Located in Essex County, Massachusetts, Salem dwells in history. This small town was made famous by the Salem Witch Trials, in which many innocent young women (and man) were falsely accused of witchcraft. Inspired by the witch trial events, Arthur Miller wrote his revolutionary play "The Crucible" on the blacklisting of liberal Hollywood during the 1950s. Modern day Salem captures both the spirit that fueled Miller to react to McCarthyism and embodies the mystical atmosphere of the witch trials.
Everywhere the traveler turns, there are figures of women flying on broomstick across a full moon. In fact, this is the official seal of the town and appears plastered on the sides of buses (even police cars) and slapped onto mugs and sweatshirts in souvenir shops. Salem thrives on its past of magic, which tends to lead a magical air to the town.
Make sure to visit the Salem Witch Museum, which provides the visitor with interesting facts and rich history on the events of the witch trials. Check out the Peabody Essex Museum, the oldest museum in the United States. Here, you'll find tons of great artifacts and pieces of cultural history! Remember having to read "The Scarlet Letter" in your high school English class? Well, you can visit Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of 7 Gables and see the graveyard in which he's buried in.
Hungry? There are plenty of great restaurants in Salem. For a bit of local atmosphere, visit the Witch's Brew tavern.
Although Salem is a great destination to visit year-round, the prime tourist season is usually in the Fall just before Halloween. It can be tough to make hotel reservations for Autumn, because Salem is in such high demand. Make sure to book things way in advance to get an advantage. Also, it may be smarter to visit off-season to really see everything without the heavy congestion and long lines at attractions.
Lining the streets of Salem happen to be all kinds of entertaining New Age stores featuring the latest in witchcraft. While Salem may seem whimsical with a great sense of humor, the locals are actually very serious about their history. Because it is the Witch Capitol of the world, there are actual practicing covens in the area.
For a good day excursion, escape the magic some forty miles up 128 North to the little town of Rockport. There, take in the scenery as choppy dark water laps up against the town's beautiful rocky coastline. Also, do some serious shopping and visit the quaint Morning Glory cafe for some down-home Portugese breakfast.