The 15 Best Things to do in Salem, Massachusetts
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Things to do in Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts, is the setting for the historical 1692 Salem Witch Trials. It is no wonder that many of Salem’s top attractions revolve around this historical event. Visitors can explore the city’s spooky witch attractions, visit the boutique shops, or dine at some quaint restaurants.
Whether your group is into history, nature, or art, there is something for everyone in the witch’s city. Here we will go over some top things to do in Salem, Massachusetts.
Learn More About the Salem Witch Trials
The Salem Witch Trials have fascinated people for 100’s of years, and Salem has many locations where you can learn more about the trials.
There are many guided tours around the city of Salem. Most of these walking tours are geared towards the history and hauntings of the city. For those who prefer to stroll and learn about the Salem Witch Trial on their own, there are a few historical sites and museums you do not want to miss.
Salem Witch Trials Memorial
The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a popular attraction for the city’s many walking tours. This memorial was recently renovated and includes twenty stone benches for the twenty women who lost their lives in the famous 1692 witch trials.
There is a great historical walking tour that gives you a lot of information about the Witch Trials Memorial.
Plan 5-10 minutes.
Old Burying Point Cemetery
While at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, make sure also to check out the Old Burying Point Cemetery, which is located behind the memorial. This historical site is the city’s oldest cemetery and is the resting place for many of Salem’s historical figures.
Plan 10-20 minutes.
The Witch House
The Witch House is one of the only standing structures directly tied to the Salem Witch Trials. The house itself was not owned by a witch but was the home of Jonathan Corwin, the judge for the Salem Trials. A walk through the house will have visitors learning about the 17th century and may have them leaving with a better understanding of the people involved in the Witch trials.
Plan 30 minutes.
Salem Witch Museum
Visit the Salem Witch Museum to witness an interactive representation of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Explore two separate presentations. The first has visitors experiencing the drama around the trials with sets and lighting. The second exhibit teaches visitors about the evolution and history of witches in Salem and around the world.
Plan an hour.
The Witch Dungeon Museum
If you are looking for a truly spooky experience, look no further than The Witch Dungeon Museum. This museum is set up to look like it did during the 1692 witch trials and even has actors in period clothing to help bring the experience to life. The museum is small, but the experience is sure to be unforgettable.
The museum part has wax figures that show hangings and are not appropriate for small children. However, the acted out witch trials are fabulous. So you will still want to go, just be mindful of young kids.
Plan an hour.
Visit a Museum or Historical Site
There is much more to Salem, Massachusetts than the Salem Witch Trials. The city is rich in art, history, and culture.
The House of the Seven Gables
The most famous museum in Salem is The House of the Seven Gables, also known as Turner-Ingersoll Mansion. This historic home is most known for being the inspiration behind Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through the mansion to learn about the history and see some of the original furniture and art.
Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum brings together art and culture from the New England area and abroad. The museum has everything from ancient art to modern art and from photography to oil paintings. Visitors can enjoy the period gardens or get lost in three stories of exhibits.
Plan on 1-3 hours.
Fort Sewall is a must-see for history buffs. This well-preserved military structure was built in the late 1600s and was used during King Philip’s War. The fort is open to the public for free, making it a great place to explore without spending any money.
New England Pirate Museum
The New England Pirate Museum is a must-see for those who want to learn about the less-than-savory side of Salem’s history. This museum tells the story of piracy in New England and has interactive exhibits for visitors to enjoy.
Wax figures and exhibits show that New England had a substantial pirate past.
This is an attraction that my kids still talk about years after we went. Super fun for kids!
Plan on an hour.
Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
For a truly unique experience, visit Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. This gallery is part art gallery, part haunted house, and part history lesson. The gallery tells the story of vampires throughout history and has some truly disturbing artwork. Not for the faint of heart! *Not appropriate for sensitive kids.
Plan on 30 minutes
Explore Salem’s Nature
Salem is not all about the witchy history; the city is also home to many parks and nature trails.
Pickering Wharf is a great place to take a stroll, go on a romantic picnic, or even do some shopping. The pier is home to many boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Plan on 1-2 hours.
Derby Wharf Light Station
For those that want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Derby Wharf Light Station is the perfect place to go. This secluded spot is only accessible by foot and offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. You can check out the beautiful lighthouse or just have a peaceful picnic nearby.
Salem Maritime: National Historical Site
The Salem Maritime is America’s first national historic site. This nine-acre park on the water offers guests walking trails, gardens, a visitor center, classes, and an abundance of history.
Visitors can explore the park on their own or join a ranger-led tour.
Plan on 30 minutes to an hour.
Salem Willows Amusement Park
After all the history and spooks, Salem Willows Amusement Park is the perfect place to relax. This amusement park by the water has everything from an old-fashioned carousel to an arcade. Visitors can enjoy some of the ocean’s best views while playing a mini-golf game or grabbing a bite to eat.
This is a very small park with mostly arcade games, but it is still a great way to end the day in Salem.
Plan on an hour or two.
Tours of Salem
Hocus Pocus Tour
If you love the movie “Hocus Pocus,” you will love the new movie tour. This tour will take you to all the filming locations of the film and some other Salem landmarks. The tour also focuses on the historical past of Salem. So it is a great, well-rounded look at Salem.
There are plenty of ghost tours to choose from in Salem. You can take a walking tour, a trolley tour, or even a boat tour. There is sure to be a tour that fits your interests and schedule.
You are sure to enjoy Salem with the above suggestions! You will learn a lot about Early American History and enjoy some fun and spooky times.
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