✈️ Travel

A weekend in Salem – Fall Adventure 2021


Being a huge fan of Halloween, I needed to experience Salem – the Witch Town – in the fall. We chose to go there in September because it was way cheaper than October. Also, there is a chance to experience some snow in October and we wanted a true fall experience with leaves changing color and fall temperatures.

Best way to get to Salem

Salem is a little town about 45 minutes North of Boston. There is the option to go to Salem by train, but I don’t know more about this. We arrived by plane and decided to rent a car. This is a much faster way to get around when you only have limited time. We arrived in Boston on September 16 in the afternoon, got in the car and drove towards the Salem area.

Where to stay

Salem has lots of options in every price range. Being famous for witch trials, the town is extra popular right before and during Halloween. My advice is to book your trip as far in advance as possible. Even in September the Motel and Hotel rates where crazy expensive and we decided to stay close to Salem in a little town called Danvers. Our Hotel was the Sonesta Select Boston and it was the perfect choice for our trip. Salem was only a 15 minute drive away.

Day 1 – September 17

We started our day with breakfast at the Gulu Gulu Café. I especially liked that the café had some gluten-free breakfast options like crêpes and wonderful seasonal coffee specialties. Salem is a very walkable city. Our first stop after breakfast was the Bewitched Statue. It is very close to the café (right outside actually) and pays tribute to the famous TV show ‘Bewitched’ and it’s filming of the 7th season in Salem. From there we walked to Hawthorne Hotel. It’s a historic hotel very close to all main attractions. It got famous because the crew and cast of “Bewitched” stayed here in 1970. On our way to the Witch Museum, we passed by the Statue of Rodger Conant, who was the founder of Salem.

The Witch Museum was a very good start to learn more about the cities’ history especially about the Salem Witch Trials that happened in 1692. You can purchase same-day-tickets on the museums’ website, which we did early in the morning to secure us the morning time slot. The witch trials are a big and very emotional part in the US history and the museum did a great job in illustrating the time. When you enter the museum it starts with a presentation. The audience has the chance to sit down in the middle of the room and is surrounded by 13 life-size stages who represent the timeline of the witch trials. Every stage goes along with narration and lights up. Getting a feeling for the time, the lies, the thirst for attention and power the visitors get more details in a second presentation followed by an exhibition. You’ll get a better understanding of the meaning behind the word “witch” and the evolution over the time. At the end is a very large gift shop with books but also lots of home decor, clothing and food. I got myself a cute sweater, chocolate and a mix for a hot cider.

Essex Street is home to a lot of cute little shops and is a nice street if you have some time to kill. In the afternoon (2pm) we did a guided walking tour which was called Salem: History & Witchcraft Day Tour. The tour was 1.5 hours long and took us to the historic sites we already heard about during our museum visit in the morning. Our guide told us a bunch of stories of the accused and executed witches and of those that accused them. Last stop was the Old Burial Ground Cemetery and the Witch Trials Memorial. The memorial is dedicated to the 20 victims of the witch trials of 1692. You’ll see floating granite benches which are representing the victims. Each bench is engraved with the name, means of execution, and execution date. To this day people put flowers and letters to pay their respects.

After walking around for most of the day we stopped for an afternoon coffee at Brew Box Coffee. Back in the car we drove to Chandler Honey Park to check out the Marblehead Lighthouse which is about a 20 minute drive from Salem. Unfortunately, it started raining along the way. We just stayed for a short time and walked around a little.

Since it was raining now, we drove back to the hotel to relax a little. We went back to Salem where we had a delicious dinner at The Ledger. For something sweet we stopped by Maria’s Sweet Something’s which offered treats, ice cream and is also great for souvenir shopping.

Day 2 – September 18

Today we had breakfast at the Fountain Place Restaurant.

Hocus Pocus Movie Locations Tour

We did a self-guided tour. I googled all necessary locations in the area and mapped it out for our convenience. The first 3 are walkable within the city center. For the other 2 (Max and Dani’s House & Thackery Binx’s House) it’s better to go there by car.
– Max & Allison’s School: 86 Essex St
– Allison’s House/Ropes Mansion: 318 Essex St. The Mansion has a beautiful garden attached. It’s worth to spend some time here and explore. They even have this little free library mail box in the garden. So adorable.
– Old Town Hall (location of the Halloween Party): 32 Derby Square
– Max & Dani’s House: 4 Ocean Ave. This house is a private home.
– Thackery Binx’s House/Salem Pioneer Village in Forest River Park: 98 W Ave. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. It was $5 per person. Check their website for opening hours.

We added to stops non Hocus Pocus related:
– Allison’s House/Ropes Mansion is actually super close to The Witch House, former home of Jonathan Corwin, who was one of the judges during the witch trials. Since we passed the house anyways, we stopped to take some pictures.
– Check out Artist’s row when you’re at the Town Hall. It’s just down the street. You can actually see a little bit of the Town Hall in my picture.

Other things we did that day

We checked out the outside of The House of the 7 Gables. You can go inside. It is recommended to book ahead and check the opening hours in advance. After that we stopped at JAHO Coffee for a hot drink and a snack. With our drink we walked over to Salem Maritime National Historic Site. They have a replica of a tall ship which you can visit and walk down the historic Wharf.

We could not leave Salem before visiting the Halloween Museum. The museum opens at noon. You can book your tickets in advance. The exhibition halls are decorated with glow paint and lit with black lights. You’re given 3D glasses to use throughout your experience for some pieces. The museum is smaller than expected (I think we only spent 30 minutes in the museum) but it was a lot fun.

Being done with Salem’s touristy highlights, we decided to drive to Gloucester which was a 30 min drive. Gloucester is a cute little down which was an important center of the fishing industry. Nowadays it’s a popular summer destination. I can totally understand why. The town very welcoming and you can do nice walks along the Stacy Boulevard along the water. After the crowds in Salem, I felt immediately relaxed. Nice bonus was the weather. We left Salem which was very cloudy and found beautiful sunshine in Gloucester.

Day 3 – September 19

On our last day we drove back to Boston in the morning and did a brief stop at Harvard Campus. A nice sightseeing finale for my professor husband :-).

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