There are few places in the U.S. as rich in history and spooky stories as Salem, Massachusetts. This small city is best known for the witch trials that took place there in the 17th century. Today, visitors can tour different sites associated with those events and get a glimpse of life in early colonial America.
If you are planning a trip, we’ve got you covered with this list of the top things to do there. From walking tours to spooky nights, here are Salem’s top activities and experiences today.
The Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Witch Museum is an excellent place to start your visit to Salem as it provides a great introduction to the witch trials of 1692. The museum has been in operation since 1938 and has artifacts associated with the witch trials as well as exhibits on life in colonial America.
The museum also hosts talks, movies, and special events related to Salem’s spooky past. Admission to the museum is included in your Salem Pass, which is the admission pass for most of the top attractions in the city.
Walks and Tours of Salem
A great way to learn about Salem’s rich history is to take a walking tour of the city. There are a number of walking tours here, each with a different focus. Some are geared toward the witch trials, while others focus on the history of the city’s maritime industry and the rich Asian history in Salem.
If you’re interested in the witch trials and don’t want to visit the Witch Museum (why not?!) then you can take the Witch History Walk. Even if you just want to walk around the city, Salem is a very walkable town with plenty of sites to see along the way. Make sure to walk over to the Salem waterfront and down to the Salem Witch Museum.
The Historic House Tour
One of the best ways to learn about life in colonial America is on the Historic House Tour. The tour takes place at four different sites that were once home to wealthy Salem citizens. The houses in the Historic House Tour are all within walking distance of each other.
The houses are furnished as they would have been in the 17th century, meaning no electricity or running water (don’t worry, you can use the outhouse!). You can visit the John Ward House, the Nathaniel Ingersoll House, the Robert Ingersoll House, and the Witch House.
Witches Night Out
Witches Night Out is a special event that occurs each October in Salem, Massachusetts. The event combines the city’s spooky history with Halloween fun. Visitors can take a tour of Salem, see some spooky movies, visit a special witch museum, eat witch-themed food and enjoy a witch-themed dance party. Witches’ Night Out is perfect for families with kids.
There are multiple activities that parents and kids can enjoy. Admission to the event is included in your Salem pass, so you can take advantage of all the fun things witches’ night out has to offer.
Audubon Center at Boordman Shaded Walk
If you’re visiting here in the summer, an excellent way to cool off is to visit the Boordman Shaded Walk.
This nature walk through the Audubon Center at Boordman Shaded Walk is located on the banks of the North River in Salem. The Audubon Center at Boordman Shaded Walk offers visitors a chance to see the diverse wildlife of the North River as well as learn about the ecology of the area. The walk is shaded, which makes it a great place to visit if you’re visiting Salem in the summer.
Roger Williams National Memorial
Roger Williams National Memorial is one of the most important historic sites in Salem. This national park is dedicated to Roger Williams, a founder of Rhode Island. Williams was banished from Massachusetts for his religious beliefs. He settled in what is now Salem, MA in 1636 and established the colony’s first free charter.
Williams fought for religious freedom for people of all faiths. His battle for religious tolerance led to the creation of the Providence Plantation, now known as Rhode Island. The memorial was created in 1940 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Williams’ arrival in Salem.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Salem Maritime National Historic Site is a great place to learn about the city’s rich maritime history. The site is dedicated to preserving the history of Salem’s maritime past. The site features a museum with exhibits on sailing, whaling, and other maritime industries that once thrived in the city.
There are also walking tours that take visitors to some of the most important historic sites in Salem. The Captain’s Tour takes visitors to sites associated with the witch trials and the Maritime Tour takes visitors to the remains of the shipyard where the USS Constitution was built. The Captain’s Tour and Maritime Tour are both included in your Salem pass.
Spooky Nights at the Old Salem Museums
If you want to experience Salem’s spooky vibe, there’s no better place to do it than at the Old Salem Museums. The museums are open from October to May and include two different museums, the Peabody Essex Museum and the Beverly W. Bond Gallery.
The museums are lit with candlelight and feature an exhibit on Salem’s witch trial history and the 1692 witch hysteria. Visitors can also walk through a “cabin” and learn about Salem’s Quaker history.
Tips for Visiting Salem in Fall and Spring
Visiting Salem in the fall is a great way to get a jump start on the tourism season. This is the off-season in Massachusetts, which means you get to enjoy the city without the crowds that descend on the town in the spring and summer.
Visiting Salem in the fall also means you’ll get to experience the fall foliage in New England. This is the best time to see the spectacular fall colors in the area. Visiting Salem in the spring is a great way to end the winter. The temperatures are starting to warm up and the winter snows have melted. The city is also gearing up for the tourism season, so you’ll get to experience Salem with fewer crowds.
No matter what time of year you visit this amazing place, be sure to include a visit to a witch museum or walking tour in your itinerary. Visiting Salem is also a great way to learn about colonial America and trace the history of our country back to its roots. Visiting this place is a spooky but exciting experience that families of all ages will enjoy.