Spooky Travel Guide – Salem Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts is a dream city for dark tourists and anyone who loves all things spooky. Bearing a macabre history connected to one of the most well-known witch trials in the world, the city has been through considerable suffering.
Its many torments, which stretch from being consumed by mass hysteria during the Salem Witch Trials to being overrun by pirates who used the city’s underground tunnels as smuggling zones, inspired various authors to pen gruesome stories.
Today, Salem has finally embraced its grim past and the city is an amazing place for lovers of ghastly history. If you’re keen to unearth the dark secrets of the city, here’s my spooky destination guide for Salem, Massachusetts.
Spookiest Time to Visit Salem
October is by far the best and spookiest time to visit Salem, when the entire city embraces the spirit of Halloween for the whole month.
Salem Haunted Happenings puts on several different events, such as The Salem Horror Fest, The Salem Psychic Fair and Witches’ Market, The Festival of the Dead, The Witches’ Halloween Ball and The Hawthorne Hotel’s Halloween Party.
At this time of year, the streets are also loaded with even more Halloween festivities, including film screenings, ghost and witch history tours, Halloween shops and entertainment. If you really want to experience Salem at the peak of the spooky season, October is the time to go!
The only downfall to visiting Salem in October is that the population of the city doubles in size. If you want to visit Salem but you also want to avoid the crowds, visit in early November. The historic attractions, ghost tours and history walks go year-round and you’ll still get to experience the crisp New England weather that you get in October.
The Best Ghost Tours in Salem MA
Salem is known for its witch craft history but it has a rich history of haunted sites. Explore the haunted locations in Salem by taking one of the cities incredible ghost tours.
Here are the top ghost tours in Salem but be sure to check out the best ghost tours in Salem MA for the full list to find Salem ghost tours.
The Salem Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour is perfect for history lovers and spooky ghost story fans. You will visit graveyards and haunted places around Salem that are full of paranormal history.
The Salem 1-Hour Haunted Ghost Tour draws you into Salem’s most haunted locations with a real history tied with the supernatural stories that lie within. If you love theatrics and hilarious storytelling, this is the tour for you.
If you want to see more of the best ghost tours in Salem, check out the full post here.
Spooky Things to Do in Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is home to an abundance of museums and attractions which appeal to lovers of dark travel. With sites associated with witchcraft, pirates and murders, dark tourists are guaranteed to be in their element. If you’re looking for unique and unusual things to do in the witch city, see my list of alternative things to do in Salem, MA.
WITCH TRIALS MEMORIAL
The incredible Witch Trials Memorial to the victims of the infamous Salem Witch Trials where you can pay your respects to 20 people whose lives ended much too soon.
THE WITCH HOUSE
The Witch House is the only building in Salem with direct ties to the witch trials. Once home to judge Jonathan Corwin, today the house depicts what life was like in the 17th century.
WITCH HISTORY MUSEUM
Similar to the Salem Witch Museum, The Witch History Museum takes you on a guided tour of local 17th-century history inside a mysterious dark room with animatronic figures showing scenes from the Salem Witch Trials.
SALEM WITCH MUSEUM
The Salem Witch Museum is the most popular witch history museum in Salem, filled with animatronic figures which depict the history of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES
The House of the Seven Gables is the house that inspired author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s to write his book of the same name. The building features genuine elements, as well as details mentioned in the novel, such as the secret stairway.
NEW ENGLAND PIRATE MUSEUM
The New England Pirate Museum is dedicated to the story of the pirates who took over Salem. This fun-filled place takes you on a guided tour through a dockside village and pirate ship where you’ll discover the little-known history of New England’s sea-robbers.
COUNT ORLOK’S NIGHTMARE GALLERY
If you love horror movie monsters, Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery will amaze you with its realistic, lifesize monster displays. Although the museum will give you the feeling you’re being watched, nothing will jump out at you.
GALLOWS HILL MUSEUM AND THEATRE
See the Salem Witch Trials come to life at The Gallows Hill Museum and Theatre, where actors will educate and entertain you at the same time.
Staged in the historical Old Town Hall, Cry Innocent is a performance based on the trial of Bridget Bishop, the first woman hanged in the Salem Witch Trials.
SALEM WAX MUSEUM/FRANKENSTEIN’S CASTLE
If you’re a fan of waxworks, be sure to visit Frankenstein’s Castle, a wax museum showcasing figures from throughout Salem’s history.
SALEM 1630: PIONEER VILLAGE
The Pioneer Village in Salem is the oldest living history museum in the United States! Here you can step back in time and see what life was like in 1630s Salem.
SALEM WITCH VILLAGE
If you want to learn about modern witchcraft practices and the truth behind the myths of witchcraft, be sure to stop by The Salem Witch Village and take a guided tour with a practicing witch.
WITCH DUNGEON MUSEUM
The Witch Dungeon Museum houses a replica dungeon from the witch trials so you can see for yourself the dreadful conditions suspected witches were forced to live in while awaiting trial. The museum also offers live reenactment shows of the Salem Witch Trials.
Witch Pix is a costume photography shop where you can dress up like a witch or wizard and turn your necromancer dreams into a reality.
Cemeteries in Salem, Massachusetts
Steeped in history, many of the cemeteries in Salem, Massachusetts were established during Puritan times. As the years went on, the imagery on the tombstones changed and developed according to the styles of the time.
As you walk through the cemeteries, you’ll see the 17th-century carvings of death’s heads and long epitaphs change to 18th-century designs featuring winged cherubs. These morph into 19th-century styles which took inspiration from Greek and Roman architecture, adding images of urns, monuments and obelisks.
When you walk through the cemeteries, see if you can identify the age of the tombstone from its design before you look at the date.
Old Burying Point
The Burying Point, also known as the Charter Street Cemetery is Salem’s oldest cemetery and the resting place for members of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, as well as cruel Salem Witch Trials judge, John Hathorne. This cemetery is my personal favourite and is a must-visit on your trip to Salem.
Broad Street Cemetery
Located on Broad Street across from the historic Pickering House (Salem’s oldest house) is Broad Street Cemetery. The second oldest graveyard in Salem, the cemetery was opened in 1655 and is the resting place of the Witch House’s owner Jonathan Corwin and his nephew, the Salem Witch Trials high sheriff, George Corwin.
Howard Street Cemetery
The land that Howard Street Cemetery sits on is said to be where Giles Corey was pressed to death over three days during the Salem Witch Trials. Once he was executed, his body was buried in the Howard Street Cemetery in a shallow grave. You can visit the Witch Trials Memorial to pay your respects to Giles and other victims.
Haunted Hotels in Salem, Massachusetts
Check out the lit of the most haunted hotels in Salem and find the best hotel for you and your little ghost loving heart!
The Hawthorne Hotel boasts two rooms said to be haunted by sea captains and sailors. The hotel also throws the coolest Halloween party every year!
The Salem Inn
Located at 7 Summer St, The Salem Inn’s room 17 is said to be haunted, with hotel guests reporting hearing unexplained noises throughout the night.
Salem’s new boutique hotel, The Merchant was once the site of George Corwin’s house. The high sheriff during the witch trials, George brutally tortured witch trial victims in his basement prison. Today, the hotel is said to be haunted by the spirits of those he harmed.
Best Ghost Tours and Walking Tours in Salem, MA
A great history, walking or ghost tour will help you dive into Salem’s grisly past and discover all kinds of horrific details you never knew about. The city offers so many incredible tours that it’s hard to pick just one!
Each tour provides a different experience with unique stories. So if you’re particularly interested in sites associated with the Salem Witch Trials (as most original buildings are no longer standing), Salem’s pirate history or something else specific, you’re sure to find it covered in one of these tours.
This tour offers incredible supernatural ghost tours, cemetery lore, witchcraft history and tours about Salem’s rich revolutionary history. Haunted Footsteps also provides afternoon tours if you don’t want to suffer the evening crowds.
BEWITCHED AFTER DARK WALKING TOURS
Known as the “Best Tour in Salem”, The Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours are run by local historians, so you know the information is correct! The tours cover the history behind the Salem Witch Trials and visit over 12 different sites associated with Salem’s history.
CANDLELIT GHOSTLY WALKING TOURS
If you’re looking for a spooky ghost tour, The Candlelit Ghostly Walking Tour is the one to choose from. Guided only by candlelight, the tour walks you through many of Salem’s most haunted locations. It also teaches patrons how to take the best ghostly photography.
Take a paranormal tour of Salem guided by professional paranormal investigators with Spellbound Tours. Not only do the guides discuss supernatural sites and history, they also go over the Salem Witch Trials and vampire folklore!
SALEM BLACK CAT TOURS
If you’re looking for more of a historical tour with less scare factor, Salem Black Cat Tours offers daytime tours that take you around the city where you’ll learn about various aspects of its history. Worry not — the ghostly tours only come out at night!
TALES AND TOMBSTONES
Ride around Salem in the comfort of the Red Trolley on a Tales and Tombstones Tour. The trolley offers historical tours during the day and spooky tours on Fridays and Saturdays that take you the darker sites, as well as haunted hotels and restaurants. It’s the perfect tour if you want to stay off your feet. (Available during July, August and October only)
THE SALEM WITCH WALK
The Salem Witch Walk offers a unique magic experience, comprised of a blessing in a magic circle, learning about spells and witchy potions.
SALEM NIGHT TOUR
The Salem Night Tour runs every evening at 8 pm and takes you through the city on a journey that will reveal all kinds of incredible legends and historical tales.
SALEM WITCH HUNT FILM AND TOURS
A different kind of tour, The Salem Witch Hunt Film and Tours features historical reenactors who do much more than recount the real causes behind the Salem Witch Trials.
HOCUS POCUS TOURS
Take a tour of everyone’s favourite cult classic Halloween film, Hocus Pocus on a Hocus Pocus Tour. Filmed in Salem in the early 1990s, the tour takes you to all the shooting locations from the movie Hocus Pocus and gives you inside info about the film.
Haven’t you seen Hocus Pocus? Watch it here this Halloween!
Haunted Bars in Salem, Massachusetts
The tunnels below Rockafellas are said to be the hiding spot of a gruesome love triangle murder and the restaurant is supposedly haunted by a woman in blue. Could it be the spirit of the woman who was brutally murdered?
The former hangout of sailors and pirates, The Mercy Tavern was formerly a brothel and tavern used for illegal smuggling. Today the spot is said to be haunted by the spirits of pirates.
Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall
The land that Turner’s Seafood now occupies was once owned by Salem Witch Trials’ victim Bridget Bishop, who’s said to haunt the second and third floors of the restaurant.
Witch & Occult Shops in Salem, Massachusetts
SALEM WITCH MUSEUM STORE
The Salem Witch Museum Store is the official gift shop from the Salem Witch Museum and contains exclusive books about the Salem Witch Trials.
WITCH CITY WICKS
Witch City Wicks contains a large selection of handcrafted soy candles made in Salem. Other items include books, jewelry and homewares.
CROW HAVEN CORNER
Salem’s oldest witch shop, Crow Haven Corner has all kinds of magical supplies, including an original spell altar, books, candles and jewelry.
WITCH HISTORY MUSEUM GIFT SHOP
After taking a tour through the Witch History Museum, step into the gift shop for items related to the history of witchcraft in Salem and city souvenirs.
Artemisia Botanicals is an apothecary that carries teas, essential oils, herbs and beauty items.
THE CAULDRON BLACK
The Cauldron Black is owned and operated by practicing witches and sells altar and ritual tools, books and herbs. They host classes, events and workshops on all things magical.
A magickal shop for witches and muggles alike, Enchanted is filled with everything from magical herbs, oils and crystals to handcrafted candles, jewelry and offering bowls. It also hosts classes, workshops and psychic readings by Salem’s official witch, Laurie Cabot.
HEX: OLD-WORLD WITCHERY
A shop for practicing witches, Hex: Old-World Witchery contains everything you need to satisfy your witchcraft desires, from spell-inducing candles, potions and occult books to crystals, essential oils and jewelry.
Salem is home to more than just witches! Vampfangs is a one-of-a-kind vampire shop where you can purchase custom fangs, vampire clothing, jewelry and occult items.
Home to local art, gifts and items for spell casting, The Witchery is also a fantastic place to visit if you’re interested in tarot card readings.