Fall in New England is so exciting! Sean and I have really embraced the season and have really committed to all related fall festivities: pumpkin picking, apple cider donuts, and a trip to Salem, MA. It’s been three years since we had a fall in the U.S, and even though I knew pumpkin spice is THE THING of the season, I think we’ve gone a bit overboard since being away. I mean, pumpkin spice seltzer…. okay, America take it down a notch.
This month, we had some friends from Europe come to stay with us a few days as they were passing through on a East Coast road trip. I met Lynsay from Scotland and Simon from Germany in Mannheim, Germany 5 years ago when my sister was doing a year abroad. After I graduated in December, I did a backpacking trip through Europe for 3 months and used my sisters flat as my home base while I traveled. I spent a lot of time in Mannheim and had so many fun times with all the people there. First of all, look at the school they attended… literally a palace.
Anyway, it was so great to catch up with both of them. 5 years has gone by way too fast. We did a quick whirlwind one day tour around Boston and then decided to spend the Sunday doing something a bit more local, which brought us to Salem.
For anyone reading that doesn’t know the history of Salem, this was the origin of the U.S witch trials and witchcraft hysteria from 1692-93. The witch trials began after a group of young girls in Salem, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft. Overall, there were 140 people accused of witchcraft, nineteen people were hanged, one person was pressed to death, and as many as thirteen people died in prison. You learn more about it at the Salem.org site. Today, Salem is a small town about 30 minutes north of Boston and comes alive every October to not only remember the witch trials, but also celebrate the fun of the Halloween season.
For those going, here are my recommendations for a Day in Salem, MA:
Getting there: Get there early to park. Salem brings in 500,000+ visitors throughout October. If you’re from or leaving from Boston, you can take the commuter trail or the Boston-Salem ferry!
Museums: Do a little research here to know what you want to go to before you leave. If you aren’t lucky enough to have an “expert in all things Halloween” in the family (aka, my sister Allyson who came with us), Salem has a fantastic visitor center and I recommend you stop there for a map & calendar of daily events. We did the Witch Dungeon museum, a live trial performance and dungeon reenactment and the Witch House, the actual house of judge Jonathan Corwin who resided over the witch trials. Take your time touring through and read all of the signs throughout the rooms of the house as they provide super interesting facts.
Haunted Houses: Again, a bit of research is good here. With so many visitors to Salem each year, to be honest all of the haunted houses I’ve been to in Salem are a bit… well, touristy & short. Maybe I haven’t been to the best one in Salem, but regardless of how cliche it is, it’s still a must do for a well-rounded halloween visit. #WhenInRome Expect lines, especially with the ones closer to the the main strip.
Shopping: There are so many cute shops and local artisans that set up street shops on and around Essex Street. Definitely plan to spend some time browsing around.
Cider & Craft Beer: Of course I have to include this category, as it’s a nice break from all of the ghost & witch craft. Plus, t’is the season for apple (hard) cider, amiright? Massachusetts is great for Cider, and there is a nice tap room a bit outside the main area called Far From the Tree. We actually went the beer route instead, as we were meeting some friends close by so we visited Notch Brewery & taproom. They have an awesome outdoor space on the river.
If you haven’t been to Salem, I highly recommend a day trip to get the full New England experience first hand.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!