When it comes to quaint and spooky destinations in the United States, few can beat Salem.
Being the place where the Salem Witch Trials happened in the late 1690s, the small town in Massachusetts has a history-rich past and has become one of the most popular Halloween destinations in the world.
In this travel guide, you will find every piece of information that you need to know to start planning your trip to Salem.
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The History Of Salem
The town of Salem, as charming as it is, actually has a very dark past.
Salem is known for The Salem Witch Trials that happened in the late 1690s, when 20 people were executed in an actual witch hunt.
You can read more about the Witch Trials here.
Today, Salem thrives as a popular destination for Halloween, and its major font of income comes from tourism. Witchy-themed shops and attractions can be found all over town.
The Weather In Salem
Since it is located in New England, the seasons in Salem are very well defined, which means pretty hot summers and pretty cold winters.
The warm season lasts for around 3 months, from June 6 to September 14, with an average daily high temperature above 72°F.
On the other side, the cold season lasts for around 3 months and a half, from December 2 to March 15, with an average daily high temperature below 45°F.
Best time to visit
October is the best time to visit Salem if you are looking to attend all the Halloween celebrations, but it does get super busy!
If you are looking for a more peaceful stay, September and May are months where the temperature is enjoyable, and you get to enjoy all the most popular attractions with no lines.
How many days do you need in Salem
I would say two days is more than enough to do all the main activities the town has to offer and try a few of the restaurants.
I visited in one day and left longing for more!
Finding a place to stay
Salem has many great options of places to stay. These are some of our favorites:
The Hotel Salem is a lovely option for those looking to stay in a great location for a fair price.
It’s modern and colorful decor, high ceiling and spacious rooms make the hotel very pleasant. There is also a restaurant and roof top on site.
The Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites is walking distance to historical sites, dining, and shopping.
With eighty six rooms, the hotel is pretty big and has an amazing structure, with facilities such as a restaurant, bar, indoor pool and gym.
Hawthorne Hotel is for sure the most iconic historic hotel in Salem. Years ago, some pepople even used to claim it was haunted… Guess we will have to stay ther eto know for sure!
Set in America’s oldest seaport, only steps from famous sites, The Salem Inn provides cozy rooms with some of them even feautiring a fireplace, a whirlpool bath and kitchenette.
Also, the hotel offers a lovely free continental breakfast.
Last but not least, another great choice of accomodation is the exceptional Merchant Hotel.
This absolutely stunning and classic property has a rich history and offers great rooms in the heart of Salem.
How to get to Salem from Boston
There are five main ways to get to Salem from Boston: commuter rail, car, bus, tour, and ferry.
Boston and Salem are connected via the “T” commuter rail. You can take the commuter at Borton’s North Station for around 7 dollars and get down at Salem Station 35 minutes later. Easy peasy.
A usually more affordable way to get to the city of witches is by bus.
The trip takes about 55 minutes with the #450 bus, which departs from Boston’s Haymarket Station on weekdays and Wonderland West Busway on weekends and holidays.
The town of Salem, MA, is a 30-minute drive from Boston via Route 114 East. Make sure to use a GPS for guidance.
The Salem ferry is not available year-round, only in the busy season. It departs from Central Wharf in Boston and gets you to Salem in around 50 minutes.
What to see and do in Salem
Salem is a spectacular place to visit because there are just so many fun things to do!
Here are some of the best activities and attractions in town. For a more complete list, you can read this post about the best things to do in Salem.
1- Visit the Witch House
The Witch House is one of the only structures standing since the Salem Witch Trials. It was the home of Jonathan Corwin, the judge responsible for the trials.
It is possible to go inside the house for a fee, but I don’t think it is that necessary.
2- See a psychic
This is going to sound very weird to more skeptical people, seeing a psychic in Salem was one of the most interesting things I have ever done!
I saw Leanne at Hex Old World Witchery, and I can tell you: she is a “witch” in the best connotation possible!
You just can feel the energy shifting when you talk to her. Everything she told me was very specific and interesting.
3- Visit the Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Witch Museum is a very informative museum that presents two historical presentations about the tragic events of the Salem witch trials of 1692 and the witches’ image over the years.
I highly recommend starting your day here so you can better understand the history of the city you are about to explore.
4- Watch live reenactments at the Witch Dungeon Museum
In the Witch Dungeon Museum, you will get to see award-winning live reenactments of the Salem Witch Trials adapted from the 1692 historical transcripts.
Also, you can take a tour of the recreated dungeon and see for yourself the conditions where the accused were kept waiting for the day of their trial.
5- Take a look at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
Count Orlok is undoubtedly one of the most unique museums I have ever seen! The whole museum is dedicated to horror movies and their history.
The sad part is that no photos are allowed, which is truly a bummer because the museum would make for truly amazing picture opportunities.
6- Go on a Tour
Going on a tour is one of my favorite things to do in Salem. It is always a good idea to see a new place with the help of a local.
Keep reading: The 12 Best Tours To Take In Salem.
7- See the oldest cemetery in the United states
The Old Burying Point Cemetery is no less than the oldest cemetery in all of the United States. Crazy, right?
One of the principal witchcraft trials magistrates, Judge John Hathorne, is buried there (he is actually the great grandfather of the great writer Nathaniel Hawthorne).
Visiting a cemetery is kind of a morbid thing to do, I know. But we are talking about Salem, after all!
8- Search for the best food in Salem
If you are a food and wine enthusiast, going on a Salem food tour might just be your thing.
9- Pay your respects at The Salem Witch Trial Memorial
Right next to the Old Point Burying Cemetery, you will find the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This stone memorial was created in 1992 to honor the victims of the trials and their families.
The memorial was dedicated by Nobel Laureate Holocaust survivor who noted, “If I can’t stop all of the hate all over the world in all of the people, I can stop it in one place within me. We still have our Salems.”
In the memorial, there are 20 stone benches carved with each of the victim’s names.
10- See art at the Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum is one of Massachusetts’s biggest museums! The notorious art museum showcases art and photography from all over the world.
11- Visit the House of the Seven Gables
Nathaniel Hawthorne based the novel “The House of the Seven Gables” in a real house in Salem, the author’s hometown.
A visit to the house is a very exciting activity for those that admire Hawthorne’s work.
12- Explore the Witchy Shops
And visiting them is one of the most fun things to do in Salem, MA.
13- Check out the beach
If you have some extra time, you can check out Salem Willows. It is a public park right on the beach that has been around since 1858.
Head to Salem Willows for some fresh popcorn, amusing rides, and a carnival atmosphere.
14- Take a picture with the bewitched Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery
The Bewitched tv series was a big responsibility for Salem’s recognition all over the world.
The Bewitched Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery portraits the actress who interpreted Samantha The Witch on the show and was donated to the city by TV Land.
15 – Stay in a Haunted Hotel in Salem
The Hawthorne Hotel is known as one of the ten most haunted hotels in the United States.
The hotel was even studied in the popular paranormal show, Ghost Hunters and many guests report spotting paranormal activity in their stay.
16- Spend Halloween in Salem
As I mentioned before, Halloween in Salem is always extremely popular! If you visit during fall, you will find all kinds of Halloween-themed attractions to visit.
Halloween celebrations in Salem start in early October. Come prepared to face big crowds, and make sure to book your hotel in advance.
Where to eat
Choosing where to eat in Salem is no easy task! The city is known for its amazing restaurants and these are our suggestions:
- Seafood: The Lobster Shanty
- Breakfast and brunch: Ugly Mug Diner
- Pizza: Bambolina
- Italian food: Firenze Trattoria
- Coffee: Gulu Gulu Café
- Quick bite: The Boston Hot Dog Company
That’s a wrap! I hope this travel guide to Salem was useful to you.
I am absolutely sure you will fall in love with this special place as much as I did and go home with amazing memories.
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