I’ve been to Salem, Massachusetts twice now. But neither time has been in the month of October which I feel is a must when visiting the witchy city.
This does mean that I have an excuse to go back a third time in the future, and that it must be during the month of October.
Growing up, one of my favourite movies to watch was Hocus Pocus. In fact, I still make a tradition of watching it every Halloween even in my twenties.
And so, it was always a dream of mine to visit Salem and see where the movie was filmed and also to learn about the Salem Witch Trials. But never did I think I’d actually be able to go, never mind visit twice.
If you happen to be visiting Boston, Salem is only a short train ride away from the capital city so it’s not vital that you have a car to get there.
Now that I’ve been a couple of times and once with a car too, I thought I would put together a list of my top things to do if you ever happen to visit.
1. Salem Witch Museum
This was one of the first things we did when we visited Salem the first time around. It’s one of the most popular museums in Salem to learn about the Salem witch trials.
They have a room inside that acts through what happened in a visual and sensual way which I found really insightful and well put together.
And they also have Judy Garland’s red slippers that she wore filming the Wizard of Oz which is pretty cool.
If you want to learn everything you need to know about Salem, I’d definitely recommend making this the first stop on your tour of the city.
2. Salem Witch Village
This is the main area of the city where you’ll find the shops and boutiques along a high street of sorts.
Paved with red bricks, it definitely makes the place very picturesque and I can imagine it looking especially beautiful in the autumn with the red and orange leaves matching the brickwork.
There are many stores in the village selling witchy items, Salem merchandise and even some bookstores. I love browsing in these stores to see what I can find and when it comes to witchery, you’ll definitely find some crazy things!
3. Hocus Pocus Filming Locations
Hocus Pocus was filmed in different locations around Salem. This makes the city a fun place to visit, especially if you’re a fan of the movie.
Allison’s house (Rope Mansions) can be found quite easily, along with the Old Town Hall (where they held the parents Halloween party) and the school and park where Max is on his bike at the beginning of the film getting his number returned to him by Allison.
When we visited Salem for the second time, we had a car which allowed us to visit the Pioneer Village (where the opening scenes and Sanderson house was filmed) as well as Max and Dani’s house which sits a little further outside the centre of the city.
I put together a quick YouTube video showing the locations and where to find them which you can find here, along with other sights in Salem to see if you’d like to tour it virtually through this vlog:
4. The Witch House
Located next to Ropes Mansion (Allison’s house from Hocus Pocus) is the Witch House. It stands out quite strongly on this main road into the centre of the city and looks like the kind of house I would live in myself.
A dark grey colour with little windows and light, you can enter via the back door to find a very small gift shop with memorabilia you can purchase about Salem.
The house also offers tours of the space to see what kind of place a ‘witch’ lived in back in the 1600s.
5. Bewitched Statue
Another witchy TV show that you may have heard of (besides Sabrina the Teenage Witch – who’s cat was called Salem!) is Bewitched.
Personally I don’t remember the TV show as it was before my time, but I do remember the movie version with Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman.
Part of the original TV show was also filmed in Salem and so they have a Bewitched Statue to honour this.
However, the statue doesn’t come without controversy as it was covered with red paint in 2022 from protestors who said the show made light of the witch trials that happened in 1692.
6. The House of the Seven Gables
A few streets away from the main city centre, you’ll find the House of the Seven Gables. Similarly to the Witch House, it also has a dark grey/black exterior and serves as a museum.
We visited here on our most recent trip to Salem, driving to the house and finding that it looked out onto the sea – something that you don’t ever think of when imagining Salem.
The house is a national historic landmark and you may have heard of the book of the same name, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1851.
Known as one of America’s most beloved historic homes, it boasts an amazing view of the harbour and you can also take a tour of the house – but this will cost you $30, something we chose not to do on our trip.
7. Take a walking tour
This is something that I still have on my list to do when I eventually visit Salem during the month of Halloween. Although this will be the most busy and expensive time to visit Salem, I can sense that it will be worth it just to get the full spooky feeling for the city during that time of year.
There are a few walking tours on offer in Salem, but the most popular seem to be History and Hauntings of Salem Guided Walking Tour and the Salem Night Ghost Tour which I think would be my top two picks for sure!
8. Old Burying Point Cemetery
You might wonder why I’ve added a cemetery to the list of things to do, but in the Old Burying Point Cemetery, you’ll find the graves of those involved in the Salem Witch Trials including prolific Judge John Hathorne who was one of the most influential and hated judges of the trials.
It’s one of the oldest burying grounds in Massachusetts, opened in 1637 before the Witch Trials began.
9. Witch Dungeon Museum
In the Salem Witch Dungeon, you can experience a live reenactment of the Salem Witch Trials. With continuous live shows running from 10am to 5pm every day, you can see an award-winning reenactment of the trial of beggar-woman Sarah Good.
You’ll also experience a guided tour of the dungeon, including a recreated village and Gallows Hill.