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The Salem Massachusetts Guide for October 2024!

Updated: 3 days ago

Salem street sign
Salem street sign

Get ready for a magical journey through the history-laden streets of Salem, Massachusetts. I will be covering everything. From history, events, attractions, food and accommodations. Also, I will touch on the best way of getting here and enjoying your time, that is also cost effective. If planning a visit to Salem Massachusetts in October for all the “Witch City” activities, start planning early, but last-minute trips can happen, you just might not get the hotel of your choice. So, let's grab our brooms and start our flight to Salem Massachusetts!


History

Let's embark on a journey through Salem’s legendary past—our tale begins in the 1600s. Salem, fondly named after the Hebrew word for peace, was founded in 1626 by a group of fishermen from Cape Ann led by Roger Conant. Over the years, it transformed into a significant seaport, notorious in tales of old for being a major player in the spice trade with the East.


Then, in 1692, the city was caught in the throes of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, a dark chapter that echoed with cries of witchcraft, sparking a frenzy that led to numerous accusations, trials, and executions. Today, this history is carefully preserved in locations like the Salem Witch Museum and the Witch House.


Honestly though there was nothing more profound for me then just walking past all the gravestones near the museum.


As we meander through the 18th and 19th centuries, Salem’s shipbuilding industry flourished, and so did the arts, with the birth of the Peabody Essex Museum in 1799. And you cannot talk about Salem Massachusetts and forget to mention Nathaniel Hawthorne. Born in Salem, he was the Great Great Grandson of a judge during the witch trials. He was a Novelist and short story writer known for his writings that center around New England. Check out the Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue and House while visiting Salem.

Fast forward to today, and you'll find that Salem has lovingly retained its rich history while embracing the vibrancy of the modern world.


So, dear voyager, are you ready to dive into the enchanting tapestry of time that is Salem? Every cobblestone has a tale to tell, and every corner hides a surprise waiting to whisk you off your feet. Pack your bags and your curiosity - Salem awaits!


Pictures above are some of the memorials for the people killed for being witches.




Attractions

Kick off your day by stepping back into the tumultuous past at the Salem Witch Museum, (19.5 Washington Square) where the chilling events of 1692 come alive. Here, you'll encounter the dramatic trials and tribulations of the accused witches, a narrative that has forever etched its mark on the city's legacy. This is one of the best things to do in Salem Massachusetts. 


Make your way to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, a thought-provoking vestige to the victims of the witch trials. Engraved with their poignant last words, the stone benches serve as a solemn reminder of a dark chapter in history.


A visit to Salem wouldn't be complete without exploring the Witch Dungeon Museum. (16 Lynde Street) Experience a live reenactment of a witch trial, based on 1692 transcripts, and take a tour of a recreated dungeon.


Finally, for a bit of spookiness, stroll through the Howard Street Cemetery. Besides holding graves dating back to the 1800s, it's also rumored to be haunted. It's an eerie experience that'll give you goosebumps! Also check out the Charter Street Cemetery (Old Bury Point), from my photo. It's beautiful.


If you're a fan of the TV series 'Bewitched' don't forget to strike a pose next to the Bewitched Statue (235 Essex Street) at Lappin Park. It's a fun tribute to the beloved 60s sitcom that shot a season in the city.






Viator

Next, pay a visit to the House of the Seven Gables.(54 Turner Street) This 17th-century colonial mansion, immortalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name, will transport you back to an era where sea captains and their families braved the high seas for the riches of foreign lands.  Speaking of Nathaniel Hawthorne, check out the Nathaniel Hawthorne House which has been relocated to the grounds of the House of the Seven Gables. and learn about the writer himself. If you have the time, take a walk around Darby Street and the Salem Common, you will be walking in his footsteps.


Don't miss out on the Peabody Essex Museum, (161 Essex Street) one of the oldest and fastest-growing museums in the country. It's a treasure trove of art and culture, housing an extraordinary collection of historical artifacts and artworks.


Finally, venture over to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site,(160 Derby Street) the city's historic waterfront, and the birthplace of the National Historic Site concept. Here, you can step aboard the Friendship of Salem, a reconstruction of a 1797 East Indiaman, and feel the thrill of life on the high seas.


Oh, but darling, if you think that's all Salem has to offer, you're in for an enchanting surprise. Here is a list of other stops I just have to share with you in the area.

  • Salem Wax Museum-288 Derby Street- It contains 50 wax figures and shows some for historical purposes of Salem itself.

  • Statue of Baphomet- 64 Bridge Street- The statue was meant to be placed in Arkansas and Iowa, but it was not allowed, so it came here instead. Very Creepy. lol

  • House of Metal Creatures- 5 Blaney Street- All that is required is a quick walk by or drive by. Yard full of statues. I personally love the dinosaurs.

  • World of Witches Museum - 57 Wharf Street- museum is actually run by people who believe in witchcraft.

  • New England Pirate Museum- 274 Derby Street- if you want to escape the witch lore on your visit, add some Pirate lore. lol

  • Salem Witch Village is a great place to check out, look at the crafts and antiques and learn more about the witches of the 17th Century. This is the perfect place to find a souvenir. 

  • Witch Gaol Plaque #2- 10 Federal Street -Where the jail was originally located, the building was torn down, but plaque was placed on wall) Random fact, when the jail was torn down in 1813 some of the original timbers were used to build a house that turned into the replica jail in 1935 but then was town down again 1956. In 2019 this plaque was installed at the original site of the jail. Plaque #1 is located at the Witch Dungeon Museum.

Nathaniel Felt Plaque
Nathaniel Felt Plaque
  • Where the witches were tried (plaque)- 72 Washington Street- very old plaque bolted outside the Salem Masonic Temple.

  • Cry Innocent Witch Trial-32 Derby Square- live reenactments of the witch trial. They perform 2 times a day, Monday-Friday during the summer and the month of October. (It's free!!!)

  • Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery-217 Essex Street-Monster Museum that has displays from horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films.

  • Witch House- 310 Essex Street-looks like a witch's house for sure with the color and style, but it was actually owned by a judge that oversaw the witch trials. You can tour the house and look at all the 17th century furniture, and cookware plus so much more.

  • Hocus Pocus, a popular movie, with a sequel is another reason to visit this wonderful city. Pioneer Village, Ropes Mansion, and the old Phillips Elementary School (which has now been turned into apartments) are featured in the movie. So yes, scenes from the movie have been filmed here. There is also a Hocus Pocus statue in the city to take a picture with.


As you can tell there is so much to see, make it a long weekend trip or even longer. Salem is not just a city, it's a journey through time and beautiful historic houses in the area. Visit Salem Historical Society website to find more items to look at while visiting. There is so much to Salem’s history.


Take a look at third party vendors like Viator for tour ideas and even transportation help. You can find walking tours and even boat tours of the area. Boats tours are a great way to see the area, although they may not be as spooky. If you are looking for something spooky, find a ghost tour.



Events

Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue
Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue

Salem isn't only about history and haunts, it's also a city that knows how to throw a party! Throughout the year, it's home to a multitude of events that cater to different tastes.

  • Every October, the city comes alive with The Salem Haunted Happenings, a month-long celebration of Halloween and fall in New England. This event is a festival of all things spooky and fun, with haunted houses, costume parties, and ghost tours.

  • But it's not all witches and ghosts here. Come summer, and the Salem Maritime Festival takes over. This annual celebration of Salem's maritime history boasts an exciting lineup of sea shanty concerts, historic ship tours and craft demonstrations.

Salem Commons
Salem Commons
  • Craving for some art? Well, Salem Arts Festival showcases the vibrant arts community of the city. It's an extravaganza featuring music, dance, and visual art that transforms downtown Salem into an artist's haven.

  • And before we forget, foodies unite at the Salem Farmers' Market! Held every Thursday from June till October, this market thrives with local farmers, chefs and artisans bringing you the freshest of produce, baked goods, and gourmet treats. So, come, let Salem's annual events sweep you off your feet and leave you craving for more!


Restaurants

And oh, how could we miss the dining delights of this magical city? With a culinary scene as diverse as its history, Salem is a gastronome's dream come true! From cozy cafes to fine dining, there's a taste for every palate.

  • If it's seafood you're after, you're in luck. Salem's location along the North Atlantic coastline ensures a fresh catch all year round. Places like Turner's Seafood serve up some of the finest lobster rolls, clam chowder, and oysters you've ever tasted.

  • Fancy an international treat? Pop into Adea's Mediterranean Kitchen for some soul-warming hummus and falafel.

  • Visit Ugly Mug Diner for an American breakfast that’ll have you loosening your belt. I swear it is the best breakfast in the area. Plus, I just love the name of the place. The Elvis waffle is pricey, but absolutely worth it.

When in Massachusetts, get a lobster roll
When in Massachusetts, get a lobster roll
  • For budget friendly try Red's Sandwich Shop. The of course have sandwiches but even more. Serving Breakfast and Lunch items, including pasta. I liked the Monte Cristo Sandwich, made on Texas French Toast.

  • Don't forget, Salem's brewing scene is equally impressive. Breweries like Far From The Tree Cider and Notch Brewing offer a variety of locally crafted beers and ciders.

  • The Gulu Gulu Cafe is great for coffee and breakfast or lunch. Cheap bites are available too. 2 spiced pickled eggs and croissants are wonderful. (get Nutella on the croissant)

So, come hungry, and leave with a heart (and stomach) full of Salem!


Accommodations

lovely architecture in Salem
lovely architecture in Salem

From the moment you step foot in Salem, you'll find a delightful array of accommodations that seamlessly blend history and comfort, each with its own unique charm. If you fancy a touch of luxury,


The Salem Inn—a collection of historic homes including the Captain West House—offers a tasteful blend of antique elegance and modern amenities.


Historic Pickman House on Charter Street
Historic Pickman House on Charter Street

Looking for a quirky stay? The Hotel Salem, housed in a former department store, greets you with mid-century inspired interiors and a rooftop bar boasting panoramic views of our bewitching city.


For those who prefer a quaint and cozy atmosphere, Morning Glory Bed & Breakfast—overlooking Salem Harbor—is a delightful choice, where sumptuous breakfasts and warm hospitality are part of the enchanting Salem experience.


The Hawthorn Hotel is a wonderful place to stay, with 93 rooms and located near downtown this historic place will make you feel like you have traveled back in time. The hotel was established in 1925.


There are tons of hotels in the area, and many are budget friendly. The only issue is timing. If you are doing last minute travels in the month of October, things can be booked up. So, plan in advance if you want to stay in Salem. Also booking hotels in peak season which is October can be pricey.




Cheap travel info

Downtown Boston
Downtown Boston

Now we all know things can be pricey when doing some traveling. For those of you who might want to pinch some pennies on your visit to Salem, I will suggest a few things, especially if you want to see Boston too. Salem is the best day trip from Boston.


There are more affordable accommodations in Boston, especially if you are looking to visit Salem in the peak fall season due to Halloween. There is a larger selection of hotels in Boston and the suburbs. And these are less likely to be booked up. You can use public transportation like a train to take you to Salem. The MBTA commuter rail will take you from the North Station in Boston and will take you to Salem for $8 (an amazing price), and it only takes 30 minutes to get there. The train leaves every hour from Boston.  Here is a list of my favorite hotels near the train station. That way you get the best of both worlds, Salem and Boston Massachusetts.



If you are interested in Boston, check out these 2 blogs posts I have written about this favorite city of mine.

Fenway in Boston
Fenway in Boston

If you live close to Charlotte NC or would use Charlotte as the place you fly to Boston from. There are cheap flights from CLT. Spirit airlines has started flights from CLT, non-stop flights. This has made major airlines prices go down. For example, I am flying to Boston in December and the one-way flight is $41, on American Airlines. If you would like to read a blog I wrote on flying Spirit from Charlotte NC to Boston, check it out.



I hope this blog post helps to show you the best that Salem has to offer, and helps you decide whether to stay in Salem, or in Boston. So, what are you waiting for? Adventure awaits in the city of Salem! Every corner of the city is packed with history, mystery, and a pinch of the supernatural. October brings witch hunts, psychic readings and tarot cards along with so much more that adds to the fun of this wonderful city. If you can’t make it in October, that is great, but you have to visit the main attractions on a day trip from Boston. So, strap on your explorer's hat and let the city's rich past captivate your imagination! Enjoy your trip to Salem Massachusetts.




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