Salem, Massachusetts, Things to Do
With its well-known history, you won’t be surprised to find that many of the things to do in Salem are focused on witches, but that’s probably why you planned the trip. Use our suggestions of popular attractions to make the most of your time here.
Witch History Museums
Salem features a number of similarly named museums intended to teach tourists about the history of the witch trials. At the Salem Witch Museum, you’ll see a short presentation about the Salem witch trials, then go on to see other exhibits that aim to teach you about real Pagan and Wiccan beliefs so that you are better able to separate the truth from the myths. The Witch History Museum teaches through displays, but can feel a bit underwhelming at times. However, a ticket here offers you discounts at other Salem attractions. The Salem Witch Dungeon Museum can show you what the prisons were like, but it’s not accessible for those with mobility issues. If you already have some solid knowledge about the witch trials, you may want to skip these attractions.
The Custom House is part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Park. The current house was built in 1819 and was used by Nathanial Hawthorne. Tours are available, and there are a number of different building on this tour. Hawthorne fans may also want to check out the House of the Seven Gables, which is a wooden mansion built in 1668 that was made famous by Hawthorne’s book of the same name. You’ll get a complete tour of the home’s interior, decorated with period pieces. The Witch House was formerly the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin. It’s the only building still standing that has a direct connection to the witch trials. It’s a fun peek into the past.
Memorial and Cemetery
The Witch Trial Memorial is a memorial to the innocent people who were killed as a result of the witch trials. You’ll see simple engravings listing the names of the victims, the date of death, the method of death, and an occasional quote. Interestingly, only a wall separates this memorial from the Old Burying Point Cemetery. This is Salem’s oldest cemetery and the final resting places of two of the judges who condemned “witches” in the trials – Judge John Hathorne and Judge Jonathan Corwin.
If you’ve had enough witch history for your trip, head out to the Salem Commons. It’s a nice, open area with a gazebo. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the outside. Alternatively, have a bit of fun at the New England Pirate Museum. You’ll get to see authentic pirate treasures, along with a brief tour about the history of real pirates.
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