A Day in Salem
We recently got a chance to visit the town of Salem, Massachusetts, home of the devastating Witch Trials. This was a last-minute decision to visit after Boston, and it was a bit sleepy post-Christmas. But we are so glad we did! The town is packed full of history, memorials, shopping, dining, and quirky fun for all.
The Salem Witch Trials is a dark spot in American history. The result of a childhood prank sparked by boredom ignited paranoia throughout the town. The trials followed in persecuting the wrongful execution of 25 people, and the imprisonment of over 100.
Salem oozes with history and character. It is a place that both acknowledges the tragedy of the trials, memorializes them, and celebrates its uniqueness with fun activities, bars, and shops. Having been founded around the birth of the nation, it is one of the oldest towns in the United States. So it boasts more modern tourist attractions, and historic buildings and houses from the 1600’s.
We were only there for an afternoon during the winter, but Salem could absolutely serve as a weekend getaway. Especially with the aesthetics of the fall season. Staying in a cute bed and breakfast, going on a haunted bar crawl, doing some souvenir shopping, and visiting the top historical spots would make for a perfect 3-day weekend.
The Salem Witch Museum
This museum is more of a show than a typical walk-through exhibit. When we went in December we were able to book a same-day time slot, but this may not always be possible, especially the closer you get to Halloween.
The first exhibit is a historical diorama show of the Witch Trial’s history. This exhibit-show is a frightening and informative display of what happened in Salem leading up to the Witch Trials. Using still figurines and creative lighting the show moves counter-clockwise around the circular theatre depicting the rumors, trials, and condemnation of those involved with all aspects of the famous controversy in Salem.
Next, there is a guided exhibit showing the misconceptions about what it means to be a witch, religions related to witchcraft, and the negative reputation earned throughout time.
The area, and the museum, can be a little frightening especially for children. The subject matter on its own goes through some dark situations, and at the end of the day it’s about what it means to be a witch and everything in-between. Know your groups comfort level before exploring this attraction.
The Salem Witch Memorial
This is a solemn site dedicated to the 25 people wrongly condemned for witchcraft. It sits next to a small cemetery in Salem, and is only a 5-minute walk from the Witch Museum. We took a quick detour before our timeslot at the museum. It was a somber sight to see, but provided some context when we found out about the 25 “witches” later.
The Bewitched Statue
This iconic statue of the 1964 Bewitched witch-turned-housewife Samantha Stephens perched on her broomstick is a classic Salem photo op. Catch her just before Essex Street!
The Witch House and Essex Street
We weren’t able to catch a tour of the inside of this house, but it was just as interesting from the outside! The iconic black house was built in 1675 and belonged to Judge Jonathan Corwin who was involved with sentencing in the Witch Trials.
Along the same street you can also find The Pickering House which is the oldest house in Salem (and one of the oldest in the United States), built in 1637.
And just a little farther down is The First Church in Salem, a Unitarian church founded in 1629.
There were a few other stops that looked interesting like the Peabody Essex Museum, The House of the Seven Gables, Salem Pioneer Village, and countless shops and smaller exhibits. But time was of the essence, and we unfortunately missed out this time around. Another Salem trip will have to be put in the books in the future!