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We highly recommend The Nathaniel Hawthorne Inn for your one night in Salem. This is a beautiful old hotel with Federalist architecture. It was restored in 2000 and is as much a tourist attraction as a place to stay while visiting the other tourist attractions. The Nathaniel Hawthorne is "on the Common," meaning it sits right on the main downtown square, in the heart of everything you want to see in the town of Salem. There are upscale rooms with jacuzzis, whirlpools and fireplaces, but you can reserve good doubles without those for $110 a night, and if you come in early June, especially on weeknights, the hotel is good about group or family rates which drop it down even further.

Parking in Salem is hard to find and expensive when you do find it. Part of that $110 room charge could be considered money you won't need to spend on gas and parking for two days.

Many people avoid hotels like this when arranging youth or family trips. We think this is a mistake. Kids need to become familiar with such lodging, so as they grow up they are comfortable in such surroundings. If they are going to be successful adults, they cannot be intimidated by high class environments. Boston, New York and Washington are expensive places to stay, but rather than driving in from suburban campgrounds or economotels, we think it worth it to just raise the needed funds ahead of time and stay downtown.

The Nathaniel Hawthorne contains one of Salem's outstanding restaurants, shown upper right. It is a good opportunity to teach students proper manners in an appropriate atmosphere.

However, if the Nathaniel Hawthorne is full, our second preference is The Salem Inn, also downtown, on Essex Street. This is not a bed and breakfast, but a hearty breakfast is part of your room charge. Like the Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Salem Inn is not a megahotel. It is an old fashioned small inn with less than 100 rooms, meaning the staff can provide guests with individual attention. Rooms here also fall within that $110 range, with negotiating room for early June families or groups on weeknights. These room rates are among the highest we pay anywhere (except for Boston, New York and Washington) but with gasoline prices going up, we find that we save the money back in not having to drive back and forth from outlaying motels, driving all around looking for parking, then paying outrageous rates for it when we do find a spot.

The only good camping in Salem is at Fort Pickering State Park, but it is a great location. There are rest rooms, showers, a camp store, tbenches looking out over the harbor (shown here), and huge, level, grassy and private tent sites. There is an old fort and several other historic structures to explore, a boat launching ramp which entertains you with sailboats and fishing boats coming and going, and in June not very many other campers. Pickering is an easy 10 minute drive from downtown Salem. The camp store closes early and is very limited, so you will want to buy groceries elsewhere. Your tents should be sturdy and pitched well because the wind coming off the harbor can be gusty. And it can get worse than that. We don't camp in Salem anymore. We learned our lesson. We have kids along and we err on the cautious side.

One June several years ago we were hit in the middle of the night with a Northeaster. We've survived storms everywhere in the country : a blizzard in Glacier, July snow in the Wind Rivers, tornado in Kansas, hurricane on Hatteras Island, and 200 mph winds on Mt. Washington. But we've never seen anything like a Salem Northeaster. We have the best tents and rain gear available, and rain drops penetrated them like bullets. The level ground became a lake. Rain fell sideways for two hours. We lost a day drying stuff out. Locals say such storms occur every June. So.now we stay at the Nathaniel Hawthorne downtown.
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