The month of October is often one of the best times to travel, with kids back in school, and bright autumn colors providing a spectacular background for stunning New England scenery. If you like Halloween, combining a trip to Massachusetts with the festivities of the spookiest day of the year can be one of the most enjoyable travel adventures you can undertake.
You won’t find a much better setting for Halloween than the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is best known for being the location of the famous Salem Witch Trials back in 1692. Today, Salem is home to many attractions based on its “witchy” history, as well as adventures on the water, and a wide range of outstanding foods, including fresh lobster.
The easiest way to get to Salem, is by flying into Boston International Airport. From there, it’s only a half hour drive north to Salem up US-1 to highway 107 north.
Where to stay
Are you looking for a true Halloween experience? Consider staying at the Hawthorne Hotel, one of the most haunted in the entire nation. It’s centrally located, making it easy to walk to all the best Salem attractions. This year, you can also attend the Salem Witches Halloween Ball that will be held at the hotel on Friday, October 28, from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Other than Cripple Creek, Colorado, Salem is the most haunted town I’ve ever spent the night in, and the Hawthorne does not disappoint. The land that the hotel was built on, is said to have been owned by the first person to be hanged for practicing witchcraft, Bridget Bishop.
Hotel employees have reported numerous paranormal experiences, including one night shift employee who found an empty room’s furnishings had suddenly been rearranged. He refused to work the night shift again.
There have also been numerous guest reports of ghostly encounters, and when I was there I experienced something rather creepy. I was putting make up on in the bathroom, with the door shut, and there was no one else in the room at the time. I started to hear a light tapping on the door, but when I opened it, no one was there. I assumed it was my imagination and shut the door again. A minute later, the tapping returned, slightly louder this time. Again, I opened the door to an empty room. I left it open while I finished getting ready for dinner.
What to do
If you’re in Salem during the weekend just before Halloween, you won’t want to miss the Witches Halloween Ball at the hotel, and there are many other attractions perfect for this time of year.
The Burying Point is the oldest burying ground in the city. Justice John Hawthorne, one of the judges in the witch trials, is buried here.
The Salem Witch Museum is a must-see. Here you can watch very well done reenactments of the Salem Witch Trials. It is an amazing experience any time of year, and will certainly add a good adventure to your Halloween festivities. The $9 admission is a great value for time well spent.
The Witch House is the only structure still standing that has direct ties to the witch trials. It was the home of one of the witch trial judges, Jonathan Corwin. He purchased the home in 1675 and lived there for 40 years. You can take a guided tour for only a $6.25 admission.
This October, you can also attend “Eerie Evenings” at The Witch House. Listen to ghost stories told by actors in period clothing in darkened rooms at night. You might want to make sure you have a friend along for this one. Hold on tight.
For the more adventurous, you might take a Haunted Harbor Cruise. For $25 you’ll take an an hour and a half cruise while you listen to spooky stories about haunted lighthouses, pirates, sea monsters, ocean demons and more.
Where to eat
All of your haunted adventures will probably leave you a little bit hungry. Not to worry, there are lots of wonderful restaurants in Salem.
The Coven Cafe is the best place for breakfast or lunch, with a wide array of sandwiches and baked goods. Vegans will be very happy with their choices here as well. While you wait, you can play with the retro toys or board games scattered throughout the cafe.
Finz is the place to go for the best fresh seafood, including chilled lobster, fresh local oysters, and mouth-watering delicious lobster ravioli. The restaurant is on the Salem Wharf overlooking the harbor, providing the perfect place to dine and experience Salem scenery and night life.
Traveling to Salem is one of the best ways to experience a happy, and possibly, a haunted Halloween.