It’s spooky season—so it may seem like a logical step to visit the famed home of the late 17th century Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts. However, Salem’s history goes much deeper than that—though there are still plenty of witchy vibes to be had for those looking for a morbid taste of history.
Continuously inhabited since 1626, Salem has its share of history—and it’s still evolving to this day, as evidenced by its town tagline, “Still Making History.” More than just a scenic, coastal town with an infamous past, Salem has relied upon a storied culture based on both mythos and facts to turn it into the eclectic vibrant place it is today. Lighthouses and legends; beaches and brews, and a smattering of local lore all combine to make Salem a fun spot to visit and explore.
All Of Them Witches
Rather than eschew its past, Salem has chosen to embrace it—cleverly turning one of early America’s most infamous events into an integral part of its cultural identity. As a result, there is a myriad of nods to its bewitching history that range from historical to downright haunting.
- The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is dedicated to the twenty people who were put to death in 1692 after being accused of witchcraft—a place of solemn reflection and contemplation dedicated by Elie Wiesel in 1992. While you’re there, visit the nearby Old Burying Point Cemetery, the oldest in Salem, and a further reflection on the heritage of the Salem Witch Trials and the history of the area.
- Visit the Jonathan Corwin House, known as The Witch House, the only existing structure in Salem with direct connections to the witch trials. A great way to explore both the area’s colonial heritage and gain a better understanding of those directly involved.
- Want to go from solemn to spooky? Then stop in The Salem Wax Museum and The Salem Witch Village, adjacent to Old Burying Point and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and host to the “Haunted Neighborhood” in October. To learn more about other Haunted Happenings in Salem, see this handy calendar.
- Be a witness to a historical reenactment of a witch trial at the Witch Dungeon Museum—both haunting and educational, the “trial” is following by a tour of the dungeon. Purchase a combo ticket to also visit the Witch History Museum and the New England Pirate Museum and save $8/person.
- Combining pop culture and history, the Bewitched Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, Samantha Stevens from the hit TV show "Bewitched."
Fancy A Tour?
Salem is home to numerous tours and ways to explore the rich history and New England charm of this colonial, coastal town.
- Want to get a true taste of Salem? Then take a Salem Food Tour—“a delicious way to walk through history.” Experience Salem’s best food shops and restaurants throughout the city’s award-winning food scene on this 3 1/2 hour tour. Tours start at $60/person.
- A dash of history, a bit of culture, and a whole lot of fun—Better Than Fiction Salem Walking Tours combine the best of Salem’s past and present through their entertaining and educational tours, where you will learn the ‘true stories of Salem.” Tours start at $25/person.
- You’ve had a taste of history, so why not have a sip of history? The Salem Spirits Trolley takes visitors on an informative (and delicious!) tour of Salem’s local cidery, distillery, and brewery. A great way to see Salem’s lovely waterfront area! *Sadly, the trolley will not be running in 2021 due to pandemic restrictions but will be back in 2022. Meanwhile, stop at Notch Brewery to check out their Biergarten, taproom, and awesome brews.
- Witch City Walking Tours have a variety of tours to choose from—including History & Hauntings, Adults Only Mysteries & Murders, and Hocus Pocus Movie Locations Tour (October Only). Consistently one of the top-rated tours in Salem, visitors will love learning about and being entertained by various aspects of Salem’s rich history. Tours start at $35/person.
Spook-tober Thrills & Chills Galore
There are plenty of hair-raising activities available for visitors to Salem all year round—however, throughout the month of October, the city turns up the spookiness to both enchant and scare visitors looking for some thrills and chills.
- Feel those spooky vibes with psychics, fairs, and séances galore throughout Salem. Attend the Psychic Fair at Crow Haven Corner, Salem’s Oldest Witch Shop; Visit the Maison Vampyre House, the only one of its kind in New England; Stop in OMEN: Psychic Parlor & Witchcraft Emporium.
- Haunted houses, anyone? Experience Chambers of Terror, “Salem’s Only Truly Haunted House” with scares for everyone; The Lost Museum at Gallows Hill may be new, but it’s not short on thrills—this immersive, underground attraction will thrill visitors of all ages; Frankenstein’s Castle, located in the dungeon of the Wax Museum, is known as Salem’s best haunted house.
- Tales & Tombstones Trolley Tours are only available in October—and with good reason! these night tours are the best way to experience Salem after dark during the spooky season.
Since 1982, Salem has hosted its “Haunted Happenings” events throughout October that give visitors a chance to experience the history and culture of Salem with a dash of thrills and a taste of chills. Whether you’re visiting Salem for Halloween, or simply want to check out this historic coastal city for its noted past—there are a plethora of things to see and do in this vibrant, bustling New England tourist destination all year long.