For a wonderfully witchy time, there’s no place like Salem, especially in October. This historic and scenic seaport clings to the coast between Portland and Boston, and its brick sidewalks lead to a trick-or-treat bagful of spooky attractions and activities. It’s also home to modern-day witches and warlocks, whose shops brim with paranormal paraphernalia.
Salem’s identity as Witch City stems from the horrific events of 1692, when the citizenry, fueled by suspicion and superstition, executed 20 innocent people for witchcraft: 19 were hanged; one was crushed to death.
These days, the community acknowledges its dark heritage and has a half-dozen excellent museums to explore and explain it. At the same time, Salem embraces a lighthearted, entertaining take on the magical and mystical.
Annually throughout October, the family-friendly Salem Haunted Happenings festival draws frightfully large crowds. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the town has canceled some major events and some attractions are closed, but you’ll still find plenty of fun afoot. In fact, with smaller numbers expected, it may be the perfect time to visit Salem, as long as you adhere to special health protocols: Protective masks are required, attractions are limiting indoor capacity, and some urge advance reservations. For more info, check out salem.org and hauntedhappenings.org.