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There’s a reason they call it the “Witch City.” Halloween lasts the entire month of October in Salem, MA, but it’s an ideal weekend destination any time of the year. When fall rolls around, the city comes alive with stunning foliage and fascinating history. Less than 20 miles from Boston, and easily reachable by MBTA Commuter Rail, this coastal hub is a must-see for any New England visit.

RELATED: Boston’s most intriguing historic bars

What to see

Salem Witch Museum | Flickr CC: Heather Paul

At the Peabody Essex Museum, you can cruise Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett’s personal collection of horror movie posters on view through November 26th. A series of interactive immersion installations also debuted in mid-October, but if you’re looking to take in the classics, the PEM has a diverse collection of American and Asian art. Don’t miss the famous Salem Witch Museum for a dramatic look at the witch trials of 1692. You’ll witness presentations that detail stories of both the accusers and accused, as well as the fascinating court proceedings and executions that followed. For a dark, but terrifyingly real remembrance of the Puritan period, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a stone remembrance dedicated to those who were sentenced to death for refusing to confess practicing witchcraft.

What to do

Historic Friendship of Salem at National Maritime Historic Site run by National Park Service Salem Massachusetts

Step into the setting of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Gothic novel The House of the Seven Gables at the property that inspired the story. Also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, the House of the Seven Gables is a mansion that belonged to a wealthy Salem maritime family but became notorious for its spooky ghost-ridden depiction in the novel. Take a self-guided walking tour through the 9-and-a-half acre Salem Maritime National Historic Site, where you’ll find everything from masterfully-preserved historic homes to a replica of the tallship, the Friendship of Salem.

ALSO: Earn travel rewards on your Salem trip with Orbitz Rewards—joining’s fast and free!

Where to eat

History junkies and foodies alike will be in their element at Ledger Restaurant and Bar. Formerly the Salem Savings Bank, the 200-year-old building has been converted into a stylish eatery while maintaining its original glory. The bank vault now functions as a walk-in refrigerator, safety deposit boxes have become a dividing wall, and historic banking ledgers are visible in an elevated library. Swing by for brunch to enjoy buttermilk pancakes, topped with candied nuts, crème fraiche, Morningwood maple, and macerated fresh fruit. Swing over to Bit Bar in the converted Salem Jail, where drinking a beer comes with a side of vintage arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man and Asteroids, not to mention comfort foods like loaded burgers and mac-and-cheese.

Where to shop

On Pickering Wharf, browse the selections of stylish, beach-inspired clothing at Ocean Chic Boutique. Give in to your sweet tooth at Ye Old Pepper Candy Companie, where you’ll find old time favorites like their famous peppermint Gibralters, the first commercially made candy in the US. Grab a box of Wintergreen or Peppermint Patties to bring back home. Or if you want to go savory over sweet, head to The Cheese Shop of Salem for a bountiful selection of cheese, wine, and gourmet groceries.

Where to stay

Merchant, Salem, Massachusetts

The Merchant

You can rest your head in the same room as George Washington at The Merchant in Salem’s historic district. The hotel draws from the city’s history as a bustling maritime center (it was even formerly owned by a wealthy sea merchant, hence its name.) Set to debut this fall is the Hotel Salem, an 44-room boutique hotel located in a former department store, with plenty of unique history that pays homage to its retail past.

Tagged: Boston, New England

Megan Johnson

Megan Johnson

Megan Johnson

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