October officially kicks off Halloween season. Everyone’s slurping on pumpkin-spiced everything and Spirit stores pop up on every corner. Social media feeds are filled with farm and haunted house photos and beauty gurus share the craziest makeup looks. Though I’m no pumpkin spiced anything girl, October is definitely my jam. As soon as late September hits, my Halloween home decor containers are out and the pumpkin queen arrives! THIS IS HALLOWEEN plays as I decorate- and I love every minute.

Boo! Or Surprise?

Naturally, a surprise weekend getaway for me would be to a place that pretty much honors this type of behavior. After so many years, my husband is finally getting it right. Our anniversary card (a silly ghost lol) read: “pack some outfits and give me some dates, we’re going to Salem.”

Related: Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Disclosure: Mazda USA provided us with a car loan for our trip. All opinions are true and honest.

Salem MA
Bags packed and ready to hit the road!

Road Trip Ready

Our friends over at Mazda USA provided us with a lovely ride for our getaway: the Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD. This premium SUV has a third-row option and is fully loaded with heated Nappa leather seats, satin chrome accents, and genuine layered wood trim. We rode in style and comfort. It was just the two of us but even for a party of 7, the ride would have been superb!

What’s in Salem, Anyway?

In case you’re not familiar with the history, Salem, Massachusetts is famous for its witch trials that took place in 1692. Innocent people were executed for allegedly practicing witchcraft. Almost 200 people were accused of practicing “Devil’s Magic’ during the close of the 17th century. Many died in prison but the most famous were the 18 who were hanged (19 total- one was pressed to death by stones) on Gallow’s Hill. Today, Salem is referred to “Witch City” and became more popular after the Bewitched statue was put in the center of town, and later because of Disney’s Hocus Pocus.

Is It Haunted?

Maybe a little. There are plenty of ghost tours and reportings of energy felt in certain places and ghosts seen. While I didn’t see anything, I did feel something at Old Burying Point and then at the John Ward House. Read about hauntings here.

At the Witch House (no witches actually lived here)

Visiting During the Fall

While October is a great month to visit, you may want to consider September or November. It is crowded and you’ll need to book way in advance if you want to stay in town. We stayed 30 minutes away and it worked out well. The only issue we had was on Sunday when many lots were full. We ended up finding parking but it was rough. For any future visit, I will definitely try for another fall month.

salem witch museum

Touring Witch City

Before you head out, do some research. Lucky for you, I’ve done it for you! (Be sure to bookmark this post or pin it.) There’s a lot to see and do in Salem and you can do so much on a weekend. The first thing you want to do when you get to Salem is to stop at the visitor information booth and pick up some maps. They’re free and very helpful. I also purchased a self-guided walking tour book for $7 at a local shop, Witch Haus which went into a little more detail and includes addresses to places from the film, Hocus Pocus. And definitely visit some of the shops. My favorite was Witch Haus and the Salem Mall had some great little shops where you could buy herbs and crystals, too.

peabody essex museum

To Tour or Not to Tour?

The question most people asked me is if they should do any tours. I personally do not like tours unless it’s somewhere I really can’t find any information on. I prefer self-guided tours, finding the places on my own, doing my own research and being able to talk about it and explore. I like to take it in and take pictures and I just feel like I can’t do all of that on a tour. I think it’s all a matter of time and preference.

Sights to See in Salem

As I mentioned before, there’s a lot to do and see but here are my MUST SEE sights. Especially if you’re only there for a weekend and want to do as much as possible.

  • The Witch House- home of Judge Jonathan Corwin who was a judge during the Salem Witch Trials.
  • Old Town Hall (The Salem Museum/ “Cry Innocent” play)- A reenactment of Bridget Bishop being (the first woman hung) accused of witchcraft.
  • Bewitched Sculpture
  • Salem Witch Museum- the Salem Witch Trials story using visuals.
  • The House of 7 Gables- made famous by author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables. A 1668 colonial mansion in Salem.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue
  • Witch Dungeon Museum- reenactment shows of the 1692 Salem witch trial. There’s also a dungeon replica.
  • Ropes Mansion (Allison’s house in Hocus Pocus)
  • Max & Dani’s House- (Disney’s Hocus Pocus)
  • The Old Burying Point- the oldest burial grounds in Salem
  • Salem Witch Trials Memorial- a memorial dedicated to the victims that were hanged/tortured.
  • Salem Pioneer Village- a replica of the first homes in Salem. The governor’s home uses actual wood form the original. It was also featured in Hocus Pocus (Binx’s home).
  • Salem’s Chestnut Street district- if you like looking at beautiful historic homes, take a stroll through here!
  • Peabody Essex Museum
  • Philips House- said to be haunted! It’s a historic home and museum.
  • Joshua Ward House- said to be Salem’s most haunted house. Ward was known as the witch strangler. He tortured witches and kept a prison room in his basement.

What Makes You a Witch?

Women mostly were accused of witchcraft. It began with a group of young girls who claimed to be possessed and began accusing local women of witchcraft. It could be the wise woman in town who knew how to heal using herbs or the doula who helped deliver babies and care for the sick. It could be anyone. The youngest to be jailed was only 5 years old. To look for signs, a jury would see if the person had the devil’s mark or ask them to recite the Lord’s prayer. But it could also be other things like having an argument out in the open with your spouse or neighbor, being seen with a group of friends (as in a coven), being a healer and advising people to take their meds or they’d get worse. Would you pass the test? Find out here.

house of 7 gables
The House of Seven Gables

Is Salem Ok for Families?

Yes! There are many families that visit. Where you visit is up to you. I think it’s a great getaway for a couple, girlfriends and families alike. It’s not a scary place. In fact, Salem is famous for witches but really it’s for their history of the witch trials- that the town was very embarrassed about for a long time. The memorial to those executed was created to honor the victims years later. This can be a very educational trip for families as it is a part of history and teaches a pretty great lesson.

The hubby and I had a great time. I would definitely visit again in the future. If you get the chance to go and love history, go! You’ll surely be enchanted.