For as long as I can remember, it's been a dream of mine to visit Salem, Massachusetts in October. As a Halloween baby, I grew up obsessed with the supernatural: ghosts, vampires, witches—you name it, I loved it. The stories I heard and the folklore I read about things that go bump in the night fascinated me. In high school and college, my hobbies included hanging out in picturesque graveyards and visiting haunted houses for fun. Sound morbid? Yeah, well, I wish I could say I was your typical Wednesday Addams, but sadly, I was never that cool.

You know what IS cool, though? The '90s. The 1990s gave us Britney & Justin, Nintendo 64, denim overalls, the best of the Olsen twins, the first Harry Potter book, the internet... I could go on for days. (As a product of the '90s myself, I'd argue I'm a little cooler than I thought.) But the best thing to ever come out of the grunge decade was hands-down the iconic classic Halloween comedy, Hocus Pocus. I loved it back in '93 as a two-year-old, and I love it now in 2017 as a twenty-something. In fact, if you know me at all, you know that it still plays on repeat in my house every year from October 1st to the 31st (much to my husband's dismay).

So you can imagine my delight when Scott and I, joined by my brother and his friend, found ourselves roaming the same streets on which Bette Midler, SJP, and Kathy Najimy terrorized children, formed calming circles, and broke out in spellbinding song. If I had to rate my level of excitement on a scale of life events, this trip fell somewhere in between getting married and landing in Europe for the first time.

But I'm getting ahead of myself; let me start from the beginning. To celebrate my 26th birthday, which happened to fall on the Saturday before Halloween, I planned a weekend trip to Salem for the four of us. Because of the town's bewitching history, Halloween is sort of a big deal. Tons and tons of people swarm the city from September to November every year in celebration of the spooky season, and this year, I was determined to be one of them. 

By the time I started hunting for a place to stay, however, everything in Salem (I mean everything) was already booked. (Plan at least a year in advance for holidays, y'all.) But that ended up working out in our favor, because we got to stay in a charming cottage in the neighboring village of Marblehead instead. Just look at this gorgeous seaside town:

^^^ Our lovely little cottage! I was smitten. ^^^

Quiet, lovely, and only a 5-minute drive from the Halloween capital of the world. Not complaining. Once we were all settled in our cozy home for the weekend, our first order of business was exploring Salem, of course. And by that I mean finding every Hocus Pocus filming site we could. I'm still fangirling from this:

^^^ Dani & Max Dennison's house! ^^^

^^^ The front of Allison's mansion, which looks a lot smaller IRL. ^^^

^^^ And lastly, the "I Put A Spell On You" dance hall. ^^^

As was to be expected, the city was a crowded madhouse set up like one big street fair for Halloween-loving tourists like myself, and when we weren't waiting in lines to get into the witch museums, we were constantly eating, drinking, or shopping. I have to say, the best part about small New England towns (besides the glorious fall weather) is the close proximity of everything: stores, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, museums, and churches were all within a mile of each other. As someone who loves to walk and hates to drive, that was something I could definitely get used to.

The highlight of the whole weekend had to be Saturday night, when the four of us dressed up in our best costumes (snaps if you can guess who Scott is!) and hit the town for my birthday dinner at the fancy seafood restaurant, Finz. To start, we ordered drinks (Prosecco for me), a platter of oysters, and the tuna tartare to split; next was my chosen dish of sole piccata with ricotta mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach (so divine), followed by a surprise crème brûlée for the table. I was in food coma Heaven after that meal.

I'm not sure if I'll ever venture out to Salem again during their busy season, but I'm so glad that I got to experience it at least once. Hocus Pocus will always hold a special place in my heart, and now I can finally say I've seen the city that inspired it all.

If you're going to Salem any time soon, I recommend you try:
As for Marblehead, make sure to check out Spirit of 76 Bookstore, Haley's Wines & Market Café, and The Landing Restaurant!