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    Updated on Dec 6, 2019. Posted on Sep 13, 2019

    17 Spooky Secrets I Learned While Visiting Salem In October

    This was the witchiest trip of my life.

    Hi! I'm Anna, and I love everything creepy, supernatural, and strange — no matter the season.

    🎃🎃🎃

    So, I ventured to Salem, Massachusetts, last year during the spookiest month, and it ended up being one of the best trips of my life. Here are some extremely rad secrets I learned while there:

    1. First of all, Hocus Pocus, a Halloween staple, was filmed there — and you can visit every iconic filming spot in a single day.

    Buena Vista Pictures / Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    While in Salem, you're on Halloween movie sacred ground. I visited all the filming spots I could, including the historic Town Hall where Bette Midler sang "I Put A Spell On You." Check out a full list of Hocus Pocus filming locations here!

    2. Even better, you can grab some snacks and a blanket and actually watch Hocus Pocus during the Halloween season in Salem on a giant screen, with a crisp fall breeze at your back.

    Buena Vista Pictures / Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    My friend and I stumbled upon a showing in the park, and we sat on the ground next to a bunch of families who'd packed picnic blankets and snacks just for the occasion. It was awesome.

    If you have the chance, you can also check out a screening at the local haunted Hawthorne Hotel — there will be a few weekends this October where some cast members will be present to meet with fans.

    3. There are a bunch of secret events in Salem during October that only the locals know about, so you'll only hear about them if you ask around.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky / instagram.com

    My friend and I were at dinner one night when our waiter told us that one of the abandoned buildings nearby would turn into a cookie shop at 7:00 sharp. We were hesitant as we walked down a dark alley to find it, but soon others started lining up, and then the lights turned on inside the building. I won't reveal too much more — ask around for yourself when you're in town.

    4. This underrated town absolutely has the most intriguing, entertaining, and creepiest ghost tours I've ever been on.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    I love a good ghost tour (if you're curious, I went with a company called Black Cat Tours). Our tour guide not only made us laugh, but truly kept us engaged while teaching us the creepy history of Salem.

    We were encouraged to take pictures of every haunted building we stopped in front of, *just in case* we spotted a ghost later on our camera rolls. I like to think the little orbs in my pictures are actual spirits.

    5. Salem is also the perfect place to learn the *real* facts behind the infamous Salem Witch Trials, and there are many places to get your Witch history fix — but make sure you arrive extra early, because there are usually long lines.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky, Flickr Creative Commons / Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

    Did you know that both men and women were wrongly sentenced to death as a result of the Witch Trials, and that the entire Witch Trials era lasted less than a year?!

    I learned both of these things at the Salem Witch Museum. If you visit in October, make sure to arrive early or plan to be flexible with your day, because you might not get to go inside right when you arrive. We arrived at 4 p.m. hoping to check out the museum before dinner, but the next available entry time wasn't until 6:30 p.m. That's what happens when you're one of the most iconic spots in town.

    6. One of the most haunted buildings in the world, the Hawthorne Hotel, is just a few steps from the Witch Museum — and the air feels like it is crawling with ghouls.

    Flickr Creative Commons: Linda Orlomoski / instagram.com

    My friend and I did some research about the dark lore behind this hotel, and then explored some of the most haunted floors (it's free to explore, but if you want a proper tour, you can buy tickets for one!). We felt like we were in our own, real-life version of The Shining — every corner we turned was a new opportunity to bump into a spirit.

    While on our ghost tour, we also learned that it's nearly impossible to get a room here on Halloween night, because so many people want the chance to experience a haunting.

    7. Salem is WAY more witch-friendly than its past suggests: between 2–4% of Salem's current population identifies as real-life witches.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky, Flickr Creative Commons / Via flic.kr

    There are plenty of opportunities to purchase witch-related items, whether it be as a souvenir or, for some people, real-life daily use. About 40,000 people live here year-round, and 800–1,600 practice a religion called Wicca.

    8. And because it's a hub for all things witchy, you have some of the most impressive occult stores in the US right at your fingertips.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    Trust me when I say you can spend an entire day exploring the shops of Salem, taking in the plethora of unique items like voodoo dolls, sage, and anything else your heart desires. Photos above are from the shops where I spent most of my money: Crow Haven Corner and Emporium 32. I have a really cool witchy-themed poster in my living room, and it was the best souvenir I could've bought.

    9. While you're going in and out of the town's fabulous shops, you'll walk past some of the most unique vendors selling snacks, goodies, and offering Salem-centric photo opps.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    Some of the best memories from my trip here were just perusing the little tents set up in the middle of the street. Please enjoy this image of me as a tarot card. Plus, if you look closely you can see a dog in a costume above — there were plenty of dogs in outfits to pet, which was a treat for me that cost zero dollars.

    10. Oh, and bring your stretchy pants, because the food in Salem is beyond impressive — and since October is officially spooky season, quite a few places offer creepy-themed modifications to their usual menus.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky, instagram.com

    Photos above are from places I actually went to: The Ugly Mug Diner (shoutout to the barista who created this pentacle latte art when I asked for something relating to the month's theme) and Turner's Seafood, which fulfilled my lobster roll dreams.

    11. The official Witch Trials Memorial is actually a solemn, very respectful tribute to the victims who were hung as a result of the trials.

    Flickr Creative Commons / Dex, Flickr Creative Commons / Elizabethe

    I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Witch Trials Memorial was created to educate people about what really happened to these victims, and wasn't a giant, gaudy tourist trap. It changed my entire perspective on the story I'd read in The Crucible so many years ago. People were leaving flowers and holding mini vigils, and the whole experience was very serene.

    12. I can tell you firsthand: If you're planning on solely visiting Salem, renting a car will actually be more of a pain than a convenience.

    instagram.com, instagram.com

    My friend and I visited the first weekend in October last year, and stayed outside of Salem. Friday afternoon wasn't too bad driving in, but Saturday morning took about 30 minutes to drive a few blocks, because the streets were so congested. If you're staying nearby, ordering an Uber to the outskirts of the heart of town and then walking is probably your best bet, if possible.

    13. However, if you have any plans to leave the city center during your stay, renting a car as soon as you book your trip is the way to go.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    Like I said, we stayed outside of Salem, and wanted to spend one day visiting a pumpkin patch or farm, and another in Boston. We tried to book a car the day we arrived, but not a single booking site had availability — seriously, none. But after scrambling to download a few rental car apps, we managed to find a few options.

    The only catch was all available cars were 40 minutes from Salem, so we had to get an Uber to pick up the rental car, and still return it to its spot by the end of each night we explored. It wasn't ideal, but we made it work, and having that car was SO worth it.

    14. If you're a horror movie fan, there's a huge Horror Fest where you can meet spooky celebs and befriend other fans of fright.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky ; instagram.com

    Last year we walked past this sign where people could meet Kane Hodder (who plays Jason in the Friday the 13th films) while on our way to dinner, and the line was super long, because he's the coolest.

    15. There is only one standing building in Salem that is directly related to the Witch Trials, and it's one of the spots absolutely everyone wants to visit while in town.

    Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    The Witch House was home to Judge Jonathan Corwin, who served on the court that ultimately sent 19 people to be hung during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. The house has been restored and slightly moved from its original spot, but it's still an extremely hot destination in Salem. This is another place where, like the Witch Museum, you should plan on a long wait time to get inside.

    16. Of course, during late September through the end of October, you can visit a Halloween-centric haunted attraction in addition to Salem's authentic ghost and historic offerings.

    instagram.com, Instagram: @annacatkopsky

    From scary traditional haunted houses like Chambers of Terror to The Lost Museum (a creepy underground theatre experience) to monster-themed museums, you will not run out of fun — and inexpensive! — things to do.

    17. And finally, if you're up for it, Salem is one of the only places where you can experience an authentic séance with the dead.

    Public Domain, Flickr Creative Commons / Brandon C

    If you didn't know, séances are gatherings where people try to have conversations with the dead. Oh, you've never heard of doing one of these? That's because it's really not offered so casually anywhere else. How cool (and spooky) is that?!