When you look for the best places to visit during the Halloween season, it’s almost guaranteed that Salem, Massachusetts will make the list. After all, it’s supposedly filled with hauntings, most of which involve the trials and executions of several locals who were convicted of allegedly practicing witchcraft in 1692.
You might also be familiar with the city of Salem from a pop culture perspective, with Disney’s early 90s film Hocus Pocus (one of my favorites), where the film focuses on the fictional Sanderson Sisters (witches) who are accidentally summoned back to life on Halloween and wreak havoc on the city of Salem.
Over the weekend, Ted and I trekked up to Salem for some Halloween fun, and BOY was the city alive! The last time I visited Salem was for a quick stop during a summer road trip and things have changed quite a bit from what I remember!
Interesting Facts About Salem
- Most of the city’s historical buildings have been turned into condos (even the most gruesome ones)
- Criminals such as Whitey Bulger and Boston Strangler suspects were once held in Salem’s jail
- The second oldest European cemetery can be found here, where someone from the Mayflower is buried
- Hocus Pocus was filmed here (and a sequel is rumored to be in the works)
- The first ice cream cone in America was served here in 1906 at Salem Willows (and it’s still a hotspot for ice cream today)
- Over 20 people died in relation to the witch hysteria in the late 1600s
- Several episodes of Bewitched was filmed here in the 1970s, when the city first started to really open up as a tourist destination from its bewitching history
Must Do’s When Visiting Salem
If you’re only in Salem for a short time, I highly recommend doing these things:
- Walking Tour: There are SO many tours to choose from, but we opted for Spellbound Tours at $15 each. Tickets were sold out online ahead of our trip (Halloween season in Salem is CRAZY), but fortunately, the guide squeezed us in, and it was a highlight of our time in the city. Not only did we learn more about the witch trial times, but we were also able hear about the hauntings of the city and tour Salem.
- Witch House: I’ve always been a huge history buff, and if you are too, you should set some time aside to visit the Witch House, the only historical structure still standing from the time of the witch trials in the late 1600s. It reminds me of the Hocus Pocus house and is filled with information and artifacts of life at the time. You’ll be pretty shocked at some of the things!
- Mock Witch Trial: Want to step back in time and experience what a witch trial was like back in 1692? Cry Innocent is a great way to learn more about them, with a mock trial of Bridget Bishop, as you sit on the Puritan jury.
- See a Psychic: What better place to get a reading than the witch capital of America?!
If you’re planning a trip to Salem during the Halloween season, keep in mind that it’ll be packed! Be sure to make reservations for tours and restaurants ahead of time, especially if there are 3+ in your party!
Have you visited Salem?