Living in Boston for three weeks I had no idea how close Salem Massachusetts was! It’s only a thirty-minute drive, so I had to go! Salem is known for all things spooky, witchy and ghostly packed with a TON of important historical happenings.
I don’t know about you but growing up I was OBSESSED with all things witch or witchcraft! I mean my name is Samantha for a reason 😉
I created a complete guide to help you plan and learn everything you need to know about the famous spooky town of Salem Massachusetts!
Why is Salem so famous?
Salem is a city on the north coast of Massachusetts above Boston. It’s famous for its 1692 Witch Trials, during which 19 locals were hung and one pressed for allegedly practicing witchcraft.
Did you know? In an effort to explain by scientific means the strange afflictions suffered by those “bewitched” Salem residents in 1692, a study published in Science magazine in 1976 cited the fungus ergot (found in rye, wheat, and other cereals), which toxicologists say can cause symptoms such as delusions, vomiting and muscle spasms. Cited from History channel article.
Salem is just 17-miles North from Boston Massachusetts. You can take MA-1A N nearly the entire way. Depending on traffic, it can take you anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. It personally took me 35 minutes from Boston and I left at 7 a.m.
There are roughly 43,000 people that live-in Salem. However, they have a month-long celebration of HALLOWEEN in the fall. More than 500,000 people travel from around the world to visit during October!
Where to stay
Hawthorne Hotel – centrally located and one of the most popular lodging options for visitors. The television show Bewitched filmed a few scenes here. One being their iconic elevator scene.
The Salem Inn – Has three buildings. Each is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each room is individually decorated with beautifully restored antiques with a whole lot of rich history. The Salem Inn is the only pet-friendly inn in Salem, Massachusetts.
Amelia Payson House – A restored Greek Revival style architecture bed-and-breakfast.
Get $40 OFF your first stay anywhere in the world when using this coupon!
Best time to visit
The most popular time to visit is the month of October. The Salem Haunted Happenings of 2019 has 438 scheduled events in just 31 days! Check out the Haunted Happenings events calendar for the complete lineup of activities and fun things to do!
From personal experience, if you want to avoid the crowds but still explore Salem’s rich history… visit nearly any time before or after October! I visited the second week of July and it was not packed at all! Keep in mind some popular places may be closed during winter months. However, there are special events during each season. Be sure to check the events here when planning your visit.
Keep the weather in mind when planning your trip:
- Winter = below freezing temperatures and snow
- Spring = rain
- Summer = warmth and sunshine
- Fall = Chances of rain, chilly weather, and most crowded time of year
That being said, June-September is the best times to visit if you’re trying to avoid unpredictable weather and major crowds.
CONS to visiting Salem during the most popular time of year – OCTOBER
- Expensive hotel stays let alone booking a desirable place close to Downtown Salem
- MAJOR crowds
- Waiting in massive lines
- Sold out tickets
- Not seeing everything you wanted because of crowds, lines, or sold out tickets
- Finding a place to park is nearly impossible – recommend just Ubering during your stay
- Nearly impossible to take a photo without 294,574 people in your way.
- It likes to rain during October – be sure check weather
- It’s chilly! You may have to wear many layers
PROS to visiting Salem during the most popular time of year – OCTOBER
- Experience the authentic spooky vibes of Halloween
- Walk the pumpkin and Halloween decor streets of Salem for the ultimate experience
- Experience unique once a year events
- Choose between 438 events that fit your taste during the month of October
- Soak up the beautiful Fall Color and fall feels!
Top things to do in Salem
All things WITCH related. Park your car and you can walk and explore these famous sites. Here is the perfect walking loop. Some museums require entrance fees so be sure to bring card or cash.
BEST WITCHY SITES TO SEE DURING THE DAY – WALKING TOUR
- The Witch House at Salem
- Salem Witch Trials Memorial
- Old Burying Point Cemetery
- House of the Seven Gables
- Witch Dungeon Museum
- Pressing of Giles Corey
- Salem Witch Museum
- Cry Innocent: the People vs. Bridge Bishop
The Witch House at Salem
The Jonathan Corwin House in Salem, Massachusetts, known as The Witch House, was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640–1718) and is the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692.
Take a walk through each room. It’s an eerie feeling seeing how they lived back then! From where they cooked, what they used to eat with, how they made there clothes, where they slept and even where Mrs. Corwin gave birth to her TEN children!
Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Salem’s simple yet dramatic memorial to the 20 victims of the witch trials of 1692. Four foot high granite walls surround three sides, with granite benches representing each victim cantilevered inward from the wall. Etched on each bench is a name, means of execution, and execution date. One can read, on the stone threshold of the memorial, words of the accused taken directly from court transcripts.
Old Burying Point Cemetery
The Old Burying Point Cemetery, also known as the Charter Street Cemetery, is the oldest cemetery in Salem, and among the oldest in the United States. Opened in 1637, it is the final resting place of several Salem notables.
It’s located directly beside the Witch Trials Memorial
House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables was built in 1668, and is now a National Historic Landmark. Explore Salem’s maritime history, architecture, the famous hidden staircase, and the literary legacy of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter. Adding to the site’s charm are three-season colonial revival gardens, and their unique museum store.
The House of the Seven Gables has survived with many unique architectural features intact. These features help visitors today to understand 350 years of stories as well as Salem’s connection to global affairs. It’s one of the largest timber-framed mansions in North America still on its original foundation.
Witch Dungeon Museum
Live re-enactment of the Salem Witch Trail followed by a tour of the Dungeon. You’ll experience the acclaimed performance of a Witch trial adapted from the 1692 historical transcripts. A one of a kind unique educational experience.
Pressing of Giles Corey Location
Giles Corey was pressed to death on September 19, 1692 in Salem Village for refusing to go to trial. Pressing is a brutal form of torture where the victim is stripped of his/her clothes, had a board put on his/her body, and then heavy rocks were slowly placed on the board.
Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Witch Museum is Salem’s most visited museum. It examines one of the most enduring and emotional events in American History…the Witch Trials of 1692. The main presentation is based on actual trial documents. Visitors experience the drama of that dark time though thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting and a stirring narration as they are witness to the web of lies and intrigue of the Salem Witch Hunt.
Cry Innocent: the People vs. Bridge Bishop
It’s 1692. Bridget Bishop is accused of witchcraft and it is your job to send her on to trial or release her. Hear the historic evidence against her, cross-examine the witnesses, and vote on the outcome. Ten minutes before the trial, participate in the arrest of Bridget Bishop outside on Essex Street.
COST: 10 and under FREE – $25
GUIDED NIGHT TOURS
There are endless types of tours to take during your visit these looked the most fun!
I visited on Friday, the second week of July around 10 am. I pulled into a public parking lot. At the time, there were several open spaces to park. Since I only spent a couple of hours here and to be honest did not plan a thing, I did a quick search. These are the places I explored in order.
- Had incredible breakfast at Brew Box
- Walked the Old Burying Point Cemetery (Free)
- Salem Witch Trials Memorial (Free)
- The Witch House at Salem ($8)
- See Samantha – Statue of Bewitched (Free)
- Visited a boutique – SO many adorable shops – I bought a vase for my office at Oak and Moss.
My trip did not end here, it just began! I worked my way up the coast exploring Hammond Castle which was absolutely breathtaking, Bearskin Neck in Rockport which apparently has the most photographed building in North America and then watched the sunset in Acadia National Park, making it the perfect day trip!
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