What To Do In Salem During The Year's Spookiest Season
Rich in history and charm, Salem, MA is the place to be for Halloween. Salem is most notable for its witch trials that took place between 1692 and 1693. What began with a small group of teenage girls claiming to be possessed ended in over 200 citizens accused and 20 executed. Eventually, the colony admitted the trials were a mistake and the families of the convicted were compensated. However, since the city’s dark past, Salem has become a place for remembrance of the victims. Fair to say it’s also known to be haunted (spoOoky), and a vacation destination for over half a million tourists every year. Salem definitely has a lot to offer, but it was the Disney hit, Hocus Pocus, that really put it on the map for us! For more details on the trials, check out this article. Every year during spooky season, you can experience ghost tours, mock witch trials, and costume parades all around town.
Here are some must-see spots around/on Halloween:
Peabody Essex Museum Explore great exhibits in this museum to discover more about what fueled the witch craze, including two creative responses by artists with ancestral links to the trials. Fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s 2007 fall/winter collection In Memory of Elizabeth Who, 1692 was based on research about McQueen’s ancestor, Elizabeth Who, one of the first women to be executed as a witch in 1692. His work reclaims the power and memory from the false accusation that led to her unjust hanging. Photographer Frances F. Denny’s series Major Arcana : Portraits of Witches in America reclaims the meaning of the word “witch” by celebrating the spectrum of identities and spiritual practices found in today's community. Tickets are available here.
Witch City Mall Witch City Mall provides the perfect venue for a unique shopping experience, entertainment, and dining in historic downtown Salem. Explore the future with a psychic reading, meet real practicing witches, and enjoy a market full of magical gifts at Salem’s longest running psychic fair! Visit Festival of the Dead for more information.
Salem Witch House The Witch House, also known as the Corwin Family Home, combines elements of today with the 1692 trials. Experience history through family life, architecture, and furnishings of the 17th century. Gain a deeper understanding of the people involved in the witch trials and of colonial life at that time. Book your tickets for the tour here.
Gallows Hill Museum: A Salem Witch Trial POV: It’s 1692 and you’re on trial for witchcraft. In this new event, find yourself accused of witchery and try to implore your innocence in front of the judge. Listen to the testimonies from other audience members with the help of a local Puritan. After, take a picture with Sheriff Corwin and a replica of the hanging tree. It’s an eerie one, find tickets here, if you dare!
Oktoberfest at the Salem Waterfront Hotel Marina Beer Garden hosts the annual Oktoberfest at the Salem Waterfront Hotel. A huge beverage selection, live music, DJ, games, contests and more. This event is for ages 21+. Visit salemwaterfronthotel.com for more information.
Hocus Pocus Homes Located in the heart of the McIntyre Historic District, Allison’s House, also known as Ropes Mansion, is one of Salem’s most iconic buildings. It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places for housing Nathaniel Ropes, a famous merchant and attorney in the 1700s. Out back, the mansion boasts a gorgeous garden and greenhouse that is also welcome to visitors. Find tickets to tour the Ropes Mansion here. here. Allison’s house: Ropes Mansion, 318 Essex Street, Salem, MA As stated on Zillow, the Dennison’s House was built in 1870 and is estimated to be worth over $520,000 today. While the home is closed to the public, Boston.com discloses that the current owners are actually very nice about tourists wanting to stop by and take photos. Max and Dani Dennison’s house: 4 Ocean Avenue, Salem, MA
Old Town Hall Built in 1816, the historic building located in Derby Square served as a town hall and marketplace, and is still used as such today! When visiting the Old Town Hall, whether you're there for the farmers market, the museum, or a performance of Cry Innocent, you should keep a watchful eye as you may encounter a bit of paranormal activity. Fun fact, this is the location used in Hocus Pocus for the party Max and Dani's parents attended.
Halloween Finale Fireworks in Downtown If you’re lucky enough to be in Salem on October 31, wrap up your visit with fireworks over the North River starting at 10pm. But note: streets are cleared at 10:30pm immediately following the fireworks — the perfect time to head back to your hotel, AirBnb, or other location to stay.
Want more inspiration for your trip to Salem and to explore that’s going on? Visit hauntedhappenings.org to find our favorites and more.
Celebrate every day!
From recipes and entertaining, to style, wellness, and more, for an unforgettable year.