No matter what time of year you visit Salem, Massachusetts, it can be a scary experience. The area has given visitors goosebumps for almost four centuries.
Despite its spookiness, people continue to come and test their nerves each year, diving into many frightening activities.
Today, we’ll look at five scary and unusual adventures you can have in Salem, Massachusetts. Are you brave enough?
Let’s find out!
The Scary History of Salem, Massachusetts
Most people recognize the community for its infamous witch trials and the hysteria that swept through the region in the late 1600s. However, it had a well-established history long before the fear, paranoia, and religious passions ripped through it.
The Naumkeag, a group of Indigenous people, inhabited the lands for generations. However, European explorers invaded the grounds in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
Roger Conant visited the area with his fishing buddies in 1626 and established a settlement that included the communities of Peabody, Beverly, and Danvers.
It grew quickly, especially after a group of Puritans received a land grant in 1628. This grant established the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the community’s proximity to the harbor and its resources benefited everyone.
Trade flourished as settlers traded with natives and other European colonies. The village became a busy seaport and helped it grow.
You can’t talk about the history of Salem without talking about the scary witch trials. They occurred in 1692 and resulted in the execution of 20 individuals accused of practicing the craft. It remains the darkest chapter in the town’s past. While the city is more than just the trials, they play a significant role.
Today, the city celebrates its heritage by hosting an annual Halloween celebration. They claim it to be the largest celebration of Halloween in the world.
The festivities include parties, parades, and special events, and they welcome more than half a million people. Should you be one of them?
Get set for the season with 13 Frightening Halloween Decorations for Your House or RV.
#1 Attend the Scary Gallows Hill Main Show in Salem
The Gallows Hill Main Show uses holograms, projections, and special effects to bring ghosts and witches to life. It’s an immersive and interactive experience where you can learn about the scary times in Salem.
It combines historical facts mixed with legends and myths to create a unique theatrical performance.
We should also mention that it contains four-dimensional elements. You’ll enjoy rumbling seats, air blown in your direction, and fog blasts throughout the event. It can be overwhelming at times and can cause you to jump.
If you or others in your group aren’t fans of spooky things, this might not be right for you.
The production lasts for approximately 22 minutes. However, if you’re a part of a tour group, you get treated to an extended performance that runs for 45 minutes.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
#2 Check Out Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery reveals there’s more than scary witches to see in Salem. The gallery contains realistic wax figures of 60 of the most monstrous creatures you’ll hopefully never encounter.
In addition, they add a few new spooky figures to their collection each year.
You’ll spot demons, zombies, and everything in between. These figures look so real you’ll be crossing your fingers that they don’t spring to life.
If you visit during October, prepare for chaos. Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is one of the most popular attractions. Get your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment or any issues.
Tickets are for specific time slots to help spread out guests and ensure everyone has an incredible experience.
#3 Explore Scary Salem Landmarks on a Walking Tour
Want to explore the scary side of Salem on foot? Witch City Walking Tours has over 20 professional guides who have taken around 200,000 guests through town.
Their guides lead you on a stroll through the historic city and share their knowledge along the route. They’ll take you through the cobblestone streets and share chilling stories of murders, mysteries, and spirits that haunt them.
These experiences take approximately two hours, and some have age restrictions.
While some can be rather spooky, they’re not all full of nightmares. The Hocus Pocus Movie Locations of Salem expedition is excellent for fans of the Disney film. It’s a 4-mile trek to visit five locations used during production in 1993.
You’ll even go home with a special Hocus Pocus gift.
#4 Tour the Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Witch Museum is scary and the busiest and most popular attraction around. It features life-size stage sets with figures, lighting, and narration. Each scene walks you through the trials, lies, and deception that resulted in the execution of 20 people.
It’s an inside look at some of the darkest days in the town’s past.
In full transparency, the museum doesn’t hold back. A few include a tableau of the Devil, the pressing of Giles Corey, and George Burroughs’ hanging. We should warn you that these may not suit everyone, especially young children.
While the museum is open year-round, it’s bustling during October.
As much as you’d like to plan ahead, tickets aren’t available in advance. Reservations are only available for the day, so you’ll need to get up early to secure admission. You may have to stay up until midnight to visit during the busiest times.
#5 Visit the Haunted Burying Point Cemetery
Burying Point Cemetery is the oldest in the United States. To help you understand how old this graveyard is, you can find tombstones dating back as far as 1637. The newest marked grave is 1881.
While visiting this spooky site, you can pay your respects to the over 600 documented individuals buried here.
Unfortunately, less than 500 of them have markers. Some individuals laid to rest here include Revolutionary War soldiers and notorious names from the town’s famous events.
Unlike many other scary attractions in Salem, Burying Point Cemetery actually holds remains of the dead. It’s crucial that you maintain a level of respect for the site and that you’re mindful of where you’re walking.
Take as many photos as you’d like, but officials prohibit leaving flowers, coins, or stones. Nevertheless, this can be a powerful spot to sit quietly and reflect.
Find more places to visit with The Quirky Tourist Guide to Salem, MA.
Is a Scary Trip to Salem Worth It?
A trip to Salem can be worth it if you enjoy scary activities. While the area truly comes to life during October, there’s never a wrong time to explore. The community offers several events throughout the year, and there’s always something to learn while getting the chills.
But are you brave enough to handle it? You’ll have to visit to find out!
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