Salem, Massachusetts: Your Quick Trip Travel Guide
We all remember learning about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 in American history class, yes? However, do you know anything about what Salem, Massachusetts is like today?
First off, it has completely transformed into a memorial of these tragic witch trial happenings – now educating and informing its visitors. It serves as a safe space of acceptance and love for people of all backgrounds and walks of life. Then on top of that, Salem is just a super fun and unique travel destination!
Salem, Massachusetts has officially earned a top tier spot on my list of favorite places I’ve ever been to. I would go back in a heartbeat tomorrow if I had the chance.
Traveling to Salem, Massachusetts in 2020 looks different than usual due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. (the city is operating but in more of a Salem-lite version, if you will)
If you are debating on whether or not to take a trip this year, I would advise choosing a weekday, going after Halloween passes (read more about Salem’s Halloween limitations here), or waiting a few more months for conditions to improve.
If you do choose to travel, be sure to abide by the precautions put in place by Salem itself as well as the state of Massachusetts to stop the spread. Safety precautions you can take are:
- Wear your mask!
- Stay 6 feet apart from other people
- Choose to eat outdoors (and bring wipes to wipe down your table!)
- Respect the stores’ limits of how many people are allowed indoors at one time
- Use hand sanitizer! (many establishments provide it for you!)
So you’re spending 2 days in Salem…
…and you want to know what to do, right? Well, these are the things we got to experience on our 2-day visit that I highly recommend! Depending on what your priorities are, there is truly something for everyone to discover, however, this post contains a list of everything we truly enjoyed:
Shopping/walking through shops was one of my top favorite activities. I am very into the spiritual scene so being surrounded by crystals, herbs, and learning about spells was right up my alley. Even if that isn’t something that interests you, browsing through the shops and looking at everything could be extremely intriguing – you may even find an appreciation for something brand new!
Crow Haven Corner
Crow Haven Corner was right on a main strip of shops and we went here several times throughout our visit. Whether you’re looking for crystals, spell candles, tarot cards, crystal wishing trees, mojo babies, herbs, etc. this is a great central hub for all things witchy and magical. It truly has such a “Salem vibe.”
This is also where we got our psychic/tarot readings with Nickolas, who was excellent. He gave us fantastic and detailed insight on relationships and career, and we are quite excited to see how his predictions pan out. He was also very relatable and friendly, which made the reading so comfortable – even if you have never gotten one before!
Lorelei is another psychic at Crow Haven’s Corner, and she is Salem’s most famous Love Clairvoyant! She has done readings for many celebrities and is very popular.
You are by no means obligated to get a psychic reading in Salem, but it is really cool that there are opportunities to get them all over town!
Artemisia Botanicals was my other favorite shop in Salem. It had an extremely convenient location in relation to the more “main” shops but it’s a little off to the side. For that reason, it is a bit more quiet and tranquil.
This shop’s specialty was definitely herbs… there were jars filled with every type of herb you could possibly imagine, which were all on shelves lining the back and side wall. You can scoop out whatever type you want and put it in a bag to purchase. The herbs can be used for cooking, making teas, or spells, of course!
Special shout out to AJ who worked in the shop… he was so kind, offered to help us with anything we had questions on, and just had beautiful, compassionate energy!
Enchanted is a beautiful store for all of your magickal needs. They have herbs, oils, crystals, candles, incense, spell kits, aromatherapy products, etc. It is the perfect stop to make if you want to experience a truly authentic witch shop.
The Branch Olive Oil Co.
I love a good Olive Oil store and The Branch Olive Oil Co. was excellent. They had tons of unique Olive Oil flavors, soy candles that smelled fantastic, (I got one that smells like apple and it has a wood wick!), and lots of products that would be perfect to bring home as gifts! The woman working there was so kind and you could tell she was passionate about her store.
Remember Salem & Wynott Wands
If you’re looking for a dose of Harry Potter/wizard magic while visiting Salem, these two stores have the merchandise for you! Depending on the store, there are wands, robes, cups, cookbooks, shirts, scarves – you name it, there’s Harry Potter merch for it!
Partridge in a Bear Tree
Partridge in a Bear Tree, along with having an adorable pun for a name, truly loves to celebrate the holidays. They have a Halloween village and a Christmas village all set up for you to enjoy! As well as tons of candles, trinkets, or ornaments you could purchase to bring home as presents for loved ones. (or yourself!)
As you all know, one of my top favorite parts of traveling is eating. Salem has so many delicious options and places to try – you really can’t go wrong! All of the food we tried was delicious and great quality. I wouldn’t hesitate to send you to any of the following places:
On their website, Jaho states “To us, life is a journey filled with beautiful pictures, far-away places, new tastes, good friends, and the stories that we all share.” I love that and truly cannot think of a better synopsis.
This was one of my favorite locations we visited in all of Salem – they had a huge food menu, lots of pastries and treats, and of course any flavor of tea or coffee that you could imagine! Their seasonal menu looked delicious as well.
Howling Wolf Taqueria
Howling Wolf Taqueria had delicious, fresh Mexican cuisine! I got avocado fries, tacos, and a side of rice and everything was fantastic! (especially the rice – the way they prepared and seasoned it was utter perfection!) There was outdoor seating, fast service, and lovely décor! I would definitely recommend Howling Wolf if you’re looking for a full-service dining option in Salem.
I will never say no to Italian food, that’s for sure! Bambolina was an awesome spot. One of their most unique items was the “Grilled Cesar Salad” where they put lettuce and croutons right on the grill. It gives, what could be a totally normal salad, a toasted smoky flavor. YUM! They have woodfire pizzas – which totally reminded me of Via Napoli at Epcot.
And again, they had outdoor seating here. For this location, you scanned a barcode on your phone for the menu and sent one person inside the building to order. Very convenient and limited contact which is a great safety measure.
The Ugly Mug Diner
The Ugly Mug Diner is one of the breakfast spots in Salem. Their menu was tremendous and full of variety. They even had options to get regular potato hash or sweet potato hash… or they let you get half and half of both! (pictured below) I got the croissant breakfast sandwich, which is my favorite breakfast on earth. Lia got blueberry pancakes (and let me try some because they were huge) and those were delightful… I really don’t think you can go wrong with the food here!
We did have to wait about 45 minutes for a table on a Wednesday morning, so just be aware that there may be long wait times!
A Refresh on the Salem Witch Trials:
Let’s go through a little refresh on the Salem Witch Trials, shall we?
The Salem Witch Trials began in 1692 and carried over into 1693.
The first woman ever accused of witchcraft was Tituba, who was enslaved by a Puritan minister, Reverend Parris. Tituba told the children mystical stories of voodoo and witchcraft to pass the time during the cold winter days.
Not long after, two of the girls, Abigail Williams and Betty Parris, began acting peculiar. The doctors could not possibly understand why, so they claimed it must be “witchcraft.” In Puritan society, young girls were very suppressed from doing anything fun or imaginative – they had no choice but to be obedient, tend to the family, and do housework. Were these girls acting out just to get a reaction out of the adults and entertain themselves? One can’t be fully sure…
When the doctor asked them “who did this to you?” they called out Tituba’s name and she was accused of witchcraft. However, she was a very smart woman and testified as guilty. She figured if she just admitted to whatever they were accusing, they would set her free. Which they did.
Sadly, this is only where the madness began. Others were not so lucky. Many people were tried, though they were completely innocent. Witches were not viewed as healers or helpers, they were viewed as causing disasters and “bringing the devil to Salem.”
The accused were put in the dungeon, tortured, and/or hanged. Each victim’s story is quite different and tragic in its own way.
For example, Giles Corey was a victim who had a very interesting case. He was a farmer who was accused of witchcraft. When asked to testify, he refused to speak. This infuriated the people in charge, who then subjected him to a method of torture. They put rocks on his back to try and get information out of him. He was so stubborn that he continued to keep his mouth shut and refused to plea. All he ever said was “add more weight.” After three days, he was crushed to death.
The witch trials finally ended when the Governor’s wife got accused of witchcraft.
Places to Learn About the Salem Witch Trials:
The synopsis above only gives you a quick refresher on this very disheartening part of history. Salem has many museums and tributes about the trials so you are able to learn even more. Here are the ones we got to experience:
Salem Witch Museum
*For this experience, make sure to get your tickets early because they do sell out!
The Salem Witch Museum is one of the main attractions in Salem to learn more history about the Witch Trials. This is a two-part presentation. In the first portion, you take a seat in an open theater and look up at 13 different scenes from the trials, with still animatronic-like figures). Each portion is lit up as the narration proceeds.
The second portion is very enlightening as it goes through the meaning of the word “Witch.” It discusses the way it has evolved in the media and through the times. It gives insight about the European Witch Trials (which lead to the Salem Witch Trials) and touches on the representation of witches in the media and how that has evolved our perception as a culture.
For example, the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz is not green because witches are green, but because technicolor was new at the time and they wanted to utilize the color effect! This choice evolved into a common perception of witches.
Then, there also is a portion about Wiccan tradition, and they explain how it is full of nature-based practices and how the devil has no place within the religion, unlike the Puritans believed. The whole exhibit really debunks a lot of myths and gives more clarity around everything that has happened in history.
Witch Dungeon Museum
The Witch Dungeon Museum experience was also broken up into two parts, the first being a re-enactment of a trial from historical transcripts. There was a setup of still animatronic-like figures sitting in the court, and then two live actresses acted out roles one of Ann Putnam and Elizabeth Proctor.
Ann Putnam was friends with the girls who accused Tituba and claimed to be afflicted by witchcraft herself. She was one of the primary accusers during the length of the trials and was ultimately held responsible for over 60 accusations and 20 executions.
Girls like Ann Putnam would act as if they “saw the devil” during the trials, cause a huge scene, and claim that the person being accused was performing witchcraft on her.
Elizabeth Proctor was one of the accused, along with her husband John Proctor. John was convicted and hanged, however, Elizabeth’s sentence was postponed because she was pregnant at the time. Thankfully, right before she had her baby, the trials ended so she was never hanged! It was a miracle.
The second half of this experience was walking through the museum’s dungeons, to give us more of a visual of where they held the accused. The dungeons were very cold and dark. There were different sized cells… for those who had more money, there was more space where they could sit/stand/lay down and hold multiple people. Other cells were so small that they could only fit one standing person.
The whole thing was quite chilling. There were “people” in the cells so you could see what it was like. As disturbing as the whole thing was, it was a very educational experience. There’s something about actually seeing something more firsthand that helps you cultivate more empathy and develop further understanding of a tragic situation.
Witchcraft Victim’s Memorial
The Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial pays a tribute to those who were killed in the Salem Witch Trials in 1692-1693. In the cement, there are quotes from the people who were being prosecuted.
There are stones for each victim and people bring them flowers. Their names, the means of their death, and the year are printed on the stone. (Hanged, pressed to death, etc.)
If you can, while you’re there, take a moment to walk through and honor those that were affected. It really is a beautiful memorial.
This ominous black Witch House was home to Judge Jonathan Corwin, who was the judge during the Salem Witch Trials. We were not there during operating hours, but there is a self-guided tour at this house. Whether you choose to take the tour or just take a moment to see the house itself, it is a really historical, spooky building that has unique coloring and architecture.
Notable Salem Sights:
Hocus Pocus Houses:
The classic Halloween flick “Hocus Pocus” had many filming locations directly in Salem, Massachusetts. You could definitely dedicate a portion of your trip to going around town and finding these sights! We were able to find Allison’s House and the Town Hall building where the adults’ Halloween Party was held. Stumbling upon these locations adds a little extra magic to an already magickal place.
This statue is a little tribute to the 1960’s show Bewitched. It presents a great witchy photo op while walking about the streets in Salem! It’s located on Essex and Washington Street.
That wraps up our journey to Salem! If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful in any way, please share it with your friends or on Instagram. You can find me over at @JessicaFaye508 to connect further!
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Thank you so much for being here! Enjoy the rest of the spooky season. Like they say in Salem, Blessed be! Until next time… 🙂