Spotlight on Salem
by Sarah Cristine Burrola
Photography courtesy of Sofia Koyama
With Halloween drawing near, it’s time to start getting to the spooky spirit. What better place to find it in than a town that celebrates everything witchy year-round: Salem, Massachusetts. Witches brew, magic shops and American history blend together to create the perfect place for a day trip to dive head first into thrills.
At $15 for a round-trip commuter rail ticket and a 40-minute ride from North Station, Salem is the ideal place for a Sunday getaway to somewhere fun that is still accessible from Boston. When you get there, you will find yourself immediately greeted by cheery, quaint New England-style homes. Salem holds the title of the first planned city in America, and this history is evident in the beautiful bridges and cobbled streets, and the oak and willow trees that line them.
Another great historical spot is the so-called “Witch House.” The only remaining standing structure with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692, it was the residence of one Jonathan Corwin, a judge in trials. With its all-black exterior and spooky vibes, it is one of the best tourist attractions in Salem and holds tours throughout the house daily.
James Briet is one of the hundreds of visitors that the Witch House receives every weekend. A self-described “huge history buff,” Briet said the house was actually one of the things he was most looking forward to seeing.
“I love the history of it and hearing all about the mystery, it’s always been on my bucket list,” he said. “It’s kind of like a dream for me to be here, almost.”
Mikayla Bishop works with History Alive, Inc., to put on Cry Innocent: The People versus Bridget Bishop at the popular Salem Witch Museum, an interactive event that allows the audience to become the Puritan jury in the trial of Bishop, who was the first woman to be executed in Salem on suspicion of being a witch.
“It’s super relevant to the world we live in today, and coming from this area, there’s a lot of guilt we still hold for what happened, so it’s important for us to keep their memory alive,” said Bishop.
Salem is also home to plenty of cool brunch spots and yummy desserts. The Ugly Mug Diner is a great place to stop in after your tours to fill up on unique and delicious egg dishes. After you are done there, head over to Melt Ice Cream for a sweet treat to snack on as you explore the countless magic and curio shops this spooky spot has to offer.
One place to go for authentic witching supplies, curious oddities and maybe even your own personal shrunken head or monkey paw is The Magic Parlor, located on Essex Street. The tiny, tucked away shop—one of the oldest in Salem—is full of twists and turns, and is stuffed to the brim with everything from joke magic kits to dried herbs and flowers to use in Wiccan spells.
Zachary Stanley Jacobson is one of the employees of the shop and is a practicing Wiccan himself.
“This shop offers a little bit of everything,” he said. “In terms of the culture of Salem, you won’t find anywhere else that offers what we offer.”
So if you are someone who calls October 1, “Halloween 1” and you are trying to get in spooky holiday spirit, a history buff or even just looking to explore more of Massachusetts, head on over to Salem—it is definitely the place for you.