If you’re a huge Halloween fan like myself, do yourself a favour and take a trip to Salem, Massachusetts during the month of October. Salem may be most widely known as the site of the witchcraft trials of 1692, but this colourful coastal city has a lot more to offer: impressive historic architecture, maritime heritage and a rich history spanning nearly four centuries.
The history and stories surrounding the hysteria of the witchcraft trials is found everywhere here, from museums, to historical reenactments, to haunted walking tours.
There are attractions based more in fact like the Salem Witch Museum, Salem Witch House and Cry Innocent, and there are fun attractions like the various haunted houses. There are numerous walking tours running both day and night and themed costume parties, like Zombie Prom, happening around the town most weekends.
Here you can partake in a séance, have your palm read and learn all about the plants, stones, etc. that modern-day witches and pagans use, as well as visit the memorial dedicated to the 19 innocent people who were hung during the trials.
You can also wander around and find many of the set locations used in the greatest Halloween movie of all time – Hocus Pocus! (For more info on that click here)
In between the many attractions, the streets of Salem are filled with street vendors selling witch hats, jewellery and various craft and gift items. Food stands abound to satisfy any craving from fries and hot dogs to deep fried chocolate bars to homemade chili and New England clam chowder (which is delicious!)
When you need a break from all the touristy goodness Salem has to offer, stop by Salem Beer Works and try a beer or two. Their Pumpkin ones are especially nice this time of year!
Throughout the year, Salem has a population of just over 40,000, but during the month of October, especially in the week leading up to Halloween, this number more than doubles. Talking with one local, I was told that Halloween night resembles Mardi Gras, with everyone dressed up and partying in the streets. I guess I’ll have to come back and make sure I’m here for the big night next time!
With all the extra people, hotel rooms are at a premium. To save some money, find a room in one of the neighbouring towns. There are places to park all over Salem, but the cheapest spot to park for the day is at the MBTA Commuter Rail lot (253 Bridge St.) where you can park for the day for $5 and still be close to the action!
There is a red line painted around Salem, leading you to the many historic sites. Just follow that red painted line and set off to explore all Salem has to offer!
For more information on events going on in and around Salem during the month of October visit http://hauntedhappenings.org/