Salem, Massachusetts 2024: Best Places to Visit (with Map & Photos)

Salem is a town in Essex County Massachusetts, one of the oldest towns in New England, the settlement was founded by fishermen in 1626 to the southwest of Cape Ann. Named after Jerusalem. Old Salem was known for the severity of his puritanical customs. The most striking manifestation of Puritan intolerance was the massacre of "witches" perpetrated by local residents in 1692-1693. So, the head of the city declared a witch hunt, it lasted about one and a half centuries. The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was born in this city, tells about the customs of the Salem people of that time in his novel The Scarlet Letter (1850).

Salem, The capital of witchcraft, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts

In the 18th and 19th centuries. Salem was New England's largest center for maritime trade and shipbuilding. During conflicts with England, it became the center of privateer activities. A serious blow to his welfare was inflicted by the severing of trade ties with Britain and the extremely narrow harbor. Today, tourism is developed in the city, in addition, Salem is home to Salem State College, the largest state college in the state. In 1914, a major fire broke out in the city.

The most interesting sights of the city:

  • House of witches (c. 1670), in which the trial of witches was heard.

  • Pickering House (1651) is the oldest house in the United States, occupied by the same family.

  • Hawthorne Museum in the house where he was born (built ca.1740)

  • House of Seven Spiers (1668) - glorified by Hawthorn in the novel of the same name.

  • Palladian buildings designed from the 1780s to the 1810s Salem city architect Samuel McIntyre.

  • The Pioneer Village is the layout of the city as it was in the first decades of its existence.

Salem Massachusetts on Halloween
Salem, Massachusetts

I recommend that you get from Boston to Salem by ferry, or rather, a speedboat, and not by bus - firstly, it is faster, and secondly, incredibly beautiful views of Boston (downtown), as well as of Salem itself, open from the boat - many sailboats, yachts and private vessels are moored at the pier of the city, and it feels like you are in a pirate and completely magical city immediately upon arrival.

After you get off the boat, you have to walk down a narrow street leading to the city center (where the main fun awaits you), and the first attraction is the house of the mad inventor. In the courtyard of the house, extremely unusual and "crazy" inventions are exhibited. In order to figure out what is, what sometimes requires the help of local residents or a guide - there are so many unusual "things" there. All in all, a free ride that delights adults and children alike.

Salem Massachusetts at Halloween
Salem, Massachusetts Witch

Next, you have to walk along a completely deserted street. It seems that the city is uninhabited - the windows of many houses are carefully curtained, some are completely closed with blind shutters, we did not meet a single person on the way. In the windows of some houses, candles are burning and there are crosses - and when you see something like this, you suddenly realize that Salem did not accidentally receive the title of the capital of witchcraft. In the evening, you get the feeling that because of any turn, tovo and look, a witch will fly out on a broomstick - so much the atmosphere of the city impresses you.

When you get to the city center, even more surprises await you - a huge number of animators do their best to scare you even more. On every meter there are actors in disguise and so believably made up that sometimes it seems that the blood on their clothes and other "delights" like cuts, scars, etc., are real.

Salem, Massachusetts Witch Museum
Salem, Massachusetts Witch Museum

Here you can take a picture with Count Dracula, shake hands with Frankenstein's monster, find the head of a decapitated woman - you can continue indefinitely, there are no “mummers” there. Moreover, the actors never leave the image for a second, make heartbreaking sounds, portray the dead in a very believable way, in a word, they amuse the people as much as they can.

Along the main street there are numerous shops and shops where you can buy everything for witchcraft - magic talismans, potions, herbs for potions, books of black and white magic. And all this in all seriousness! They even sell cauldrons for witchcraft potions, and you can also get free advice on potion making, and other "cute" witch's pranks. The feeling that you are in the Harry Potter movie, except that there are no shops with magic wands (but that would obviously be too much).

Salem Massachusetts, Halloween
Salem, Massachusetts

Numerous "hereditary" witches and sorcerers gladly give advice and lessons in magic, predict the future, make voodoo dolls, conduct seances - in a word, any whim for your money. It is encouraging that here you can also learn how to protect yourself from black magic, buy a talisman, and remove the "evil spell" from yourself. In general, you do not want to conjure, then defend yourself - the witchcraft industry works bilaterally.

Well, if you are not interested in all the "magic tricks", then you can sign up for the "Witch Hunt" tour. With the onset of darkness, all participants of the show tour are given flashlights and an arsenal to catch the witch. Tours for ghosts, shows with the participation of animators are also available. According to tourists' reviews, entertainment is not for the faint of heart - they scare you on these tours from the bottom of their hearts. Actors jump out of the dark, emerge from the smoke, fly on brooms - all in all, very believable. Tourists like it, although many in the middle of the tour capitulate, "losing to the dark side", the effects are very natural, and not everyone likes the effect of surprise, and you can become a stutterer. True, to justify the entertainment organizers, it is worth saying that they provide you with a choice, if you want a more terrible show - please, but if your nerves are naughty.

Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts

But, if you like a relaxing holiday, and you do not want to risk your nerve cells, Salem will delight you with numerous museums and historical monuments. One of the most famous museums The House of the Seven Gables (House of the seven attics, spiers) The atmosphere of the witch hunt is described in the famous mystical thriller of the Middle Ages, American classic Nathaniel Godorn's "House of the Seven Spiers", about the family curse and witches. The novel is set in this - the Hawthorne family home. The curse, about which the writer, a native of Salem, narrates, was imposed on his entire family because his great-grandfather, Judge John Hawthorne, sentenced the "Salem witches" in the 1692-1697 trials.

You can also tickle your nerves by looking at the terrible instruments of torture in the Pirates' museums. Beginning in the 17th century, piracy was recognized as an official trade in New England, and the port city of Salem flourished quickly and successfully. So, Salem is also one of the cities favored by pirates, which, together with witches, makes it even more mystical and adventurous.

Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts

Salem also has many historic buildings, such as Pickering House, the oldest single family home in the United States.

An interesting fact is that among the homeowners who like the city, the famous writer Stephen King. By his own admission, the "king of horrors", it is in Salem that he writes especially well, which is understandable, given the genre of King's novels and the atmosphere of the city. According to the stories of local residents, King spends the summer months in Salem, and not only engages in creativity, but also loves to swim on his yacht, because the views here are truly mesmerizing.

Salem, Massachusetts Map