Today, Victoria Station in Salem is unique—but it wasn't always. In 1970, inspired by the landmark Victoria Station in London, three Cornell Hotel School graduates created a restaurant with English touches, such as a bright-red phone booth and authentic train cars they'd turned into dining cars. They opened up in San Francisco, and the business grew. By the 1980s, there were about 100 Victoria Station locations in the United States and around the world. Johnny Cash did a stint as their spokesman.
But the company filed for bankruptcy in 1986. Its rise and fall is documented in Tom Blake's book Prime Rib and Boxcars: Whatever Happened to Victoria Station? The waterfront Salem location was the very last to open, and it's the only one left.
Today, the restaurant has gone in its own direction, drawing inspiration from both the restaurant's past and its current surroundings. Classic New England cuisine and old steak-house favorites mingle comfortably on the menu. The chefs coat haddock in a seasoned cracker crust to bake and serve with chardonnay and fresh lemon juice, and the slow-roasted prime rib that made the original restaurant famous still has a place on the menu. Diners can also order up house favorites, such as lobster mac 'n' cheese with five-cheese béchamel sauce and cornbread shallot crumbs, or they can opt for an Angus burger.
Vic's Boathouse, a bar and lounge, opened in 2010. There, diners can request a local or craft brew, order a martini, or pick from the pub menu. The bar hosts nightly live entertainment, including open-mic sessions, live musicians, and karaoke, which makes for lively evenings without the expense of hiring a DJ for family dinner.
In 1799, Salem’s weathered seafarers founded the East India Marine Society and began to assemble “natural and artificial curiosities” brought back from their journeys to Asia, Africa, and other distant lands. Over the following centuries, the collection grew, and while it did, the Society evolved through various shapes until it became the Peabody Essex Museum. Today, more than 1.8 million of these works invite visitors to explore the world in a facility that underwent a $200 million transformation in 2003.
The majority of works now rest in a Moshe Safdie–designed glass-and-brick building, focused around a sunny atrium whose various architectural silhouettes echo local forms. This new building joins the East India Marine Hall, built by the seafarers’ society in 1825 and dedicated in a ceremony attended by President John Adams. Today, that National Historic Landmark hosts society-member portraits and a number of the hall’s original objects; in other galleries, paintings and sculptures by Japanese, Indian, and Chinese artists hang on the walls or perch in glass cases like pies with personal-space issues. Guests can also tour Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside of China and a 200-year-old structure with intricate carvings.
In 2013, the Peabody Essex Museum will add exciting new displays to its rotating special exhibitions, from Faberge treasures to impressionistic masterpieces from the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Manet, as well as modern African-American art and contemporary art from India. After marveling at the skill and diversity of the artwork, visitors can drop by the Atrium Café or the Garden Restaurant for a bite to eat.
Captain William Webb bellowed to his crewmen, "Ready cannons, bring her to starboard!" as they rounded on the English ship Concord. He wasn't born a soldier, but the English had press-ganged some of his closest friends into slavery on their warships, stolen his family's livelihood, and set his home of Salem, Massachusetts, on the path to financial ruin. Like many other merchants, fishermen, and ship owners, Webb and his crew outfitted whatever boats they could find to fight the English during the War of 1812, and the 70-foot Fame was no exception. The original Fame went on 11 more journeys before being wrecked in 1814 and now lives on as a luxurious home for the retired actors of The Little Mermaid.
The Fame seen around Salem today is a direct replica of that heroic ship, built exactly as the original was in the early 19th century. Passengers on the ship's daily public sails relive the experience of navigating the Atlantic in an traditional, wooden, gaff-rigged schooner. The boat also plays host to weeklong camps, during which kids learn how to sail, tie essential knots, and read charts and maps before camping out for an evening of dumping tea in the ocean.
Dan Doke discovered his passion for photography as a teenager, eventually turning his beloved hobby into a career after purchasing his first studio in his 20s. After building a thriving business with portrait and senior-photo portfolios, Doke moved his studio closer to his family and began to focus on wedding photography full time. Today, the seasoned shutterbug dangerously overloads his mantelpiece with a wealth of awards and honors, ranging from a membership in the Society of XXV to his status as a Photographic Craftsman from the Professional Photographers of America. Doke’s polished black-and-white and color prints have graced the covers of more than 30 magazines, including Gala, La Bella Bride, and Studio Photography, and his expertise won him a spot in 2005 as a photographer at an inaugural ball for President George W. Bush, where he was responsible for capturing candid portraits of heads of state, governors, lawmakers, and dignitaries. Along with the team of photographers he has personally trained, Dan produces high-contrast, post portraits of families and pets that range from traditional outdoor and studio shots to high-concept editorials.
Anyone who's ever made a new year's resolution knows that it can be difficult to stay committed to the goals you've set. Board-certified hypnotist Tom Nicoli doesn't see this common phenomenon as a matter of laziness or faulty willpower—instead, he finds that our intentions are often undermined by unconscious habits and impulses. At A Better You Hypnosis, it's his job to replace those subterranean forces with more positive ones through hypnosis.
Viewers of Dateline NBC's Ultimate Diet Challenge got a good look at the results of Nicoli's practice in 2004 when he successfully helped a pastry chef shed 40 pounds despite a job that practically demands sipping cake batter. Weight loss is a common goal for his private clients, and he's turned his experience into a set of motivational CDs that got top rating from Shape magazine. But people also turn to him simply to reduce stress and boost confidence. Over the course of several sessions, Nicoli lays the groundwork for them to reinforce their positive new habits on their own throughout their lives.
One might leave Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar, which was named this year's best new restaurant north of Boston by Boston Magazine, with some sense of the broad scope of Mexican cuisine, geography, and culture. That epiphany might come from the selection of 180 tequilas, which slip down in shots, release bell peals of clicking ice in glasses, or blend with lime in thick margaritas rimmed with salt. The tantalizing menu also parades traditional Mexican ingredients, though they are tangled into surprising configurations.
Red chandeliers glow, bringing to life the colors of chipotle peppers on plates at plush black booth seating, all beneath red wallpaper. In the tequila lounge, ample couches create a circle around red, candlelit tables for resting a glass of sangria or a mojito muddled with strawberries or cucumber. A row of inset shadowboxes displays the colorful lucha libre masks typically used in overblown battles and attempts to go out in public without being recognized as Kevin Bacon.