Updated: Mar 12
More than a quarter of a million people visit the city of Salem, MA during Halloween season every year for the Haunted Happenings Experience. Notorious for the “Salem Witch Trials,” it’s no surprise that the city has acquired a somewhat chilling atmosphere. The city isn’t shy about its darker past with local sports teams named “The Witches” and a neighborhood called “Witchcraft Heights.” Though the trials put Salem on the historical map, there are so many other things that make the city a spooktacular place to visit. For instance, take a walk through Salem’s maritime past and discover its history as an early international trading port as well as its infamous “sea-robbers” Captains Blackbeard and Kidd who roamed the waters of Boston’s North Shore.
If you’re staying in the Salem area, why wouldn’t you stay in an old haunted hotel or inn? Check out The Hawthorne Hotel or The Salem Inn for a one-of-a-kind experience and a cozy place where you can (hopefully) get some sleep after a long day of adventuring.
The Hawthorne Hotel opened its doors in 1925 and was labeled as a modern hotel for the business traveler. Today, the timelessly designed hotel remains in the heart of Salem and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. It has become a staple in the city for both locals and visitors. It’s had famous visitors like former President Bill Clinton and has been featured in major motion pictures. In 1991, the first Halloween Party was thrown at The Hawthorne and it has now grown to be one of the biggest Halloween bashes around with DJs, bands and food taking up three floors of the hotel. And, if you dare to stay for a night or two, you may encounter the famous “spectral hands,” an apparition of a woman wondering the halls or you may even hear the disembodied cries of a child. Whether you’re visiting or staying, this historic haunted hotel is a must see!
The Salem Inn is the place to stay if you’re looking to immerse yourself into the history of the city. Dating back to 1834, this old Inn, once home to Captain Nathaniel West, has seen its fair share of events. In the middle of it all, this old quaint bed and breakfast is ideal for the travelers as it is within walking distance of nearly all that Salem has to offer. Is it haunted, you may ask? Well, it all depends on who you ask.
The owners of the inn are sure that the Salem Inn is absolutely NOT haunted. However, if you look through the countless stories written by guests, then you’ll find that it is quite possible that someone or something paranormal is taking up residence at the inn. The paranormal “presence” that has been felt around the inn has come to be known as “Katherine,” though her true identity is unknown. If your curiosity is getting the best of you, then there is truly only one way to find out! Book a room at this cozy bed and breakfast and get ready for a potentially haunting experience!
After your restful sleep, you can walk amongst the dead at the Howard Street, Broad Street and Charter Street Cemeteries, which are all connected to the Salem Witch Trials. After visiting the centuries old graves, you can make a stop at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. The Memorial consists of 20 granite benches that are marked with the names of the accused and the dates of their deaths.
Next, take a tour of “The House of the Seven Gables,” the house that inspired the novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel is set in the house that was owned by Hawthorne’s cousin Susanna and was inspired by his ancestors who had played a part in the Witch Trials of 1692. The novel follows a family who lives in a haunted New England mansion and explores themes of guilt, retribution, the supernatural and witchcraft. You’ll have to tour and see for yourself if the house is truly haunted.
You can also take a frightening guided walking tour through the dimly lit streets of Salem after the sun goes down. Choose from Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours of Salem or Haunted Footsteps Walking Tour. Both tours provide a glimpse into the city’s shaded colonial past, witch trials, creepy stories and ghosts. Each tour is unique and has its own stories and history to share. No matter which you choose, you’re sure to be thoroughly spooked!
And no trip to Salem is complete without paying a visit to The Witch House also known as the Jonathan Corwin House. This infamous house is the only remaining structure with direct ties to the Witch Trials. A tour through the house gives better insight to the lives of those who lived there as well as their seventeenth-century lifestyles and details of the trials. Also, don’t be surprised if you encounter a spirit or two!
Finally, you can complete your historical adventure by visiting Gallows Hill and museum. Until 2016, it was unclear where exactly Gallows Hill was located. Today, you can pay your respects at Proctor’s Ledge and tour the museum. On your visit you can also watch live theater, take a ride on the “Ghosts and Legends” trolley or listen in on the “tales of terror” while sipping on samples of local ales.
After taking in as much history as you can, you can get a good old-fashioned scare at one of the many haunted house attractions. Next to all the historically spooky places and paranormal activity, these terrifying attractions add a sense of classic Halloween fun. Here are a few haunted house attractions to add to your list.
Witch Mansion is Salem’s scariest haunted attraction. This house was professionally built to scare the pants off of even the bravest soul who dares to enter. With highly technical animations and 4D illusions, this thrilling experience is not for the faint of heart!
Frankenstein’s Castle is Salem’s newest haunted attraction and is based on the classic horror story written by Mary Shelley. Enter the Salem Wax Museum, feel your way through the dark curvy hallways and then down the stairs make your way to Dr. Frankenstein’s dungeon. Feast your eyes on his horrid monster creation before making your escape (if you’re lucky)!
Lastly, The Haunted Witch Village is Salem’s longest running and largest haunted attraction. See a darker side of the village as the witches come out to play! Attempt to find your way out of the indoor maze and explore the museum along side the creepiest of ghosts, ghouls and goblins.
There is more history in Salem than any one person could learn in a lifetime with a long list of things to do, places to see and places to stay. Those who have visited the city can say with the utmost certainty that you are sure to have an experience that is nothing short of magical (no pun intended).