When we planned our trip to New England we chose, like millions of others, to visit in the month of October. October also happens to be the month Salem, Massachusetts holds the largest Halloween festival in the world.
The Witch city is famous for the mass hysteria of 1692 and the subsequent witch trials. It is hard to believe this hysteria started and ended in such a short period of time. One year changed the lives of hundreds of people and resulted in the death of 20 people. Tried and convicted of witchcraft based on the visions of hysterical people.
In 1692, there was the town of and the village of Salem. The town is the city the majority of tourists visit today. The village was renamed 60 years after the witch trials. It is now called Danvers.
How to Get to Salem from Boston?
The Witch City is about an hour drive from Boston. If you don’t want to worry about parking or you don’t have a vehicle you can take the T-line train from Boston to Salem at the Newburyport/Rockport train.
Where to Park?
Parking is limited, especially in the month of October. There are several parking garages and lots around the city. After driving very slowly through town to only find they were all full we just parked at the parking garage by the T-line. The second time we visited we just parked at this garage and didn’t bother looking for parking elsewhere.
What to do in Salem?
This small town entertains over a half a million people in the month of October during their Salem Haunted Happenings Festival. Salem has capitalized on all things witchy, but if you’re looking for the historical side there is plenty of places to see some of this too.
If you plan on going in the month of October I would recommend getting tickets to all the places you wish to visit in advance. While we enjoyed visiting Salem I was expecting a little more history and less commercialization. There are historical sights here, but I felt you had to really look to find them. Maybe it was just because we visited during their largest festival month.
Old Burying Ground Cemetery
The Old Burying Ground, also called Charter Street Cemetery, was opened in 1637. It is one of the oldest cemetery’s in the USA. Judge Hathorne is buried here and many believe the cemetery is haunted.
Salem Witch Trials Memorial
The Salem Witch Trials memorial is a square with 20 granite benches. Each bench has the name of one of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. At the entrance, look down to read the last words of each of the victims. It is located near the Old Burying Ground cemetery.
The Witch House is the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin. Judge Corwin was part of the Witch Trial hearings.
It’s claim to fame is being the only building in Salem with direct ties to the infamous Witch Trials. You can view the Salem Witch Trial records at the University of Virginia. If visiting in October you must purchase tickets online the day of your visit.
The First Church of Salem
Founded in 1629 the First Church of Salem was built in the 1800’s. It is next door to the Witches House.
The Ropes Mansion was built in the 1700’s for a wealthy merchant and stayed in the family until the 1900’s. In 1912, the home was opened up as a historic museum. A botanist created the lovely gardens on the property. The home was also used for the Disney movie, Hocus Pocus. The home is a few doors down from the Witches House and it is one of the homes considered haunted.
The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables inspired Nathanial Hawthorn’s novel by the same name. Nathanial was the great-great grandson of Judge Hathorne who played a role in the Witch Trials. Touring this house was our favorite activity in Salem. If you’re visiting in October you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance.
If you want to learn some deeper history the town as well as some of the most popular ghost stories, take a nighttime ghost tour. We chose the Requiem for Salem tour with Ghost City Tours because they were the only one that offered an adult only tour.
What to see in Danvers?
In 1692, Danvers was the Village of Salem. There are several historical sites here related to the Salem Witch Trials.
- Proctor’s Ledge
- Rebecca Nurse Homestead
- Witch Trials Memorial
- Salem Village Parsonage
Proctor’s Ledge, at the bottom of Gallow hill, is part of a residential area. A small memorial wall is dedicated to the victim’s of the Witch Trial. Historians believe, Proctor’s Ledge is where the victims took their last breaths.