Visiting Salem

Sarah Good hanged July 19, 1692.

By Julien Torres

In October many people seek spooks and frights for Halloween. In Salem, Massachusetts, you get all of that and then some. The first thing to know about visiting Salem is the price for savoring its spooky delights. Food, souvenirs, and a place to stay the night can cost upwards of thousands of dollars. However, there are cheaper alternatives.

The easiest way to save on your trip to Salem is not traveling or staying in Salem itself. Many hotels in Salem increase prices in October to capitalize on the rise in tourism surrounding Halloween and the Witch Trials of 1692. A way to avoid paying close to $1,000 on a hotel is by staying in nearby Boston. Salem is accessible by trains from Boston’s North Station.

Boston has many hotel options with good service and prices. The Bostonian Hotel in the downtown area is close to North Station. For travel between New York and Boston, a Peter Pan bus takes five hours and costs $36 per person compared to the $364 price tag on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional which takes about the same time. However, Amtrak may be more expensive, but if you have the money to splurge, the difference between having good legroom and being able to eat a hot meal while traveling might be worth extra.

In Salem, “The Witch’s Dungeon” on Lynde Street, features a staged reenactment based on real court records of the witch trials that were held in the 1600s. The actors on stage portray a trial of a young woman who has been accused of witchcraft and how the “witnesses” would say outlandish things to prove the accused was a witch, like saying she spoke in foreign languages or their farm animals were dying.

The reenactment is followed by a tour of the attraction’s exhibits detailing the experiences of victims of the witch trials. There were varying sizes of cells, ranging from a common size room for the wealthy to rooms the size of a modern broom closet for the poor. The victims were tortured for confessions and executed mainly by way of hanging. However, Giles Corey, one of the few males accused, was executed by being crushed by heavy stones.

Outside of the Witch’s Dungeon, the other attractions in Salem include haunted ghost tours, a bustling Main Street where you can see people in costumes, and many historical sites. A few of those locales like the Witch House and the Ropes Mansion are the busiest tourist sites in Salem.  The Witch House, also known as The House of the Seven Gables, gets its notoriety for being the home to Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the primary judges who presided over the witch trials. The Ropes Mansion was the home of another judge, Judge Nathaniel Ropes. The mansion is also well known for its appearance in the Disney Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus.

Salem has evolved from a small town in Massachusetts Bay to an ideal Halloween destination. Walking the streets you see the enthusiasm for the paranormal and history that makes the town Salem unique. Not a lot of cities in America can connect the 1600s to the present, nor connect the weird to the normal. Seeing people in costume interacting with each other, you see a community that welcomes the offbeat side of life.

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