From the Grim to the Mystical, These are 6 of the Top Attractions in Salem, MA
Salem Comes Alive in the Fall
Salem, MA was one of the wealthiest ports in America during the 19th century. It has a fascinating, multi-layered history packed with witches, pirates, pilgrims and so much more. It’s a friendly and walkable city and there’s so much to see and do.
Of course, one of the best times to visit Salem is during October. During the Halloween season, this spooky “witch town” has a fascinating aura and comes alive with tours and events. You can even attend the Haunted Happenings festival, with live shows and special programs that give insight into Salem’s creepy past.
Also, New England is known for having incredible fall foliage. While you’re in Salem, this is a great opportunity to see the colors of autumn. No matter where you go, you’ll see spectacular red, orange and yellow leaves.
Here are a few of the main things to do in Salem, MA to keep you entertained and maybe even a little creeped out.
The Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum is one of the oldest operating museums in the United States, founded in 1799 when Salem merchants brought back treasures from the Far East. It showcases architecture, maritime art, New England art and also artwork from all over the world. You can even find the original court documents from the witchcraft trials at the Phillip’s Library on the museum’s campus.
Even the building itself is a work of art, with an impressive light-filled atrium and spacious exhibition halls. If you are visiting with kids, the Art & Nature Center is a fun and interactive museum with games and hands-on exhibits designed specifically for little ones.
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The Salem Witch Museum
At the Salem Witch Museum, you can learn about the complex history of witches — from Wiccans to healers to midwives and more. The main presentation at the museum is the best way to experience what the witch trials of 1692 were like.
The museum guides you through with life-size stage sets, actual trial documents, and figures and narration. Plus, there’s a second exhibit that features live guides as they explain how the perception of witches has changed over the areas and how the frightening phenomenon of witch hunting still continues on today.
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The Witch Trials Memorial
One of the most moving sights in Salem is the peaceful Salem Witch Trials Memorial in a park behind the Peabody Essex Museum. Here, simple stones are inscribed with the names and the final words of the victims of the witch hunt.
The memorial acknowledges the injustice that befell these victims and honors their memory in a beautiful way. It’s a place to reflect on tolerance and understanding and think about the human suffering that was caused by witchcraft hysteria.
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The Burying Point
Another spooky Salem landmark ideal to visit around Halloween, the Burying Point is the oldest cemetery in Salem. In fact, it’s one of the oldest in all of Massachusetts.
It contains the graves of many people who were important in Salem’s history, including witch trial judge John Hathorne. You can even see the graves of passengers who were on the Mayflower. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was Hathorne’s ancestor, used many of the names from the gravestones in his novels.
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The House of the Seven Gables
Speaking of Nathaniel Hawthorne, you can also visit the House of the Seven Gables — the setting for his 1851 novel of the same name. It’s also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion and it was constructed in 1668.
You can take a walking tour around the mansion and learn about the literary history of Salem, as well as the architectural and maritime history. On the tour you’ll even be able to climb through a narrow secret passageway, added by one of the many owners of the home.
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The New England Pirate Museum
Did you know that many notorious pirate captains, including Blackbeard, Kidd, Quelch and Belamy, once roamed the waters off Boston’s North Shore? The history of these sea-robbers comes to live at the New England Pirate Museum in Salem.
You can learn about the lives of these pirates, who plundered merchant ships and buried their stolen treasures offshore on the islands along the New England coast. At the museum you can take a guided tour with an entertaining guide and ask as many questions as you like about the pirate life.