Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Essex St. Pedestrian Mall in Salem, Mass., Offers Vibrant Shopping, Restaurant Scene

Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, Salem, Mass. (photo by Eric)
The Essex St. Pedestrian Mall in Salem, Mass., rivals some of the best northern New England small coastal city downtown districts like Market Square in Portsmouth, N.H., the Port Exchange in Portland, Maine, and central Newburyport, Mass.

In this section of a great North Shore city, you'll find an extended brick and cobblestone stretch of mom and pop shops, boutiques and galleries, coffeehouses, cafes and restaurants -- many that are housed in beautifully restored historical buildings. I had a chance to walk the Mall on a warm spring day, and, quite simply, was amazed by its appeal. We all know Salem is most famous for its witch attractions and the Peabody Essex Museum (known for its outstanding art and cultural exhibits), but the Essex St. Pedestrian Mall is a destination by itself. The restaurant scene has grown significantly with diverse cuisines (I had a terrific lunch at the cozy, eclectic Front Street Coffeehouse), and you'll find places that sell books, toys, clothes, ice cream, baked goods and everything you would expect in a vibrant downtown district. The difference here, however, is that the sense of history is well intact with its 18th and 19th century architecture and that cars will not interfere with your downtown shopping experience.
The East India Marine Hall at the Peabody Essex Museum and the Essex St. Pedestrian Mall (photo by Eric)

We can hardly wait to visit during the summer when I'm sure things will be even more festive and the warmer weather will be ideal for evening walks and outdoor dining and entertainment.

Growing up in the area, I don't quite recall downtown Salem ever looking this nice. It shows what a little vision and follow through can do when local elected and appointed officials, the community and business people come together. Coupled with the witch attractions, the beautiful nine acre Washington Square Town Common surrounded by spectacular early to mid 19th century dwellings and the pleasant Pickering Wharf district with more shops and (waterfront) restaurants, Salem has truly become a major travel destination. Once a personal "B" list travel spot, it is now on my "A" list!

For more information on Salem, I recommend logging onto the Official Salem MA Guide, or stopping by the Salem Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Square (around the corner from the Pedestrian Mall). Hope you get to visit this great small city!

The Salem Old Town Hall, just off Essex St., is a prime example of historical preservation in Salem. (photo by Eric)

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