The Best Destinations & Attractions in Salem, MA (Part 1)
A Quick Guide to the Witch City's Top Attractions
Having lived in the historical Witch City my entire life, I have visited every attraction at least once. And to be honest with you, I never tire of what Salem has to offer. I love the history, the visitors, the comfort of my home town. And I love it even more in the insanely busy month of October. Yes, the crazy month of witches, ghosts, psychics, ghouls, goblins, and everything else under the sun (or creepy nighttime moon). Salem, MA brings thousands upon thousands of visitors to its city each year. As a fellow traveler, I understand the importance of a well thought-out vacation. You only have so much time (a weekend, a week, maybe a couple weeks if you're lucky) to squeeze everything in. For this reason, I have compiled a quick and easy guide to what I consider to be the best attractions and destinations.
1. Haunted Happenings/Halloween
In Salem, halloween is celebrated over the entire course of October. The Grand Parade kicks off the month (usually on the first thursday). The month is filled with shows, tours, psychic fairs, costume contests (Masquerade Ball, Halloween Ball, & the Costume Ball), and haunted houses. One of my favorite things to do is walk the Biz Baz (Bizarre Bazaar) in the streets of downtown. The Biz Baz takes place on a designated weekend and consists of a whole slew of vendors selling yummy food, crafts, knick-knacks, souvenirs, etc. The finale of the month is Halloween Night. Prepare yourself for this event; there are so many people walking the downtown streets that you can hardly move. But it is so much fun, and that is why I still go there every year to this day. You really need to experience it yourself to understand.
Visit www.hauntedhappenings.org for detailed information and yearly schedule
2. Peabody Essex Museum
This is a must-see if you visit Salem. One of the nation's largest museums, it features art and culture from New England and around the world. Recently renovated, It is more grand and beautiful than ever. They change their "featured exhibitions" often. My favorite part of the museum is the Yin Yu Tang house. It is a 200 year old Chinese house that was brought to America and reassembled at the Peabody Essex Museum. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) a prosperous merchant surnamed Huang built this gorgeous 16-bedroom home with the hopes that it would shelter many generations. If you love history, you will love the Yin Yu Tang house. Walking through it, you really feel like you are literally walking through history.
Visit www.pem.org or call 866-745-1876 for more information
3. Salem Witch Museum
Salem's most visited museum, it presents one of the most tragic and enduring events in American history....the Witch Hysteria of 1692. In the spring of 1692, hysterical young girls called out names. By the summer, 180 people had been accused and imprisoned - defenseless against accusations of witchcraft in a society driven by superstition and fear. The court acted quickly with these victims and started hanging them. Visitors are given a dramatic history lesson using stage sets with life-size figures, lighting and a narration.
Visit www.salemwitchmuseum.com or call 978-744-1692 for more information
4. The House of the Seven Gables
Discover a house made famous by fiction. This house inspired author Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his legendary novel of the same name. Built in 1668, this is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England. This wonderful property includes artifacts, old photographs, and other pieces of history. On top of that, the grounds contain lovely gardens and there are beautiful views of the ocean.
Visit www.7gables.org or call 978-744-0991 for more information
5. Salem Wax Museum
One of Salem's most popular museums, full of notable figures of 1692 depicted by life-like London made wax figures.
Visit www.salemwaxmuseum.com or call 978-740-2929 for more information
6. New England Pirate Museum
Visit a re-created dockside village, cave, and pirate ship. Experience the adventures of New England sea-robbers.
Visit www.piratemuseum.com or call 978-741-2800 for more information
7. Witch History Museum
The untold stories of 1692 are told through a live presentation followed by a guided tour downstairs where you will see 15 life size scenes depicting these stories.
Visit www.witchhistorymuseum.com or call 978-741-7770 for more information
8. Witch Dungeon Museum
Award winning live re-enactment of a witch trial from the original transcripts of 1692 and a guided tour through the dungeon.
Visit www.witchdungeon.com or call 978-741-3570 for more information
9. Witch House
The Witch House is Salem's only remaining structure with direct ties to the tragic events of 1692. It is the 17th century home of witchcraft trials judge Jonathan Corwin. Explore architecture, furnishings, and lifestyle of the Corwin family. You will also learn about trial history, strange remedies, and superstition in early colonial Salem.
Visit www.witchhouse.info or call 978-477-8815 for more information
10. Cry Innocent: The People Verses Bridget Bishop
The year is 1692. Bridget Bishop has been accused of witchcraft, and YOU are the jury. Hear the historical testimonies, cross-examine the witnesses and decide the outcome. The actors respond in character, revealing much about the Puritan mind. Play your part in history!
Other Useful Information:
- Haunted Happenings Salem Massachusetts - The Official Website for Halloween
2009 Official Guide to Haunted Happenings in Salem Massachusetts. A month long Halloween celebration of parades, costume balls, haunted houses, tours of Salem's great historic sites, and more.
- Official Free Visitors Guide - Hotels, Restaurants, Attractions, Shopping, Tours - Salem MA
Official travel and visitor information for Salem, Massachusetts. Features museums & attractions, historic sites & Salem Witch Trials, maritime heritage, family fun, shopping, dining, accommodations, train & ferry service from Boston.
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