I’ve been obsessed with Halloween for as long as I can remember. Who doesn’t love playing dress up and eating candy? I’ve always been drawn to the things that go bump in the night. So naturally, Salem, MA – The Witch City - was on my list of adventures and of course we had to go in October! If you are interested in history and intrigued by the macabre, then I highly recommend putting Salem on your bucket list. This was also my FIRST Airbnb experience.
If you’ve ever been to Salem in October, you know rooms fill up months in advance. Luckily, I found a condo in the Benjamin Webb house super last minute. The condo was recently renovated and absolutely beautiful. The host, Emily, was lovely and full of useful tips and visitor advice. You can check out where we stayed HERE. It is within walking distance of Essex Street and has off the street parking! Boston is also a short drive or ferry trip away.
October is one of the busiest months of the year in Salem. I didn’t want to miss a thing, so I planned our trip using Salem’s Haunted Happenings Event Calendar. I suggest rechecking the calendar periodically so you don’t miss any events that were added later on. I also suggest using Trip Advisor for walking tours in the area. We ended up booking The Witch Walk, The Witch House, and The Spirits Speak magic show.
The Witch House is actually the home of one of the judges from the Salem Witch Trials. The name can be a bit misleading because it wasn’t a ‘witches’ home. It was built in the 1600’s and while it was moved from its original location, is still the original structure. You can opt for a guided or self-guided tour of the home. If you go the self-guided route, there are still several employees throughout the house that are ready to answer any questions and often point things out that you wouldn’t discover on your own. The wait time in October is LONG so plan to get there really early or deal with waiting in line. If you want to take a step back in time and see how people lived back then, I highly recommend it. If you want a better understanding of the Salem Witch Trials check out the Salem Witch Museum instead (or do both!)
The Spirits Speak was a bit of Victorian seance history and modern magic mixed into a show. Evan Northrup explains the clever stage magic and illusions used in seances. Like any good magic show, it also included crowd participation, and Jay is ALWAYS picked. This was much more funny magic show than seance. So if you are daring enough for the real deal, check out the seances led by Omen.
There are several different walking tours in Salem. They have everything from history tours to ghost tours. We opted to do the Witch Walk which is run by Crow Haven, the oldest witch store in Salem, and Hex. Our tour guide Tom, a practicing witch, was delightfully sarcastic, and did a great job explaining what witchcraft really is. Contrary to Hollywood, witchcraft isn’t devil magic. With crystals, essential oils, and holistic healing on the rise, I am surprised witchcraft still has such a stigma to it. But anyway, the witch walk was very informative and full of history. We didn’t get to see a whole lot because a lot of the sites where things actually took place are no longer there. But I did learn that Salem was a HUGE port city and that’s what really put it on the map. At the end of our tour the group was invited to the spell garden where Tom cast a magic circle and blessed crystals for the group. Aside from Tom using a giant sword to cast his circle and honoring the elements and the cardinal directions, there weren’t that many differences from a Catholic mass. The altar had statues, candles, flowers, and even a wine cup. Sadly, there was no wine...bummer. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who likes to learn about history and different cultures and ideals.
Salem is filled with small businesses on every corner. You can easily spend an entire day wandering around the shops that fill Essex Street. During the weekends in October, you can also find the street lined with vendors. I highly recommend checking out Witch City Consignment, Crown Haven Corner and Witch City Wicks. For more about shopping in Salem check out my Salem shopping blog HERE.
Last but not least, my favorite part of Salem is well...HOCUS POCS! It’s the 25th anniversary this year so I dragged everyone with me as we scoped out all of the landmarks. If you loved Binx as much as the next girl, there are a few sites you just have to check out. Max’s house is a privately-owned home and Mrs. B, the owner, was happy to see all the tourists.
Salem is a beautifully little town filled with history and culture. While, October is one of the most popular times to visit for obvious reasons, it can also make it very overwhelmingly crowded. Since Salem is a coastal town, the summer is also a wonderful time to visit. If you’re ever in the Boston area be sure to stop by Salem for a tarot reading and a cup of culture! And if you are going in October, be sure to bring a costume!
If you’ve been to Salem before, leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite things to do were. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
The Country Barbie