Niagara Falls / Salem / Boston
Massachusetts would bring us back over to the East coast of the states. We planned to base ourselves on the outskirts of Boston and venture to numerous sights from there. First we had a morning trip to Niagara Falls.
Before we headed into Massachusetts, we just had to stop at the famous natural landscape, iconic and breathtaking Niagara Falls.
3 water falls
We, of course, would stay on the USA side in New York State.
The Niagara river roars along in a seething torrent towards its dramatic destiny.
Split into 3 main parts, the water rushes pasts numerous small islands before cascading over the edge at American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Our parking dictated that we focused on American and Bridal Veil Falls.
We tried to park in Lot 1 but it was full by the time we arrived. We managed to park at One Niagara Welcome Centre, across the road, for the same price of $10.
You will need to queue if you decide on either of these.
We didn’t, and went straight to the edge to get a good view of the American falls.
They are majestic, mighty, and very powerful as the continuous plummet of the river over the 50+ metre drop provides a constant soundtrack and spray. The falls have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America.
Horseshoe is the largest fall, followed by American falls. Bridal Veil is much smaller in volume.
We crossed the bridge to Goat Island in order get a better view of Bridal Veil Falls.
The height drop is the same but it is a narrower gorge so has less volume. One can get close to the falls and you can feel the power rushing past as it drops. From the top you get a great view.
There are walking platforms, called the Cave of Winds, at the bottom that allow one to get a different view and a good soaking!
The drive to Massachusetts
It was a long drive to Boston, Massachusetts. One we wanted to get over with, so we could spend a few days touring the local area.
Mostly on the road, the weather has been sunny, however, on this road we encountered huge thunderstorms for most of the journey.
The rain fell heavy and the lightening crackled across the dark sky in dramatic display.
Quite a journey and one were the concentration levels were at the max due to poor visibility.
We stayed for the night in Fairfield Inn and Suites, Buffalo Airport. It was adequate and gave us a jump point to visit the falls the next morning. $143 – £104 approx.
We stayed for 4 nights at the Holiday Inn Express Boston South, Randolph. This was our base to explore the local area. $590 – £428 approx.
Salem – Massachusetts Witch Crimes
The first thing that springs to mind when people talk about Salem, is the 1692 witch trials hysteria, during which several locals were executed for allegedly practicing witchcraft.
Dedicated to the history of the trials, the town as everything to see, from the burial ground, Witches House, museums among many more sights.
Check out the police cars and taxis witch logos too!
Salem itself is a pretty little town, slightly bigger than one would assume. With a population of over 41,340!
Houses and pedestrian streets are charming. Beautifully maintained in light greens, yellow and blue abodes as well as red brick buildings.
There are little cafes and restaurants on the street with outdoor seating areas, as well as lots of shops, galleries as well and, of course, the witch-related attractions as well.
Or if you fancy a reading from a ‘real witch’ there are plenty of them around 😉
No witches ever owned this 17th-century New England style, charcoal grey modest house, regardless of its name and signage.
It actually belonged to one of the judges, Johnathan Corwin, who presided over the trials and investigated the accusations. The house, in fact, is the only structure standing in Salem with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692.
If being honest, I don’t understand why it’s called a Witch House, when no ‘accused witches’ lived here. I guess it’s just a sign to attract tourism.
Elizabeth Montgomery Statue
A six-foot-tall bronze statue of Elizabeth Montgomery on a broomstick. However, Elizabeth Montgomery is not a witch, not in the real sense anyway! She was an actress, who played the character Samantha in the TV show Bewitched!
Residents of Salem did not want the statue.
They thought it would dishonour the memory of those persecuted during the Salem witch trials. It went ahead however, and it’s still a sight very popular with tourists.
Some of the grave stones are difficult to read as they have become worn overtime.
You won’t find any of the convicted Salem witches at the cemetery because convicted witches were not allowed a Christian burial.
Some think that the bodies were claimed by their families and buried on their own private property. Definitely not one of Massachusetts’ high points.
A beautiful tribute to the accused ‘witches’. Carnation flowers adorn the granite stone benches showing how these innocent people will always be remembered.
Etched on each bench is a name, means of execution, and execution date. Most were hung, but others had been ‘ pressed!’ The story is so tragically sad and disgraceful.
The memorials sit next to the cemetery where the accusers are buried. Always reminding them of the harm they did.
God bless these tortured souls.
Dedicated to the innocent victims of the Salem witch trials of 1692. The museum covers an educational presentation, life sized stage sets and exhibits. Entry is $15 per person.
A 13 named plates memorial where the hangings of the falsely accused ‘witches’ took place.
The memorial is low key. It is located on the side of a main road away from all the tourist attractions.
It is easy to find a quiet moment and reflect on the innocent lives brutally murdered. There are flowers people have brought as offerings to ones lost as they pay their respects.
This museum isn’t just dedicated to witches. It also has a range of celebs such as sports personalities. Don’t expect much though, it’s literally just one room and some of the wax work has seen better days. $12 entrance fee.
The capital of the the State of Massachusets, Boston is the big city lights in the area. We would stay out in the suburbs but had a day planned to visit the centre.
Parking in Boston is a nightmare. You don’t want to even attempt it, unless you’re willing to pay $10 for the first 20 minutes and rising sharply from that. We had hoped to park in the centre and walk the freedom trail. The cost was being prohibitive.
The freedom trail is a collection of sights linked to the part Massachusetts played in the road to independence for the 13 Colonies to become the United States.
Faneuil Hall has served as an open forum meeting hall and marketplace for more than 270 years and has continued to provide a stage for debate.
It is referred to as the home of free speech, which is ironic in these times when peaceful protesting is seen as a taboo and an annoyance.
Faneuil Hall reminds us that we must hold on to our freedoms and live in an open democratic society.
One of the stops on the Freedom trail and is Boston’s second oldest burying ground.
There are members of the Boston Tea Party, a political and mercantile uprising against the British government, buried here. The Boston Tea Party was an important link in the revolution.
Copp’s Hill was originally known as Windmill Hill, the hill took the name of, William Copp, a shoemaker who donated the land for a burying ground in 1659. It is a rest place for craftspeople, merchants etc. Due to the oldness of the burial grounds, some graves look as if they are sinking into the earth. It’s a peaceful place to reflect.
Bunker hill monument
The sight of the battle of the same name. Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill, were strategic for control of Boston harbour. Occurring early in the war, it was a sobering victory for the British as they incurred a much higher casualty rate than the American fighters.
It was regular army up against the militia of the colonies. With the militia standing strong against the British and this was unexpected. It forced the British to rethink it’s strategy.
The monument remembers those that fought so bravely for the colonies and independence.
Boston Latin School site / Benjamin Franklin statue
Also found on the Freedom trail is a statue of former student Benjamin Franklin, at the Boston Latin School Site. The bronzed Sculpture currently marks the location of the original schoolhouse. Opened in 1635, it is the oldest public school in America.
State House has served as the seat of the Massachusetts government since its opening in 1798. The first thing you notice is the golden dome of the house, it’s federal architecture is designed by Charles Bulfinch. It is centrally located in downtown Boston on Beacon Street.
Government buildings however never impress me, yes the architecture can be remarkable, but usually they are imposing, and honestly I am only interested to be a fly on the wall what goes on in these buildings by governments no matter where they are in the world. The facade is getting work done to it so they have draped a copy of the building down the scaffolding.
1770, in front of the Old State House, a mob gathers. They give verbals to a guard. More people turn up and so do more soldiers. One fires and then others join in, killing 3 on the day and injuring others, some of whom subsequently die.
The plaque on the ground remembers the fallen. An incident that is widely seen as a precursor to the revolution that would follow a few years later. Massachusetts was definitely a hot bed for agitation.
Old City Hall
The old City Hall, Massachusetts was used for its city council from 1865 to 1969. It was one of the first buildings in the French second empire style to be built in the States.
Old City Hall is now a coveted location for some of Boston’s leading firms. There is also a restaurant where you can dine surrounded by the rich history.
Italian Donkey in Massachusetts
Wandering around the Old city hall grounds, you maybe surprised to see a donkey sculpture. It is an unusual story how the donkey got there. A man called Roger Webb was The man behind it. Webb was the founder of the Architectural Heritage Foundation and Preservation Massachusetts.
Roger Webb fell in love with the donkey sculpture in Florence, Italy, so much so he paid 10,000 for it, in the 1990’s and got it shipped to Boston.
Webb thought the donkey was so cute he wanted it to be placed in a special place. The Boston Freedom Trail! His thought was that it would entertain children.
However the city wasn’t having any of it.
“You can’t just add an Italian donkey to the Freedom Trail,” Webb remembers city officials saying. “It just doesn’t belong.”
Not taking no for an answer Webb stored it in his daughters garage until he could convince the city and in a humorous way, the only way he knew how was to make up a far fetched story.
So to justify the statue’s placement at the old City Hall, he said the donkey represented the Democratic Party, a political affiliation long held by Boston’s mayors. And Boston’s mayors, after all, spent their days in Old City Hall!
The city fell for it and the cute donkey was placed in the courtyard in 1998! And, by the way, the kids who walk the Freedom Trail love it!
Irish famine sculptures
The Irish Famine memorial contains two groups of statues to contrast an Irish family suffering during the Great Famine of 1845–1852 with a wealthy family that had emigrated to America. Boston, Massachusetts, and the whole east coast was a starting point for the landing immigrants.
It shows the contrast between the emaciated and the well fed family. In Irish it is known as ‘An Gorta Mór’ (The Great Hunger).
The images are sorrowful but powerful. You can find the memorial at the corner of School Street and Washington Street.
After watching the Cheers TV series, this was high on our list to visit.
Only a facade
Even though the Cheers pub was in fact fictional, it is actually a real neighborhood and the exterior of the pub was used in filming.
Still a real bar downstairs
The pub was established in 1969 by Thomas Kershaw, the bar where everybody knows your name was originally the Bull & Finch Pub.
Walking into the basement of the pub was quite funny, as they play the ‘Everybody knows your name’ tune for effect.
The bar is tight inside, but cosy!
There are pictures from the series and the history of the pub as well as an overpriced gift shop.
We enjoyed a few pints here, and you even get a pint glass with ‘Cheers’ written on it.
All due hard Cheers fans will love it!
Cape Cod – What a wash out!
Poor weather tracked us in this state. Plans had to change. Cape Cod is a Massachusetts seaside island accessed by bridges that make it more of a peninsula.
It was a dream of mine (Miko) to visit Martha’s Vineyard. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Storm Elsa decided to come full force and the day we visited. To my huge disappointment the ferry was cancelled. We had already booked our ferry tickets ($19 each) and had parked up in a lot for $50 (yep expensive, but it was right beside the ferry terminal and since it was lashing down, we needed somewhere close.) The garage guy, said he wouldn’t be going on any ferry. The only way he’d be going if someone had died. He made our minds up, but the ferry had been cancelled anyway. The lady at the ferry ticket office also said it was a big possibility we would of got stranded. We got refunds for both.
Deciding not to put an even more dampener on the day, we decided to enjoy the surrounding Cape Cod areas, regardless!
Points of interest:
J F Kennedy Museum
The museum in Hyannis takes you through the life of John F Kennedy, his family timeline and a special exhibit. There is also an interesting feature of the Kennedys time in Cape Cod, Massachusets. €13 entry fee.
At a lanky 252 feet, the Monument in Provincetown commemorates the history of the Mayflower Pilgrims and beyond. It is thought to be the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. The museum is educational with history, photos and artifacts. Also you can climb to the top to get panoramic views over Cape.
Situated on the hook of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Provincetown is a lively seaside town with colourful houses adorning it’s quaint but gritty style.
The Mayflower landing there in 1620, hence the pilgrim monument, is only part of its sea faring history. It’s instantly recognisable that Provincetown has a deep connection with the Atlantic Ocean. Not least because the town, peninsula, and the whole of Massachusetts was getting battered by storm Elsa.
The Cape Cod landscape is one of many estuaries and salt marshes. These ecosystems can be found along both the bay and ocean shores.
We stopped at the Salt Marshes for a photo op and a stroll. We walked along the grass to get a good view of the marsh, when an aerial bombardment of horsefly sized mosquitos descended upon us. There were hundreds of them that chased us back to the car. Their colleagues surrounded the car all wanting in for blood. We got in the car as quickly as possible, slamming the doors securely behind us and fending off the few that managed to get in. Amazingly we managed to escape with only a few bites.
We don’t understand how people can fish and kayak in these waters with the amount of mosquitos in the vicinity. Maybe it was worse due to the teaming down rain, who knows!
Edward Gorey House
Born in 1925 Edward Gorey was an American writer and artist, best known for his illustration work, which was done with a fine and delicate line of pen and ink. His drawings were mostly of Victorian and Edwardian settings. He also showcased his talent as a playwright, set and costume designer.
Gorey passed away in 2000 and his house became a museum. You can visit his old house which stands at 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouth. The museum displays Gorey’s work which reflects his wonderful personality, which also shows his passion for animal welfare.
Bangs Hallet house
This sea captains, Bang’s Hallet house is now a museum. The 1840 house is furnished as it would have been during the life of Captain Hallet. There are many interesting and beautiful items on display, such as silk table cloths, a Buddhist shrine, a library and old photographs. In the garden there is also a 120 year old Weeping Beech Tree.
We were drawn to this cute building, which turned out to be Hyannis library. Opened in 1862 by Mrs. Rosella Ford Baxter whom conceived of the idea of a library for the town. The public library is worth a look and a pic for its historical past.
National seashore – Salt Pond
We didn’t let the stinking weather stop us from having fun.
We checked out the Salt Pond with educational information about the workboats on the marshes.
Got the hoodies out, had a spring in our step and some giggles.
We took a run down to the Salt Pond, passed an open air theatre, which for obvious reasons was closed for the day.
Not many people were hanging about too long in the area, as we all ran back to cars at the same time.
With approximately 40,000 of beautiful acres of protected beach and dunes, stretching from Chatham to Provincetown, you will be spoilt for choice with the gorgeous sandy beaches along the way, including Nauset Lighthouse beach and Race Point beach.
Race Point Beach
The road towards Race Point travels a path through stunning sand dunes, bringing you towards the coast.
From the car park, the walkway to the long golden strand is flanked on either side by protecting bird nesting grasses.
Seals can regularly be seen in the sea around mating season. While beautiful, it does bring a certain danger to the waters as it can become a hunting ground for Great White Sharks who will come into the shallow waters for dinner.
When we arrived the heavens flood gates were completely open, giving a drenching to anyone brave enough to venture into the gale swept beach.
Needless to say we had a brief encounter with Race Point.
On better days, without Storm Elsa in the midst, you can hike from Race Point beach to the lighthouse. It’s approximately 8 km there and back.
Parking / beach access
Because of the bad weather no one was there to take payment at the time we were there. Usually it is $25 for the day. There are toilets and showers onsite as well as lifeguards in the summer season.
Located on the Southern point, Nauset Lighthouse beach stretches one mile long. Like most beaches in Cape Cod the beach can be rocky and not good for swimming. During summer months there is a $25 fee for parking.
The Nauset Lighthouse is famous for being on the bag if the tasty Cape Cod crisps.
The lighthouse is a short walk from the parking lot.
Instead of walking on the road you can stroll past a sandy path to it, under the shade of trees.
The lighthouse was erected in 1923 using the 1877 tower that was moved from the Chatham Light. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you are lucky you can climb the top for views. There is educational information about the lighthouse in the grounds.
Running since 1927 the Cape Playhouse has had some greats performing, with the most impressive being Humphrey Bogart. It brings the best of Broadway musical theatre and plays.
Step back in time! This classic Drive-Inn-Theatre from 1957 is the last one in Cape Cod.
A nostalgic thing to do, cosy up and enjoy the thrill of being under a blanket of stars watching a movie. Doesn’t it sound amazing?! Seemly you tune into 89.5FM on your car radio which will give you the best sound quality. There is also a snack bar onsite serving, pizza, popcorn and drinks etc.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to see a movie, as the timings didn’t meet with our schedule, which was highly disappointing! There are only approximately 300 Drive-Inn-Theatres like this left in the states, so hopefully one day soon we will be able to tick it off our bucket list!
Cape Cod should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list. And, we have unfinished business with it, so will return, to preferably sunny days next time!
Eating and drinking
We had a refreshment in Brother’s Tavern, Salem after a our witchy sights! They have air conditioned indoor seating as well as outdoor. It was relaxing enough, bar one odd rule, that you are only allowed to order one drink at a time. Knox had to ensure them I was waiting outside and he actually wouldn’t be drinking the pint as well as the vino for himself! Bizarre!
We ate at, Not your Average Joe, 3 times, as there wasn’t much else around since we were situated south of the city in Randolph.
It’s a local chain serving pizza and American cuisine. Easygoing, food was reasonable, not fantastic but not awful either. Staff were pleasant.
Off course you can’t come to Boston and not go to the iconic Cheers bar, where everyone knows your name! Cheers!