My first bucket list trip is on the record and honestly, I just couldn’t get enough. Salem, Massachusetts, the infamous location where the American witch hysteria of the 1600’s began, is truly a sight to see, especially around October. In this post, I am sharing some of our favorite local businesses, and spooky activities to experience in Salem.
Without a doubt, you are not getting the full Salem experience without staying in one of it’s 17th century homes. Undoubtedly one of the oldest houses in Salem, The Daniels House was constructed by Stephen Daniels between 1667 and 1693.This bed and breakfast is an original First Period structure of great historic importance in Salem. For the first century and a half of its history, the house was occupied by shipbuilders and carpenters, as is reflected in the fine paneling and interior detail of various generations. Daniels and his son were both shipbuilders and mariners. In the mid-1700s, Stephen Daniels II’s daughter Mary married into the Silsbee family and lived in the house until 1803. Her son, Samuel Silsbee, was a carpenter who remodeled and enlarged the house around the time of his marriage to Martha Prince in 1756.
There are four beautiful guest rooms in this B&B. We stayed in Captain Daniel’s personal room, The Great Room. Once an eighteenth-century parlor, used for entertaining visitors and conducting business, the Great Room offers guests luxurious and memorable lodging. The spacious and opulently decorated Great Room features a large wood-burning fireplace, king size four-poster bed, antique furniture and ornate hand-painted portraits. In the evenings, we enjoyed a night cap in the cozy lounge area before climbing into bed. The bathroom was also unique in that it had a large fireplace, soaking tub, and unique artifacts of the period.
Take a tour through the Daniels House and take a rare look inside this 17th century mansion; one of the oldest in Salem and witness to the infamous Witch Trials and if you want to take it up a notch, schedule one of their Local Lore by Candlelight tours. Vijay, the guide, was very knowledgeable and an excellent story teller. He was by far the best tour guide we experienced in Salem!
Daniels House books up years in advance, so if you want to experience 17th century Salem living life, head on over to their website and book your reservation ASAP.
If you are a seafood fan, you have come to the right place. Some of the freshest seafood I have ever experienced was during our stay in Salem. If you aren’t a seafood fan, no worries, there are several other notable spots to grab some grub.
Sea Level Oyster Bar
First, our favorite dinner spot was Sea Level Oyster Bar! Sea Level Oyster Bar offers an unmatched selection of New England’s finest & freshest seafood. We loved the oysters and fresh catches here so much, that we ate here for dinner twice, not to mention the incredible view of Salem Harbor!
Jolie Tea Company
If you have never enjoyed a New England High Tea lunch, you are not getting the full experience. We loved our lunch date at Jolie Tea Company. Our Jolie High Tea began with a glass of iced hibiscus tea while we perused their extensive loose leaf tea menu. For lunch, we enjoyed a three tiered presentation of tea sandwiches, including cucumber, smoked salmon, and ham & brie, along with lemon scones, French macarons, madeleines, and your selected personal pot of tea. Our time at Jolie Tea was so memorable and a a definite treat for all who dine with them.
Red’s Sandwich Shoppe
Located in the historic London Coffee House cc. 1698 building in quaint Downtown Salem, Red’s Sandwich Shoppe offers delicious lunch specials, coffee, salad & soup, breakfast all day and much more! The food was great but even more incredible were the building’s past frequenters. It is said that Paul Reverie and Samuel Adams used to conduct business at the tavern that existed in this building 100’s of years ago!
Witch City Walks
Before getting into some of our favorite activities, I wanted to take a moment to share the photos we took of this quaint seaside city while on our walks. Speaking of walks, if you stay in Salem, especially at Daniels House, you will not need a car or Uber to get around to all of these attractions.
We loved looking at all of the New England homes and their Halloween decorations. Essex Street was the main mall with all of the witchy shops and main attractions. Note the image in the center below. Have you ever heard of the movie Hocus Pocus? This was the location of the town hall filmed in Hocus Pocus!
Attractions and Activities
Salem’s first Vampyre Parlor, Maison Vampyre is an elegant and uniquely themed private space, located in the heart of Salem at One Derby Square. We booked an appointment for a psychic reading with Alexis and June, members of the local Vampire community.
This was the first time we had ever booked a psychic reading, when in Salem! We were shocked at how accurate our reading was. Alexis and June really gave us more insight into current issues, future business ventures, and internal struggles. In addition to traditional psychic readings, Maison Vampyre also offers a unique curation of specialty services. Energy work, astrology readings, guided meditation, and crystal clearings are just some of the experiences available. Maison Vampyre is only accessible via appointments.
Alexis and Ben are also the owners of VampFangs, a local boutique on Essex street.
The House of 7 Gables
In 1668, merchant and ship-owner John Turner built a house on Salem Harbor that was destined to become one of America’s most beloved historic homes. Best known today as the setting of world-renowned American author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel, The House of 7 Gables. The gardens and grounds overlooking the harbor were immaculate and the Georgian home décor was absolutely beautiful. This was the first tour we did in Salem and it definitely set the tone and history for the rest of our trip.
Black Cat Tours
Salem Black Cat Tours offers a unique adventure that delves into the true history of Salem and its legacy of terrifying hauntings. Our guide, Daniel, was a master storyteller, and immersed us in so many fascinating tales of the city known for it’s rich history in the Salem Witch Trials! Our tour started at 8pm and took about an hour and a half. The distance we traveled was less than a mile, and there were so many spooky stops and haunting stories. I love that Daniel and his wife Lara wrote a book about all of the haunted stories so that you can take it with you and relive the experience over and over.
New England Pirate Museum
Relive the adventures of Captains Kidd and Blackbeard, who roamed freely off the shores of Salem plundering merchant ships. Our live walking tour was guided by Tyler who was extremely knowledgeable, a great actor, and encouraged questions. We strolled through a colonial seaport set, boarded a pirate ship replica, and explore an eighty foot cave. We came to Salem mainly to learn more about the witch trials and had no idea about the stories of New England’s adventurous sea-robbers. Being a HUGE pirate lover, I thoroughly enjoyed this tour.
The Witch House
The Jonathan Corwin House in Salem, Massachusetts, USA, known as The Witch House, was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640–1718). In 1675, Jonathan Corwin, heir to one of the largest Puritan fortunes in New England, purchased this large and stately house. Seventeen years later, Corwin and his family would take part in the most famous Witch Hunt in American History. Tours of the Corwin House, now known as the Witch House, connect elements of everyday life with the events punctuating history’s timelines. Through examination of family life, architecture and furniture of the seventeenth century, visitors gain a deeper comprehension of the people involved in the Witch Trials and an enriched understanding of America’s colonial heritage.
Cry Innocent? Reenactment
A must see for everyone, the Cry Innocent reenactment is the longest continuously-running show north of Boston, and is Salem’s best way to learn about the witch trials. This show has been featured on the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, A&E, Nickelodeon, TLC, NPR, BBC, CNN and MTV. The year is 1692. Bridget Bishop has been accused of witchcraft and YOU are on the Puritan jury. Hear the historical testimonies, cross-examine the witnesses and decide the verdict. Is Bridget Bishop capable of witchcraft? Play your part in history…
Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Witch Museum consists of two presentations. The first presentation provides an immersive look into the events of 1692. Visitors experience the drama of that dark time though thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting and narration as they are witness to the web of lies and intrigue of the Salem witch-hunt.
The second exhibit, Witches: Evolving Perceptions, is a tour focusing on the meaning behind the word witch and evolution of the image of the witch over time. This presentation focuses on the European witch trials and the background leading to the Salem witch trials. In addition, this presentation discusses the emergence of the stereotypical witch and the frightening phenomenon of witch-hunting. The tour and exhibits are truly eye opening and even pertain to events around the world today!
Salem is a must visit seaport town year round but especially during October. If you want to plan a trip to Salem, check out Destination Salem and share this guide with family and friends, or just want to pin it to your bucket list Pinterest board, pin the image below.