I’m not sure how it took 34 years, but this Halloween loving girl FINALLY visited Salem, Massachusetts and I’m here to share the perfect Fall Weekend Itinerary if you’re planning on visiting the Witch City this year.
Salem is a city on the north shore of Massachusetts that is famous for its 1692 witch trials when several locals were executed for practicing witchcraft. Now referred to as the Witch City, this coastal New England town is a charming, yet spooky, filled with history and definitely one of the most unique places you can visit!
I’m sure your first instinct is to want to visit Salem in October and it truly is amazing during the entire month of October. Salem really pulls out all the stops with Haunted Happenings, BUT it is EXTREMELY crowded during Halloween month. Finding hotels, tours, restaurants, even parking is very difficult. So visiting on an off month is my suggestion! We went during the middle/end of September and found it to be perfect!
Salem, like many other New England towns, is perfect for a weekend or long weekend trip, it’s on the smaller side, but with so many great things to see and places to eat you definitely want to give yourself 2 days in Salem to explore! It’s also extremely walkable so once you’re there you don’t have to worry about driving anywhere, all of it’s landmarks and tourist attractions are relatively close together.
2 Days in Salem Itinerary
It took us about 3 1/2 hours to get to Salem. MA from the Westchester, NY area so we arrived right around 1pm and headed to lunch at Finz Seafood. It was a beautiful day in late September so we wanted to eat on the water (I feel like most people don’t’ realize Salem is a coastal city, but it is, so lunch on the harbor was a must!) Highly recommend ordering the Street Corn Shrimp, Rhode Island Calamari, Roasted Honey Nut Squash & Burrata Salad, Crab Stuffed Cod, Lobster Roll, Salem “Hot” Chicken Sandwich.
After lunch we did a little bit of wandering around Salem to get the lay of the land. Salem is a very walkabout town that is very easy to navigate so you shouldn’t have any issues getting around! We stopped by Wynotts Wands, a shop filled with magic wands (if you’re a Harry Potter fan this place is a must!) & Salem Witch Board Musuem, a museum dedicated exclusively to the history of ouija baords.
After walking around we were able to check into our hotel. We decided to stay at the Hawthorne Hotel because it is Salem’s most famous hotel and since it was our first trip to Salem we thought it would be a fun experience! It’s centrally located within walking distance to everything, our room was large and parking was included. Parking in Salem is pretty difficult so if you can get a hotel that has it that’s a HUGE plus. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a little more information about the Hawthorne Hotel (like how it’s haunted!) and for more hotel recommendations.
We had a late dinner at Ledger Restaurant. The location is in the former Salem Savings Bank building it’s an upscale restaurant that friends highly recommend! The Ledger menu is constantly changing, but we had Wood-Grilled Carrots, Bolognese, Fig Toast and Peach & Tomato Salad and it was all delicious!
We had to stop by Salem Witch Museum on way back to hotel, it’s not open at night, but it’s so creepy (& cool) all lit up in red we needed a closer look.
Highly suggest going for breakfast at Reds Sandwich Shop during your visit to Salem, it was voted best breakfast on Boston‘s North Shore for 24 years and is delicious. If they have Room on the Broom (homemade pumpkin bread sticks grilled golden brown topped with powdered sugar and served with chef made pumpkin cheesecake dipping sauce) get it!!
After breakfast we knew we wanted to do a little bit of exploring and shopping! I highly recommend visiting Nocturne, Hauswitch, Blackcraft and Emporium 32. They are all located in downtown Salem and very easy to find! Scroll down to find out why I love each of these!
Salem Witch Trials Memorial & Old Burying Point Cemetery
Chances are you’re visiting Salem because you want to learn more about the Salem Witch Trials, so visiting the Salem Witch Trials Memorial & Old Burying Point Cemetery should be the on the top of your list of things to do! The memorial is simple, yet dramatic and a must see in Salem.
If you’re a fan of classic TV they you have to make sure you stop by the Bewitched Statue in Lappin Park! Eight episodes of the series’ 7th season were set in Salem.
If you do one home tour in Salem have it be the self guided tour of the Witch House. It’s the original home of one of the judges involved in the witch trials and is the only remaining structure in Salem with direct ties to the trials. It’s only $10.25 and while you’re there make sure to snap a photo in front!
McIntire Historic District
Wander around the McIntire Historic District. If you’ve read my travel guides before then you know I have to leave time in my itinerary when visiting a new place to just wander the streets to see all the houses and if you’re like me then you definitely want to give yourself an hour or so to explore the McIntire Historic District, particularly Broad, Chestnut, Essex and Federal.
While you’re in the McIntire District make sure to stop by the Ropes Mansion and tour the gardens in the back. Most of you will recognize the Ropes Mansion as Allison’s house from Hocus Pocus and it’s not to be missed!
Adriatic Restaurant & Bar and Bewitched After Dark Tour
We had dinner at Adriatic Restaurant & Bar. It’s a Mediterranean and Italian restaurant and was delicious, but if that’s not your thing I shared a bunch of other options on the bottom of this post! If you do end up at Adriatic I recommend Prosciutto & Figs, Hallumi & Watermelon, Bag of Lobster Munchkins, Picante Flatbread, Eggplant Parm and Fare Island Salmon.
After dinner we were excited to go on the Bewitched After Dark Tour! It came highly recommended and didn’t disappoint, our tour guide was extremely informative and we learned so much that we didn’t learn from just walking around Salem! I also recommend going on one guided tour when visiting a new city because the local historians are able to provide such a unique perspective and teach you so much! It was drizzling our entire tour which added to the slightly spooky nature of it which I kinda loved!
We checked out of our hotel and headed to Jaho Coffee & Tea for coffee and breakfast. We passed it when we first got to Salem and knew we needed to go back! They have the cutest Halloween themed menu during September and October!
We took our coffee and explored near harbor. Checked out the Derby Waterfront District, Friendship of Salem and more.
House of the Seven Gables
We made our way down to the House of the Seven Gables. The 17th century mansion and gardens made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel with the same name. You can see the house without taking a tour, but I recommend getting a grounds pass for more access to the property.
Daniel Low Building
Lunch at Rockafellas of Salem. Highly recommend the Pulled Pork Flatbrea, Chicken Rockafella, Roasted Pear & Spiced Walnut Salad and the Mushroom & Swiss Burger. When you arrive make sure to take a look at the historic building it’s located in. The Daniel Low Building used to be home to Salem’s First Church and Rockafellas itself used to be the National Exchange Bank! The vault from the bank is still located in the restaurant.
Max & Dani’s House from Hocus Pocus
After lunch we got our car and drove about a mile south towards Forest River Park to visit Max & Dani’s House from Hocus Pocus. Just keep in mind this movie location is someone’s private residence and is located on a residential street with parking restrictions so I recommend just passing by. We were visiting on a Tuesday afternoon in September and there was no one there so we were able to park for a few minutes and grab a couple photos.
If you happen to be visiting on a weekend I suggest ending your trip at SaIem Pioneer Village! It’s a living history museum (America’s first) and depicts 17th-century colonial life.
Things To Do In Salem:
Shop at the Best Stores in Salem
Shopping is a must for me, especially in a unique town like Salem and these stores are my favorite:
- HausWitch is a urban boutique with a selection of witchy and handmade products along with unique souvenirs. Closed Wednesdays (location)
- Hex Old World Witchery has all things witchcraft and fun souvenirs plus they offer psychic readings. Open daily (location)
- Nocture is a dark and whimsical shop with a wide array of journals, decor and clothing. If you’re into moody everything this store is for you! Open daily (location)
- Blackcraft is a clothing store known for the giant witch statue hanging from the ceiling. Even if you’re not going to buy anything it’s worth going in just to see it. Open daily (location)
- Emporium 32 is an extremely unique gift shop filled with vintage style and handmade items. Open daily (location)
- Crow Haven Corner is the oldest witch shop in Salem and the Nation. Open daily (location)
Bewitched After Dark Tour
Walking tour that takes you back through time to uncover the real history of Salem with a local historian as your guide. Bewitched After Dark offers the most in-depth look at the Witch Trials along with other topics like Salem’s colonial roots, its role as a thriving seaport and how they became the “Witch City.”
Day & night tours available daily! I also suggest a night tour though. Buy tickets HERE
History & Hauntings of Salem Guided Walking Tour
2 hour Hauntings & History Salem Walking Tour where guests learn about the mysterious history of Salem. Local historian guide will tell you about 400 years of history while walking you through Salem’s downtown and the cobblestone streets of the McIntire District. You’ll see landmarks such as the Witch Trials Memorial, the Witch House and the Ropes Mansion.
Tours run during both the day and night, but I always suggest a nighttime tour at a spooky location! Buy tickets HERE
Tour The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables is a 1668 colonial mansion that was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel with the same name. It’s also one of the oldest surviving timber framed mansion houses in North America.
There are a few different ticket options if you’d like to tour the House of the Seven Gables. The Mansion Tour Experience gives you access to the Turner Ingersoll Mansion, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace and the gardens, but we just bought the grounds pass and still loved it. Open daily from 10am-6pm. You can buy tickets in advance HERE
Explore the McIntire Historic District
This historic district encompassing Broad, Chestnut, Essex, Federal and the connecting streets showcases 4 centuries of architectural styles from the mid 17th century through the early 20th century. This district is mostly filled with Georgian and Federal period houses like the Ropes Mansion, the Peirce-Nichols House, the Cotting-Smith Assembly House and more. (location)
Visit Pioneer Village
Pioneer Village is a living history museum built in 1930 located at Salem’s Forest River Park and is meant to mimic a 1600s colonial village. It was also used as Salem in the opening scenes of the movie, Hocus Pocus.
The village is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 from June 10-October 29! Admission is $5.(location)
Places To See In Salem:
Founded in the 17th century, this village green with monuments was once used for militia training. Now it’s a 8-acre public park right in the heart of downtown Salem that hosts many events though out the year including the famous Haunted Happenings Marketplace during the month of October. (location)
Simple, yet dramatic, memorial featuring inscribed granite benches for each of the 20 victims of the 1692 witch trials. Whether you’re spending 2 hours or 2 days in Salem this is a MUST VISIT place. (location)
The original home of the infamous Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges involved in the Salem witch trials of 1692. It’s currently one of the only remaining structure in Salem with direct ties to the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
I highly suggest actually going inside the house and doing the $10.25 self guided tour. (location)
Old Town Hall
It’s the earliest surviving municipal structure in Salem and also where the famous Halloween Party scene from Hocus Pocus was filmed.
The Old Town Hall is also said to be one of the most haunted buildings in all of Salem! (location)
Old Burying Point Cemetery
Adjacent to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, this is the oldest cemetery in Salem and one of the oldest in the country. The Burying Point is the final resting place for many of the judges involved in the Salem Witch Trials along with many other Salem notables and Revolutionary War victims. Also known as the Charter Street Cemetery. (location)
Most of you will recognize the Ropes Mansion as Allison’s house from Hocus Pocus, but this Georgian Colonial house is recognized as one of New England’s most signification and thoroughly documented historic houses.
The gardens in the back of the house are open to the public and free and I highly recommend wandering through them when you stop by the house. They’re also said to be haunted, many visitors claim to feel the icy touch of an unseen spirit while wandering the garden. (location)
Max & Dani’s House
The Dennison’s house from Hocus Pocus is located just about a mile outside downtown Salem on the coast. This is a private home on a residential street with parking restrictions so if you plan on visiting this Hocus Pocus shooting location while in Salem please be respectful. The owner’s don’t mind admirers from a distance, but do not allow trespassing. (location)
The Pickering House is a First Period Colonial house built around 1664 and the oldest house in Salem. It’s also believed to be the oldest house in the US continuously occupied by one family. Make sure to walk past it when you’re exploring the McIntire Historic District. (location)
The Bewitched Statue
In 1970 there was a fire on the Bewitched set which caused the cast to film in Salem and this statue is a tribute to that! (Fun Fact: While they were in town they stayed at the Hawthorne Hotel) (location)
Places To Eat In Salem:
Below are some of the best restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Salem! Some of these are included in my 2 days in Salem itinerary you can read above and the rest come highly recommended by friends! If you’re visiting Salem during the Fall, especially during the month of October, I suggest making dinner reservations well in advance as restaurants do book up.
- Rockafellas (location) – American restaurant and bar located in the historic Daniel Low & Co. building. Great place for lunch or dinner.
- Red’s Sandwich Shop (location) – Voted best breakfast on the North Shore for 24 years!
- Ledger Bar & Restaurant (location) – Upscale restaurant located in a 19th century bank building.
- Turner’s Seafood (location) – New England style seafood and oyster bar
- Adriatic (location) – Mediterranean & Italian restaurant.
- Sea Level Oyster Bar (location) – Casual restaurant featuring oysters, lobster rolls and specialty cocktails on water.
- Brother’s Taverna (location) – Casual American restaurant with large menu
- Howling Wolf Taqueria (location) – Funky Mexican restaurant with live music.
- Dire Wolf Tavern (location) – Hip restaurant serving small plates, sushi and cocktails
- Finz (location) – Upscale seafood and cocktail restaurant on the harbor with a large deck and great views of the water.
- The Roof Salem (location) – Located in the Hotel Salem, it’s the only rooftop bar in Salem.
- Jaho Coffee Roaster & Wine Bar (location) – Cute coffee shop with amazing themed espresso drinks and delicious baked goods. A must stop for breakfast or coffee!
Places To Stay In Salem:
- The Hawthorne Hotel is a historic hotel. It’s located in the heart of Salem named after local author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote the Gothic novel, The House of Seven Gables.
- Rumor has it that the hotel is haunted. The guests have reported seeing a ghostly woman walking the falls, hearing strange noises and feeling as though they have been touched by an invisible force.
- This is where we stayed and I highly recommend if you can! It books up fast during the Halloween season. Plan your trip well in advance if you want to stay here!
- It’s one of the larger hotels in Salem at 93 rooms, but it’s also one of the more sought after to stay at.
- Free parking!
- Country-style B&B housed in a Victorian mansion located near Salem Pioneer Village, just about a mile from the heart of Salem.
- The Coach House has 11 cozy rooms that are all uniquely decorated with colorful wallpaper and antique furniture.
- In-room continental breakfast is included!
- Free parking!
- 44 room boutique Salem hotel located right on Essex Street in the city center.
- The Hotel Salem is a Lark Hotel and if you’ve been following me for a while then you know I love staying at this particular boutique hotel chain in the Northeast! Their hotels are so well decorated. The attention to detail is immaculate and they pay homage to the space/city they’re located in while crafting the space! (I’ve recently stayed in a Lark Hotel in – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire & Rhode Island)
- Home to the only rooftop bar in the city, The Roof.
- Elegant hotel set across 3 landmark houses – The West House, The Curwen House and The Peabody House – dating from the 19th century.
- Each of The Salem Inn’s 40 rooms is unique and individually decorated with antiques and filled with rich history.
- Continental breakfast and free parking included!
- Posh boutique hotel located in an 18th century redbrick building on Washington St.
- Each of their 11 chic rooms is individually decorated with vibrant furnishings.
- The Merchant, like The Hotel Salem, is also a Lark Hotel.
- Outdoor second floor deck for all guests to enjoy.
- Fun Fact: President George Washington slept here in 1789 during his visit to Salem.
- Free curated small plate breakfast daily and complimentary minibars! Hot coffee, fresh fruit water, snacks and seltzer available all day in the lobby.