Photograph by Jen Ratliff, historybythesea.com
When fall rolls into New England, it means hayrides through apple orchards, carving pumpkins to the tune of the Monster Mash, and binge-watching every scary movie you can find on Netflix. However, nothing screams autumn or Halloween more than Salem, and visiting the iconic city is going to look different this year due to the emergence of COVID-19. Here we’ve rounded up some of the city’s best offerings and how they plan to keep their visitors safe this year.
And, be sure to check out Destination Salem’s new app, providing you the latest updates during this COVID era.
HausWitch Home + Healing
If you’re looking for a modern take on witchcraft, healing, and all things magickal, check out HausWitch. From magickal cleaning products to spell pouches full of tumbled crystals, you can find just about anything to satisfy your witchy endeavors. Unable to get to Salem this year? You can join in on their online Psychic Portal where you can have virtual astrology, tarot, and energy readings through Zoom. Or you can take one of their digital workshops covering a range of topics from palmistry to understanding the new moon. In-store shopping is currently by-appointment-only, so make sure to reserve a spot before you pop in. Reservations can be made on their website.
144 Washington St, Salem, 978.594.8950, hauswitchstore.com
Stepping into the Coven’s Cottage is an ethereal experience. Adorned with dried herbs that hang from the ceiling and tables packed with crystals, tarot, candles, and more, this local shop isn’t one to miss on a trip to Salem. Catering to Norse, Germanic, Celtic, and nature-based traditions and practices, this special spot is perfect for novices and seasoned magickal professionals alike, made special with its cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Since opening in 2014, this family-owned shop has supplied the residents of Salem with metaphysical supplies for all of their magickal needs.
190 Essex St, Salem, 978.498.4939, thecovenscottage.com
A quaint sandwich shop and cafe by day and beer bar by night, Gulu-Gulu Cafe is the perfect place to start and end your day. With live music in genres like jazz, garage, R&B, and exotica plus special events like Bingo Night, this “cafe” caters to an eclectic bunch. From craft beer and spiked coffees to gooey vegan mac and cheese and loaded Belgian waffles, patrons will leave with full, satisfied bellies. During October, the busiest time of the year, the cafe will not be taking reservations. That means first come, first served at this watering hole, so there’s no time to waste. And make sure to bring your mask!
247 Essex St, Salem, 978.740.8882, gulugulucafe.com
The Witch House
The Jonathan Corwin House, dubbed the Witch House, is the only structure still standing with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Visitors can take a deeper look at those tied to the Trials through the house, as its architecture and furniture provide an examination of family life during that period. Purchase tickets for this haunting attraction in advance on their website to secure a spot on your self-guided tour through this historical house. They are keeping up with COVID guidelines provided by the City of Salem, so be sure to sport your mask for this tour.
310 Essex St, Salem, 978.744.8815, thewitchhouse.org
Peabody Essex Museum
This year, the Peabody Essex Museum plays host to two different Salem-themed exhibitions: The Salem Witch Trials 1692 (on view until April 4, 2021) and Salem Stories (on view until October 3, 2021). The Witch Trials exhibit features rarely seen documents and objects that help to convey the story of the Salem Witch Trials through the perspective of both the accused and the accusers. Salem Stories is a cumulative storytelling exhibition that features 26 vignette style-stories that tell the tales of the people that helped to shape Salem into the city it is today. To comply with COVID guidelines, the galleries have limited capacity, and tickets to each exhibit will be available at the admissions desk on a first come, first served basis, and are included in general admission. Due to limited capacity, availability for all exhibitions is not guaranteed.
161 Essex St, Salem, 978.745.9500, pem.org
Hocus Pocus filming locations
Though many of the interior shots of the classic Disney film Hocus Pocus were filmed in California, a number of the exterior scenes were shot on location in Salem. Featuring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, this magical piece of film history is something you can still immerse yourself in today.
Stroll through the Chestnut Street District for a peek of Allison’s mansion on Essex Street or Max and Dani’s house on Ocean Avenue. Visit the Old Town Hall downtown to see where Winifred Sanderson charmed the townspeople of Salem with her rendition of ‘I Put A Spell on You.’ And if you’re feeling like an adventure, you can tour the Pioneer Village from October 1 through November 1. Sandwiched between the ocean and the woods, it’s America’s first living history museum, which is featured in a flyover shot during the opening scene of the film. Plus, they’re adhering to all COVID safety regulations, requiring masks and vigilant social distancing.
Allison’s Mansion – 318 Essex St, Salem
Max and Dani’s House – 4 Ocean Ave, Salem
Old Town Hall – 32 Derby Sq, Salem, 978.745.9595, salem.com/old-town-hall
Pioneer Village – 98 West Ave, Salem, 978.744.8815, pioneervillagesalem.org