On the road to Salem with *The Lace Reader*

We took the kids on the road up to Salem yesterday afternoon, about a 45-minute drive north.  I had my tote packed with The Lace Reader and a map and guide to “Towner Whitney’s Salem, Massachusetts” that I downloaded from the Salem tourist board.

We got to Salem around 3, driving through the center of town, then out to Salem Willows Park.  The map describes it as a “mini-amusement park next to Rafferty’s Victorian home frequented by tourists and bikers.  Rafferty comes for the chop suey sandwiches.”


The park was crowded, despite the drizzly afternoon.  There were a lot of large family groups, perhaps reunions, cooking out and enjoying the park.  I took these photos of the harbor; the colors would have been brighter on a sunny day, but you can still see how beautiful it is.


The Red Trolley runs to various tourist spots in town; tickets/stickers allow passengers to board and debark at different spots, then get back on for a ride to another attraction.


Our kids loved the arcade!  We quickly ran through $20 in quarters, and they each got a little tchotchke or two to take home.  We had 427 points to redeem, but the small selection they could choose from reminded me of that line from the movie The Jerk where Steve Martin plays a carnie, “step right up and win some crap!” 


From The Willows we drove back to town and walked through Pickering Wharf which has shops and restaurants.  I enjoy reading the names of the boats, some are very clever!


 We saw The Friendship at Derby Wharf, but were too late in the day to board it.  Our map says this is an “accurate replica of 200-year -old spice trading vessel used by Salem’s sea captains to circle the globe.”

Across from The Friendship is The Custom House, where “Hawthorne worked … as a clerk.”

We had dinner back at Pickering Wharf, and I bought some picture postcards of Salem … be one of the first ten readers to leave a comment saying you’d like one, then use the Contact tab at the top of the page to send me your mailing address in a private message.  The postcards feature The House of Seven Gables.

The rain really started coming down after dinner, so we hurried up Lafayette Street to Cornerstone Books.  This is a nice independent bookstore, and is open daily, until 7 on Sundays (which was very nice, as we were finding many shops closing at this hour.)  The Lace Reader was featured prominently at the front of the store, along with a non-fiction book about Ipswich lace.


We continued up Lafayette to Central Street, so I could snap a picture of Red’s Sandwich Shop.  They close at 1 on Sunday afternoons, so we couldn’t have eaten dinner there; I’ll have to try lunch another day.  Red’s is billed as “classic American food in a building that dates back to the American Revolution. A favorite of Rafferty and Towner.”

Along the way back to the car we passed the Peabody Essex Museum, a “world class museum that was interested in buying Eva’s chinoiserie.”  We didn’t visit the museum this time, but have been there in the past.  It really is a great museum, and is a favorite field trip for schools in the area.  Last year my son’s fourth-grade class visited during a unit on China.

The rain was pelting now, but I snapped this photo of the Hawthorne Hotel, a “famous hotel near to Eva’s house and just off the Salem Commons”, as well as the sign in front of First Church, “Eva’s Unitarian Church and the original church for two of the alleged witches killed during the Witch Trials.”


 In our family, no outing is complete without ice cream!  We drove to the Dairy Witch, which looks remarkably like a Dairy Queen.  According to our Lace Reader map, the Dairy Witch is “Towner’s favorite ice cream place in Salem.”

All in all, a very nice afternoon and evening, despite the weather!  So, I’ve read and enjoyed the novel and visited sites mentioned in the book.  I hope to see Brunonia Barry at a book signing this Friday night.  If I get that checked off my “to do” list I can move on to stalking admiring another author :)

22 comments to On the road to Salem with *The Lace Reader*

  • Amy

    Wow, that is so cool! I’m jealous, I wanted to go to Salem immediately after reading the book.

    I want a postcard, too! I’ll send you my mailing address. :)

  • What a fun trip! I would love to see Salem and LOVED The Lace Reader as well. Ok….if I send you my address I’d love a postcard :)

  • Awesome post!!! Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us. I absolutely loved The Lace Reader and it was cool to see these places in your post. I’d love to visit Salem but I’m definitely not as close as you. lol.

    I’d love a postcard, I’ll send you my address. That’s such a neat idea to have thought of sending postcards to your readers.

    Again, a really great post!

  • Amy, Amanda and Darlene – I’m glad you enjoyed the “virtual tour!” I’ll get the postcards to you in tomorrow’s mail.

    My whole family enjoyed the treasure hunt for places mentioned in the novel – the map from Wm Morrow and the tourist board made it easy!

  • I’ve always wanted to visit Salem — now I feel like I have!

  • Dawn,

    What a fabulous travelogue of Salem! You could be in tourism promotion.

    For everyone wanting to visit Salem, but feeling like you’re too far away, enter the sweepstakes for a weekend in Salem that is being offered by HarperCollins and Destination Salem. See

    Kate Fox
    Destination Salem

  • Ruth – We really had fun, and I was thinking that other people would like to see the sights, too. I posted “thumbnail” pics, since I had so many, but you can click on them to get a bigger view.

  • Kate – thank you! Very cool to have my post recognized by the folks at the tourism board :)

    Yes, thank you for reminding us about the contest. I’ve blogged about the contest here, and my review of *The Lace Reader* is here.

  • What a great tour of the city! Thanks so much. It added to my joy from the book. Hopefully I’ll get to visit someday.

  • Michele – we all had such fun finding the spots listed on the map! Of course, it meant more to me than to the rest of the family, since I was connecting these sites to the novel. I’d love to do this with other books …

  • Oh how fun! I went to Salem a few years ago and enjoyed it so much. I remember stopping in a little bookstore (it wasn’t Cornerstone books though, I don’t think) and the stacks of books were practically up to the ceiling. I could barely see the guy at the counter when I went to pay for my book purchases! ha,ha…

  • iliana – this sound like a great place to find some treasures! When I get up to Salem again I should just go on a bookshop-hunting mission, wouldn’t that be fun?!?

  • Ali

    What a fun idea, I loved this post and I totally want to do a book travelogue now, I wonder if there are any books set in the Pacific Northwest this would work for? I’ll have to put some thought into that, for sure!

  • What a nice surprise in the mailbox today-a postcard from Dawn! It’s gorgeous. Thanks so much!

  • Ali – I’ve had the same thought … what other adventure can we follow?! I’d love to read a post about the Pacific Northwest, if you write one, I’ve never been to that area of the country.

    Darlene – I’m glad it got there in one piece; I wasn’t sure how the little moon cutout would travel.

  • (moved over from the “old” site):

    on September 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm16 Amber
    What a unique family vacation. It sounds like everyone had fun.

    on September 18, 2008 at 7:57 pm17 Heather J.
    Cool! I saw you mention this somewhere else but I hadn’t read your original post. Sounds like you had a great time!

    on September 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm18 katrinastonoff
    Oh, this is a great post! I just finished the book last night, so it was especially fun to see the places mentioned.

    I rarely bother to enter sweepstakes, and even when I do, I never put any thought into, “I hope I win!” But this time … I really want to win one of Harper Collins’ Lace Reader trips!

    Thanks for sharing yours.

  • Ali, you could always tour Forks, Washington, home of Stephanie Myer’s vampire lit.

    If it was me, though, I’d want to do a tour of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, but it doesn’t come out until January (I obviously haven’t read it yet — I just find the whole premise fascinating).

  • Katrina – *The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Switter* is on my wish list! I like your ideas for spots to tour in the Pacific Northwest …

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