October is my favorite month and not just because it’s my birthday month (the 17th if you’re wondering) It’s also when you can actually wear sweaters, enjoy cooler days and celebrate all things spooky. I’m not quite sure when “spooky season” became a thing but I’m here for it. I’m grateful for growing up and living in New England for so many reasons but this time of year I love that I live just a couple of hours away from Salem, Massachusetts. When spooky season hits, is there a better place to explore then Salem? I think not.
First a little history for those of you not from New England or not familiar with this port city. Salem was founded in 1626 and is most famous for its Witch Trials of 1692. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than two hundred people were accused. Thirty were found guilty, nineteen of whom were executed by hanging and one man was pressed to death. Yikes! Super creepy stuff. Salem is also full of colonial architecture, museums, shopping, and restaurants. Here are some of my favorite witchy things to do when visiting this historical town.
Witch Dungeon Museum
It has a recreation of the witch trial courtroom with actors. There is also a life-sized model of the dungeons where the accused witches were kept. It was very touristy but did give a good overview of the realities of the trials. There are many re-creation museums in this town, and you probably only need to visit one.
You will learn so much from this museum! It is worth a visit for the reenactment of the witchcraft trials featuring animatronic models. The gift shop is also well stocked with a fun selection of souvenirs. Make sure to at least walk by at night, the glowing red windows make it extra spooky!
Here you will learn what lore was true and the origins of some holidays. The museum is on an alleyway with many other witch themed attractions and haunted houses.
Although no witches or trails happened here, the Jonathan Corwin House is the only house still standing with a tie to the trials. Jonathan Corwin was a local magistrate who served on the court that ultimately sent 19 people to the gallows. You can take a guided or self guided tour of the house, which offers extended hours in October.
Kenneth’s ghost tour will not disappoint! He is a wealth of knowledge on the area and a great storyteller. The tour will take you through most of the historical center; Witch Trials Memorial, Corwin House, Joshua Ward House and the Old Burying Point where you can hear the sounds of a ghost child.
The tour lasts about 2 hours and needs to be booked in advance. If you are in the mood for a less spooky tour he also does a more tame history of Salem tour.
Salem’s “Haunted Happenings” is a monthlong (October) festival of events in including parades, costume contests, parties, outdoor movies and a host of other activities for adults and families alike. There are also séances, psychic fairs, a witches’ ball and a carnival that begins in mid-October and runs through the day after Halloween.
A Little Hocus Pocus
Salem is full of great photo opportunities but if you’re a fan of Hocus Pocus you’ll want to be sure to check out The Ropes Mansion aka Allison’s house located at 318 Essex St, you can explore the gardens and take pictures out front. The Sanderson’s sisters’ cottage is located in Salem Pioneer Village, a 10-minute drive from downtown Salem. The Old Town Hall is the site of the Halloween party in which Better Midler sings “I Put A Spell on You”. This is the oldest surviving municipal structure in the city is and is still used as a public hall today. I’m leaving Max and Dani’s house off this list because it’s a private residence. I read that they don’t mind if you take pictures in front of their house from the sidewalk but you can hunt that one down yourselves 🙂
Remember to stay safe out there and follow any Covid guidelines/restrictions that may be in place when traveling. We all want to enjoy the Spooky Season safely 🙂 I’m always looking for new places to explore. Where are your favorite haunts?