As much as I love summer, we have officially made it to the best time of the year! It’s chilly weather, pumpkin loving, leaves changing, spooky season! October is the best month because of all the fun fall activities that you and your family can do. You can go apple picking, drink pumpkin spice drinks, watch scary movies, or travel to an actual Halloween town. I’m talking about Salem, Massachusetts of course! Some people only celebrate the Halloween holiday for the thirty-one days in October, but Salem, Massachusetts celebrates the season all year long.
New England in the fall is a beautiful place to visit in the autumn months. This northeast part of the United States is known for its over-the-top fall foliage, its pumpkin patches, and it’s old American history, it’s a great place to celebrate the fall season. But if you are looking for a more spooky, witchy, and overall Halloween destination, visiting Salem in October should be on your bucket list.
My boyfriend and I went on an autumn New England road trip 2 years ago and Salem, Massachusetts was my favorite part. The cobblestone streets are so full of history and hauntings from the Salem witch trials. The small witch city provides a real Halloweentown vibe. We were there for 2 full days in October and I wanted to share what places we visited and how we traveled around the town.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Salem is a smaller city but it’s a trek to try and walk the streets all day long. What I loved doing was riding the Salem trolley around town. We purchased a 2-day pass that stopped at 16 different locations. You could get off and on the trolley as many times as you like throughout the day. The trolley is also a one-hour informational tour where you will learn the history and fun facts about Salem while sitting back and enjoying the views. I enjoyed listening to each tour guide tell their personal stories of the town and how energetic there were about all the different topics!
GO ON A WALKING TOUR
There is a lot of history in the town of Salem, and I wanted to learn it all. The best way to do this is to go on a guided walking tour. There are plenty of different walking tours to choose from to suit your interests. There are historic ones about the town history, ones specifically about the witch trials, and ghost tours!
The morning we arrived in Salem, we went on a 2 hour Salem History Walking Tour. It’s led by a local guide who will take you to see all the iconic sites of Salem, including landmarks like the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, the Burying Point, the McIntire Historic District, Hamilton Hall, and Pickering House. I enjoyed learning everything on this tour but it was a very long 2 hours, and my feet hurt from walking so much.
If you’re interested in a more witch trial focused tour, I recommend The Salem: History & Witchcraft Day Tour. You will get to see important sites like the Old Burial Ground Cemetery and Witch Trials Memorial, and hear the stories of the accused witches from your local guide.
STOP #1 HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES
I honestly didn’t know about the House of the Seven Gables. I know it’s a book but we never read it in school. So it was truly a learning experience for me to learn about the oldest surviving 17th-century wooden mansion in New England. The property is actually made up of 4 different houses that you can tour, gardens, a visitor center, and a gift shop. You can take a guided tour led by knowledgeable attendants who will share the history of the house and its historic tenants.
You’ll also learn about the famous book House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which was based on this house. The house where the author was born has also been moved to the same site. A fun part of the tour is that you get to climb up a secret brick staircase that is hidden in the walls of the house.
STOP #2 THE WITCH HOUSE
It’s hard to miss this famous house in Salem. The Corwin house, better known as the Witch House is the only surviving house from the witchcraft trials of 1692. It’s also all black! The house once belonged to Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the magistrates in the witch trials. His house was the site of family tragedy and Judge Corwin himself was known as being pretty powerful and ruthless, so it may come as no surprise that this is one of several haunted attractions in Salem. There are guided tours to see the house and learn more about what happened.
STOP #3 THE SALEM WITCH MUSEUM
If you want to learn more specifically about the Salem witch trials in 1692, you need to visit the Salem Witch Museum. It’s located right in the center of town and the museum tour lasts around 45 minutes. Here you will learn a complete history of the witch trials and take a look at the emotional and tragic events that happened in Salem.
The first part of the museum tour is a large theatrical-type presentation that lasts approximately 20 minutes. Following the presentation, you enter the modern witch museum, which examines the way witches have been viewed throughout history. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about how witches came to be perceived in history and of course the witchy filled gift shop at the end of the tour!
STOP #4 HOCUS POCUS MOVIE SITES
If you’re a fan of all things Halloween, then chances are you have seen the classic Disney movie Hocus Pocus. The film is set in Salem and was actually filmed in and around the town. This means that you actually get to see the locations that are in the movie! There are several filming locations that are right in the heart of Salem, places like the town hall where the Halloween Party takes place. The Hocus Pocus party scene is famous for Bette’s Midler’s performance of “I Put a Spell on You”. Further down the main street, you will find yourself at Salem Commons, a large grass area that can be seen in the movie a few times. In one scene at the beginning of the movie, Max gives Allison his phone number, which she returns to him.
At the one end of the commons, you will see the school from the movie! This is a spot where the children lure the witches in their hopes of getting rid of them once and for all. Finally, the last stop you can walk to in town is the Ropes Mansion. This gorgeous historic home served as Allison’s mansion in the movie. There are many other film sites in the region and you can see them on your own with no tour. Here is a complete list of all the Hocus Pocus sites in Salem.
STOP #5 WITCHY SHOPS
There are so many unique places to see in Salem, you can wander around and learn so much. You can also do some shopping! There are many souvenir stores, of course, but there are also small magical shops that have a much more authentic feel. Some places that I visited were Hauswitch, Coven’s Cottage, Maria’s Sweet Somethings, and Salemdipity. If you’re interested in a palm reading, tarot, or other services, there are plenty of options to be found throughout Salem.