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.
At Salem Wax Museum, visitors come face-to-face with some of the area's most iconic figures, including author Nathaniel Hawthorne, ruthless witch-trials judge Colonel John Hathorne, and accused witch Tituba, who sparked the city's witch hysteria in the late 17th century. But even outside the museum's doors, guests find themselves surrounded by eerie evidence of the past. Behind the building sits the final resting place of other Salem figures at Burying Point, supposedly the second oldest burial ground in the US. Right next to it, the Witch Trials Memorial commemorates the period of time where accused witchcraft ran rampant.
Throughout the year, the museum transforms the entire scene with themed seasonal attractions. In October, for instance, it sets up terrifying exhibits such as Frankenstein's Castle and houses that pass out toothbrushes instead of candy on Halloween.
The commercial passenger boat known as the Endeavour doesn't just roam the waters of Salem Sound: it also has the rare permission to land at the sound's islands. It's fitting, then, that it also has a second name: Sea Shuttle. At regular intervals, this flat, open-air boat ferries passengers between the Salem Willows Park pier and the lush Misery Islands. Managed by the Trustees of Reservation, the islands greet visitors with rugged, rocky shores, panoramic views of the ocean, and a verdant terrain of woods and meadows crossed with hiking trails and filled with loitering teen seagulls. Though it functions primarily as a ferry, Sea Shuttle also explores local wildlife; its nonprofit Sea Station division uses the vessel for marine education.
Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises & Private Events was started in 2006 on a 55-foot sightseeing boat affectionately known as The Finback. Every day, she carries passengers on scenic tours through the North Shore. Bordered by Salem, Marblehead, Machester-by-the-Sea, Beverly, and the Misery Islands, the sound?s scenic shores are dotted with lighthouses, mansions, and greenery as verdant as a national Shrek convention. Narration helps passengers brush up on their local history as they nosh on fresh meals and sip tropical drinks from the onboard tiki bar. Larger groups can cruise the same waters on the company?s newly refurbished boat, The Hannah Glover, which accommodates up to 150 guests and boasts two bars.
At the Old Town Hall in Salem, the players of the History Alive! acting troupe don the garb of Puritan citizens and slip into the roles of the Salem witch trials' accused and accusers during its signature performance, Cry Innocent. The play depicts the trial of the doomed Bridget Bishop, her supposed victims, and the other villagers, with professional actors staying in character even when communicating with the audience. Through its interactive productions, the company hopes to provide viewers with new insights on not only the 1690's, but the present day. The company's past and future productions include a comedic murder mystery centered around Cpt. Joseph White.
Though it has just one roof, Opus is several things: it's a place to try globally inspired dishes; a place to kick back for a drink with friends; and a place to discover new music. Upstairs, groups gather around the large, glowing bar or at high-top booths while sharing small plates, such as wild boar sliders in a house whiskey sauce. Music enthusiasts, meanwhile, can venture down to Opus Underground, an intimate space with the stellar acoustics to amplify live tunes. Throughout the week, DJs, jazz musicians, and reggae artists fill this space with their sounds while those in attendance dance and mingle around another, smaller bar.