it’s Parthenon replica, one-mile walking trail, Lake Watauga, sunken gardens and more, Centennial Park has become one of the most visited parks with thousands of visitors each year. The Parthenon replica, standing in the heart of the park, is amongst the most popular attractions. Just inside the Parthenon is an incredible statue Athena standing at an astounding 42-feet high and both structures are full-scale replicas of the Ancient Greek originals. Today the Parthenon serves as Nashville’s art museum featuring 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists.

Travel: Get Away for the Winter

Cruises are a popular getaway choice for many during the icy winter months, but when is the best time to go? Waiting until later in the winter season can be the better time to go as most people tend to go in December or January. Below we have listed the top five cruise locations to escape to.

The Caribbean and Bahamas are two of the most popular cruise getaway locations, especially during the winter months. With fun in the sun activities like snorkeling and racing around the sand dunes, it’s not hard to see why. Not to mention the much-needed warmth and sunshine.

During our winter months, it’s actually summer in the Galapagos. This is a great destination for snorkeling and wild sea life watching, especially during the months of December through February. If you wait until March for this trip, it is likely that you’ll get to see the hatching of baby green turtles and giant tortoises!

The winter is also a great time to visit the Mediterranean parts of Europe like Rome, Venice and Barcelona. During the winter, cruises are confined to this area, but on the plus side you can visit these hot spots and enjoy everything there is to do without a ton of people around. Another option for European cruises include the coastal Norwegian cruises, which guarantees sightings of the Northern Lights on any classic round trip, 12-night stay between October 1st and March 31st.

Like the Galapagos it’s also summer in Australia and New Zealand. If you’re looking for some beautiful weather to take advantage of, look no further. Cities on New Zealand’s South Island and along Australia’s eastern and southern edges feature some of the best weather of the year. There’s no shortage of things to do and places to see, whether you visit the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne or take in the natural beauty of New Zealand.

The Middle East and Southeast Asia offer both ocean and river cruises. During the winter months is the best time to visit these destinations with temperatures in the upper 70s to mid-80s. Ocean cruises to the Middle East stop at ports in Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Nile river cruises are also very popular during this time of year. Ocean cruises in Southeast Asia include ports like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, but if a river cruise sounds more appealing, you can sail down the Mekong in Vietnam or the Irrawaddy in Myanmar.

Spring Vacation!

For anyone wanting to get away this Spring, but not wanting to spend a small fortune to do so, check out Daytona Beach, Florida! Not only are there plenty of things to do, it’s at the top of the list for most affordable Spring getaway destinations and there’s no need for a passport!

Daytona Beach has many beach-front hotels that offer special Spring trip rates, which keeps you on budget and leaves you with more money for fun! As Daytona is a top choice for a Spring travel, many hotels have special daily events such as music and poolside contests during the months of March and April. If you plan to check out the night life, many of the major beach-front hotels offer FREE transportation to and from all the hot spots! If you don’t mind leaving the beach for a day, you can take a quick trip to Orlando and visit “The Happiest Place on Earth” or catch some thrills at Universal Studios Orlando.

Disney World is made up of a total of six parks – four theme parks and two water parks. Spend the day at your favorite park or get the Park Hopper ticket to make the most of your time. Walk through Cinderella’s castle, travel around the globe, become one with the animals and watch Hollywood come to life all in a single day! If you have time to spare, you can make a splash at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach!

If Universal Studios is more your speed, you can choose from two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, or visit them both with a park-to-park ticket! Go on an adventure through many different worlds as you cast a spell at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, help your favorite super heroes defeat the villain and escape the sharp jaws of a T. Rex. Once you’ve had your fill of thrills, you can head back to Daytona to relax poolside or take a nice walk on the beach and feel the sand between your toes.
When you’re fully refreshed and on your way home, you can rest easy knowing that you made the most of your Spring vacation and can look forward to your next getaway!