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Put Spooky Salem, Massachusetts, on Your To-Do List

The city known for the Salem witch trials comes to life during the Halloween season.

salem, massachusetts

A witch wanders through the streets of Salem during the city's Haunted Happenings celebration.

(Photo: Jessica Kelly )

For the Halloween and horror fanatics, there’s a trip that needs to be added to the top of your bucket list. Salem, Massachusetts, is not only perfect to get that spooky vibe year-round due to its eerie history, but during the month of October it hosts Haunted Happenings. During the festival locals and visitors dress up and prowl the streets acting out their favorite creepy characters, paying tribute to the area’s interesting past.

Visitors will find haunted houses, spooky markets and psychic readings to celebrate the season (many are virtual this year) and even famous Halloween movie sites. What should be on the top of your list, you ask? We’re here to help you create the perfect to-do list for your first Haunted Happenings.

Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, please see official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.

salem, massachusetts

The Witch House belonged to Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges involved in the Salem witch trials.

(Photo:Jessica Kelly)

Coffee & Shopping

First things first: You’ll want to stop in to Gulu-Gulu Cafe and grab a coffee to go. Once you have your traveling latte, head over to the shops along Essex Street and Derby Street to explore. They’re all boutique shops and bookstores. You can go into Crow Haven Corner, the self-described oldest witch shop in Salem. Grab a bag of taffy to snack on from Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie and let a wand choose you at Wynott’s Wands. Take a moment to visit the Witch House that once belonged to Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges involved in the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s.

Get a Reading

As you’re bouncing from shop to shop, keep your eyes open for tarot card readers and psychics. I’ve received a few tarot card readings there and would highly recommend giving it a try!

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“Hocus Pocus” Sites

Take a tour or discover the locations from the movie “Hocus Pocus” for yourself. At 4 Ocean Ave. you’ll find the home of Max and Dani Dennison. You’ll also find Allison’s house at 318 Essex St. and the Old Town Hall at 32 Derby Square.

salem, massachusetts

Voodoo dolls for various wishes and ills line the shelves of a shop in downtown Salem.

(Photo:Jessica Kelly )

Explore a Haunted House (if You Dare)!

Scare yourself silly in one of their haunted houses. Frankenstein’s Castle sends you to the creepy dungeon of Dr. Frankenstein himself. The Haunted Witch Village has been around the longest, scaring people for years. The Lost Museum (at Gallows Hill) is a newer attraction that takes place underground. Terrifying, to say the least!

Take a Tour

With several tours to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the right one for you and your fellow travelers. Take a walking tour with Salem Ghosts and discover the city’s most haunted and witchy sites (save $2 off admission with AAA Discount code). Hop on a circa-1982 Salem trolley for the Tales & Tombstones Trolley Tour, an hourlong narrated historical tour through Salem’s spooky past involving haunted islands, underground passageways and more. Available only in October, The Ghosts & Legends Trolley Tour at Gallows Hill is another great streetcar journey, filled with history and lore. If you’re a foodie, you’ll enjoy the offerings at Salem Food Tours. You can savor the city during several strolls, including a coffee walk, a taste of fall tour, a spirits trolley and more.

Whether you stop in for a spell this year, or get a head start planning for next year’s Haunted Happenings, Salem, Massachusetts, is a Halloween must-do.

Have you ever been to Salem, Massachusetts? Tell us about it in the comments. 

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