Salem Haunts: 8 Places to Go for History, Stories and Legends
Located less than an hour’s drive from the North Shore area in Massachusetts, Salem offers a day-trip destination worth visiting. The city has garnered worldwide attention for historic witch trials and is packed full of historical sites guests enjoy year-round. However, fall sets the tone best. If vacationing in North Shore during the fall season, here’s where to experience the top Salem haunts.
Best Salem Haunts: Experience History, Culture and Ghosts
Tour: Spellbound Tours
For over 15 years, Spellbound Tours has hosted guided tours that uncover voodoo, vampires and ghosts throughout Salem. Due to its history and accuracy, many claim this is the best paranormal tour in Salem.
Each walking tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and occurs rain or shine. A few stops include: Old Salem Jail, Joshua Ward House – among the most haunted homes in America – and Old Town Hall, home to vampire folklore. These sites and several others claim haunted status, and some have been featured on Ghost Hunters.
Tour: Salem Night Tour
Another top tour is Salem Night Tour. The company has educated and entertained guests for over 10 years and strives to deliver a true Salem experience. This award-winning walking tour also has activities in Boston and Plymouth. In Salem, daytime and nighttime options are available.
Each tour takes about 1.25 hours and welcomes all ages. Visitors explore top Salem haunts such as the town hall featured in Hocus Pocus, in addition to local sites. A licensed historian guides each group and explains the city’s haunted history.
Site: Old Burying Point Cemetery
While guided tours visit Old Burying Cemetery, some people prefer to explore on their own. The cemetery sits a block from the visitor center and serves as the oldest burial ground in Salem. Many recommend Old Burying Cemetery due to its age, beauty and creepiness.
The cemetery was established in 1637, and houses notable past residents, including governors, a chief justice, and judges such as John Hathorne, a decedent of Nathaniel Hawthorn and former witchcraft judge.
Site: Salem Witch Trial Memorial
From the cemetery, wander into Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This site honors 20 men and women who were accused, convicted and executed as witches in 1692. While visiting, see granite benches made from a low stone wall surrounding part of Old Burying Cemetery. Each bench features an inscription with the accused name, means of execution and date of execution.
Attraction: House of Seven Gables
Featured in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The House of Seven Gables, and built by John Turner in 1668, this historic home has stood the test of time for over 350 years. The mansion sits in a National Historic District, which also houses Hooper-Hathaway House, Hawthorne’s birthplace and Retire Beckett House.
Take a Seven Gables guided tour through the district to see all sites, stroll Seaside Gardens and shop for souvenirs. Tours depart multiple times per day and last 35 to 40 minutes. In addition to tours, families will find a maritime discovery zone and living history labs.
Why does it rank among the top Salem haunts? Some claim to have experienced light and water disturbances, and see shadows and two entities.
Museum: Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
For over-the-top fun, head to Count Orlock’s Nightmare Gallery. This attraction caters to supernatural and horror fans, and celebrates everyone who has entertained the world of horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Guests learn about cinematic monster history, directors, actors and special-effects professionals.
See exhibits and over 60 life-size recreations from horror. During October, these creations come to life, making this a must-see for Halloween. Replicas include Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT and Erik, the Phantom of the Opera.
Museum: The Jonathan Corwin House
Better known as “The Witch House,” it once served as home to Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640-1718). The home remains the last standing structure with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials and offers a glimpse into Puritan life.
Visitors can take guided and self-guided tours to see 17th-century architecture and furniture, as well as learn about Puritan heritage. In addition to tours, The Witch House hosts special events. If visiting in October, attend Lanterns in the Village and Tales at the Witch House.
Shop: Wicked Good Books
Although there are plenty of places to shop in Salem, one tops the list. Wicked Good Books ranks among the top Salem haunts. Some say when the store underwent renovation, workers found hidden tunnels and human bones, and some have experienced paranormal activity.
Wicked Good Books also ranks among the best bookstores in North Shore. Shop for books, T-shirts, cups, and find publications dedicated to Salem’s history and legends. The store stocks everything from children’s literature to local authors.
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