Apart from an enviable location on the sea, Salem boasts of a rich history and culture encompassing everything from witches to ships to art and they continue to cast a spell of enchantment on its visitors. Remember the popular 1960s sitcom ‘Bewitched’ where Elizabeth Montgomery plays a whimsy witch? It was very much filmed in this Halloween capital. When here, don’t forget to strike a pose with the glamorous Samantha Stephens statue in Lappin Park and twitch your nose for a picture!
TAKE A TRIP TO 1692
There are more witches than ever in modern-day Salem. Housed in the 1845 stone building – originally a former church – the Salem Witch Museum features a fascinating presentation of the 1692 witch trials through an animatronics show, complete with dramatic lighting and pre-recorded voices.
Through the exhibit entitled Witches: Evolving Perception, satisfy all your curiosity about the changing interpretations of the word witch – from pagan times to the present, the practice of witchcraft today and the phenomenon of witch hunting.
A few blocks beyond the hubbub of downtown on Essex Street, The Witch House offers an overall perspective on the 17th-century life. Go deeper into witchcraft hysteria by sauntering around the home of the witch trials judge Jonathan Corwin who helped conduct the trials that sent the 19 executed to their deaths. Next, head to Danvers (formely known as Salem Village) – 20 min drive from Salem – to find the Rebecca Nurse Homestead; the only home of a person executed during the witch trials open to the public. Experience rural life at the 27-acre stretch that holds the traditional saltbox home, family cemetery and non-profit museum.
TIP: Consider buying a combo pass that offers admission to all the key sites in Salem plus a good discount on lunch or dinner at the Salem Beer Works, Victoria Station, or Tavern. The pass is valid for three days from first date of use.
LET GHOSTS GIVE YOU GOOSEBUMPS
When you’re in a city like Salem, there’s nothing like a paranormal experience you can narrate to your friends when back. The middle-class commuter suburb of Boston is filled with ghost spots and stories sure to give you chills, and an intimate night ghost tour can point them out in all their terrifying detail. For a real-time investigation, book a tour with Paranormal Salem. It isn’t just another walking tour, you actually get to dig in and document spirit activity with the help of investigative equipment. Whether it’s an orb in the graveyard or a mysterious shadow in an alley, you’re sure to catch something ghostly on your camera.
SHOP FOR WICCAN SOUVENIRS
Browse through some of Salem‘s oldest kitschy Halloween shops and wiccan boutiques that stock an eclectic collection of magic spells, tarot cards, herbs, candles, incense, jewellery, potions, broomsticks, books, ritual tools, souvenir witch tees and more. Pick an elegant pointy witch hat, purchase a bottle of love potion or choose a magic wand. Crow Haven Corner, Magika and Witch Way Gifts are must-visit bewitching shops. If shopping isn’t your thing, stop by for a captivating session of psychic reading with a licensed practitioner to learn more about the ancient craft and delve deeper into your destiny.
THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES
For a dose of dark romance combined with history, take a trip to the House of Seven Gables and tour the 17th century wooden mansion that inspired, and sometimes even hosted, writer and Salem native Nathaniel Hawthorne. His famous novel – The Scarlet Letter – opens at the Customs House, right across the street. Climb up curving, secret staircases of the house to know more about its former occupants, as you take a look at period artifacts, photos, and paintings.
AN OCTOBER IN SALEM
Plan your holiday in October to attend Haunted Happenings – the month-long festival that celebrates Halloween and fall in New England.
A few events that might interest you:
Haunted Happenings Grand Parade (Oct 6)
Tales & Tombstones Trolley Tours (Oct 1-30)
Haunted Biz Baz Street fair (Oct 8-9)
Spirits of the Gables / Legacy of the Hanging Judge at the House of the Seven Gables (Weekends – Oct 7-31)
Halloween Night – Oct 31
Salem is just a pit stop? Take a narrated one-hour trolley tour and travel beyond the witchcraft hysteria, into the fascinating realm of Salem‘s literary and maritime history.
HOW TO GET THERE FROM BOSTON
By bus: From Haymarket Square, take #450 or #455 to downtown Salem.
By commuter rail: From North Station, take the Rockport/Ipswich Line (a 30-minute ride). At the Salem Depot, exit up the stairs. It’s a 5-min walk to the Visitor Center.
By ferry: Boston Harbor Cruises operates Salem Ferry service between Boston’s Long Wharf and Salem’s Blaney Street. It’s a 55-min scenic trip.
By private car: Logan International Airport in Boston, MA, is the closest airport. It is a 30-45-minute drive from Logan to downtown Salem.
WHERE TO STAY
If you have a decent budget, The Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites makes for a good choice. It is located in historic Salem, and is within walking distance from major attractions. Comfortable and convenient.