If you have kids who laugh in the face of fear, this pit stop is for you! (And if you don’t, keep reading anyway; there’s something here for the fainter of heart as well!) The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 placed Salem, Massachusetts on the map as one of the spookiest places in the U.S., and while thankfully, superstition and ignorance have gone the way of pilgrim hats, the town still does a great job of scaring you silly throughout the weeks leading up to Halloween.
Located off I-95, Salem is an easy detour during road trips, and you can easily enjoy their haunted attractions in a few hours. Throughout the month of October, enjoy their Haunted Happenings, which run daily and include pumpkin festivals, harbor cruises (highlighting Salem’s rich pirating history), a street fair and carnival, and trick-or-treating. The truly scary stuff starts after dark, with witch trial reenactments and candlelit walking tours such as the Terror Trail and Witch Trial Trail (not for young kids).
If you have school-aged kids who can handle the dark subject matter, the Salem Witch Museum (19 1/2 Washington Square North) is one of the best of its kind, with life-sized replicas of the key players in the witch trials, audio/visual displays, and reenactments. (Young kids can enjoy the autumn weather and play with an adult on the beautiful grounds nearby.) The Haunted Neighborhood at the Salem Wax Museum (288 Derby Street) is also excellent, but again, not for anyone frightened easily.
Dates offered: Now through October 31st
Distance off the interstate: Several minutes off I-95.
Hours: Most attractions open daily. See daily itinerary and schedule below for details.
Dining options: A comprehensive list of family-friendly dining choices can be found here.
Website: This site has a calendar of events for the town and community.
Admission: Varies by activity. Nightly walking tours are $12 for adults and $5 for kids under age 17. If you think you might do it all or a bit of everything, combination tickets are available. Ask at any single museum or attractions, or at the visitor’s,tourist center.
Directions: Slight left at MA-128 N. Take exit 25A to merge onto MA-114 E/Andover St toward Salem.