The Ultimate Guide To Salem
Salem, a quaint coastal city with a witchy past!
Salem, popularly known as one of the spookiest towns in the US for its 1962 witch trials, is also a charming coastal town with rich maritime history, beautiful architecture, and unique attractions!
Salem, located approximately 20 miles north of Boston, is a small charming seaside town, which was a major seaport of the northeast in the early days. The city of Salem features a vibrant waterfront, gorgeous colonial architecture, world-class museums, historical sites, eclectic neighborhoods, cute shops, a few excellent local eateries. However, the city of Salem is more popularly known for its history associated with witchcraft and The House of the Seven Gables, the inspiration behind Nathaniel Hawthorn’s gothic novel.
Salem, popularly known as “The Witch City,” got its nickname from its infamous witch trials of 1962, when several young girls in Salem were supposedly found posses by demons, and the villagers accused several women and men for practicing witchcraft. Special courts and juries were convened in Salem, several arrests were made, and nineteen people were executed, making it the Nation’s biggest witch hunt, featured in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and the movie Hocus Pocus.
Though Salem witch trials are now understood and classified as mass hysteria, Salem continues to celebrate its witchy heritage through its museums, memorials, and the Haunted Happenings festival in October!
Undeniably, Salem’s witch museums and memorials are a must-see when visiting the City! However, there’re a few other impressive attractions in Salem, including the world-class Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and historic colonial houses, especially The House of the Seven Gables! Nathaniel Hawthorn’s famous gothic novel, The House of the Seven Gables, was inspired by a colonial mansion in Salem, which is now a museum and a major attraction in Salem!
Here is my ultimate guide to Salem, featuring essential trip-planning information, major attractions, Salem attractions map, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in Salem!
Planning Your Trip To Salem
Salem’s proximity to Boston makes it a popular day-trip destination from Boston and the Boston International Airport, the closest major airport to Salem!
Best Time To Visit Salem: Winters are chilly and sometimes snowy in Salem, making late spring through fall the best time to visit Salem for sightseeing. Summer and fall, June through October, are the peak seasons in Salem as they have the perfect temperatures for outdoor activities, and fall brings gorgeous fall colors. The month of October is when Salem hosts the Haunted Happenings festival, a month-long celebration of Halloween and fall that draws a lot of tourists to the town. However, if you don’t mind slightly cooler temperatures, early spring is a great choice to beat the crowds at Salem.
Time Required At Salem: Given Salem’s proximity to Boston, it’s a popular day-trip destination from Boston, and while a day is sufficient to see all major attractions in Salem, I recommend staying overnight at Salem, which would give you enough time to explore the town without having to drive back to Boston on the same day. However, if you’re visiting Salem in October for the Haunted Happenings festival, you should consider staying for a couple of days and planning your stay around the events you would like to attend.
Getting To Salem: The best way to get to Salem is by flying into Boston Logan International Airport, located a few miles south of Salem, and then renting a car and driving to the town of Salem. Alternatively, you could also take an Amtrak train or a Greyhound bus to Boston and then drive to Salem.
- Flight: Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Boston, Massachusetts, about 14 miles from Salem, is the closest major international airport to Salem and is serviced by all major airlines.
- Train: The South Station in Atlantic Avenue in Boston, an Amtrak train station located right in downtown Boston, is serviced by several Amtrak train services, is the closest Amtrak Station to Salem.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services in Massachusetts, with the closest Greyhound bus stop to Salem located at 700 Atlantic Avenue, in downtown Boston.
Parking & Transportation In Salem: The city of Salem offers several paid parking lots strategically located near the major attractions. However, it might get challenging to find parking near downtown if you’re visiting in October for the Haunted Happenings festival, in which case you have to arrive early or rely on remote parking lots and use public transportation to get to the downtown venues. Though most parking lots are being upgraded to accept credit cards and online payment, there’re still a few lots that accept only coins, so it’s a good idea to carry some change when visiting Salem.
Popular parking garages in Salem (1) Witch City Garage, close to downtown attractions,(2) South Harbor Garage, best for exploring Salem’s waterfront. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) offers local transportation in Salem, including rail and bus services, but I recommend renting a car when visiting Salem.
Guided Tours In Salem: There’re several local tour companies in Salem that offer various guided walking tours in Salem, including Salem Witch Walk Tour, Hocus Pocus Tours, and the Salem Trolley Tours, which is my favorite and the best way to learn about Salem’s witchy history and explore the city’s major highlights without having to drive or worrying about parking.
Lodging Options In Salem: You may not find luxury resorts and boutique hotels in Salem, but there are quite a few locally owned charming bread and breakfasts and a couple of big brand chain hotels in the town of Salem. If you’re visiting Salem in October for the Haunted Happenings festival, you must make your hotel reservations in advance. Here’re my top picks for hotels in Salem –
Dining Options In Salem: Salem features several dining options, including many local restaurants in the heart of downtown and a few great waterfront eateries. Here’re my top picks for restaurants in Salem – great seafood at Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall or Finz, delicious lobster rolls with excellent harbor views at Sea Level Oyster Bar, Mediterranean food at Adriatic Restaurant, and Howling Wolf Taqueria for Mexican fare.
Things To Do In Salem
Salem Attractions Map
Salem is a small and pedestrian-friendly city, with most attractions located in downtown Salem and are pretty accessible. You can park at one of the public parking lots in downtown Salem and then walk to the attractions or use the Salem Trolley Tours to explore the city. Salem’s most popular attractions are related to the city’s infamous witch trials located towards the west side of the town. The other popular attractions, including the waterfront, House of the Seven Gables, and Salem Maritime National Historic Site, are located on the east side of the town. I recommend starting with the witchy attractions on the west and then making your way to the east side of the city to explore the gorgeous waterfront and other historical sites.
Here’re the must-see places on a trip to Salem, starting with the popular witchy attractions!
Salem's Witchy Attractions
Salem’s Witchy Attractions
A trip to Salem is incomplete without visiting these popular sites related to Salem’s infamous Witch Trials of 1962 –
- Salem Witch Museum
- Witch Dungeon Museum
- The Witch House at Salem
- Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum, also popularly known as PEM, is one of the largest art museums in the New England region of the US. PEM features a vast collection of artwork from all around the globe, including contemporary and classical artworks from America, Asia, Africa, China, and Maritime artwork.
Maritime National Historic Site
Maritime National Historic Site
The first National Historic Site of the Nation, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site located along Salem’s waterfront, features several artifacts, historic buildings, life-size replicas, and a museum showcasing New England’s maritime history. The park is also home to historic wharfs and nature trails, which are great for exploring Salem’s gorgeous waterfront.
House of the Seven Gables
House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables, the inspiration behind Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous gothic novel, is a colonial waterfront mansion in Salem which was the residence of Captain John Turner and his family. The house is now a museum, offering self-guided tours of the villa and the beautiful gardens overlooking the coast.
Other Massachusetts Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Salem, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Salem. You can find other attractions in Massachusetts in my Massachusetts Travel Guide.
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