The coastal city of Salem, Massachusetts is a beautiful locale with a rich and intriguing history. Though there are countless gripping tales of piracy and the American Revolution, much of this city's cultural identity is rooted in the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692. Salem has embraced a macabre way of life, paying homage not just the tales of witches that put them on the map, but to ghosts, vampires, and beyond. If you're looking for the ultimate horror travel guide, here are 10 creepy things you can do in Salem, Massachusetts.
Pay a visit to Salem during the spookiest month of the year
In Salem, Halloween is celebrated all October long. But beware: this dark tourist destination will be packed that time of year. If you feel like you can handle the Halloween hordes, there are incredible events held in October.
The Salem Psychic Fair and Witches’ Market is held all month at Witch City Mall. Admission to the event is free, and the fair provides opportunities for tarot readings, palm readings, past life readings, mediumship, crystal ball scrying, and more. There are also tons of vendors in the market selling spell kits, wands, voodoo dolls, and anything else your witchy heart could desire.
The Witches’ Halloween Ball is a massive Halloween celebration featuring the typical music, libations, costumes, and prizes—with the extra added magic of powerful rituals mixed into the festivities.
Find even more October fun at hauntedhappenings.org!
Swing by the Witch Trials Memorial
There's nothing Salem is more famous for than its tragic history of the witch trials. If you're visiting the area, the Witch Trials Memorial is a must-see. The small area contains 20 engraved granite benches, each honoring someone who lost their lives all too soon. Beyond immortalizing the names and dates of those executed during the trials, the granite also symbolizes the immense weight of the rocks that crushed Giles Corey to death. Six black locust trees grow within the memorial—a species of tree believed to be what some of the victims were hanged from, now a memory of injustice.
Right next to the memorial is the Old Burying Point Cemetery. This graveyard is one of three in Salem that has ties to the witch trials, but it also houses other notable figures from Salem's history.
Brave Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery and Frankenstein's Castle
It's not all witches all the time in Salem. If you're a fan of movie monsters, then Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery should be at the top of your itinerary. This gallery presents visitors with wax figures of grotesque creatures, including vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, and much more. Hollywood special effects artists crafted over 60 hyper-realistic reproductions for this exhibit.
If these wax figures drive you wild, be sure to also check out the Salem Wax Museum, which boasts a Frankenstein's Castle exhibit during October. Year-round, the wax museum focuses on reproductions of Salem's historical figures, like those involved in the witch trials or notable seafarers. Frankenstein's Castle is a haunted house experience inspired by classic horror literature.
Tour an historic house
Ghosts aren't the only thing that have lingered behind in Salem—there's some pretty significant historical buildings still standing, too. Among them is the Witch House, the only building in Salem that is directly linked to the Salem witch trials. It once belonged to judge Jonathan Corwin, but now depicts the realities of 17th-century life.
You may also be interested in checking out the House of the Seven Gables. This home inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's Gothic romance novel of the same name. Genuine elements remain in the home, with some additions of details from the book, like a hidden stairway.
Go on a ghost tour
If you are more interested in spirits than architecture, then you're in luck. There are countless ghost tours available in Salem, all catered to different tastes. Witch City Walking Tours seems to be the most popular among tourists, and provides an hour-and-a-half-long adventure. But there are plenty of highly rated tours all over the city, and it's impossible to go wrong picking from these authentic paranormal experiences.
Peruse a museum
With so much rich history in the roots of Salem, of course, there are tons of incredible museums for visitors to explore. The Salem Witch Museum is the most popular witch museum in the city. The museum has an ode to the 1692 trials with educational exhibits and animatronics, but goes beyond this momentous period of Salem history to offer an exhibit on evolving perceptions of witchcraft.
While the witches that perished in the trials were accused innocents, the pirates that took over Salem were very much real. The New England Pirate Museum dives into that chaotic time with a guided tour through a dockside village and a pirate ship.
Walk through the Salem Witch Village
There's a lot of kitschy fun and solemn history to be explored in Salem, but let's not forget at it's also a haven for very real and practicing witches. The Salem Witch Village offers a guided tour by a practicing witch, who helps visitors separate fact from fiction. Prepare to be educated on the modern practices of witchcraft, and have your mind blown by the truths embedded in old legends.
Take some Witch Pix
Everybody wants to take home a souvenir from vacation, and in the age of social media, what could be better than a truly iconic picture? Witch Pix is a costume photography shop dedicated to turning its visitors into the magic-maker they yearn to be. With a collection of more than 300 costumes for all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders, a dressing room stylist is on hand to transform you. Prefer an old-timey historical theme? Cottagecore? Campy Halloween? The possibilities are endless!
Eat, drink, or sleep somewhere haunted
So you like to live life on the wild side. Why not try your hand at vacationing next to someone from the other side? Salem boasts a handful of haunted restaurants, bars, and hotels.
Rockafellas offers upbeat dining, as well as hidden tunnels below which used to be the rendezvous spot for a love triangle that ended in a gruesome murder. A woman in blue now haunts this eatery.
If you're looking for a haunted hotel, try the Merchant. This location was the site of George Corwin's house. Corwin was the sheriff during the witch trials, and was known for his brutal torture of the accused in his basement prison. It's said that the souls of his agonized victims still walk the plot.
Shop 'til you drop
Is it really a trip if you're not spending money? Make the blow to your wallet worthwhile with these incredible spooky wares!
The Cauldron Black is a store owned and operated by practicing witches. The best metaphysical store around, you'll find a bunch of altar and ritual supplies here, as well as vital books and herbs. Check out their classes, events, and workshops, too, if you really want a magical experience.
Honestly, it's hard not to run into a witch-based store in Salem. But what if you're looking for something a little different? For fans of something with a little more... teeth, check out Vampfangs. This unique vampire-centric store offers a variety of occult items, vampy clothing, dark jewelry, and custom fangs.