Located North of Boston, visiting Salem was pretty high up on my Boston itinerary. I love a good horror flick, and I’m naturally drawn to anything that’s a bit scary, so visiting the ‘Witch City’ seemed like a fun way to spend a day. In case you’re not completely familiar with Salem, it’s a well-known tourist destination thanks to its dark and chilling past. Home to the 1692 witch trials, it’s one of the most historically interesting parts of the US.
How do you get from Salem from Boston?
We had considered hiring a car for our time in Boston, but considering this was a fairly short trip it seemed like a lot of extra hassle. This is why we decided to investigate the public transport available and fortunately it was very simple and cheap too. We hopped on a train from South Station which cost around $10 (cheaper weekend fair!) and took roughly 30 minutes to reach Salem.
How long should I spend in Salem?
I was a bit worried that we would arrive in Salem feeling lost and unsure where to go and what to do, but it was exactly the opposite. Even on a cold and rainy May Day, there was still a fair amount of tourists dotted around Salem. Pretty much every store is witch themed, and it’s such a fun city to walk around although it feels strange referring to it as a city as it definitely feels like more of a small town. Once you leave the train station is just a few minutes walk down the road (turn right!) and you’re in Salem. We spent a whole day here, and there’s definitely enough to fill your time, we were both captured by Salem’s witchy charms and I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay overnight in this unique and captivating city.
What is there to do in Salem?
If it’s not obvious already, I was pleasantly surprised with New England’s spookiest city! We packed a fair amount into one day, and there’s definitely still more I would have liked to have done but with limited time, here’s how we spent our day in Salem…
Stop by the Witch House
We stumbled across the Witch House on our walk from the station to the city centre, and decided to head inside (mostly because it just started to chuck it down!). The house was just as spooky inside as it looks from the outside. It cost us an $8 each admission fee and then you’re free to walk around for however long you wish. The Witch House was home to one of the judges of the Salem Witch Trials, Jonathan Corwin and it’s the only remaining structure which has direct ties with 1692 trials. During our visit we spoke to one of the house guides Judith Marshall who is very knowledgable about the house, the trials, and the paranormal activity that she has personally experienced in the house (yikes!). I’ve linked to her blog if you’re into the spooky stuff.
Visit the House of Seven Gables
The oldest surviving 17th Century wooden mansion in New England is well worth a visit during your trip to Salem. Constructed by merchant and sea captain John Turner, the house inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel ‘The House of the Seven Gables’. The interior is interesting and mysterious, and whilst you’re there be sure to find the secret staircase….
Enter the Salem Witch Museum
There’s a few different museums dotted around Salem, and due to time restrictions we only managed to visit one and this was the Salem Witch Museum. It’s hard to miss this eye-catching building, with its gothic architecture and witch statue just outside. Guided through 13 stage sets including life-size figures and an ongoing narration, you ca get a feel for the darkness and drama surrounding the 1692 witch trials. Each walkthrough is guided by a tour leader, and provides you with an in-depth understanding of the the Salem trials, witchcraft and even modern practice.
Stroll around the neighbourhood
Take a turn off the main strip and you’re likely to find yourself wandering down one of Salem’s many colourful residential streets. For the most part, we felt as though we were walking around a movie set, and it was a great way to spend an hour and get a feel for daily life in Salem. Chestnut street is one to add to your list, here you’ll find federal style mansions and grand antique homes. The street is actually a Registered National Historical Landmark! I’d be lying if I said the Instagrammer in me wasn’t thrilled at the discovery of pastel houses and picture-perfect streets.
Follow the Salem heritage trail
If you want to soak up everything that Salem has to offer, then simply follow the heritage trail. It’s a red painted line that runs through the city, around all of the points of interest and is an ideal way to navigate the city for first time visitors. Salem is fairly small, and therefore everything is easily walkable and you won’t need to worry about getting from a to b.
Indulge in retail therapy down Essex Street
The Essex Street pedestrian mall is what I class as central Salem (you will definitely come across it) and is comprised of brick-lined buildings that are home to an eclectic mix of witchy shops, cafes, restaurants and attractions. It’s one of the liveliest areas of Salem and completely closed off to cars, making it safe to wander whilst you pick up your souvenirs. Crystals, incense, spell books and clothing can all be found down Essex Street.
Devour vegan pizza at Flying Saucer
I wasn’t expecting to come across a vegan friendly pizza joint in Salem, so this was very well received on my part! When I’m visiting slightly obscure places I usually end up with a side of chips, you know how it is fellow vegans. I enjoyed a delicious vegan cheese pizza, which was oh so needed after a full-on day of exploring in the rain. After munching our way through two pizzas, we stopped by the Olde Main Street pub which was a nice stop-off before heading back to the train station and home to downtown Boston for another few nights.
The perfect escape from the city, Salem provided a fantastic day full of exploring, delicious food and interesting attractions. Perhaps my inner witch felt as if she had finally landed back home ha ha! If you’re ever visiting Boston and looking for a quirky way to enjoy a day out then I would 100% recommend a day trip to Salem. I would love to head back on Halloween as I imagine it would be pretty spectacular.