Halloween 2020 - Will It Happen in Salem Massachusetts

Salem Massachusetts Halloween 2020 - Will It Happen?

Recently on the site I posted a video/article called, “Should You Visit Salem Massachusetts?” That got me thinking about Halloween in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. So I made it my mission to try and answer the question, “Are we going to have Salem Massachusetts Halloween 2020?” Here’s what I found.

Will Salem be open for Halloween 2020? This question has been on my mind a lot lately, so I decided to fig in and find an answer. In this video, I have a look at the toll that the Coronavirus pandemic has already had on the Witch City, what would need to happen in order for tourists to enjoy a safe Halloween in Salem, and ultimately speculate as to what I expect to happen in the coming months. Luckily, there's a lot of things you can do to help ensure Salem Halloween 2020 happens. The first is to support your favorite Salem establishments by following them on social media and buying from their online shops when available. The second is that you can reach out to your federal government (and local/state if you're near Salem) and advocate for the further ubiquity of proper COVID-19 testing. There's a lot of people/Salem locations I'm grateful for and miss terribly that I'd like to shout out. I list a few of them below. If you want to dive into the conversation happening in the business sector in Salem, check out the conversation also linked below. Together, we might just be able to #SaveHalloween. Stay weird witches. Full business conversation in Salem: Some people/Salem places I'd like you to show some love to: Mayor Kim Driscoll: Emporium 32: Peabody Essex Museum: House of the Seven Gables: Gulu Gulu Cafe: Die With Your Boots On: Pyramid Books: Find way more about all things Salem at Facebook: Instagram: Twitter:

Video Transcript Below:

Now obviously before I get started here it’s important to note that this is developing every single day, literally tomorrow everything I say in this video could be irrelevant, at which point I will likely post some sort of update for you. So as of today, May 1st 2020, May Day, Beltane, go dance around a pole, here is where we stand.

Medical Status

So medically as of May 1st, Salem and the surrounding areas are all in their plateau phase, this means basically that they’re not adding on an exponential amount of COVID cases, nor are they seeing a decline in the ones they already have.

Now crucially the medical community is looking to see a few metrics before the city fully reopens, we’re getting back to some of these metrics later. But it’s important to point out right up here up front that unfortunately the lack of testing capacity makes the metrics that the city and surrounding areas are looking for as sort of indicators that it’s a hundred percent or ninety five percent safe to reopen for Halloween impossible. They simply don’t have enough tests to be sure or even relatively sure that Halloween is a sure thing this year.

That’s really what it boils down to and just to break this down in terms of just how big the need is right now, currently in the country we’re doing somewhere in the neighborhood of seven hundred thousand tests a day and some experts are estimating that to be truly safe, this is not just in Salem but the entire country-wide, some experts estimate that we actually need to be testing around 5.5 million people a day.

So 700,000 is what we’re currently doing, they’re saying we need to be ramping up to be able to do about 5.5 million. So that is a massive ramp up in the testing capacity that people in Salem and people all in the medical community all throughout the United States want to see to feel a hundred percent safe. Now I have personally seen some viral videos going around this past week from medical professionals that are pretty harmful in my opinion.

I think at this point it’s pretty safe to say that if you see anyone doubting the fact that we need ubiquitous testing everywhere to be safe you can pretty much just write that person off. Medical professionals in Salem are saying it, the Corona task force assembled to serve that region is saying it, everybody in the know is saying it. So that’s the first thing to point out here, that Salem like the rest of the country does not have near the testing capacity that they need to be fully safe not just for now but for October as well.

So therefore because not having the testing capacity means that you don’t have a full data set over what you’re actually experiencing or what you’re likely to experience, Salem’s health community and business community are starting to look at a situation in which they may reopen some things, see what the result is, and then close some things, and reopen some things, and close some things, and kind of have to do this teeter back and forth. And they have to do that because they don’t have adequate testing or adequate testing support so that they can just know what the landscape is.

What I will say though is that my interactions with Mayor Kim Driscoll and Dave Roberts and the corona task force assembled there in Salem is that these people are 100% committed to the safety of everyone in Salem and that includes any tourists that do come in for October so you can be sure that if tomorrow all of this changes and and Kim Driscoll announces on her Twitter, by the way she follow her she’s awesome, if Salem is officially open for business in October and everything’s gonna be great, know that she would not do that unless it were 100% safe for her to do so. So that is where the medical community is right now in Salem, that is where things stand.

The Federal and Massachusetts State Governments

Let’s talk a little bit about where the state and federal governments are having an impact on the ability of Halloween to happen in Salem. So the commonwealth of Massachusetts has formed an advisory board made up of 18 members and on May 18th they are expected to release a report that details what the reopening of services statewide might look like.

What they’re trying to with this task force has come up with a set of guidelines and systems and procedures that are sort of statewide, are everywhere because if everyone’s not following the same rules it kind of defeats the point. The great thing about this committee among other things is that they’re actively seeking the input of business owners and residents and tourists to Salem to kind of see what everybody’s thinking, get some ideas from people about what would help make their Salem October experience as good as it can be given the circumstances.

So I fully expect that when that report does drop on May 18th it’s gonna be filled with a lot of really really useful information. And it’ll likely be that however Salem does look in October, we’ll be able to trace the roots of how Salem got there back to this report. So you better believe that on this channel we are gonna be talking about that report when it does come out. Now unfortunately the scarcity of testing is not the only issue that the Commonwealth is experiencing in its relationship with the federal government and the assistance that they are providing. A lot of the halted progress toward increased sanitation, testing, and the sorts of measures you would want to see in place to make sure that a Salem Halloween is 100% safe, or as close to safe as it can be is actually coming from a sort of breakdown in communications between the state government and the federal government.

There’s a lot of guidelines that aren’t necessarily clear and procedures that aren’t spelled out in such a way so that local business owners feel like they can act and project into October and even ask the question what could we do feasibly to be open during the Halloween season? A good example of what I’m talking about here is the Paycheck Protection Program loan. Now this was sold to the American people as a very helpful way to keep small businesses afloat during this coronavirus crisis but the feedback that I am getting is that a lot of small business owners in and around Salem are actually afraid that this loan is going to cause a medium to long term load on them that they cannot bear given their short-term difficulties. So they’re skeptical, they’re tentative, they’re slow to act. They’re afraid that they’re not gonna have a business tomorrow. And so a lot of the ramp up sort of stuff that you would normally see this time of year heading toward October from the business community in Salem is really scaled down or in some cases just not there at all.

Unfortunately until adequate assistance is flowing and the lines of communication are open and the guidelines and the rules that everybody has to follow are clear, this probably isn’t gonna get much better and by better I mean that things aren’t gonna change as fast as they could, things won’t be put in place quickly, things will get delayed, and the more things are delayed the less likely it is that Halloween goes off at all. So luckily for us we live in a representative republic which means that if you don’t like anything that I just said, you can reach out to your local people, let them know that you don’t like it. Maybe we can put some pressure on some people in power and help to save Halloween this year.

Alright so now that we’ve explored the role of the state, the role of the federal government, and the medical influence that’s going on around Halloween, let’s have a look at sort of the fallout of COVID thus far in Salem. And why we should all be desperately hopeful that some version of Halloween can occur this year. So the three private sector industries that I see as being the most affected by Halloween either happening or not happening this year in Salem are going to be lodging, restaurants, and tourism. So let’s look at  each of these three industries in Salem and kind of look at what COVID has already done to them. As well as what they are currently expecting Halloween to look like.


In the lodging industry it seems that reservations are still holding strong for around the October season and they are still coming in up to 90 days out, but the reservation policies and cancellation policies in place right now are very, very generous which is a good thing, but that means that we can’t really predict too accurately if those reservations are going to stay in place or if people are making reservations sort of tentatively if they have the expendable income they can a make reservation, then cancel it later.


The dining industry has been almost totally decimated by COVID, they were the first industry to close and since then they have had nearly 93 percent, this is nationwide, 93% staff reduction across all employers in the dining history – that’s insane. So far the industry has lost about 2.3 billion dollars and a lot of this is because many in that industry are finding it hard to shift to a takeout or delivery model because that kind of changes the entire business model. The dining establishment in Salem in October depends on foot traffic, depends on people being able to walk through the streets freely so this is another area where it’s kind of like no one really knows what to expect.


And then there’s a tourism industry and this is the one that breaks my heart the most unfortunately, there are losses already in Salem in the tourism industry that are unfixable. And the really really heartbreaking thing about it is that Salem was on track 2020 to be the most profitable tourist year in the city’s history, especially because of Halloween. Halloween is on Saturday this year and it’s not just on a Saturday, it’s on a full moon, and it’s not just on a full moon it’s on a blue moon which means it’s the second full moon of the month of October.

So destination Salem and the tourism industry in Salem had a whole lineup of events scheduled to kick off actually this weekend and continue just straight through the peak season into November. There was an uptick in reservations across the board I know I personally had four, four scheduled, planned trips to Salem between now and the end of October. So everyone was looking forward to this October is the point, if you’re watching this video chances are you were looking forward to it as well. And Destination Salem and the tourism industry have not made an official call yet on whether Haunted Happenings is happening or not.

But it is important to note that as of April 21st Munich has canceled its annual Oktoberfest which is a massive festival falling around the same time of the year. And that festival has not been canceled since World War Two and there are plenty of people saying that any sort of large-scale public gatherings should just be canceled and not happen this year.

So Will there Be Halloween in Salem in 2020?

Which brings us to the point of this video: will Halloween happen in Salem in 2020? Nobody knows right now. But, it is clear that Salem is preparing for a much different Halloween than they’ve had probably since Haunted Happenings began in the 70s. And the reason why I kind of already laid out, but just imagine it you know most of the activity in Salem in Halloween happens in the downtown area which is only a mile radius and during the month of October something like 500,000 people pour into that small space and Halloween being on a Saturday this year that means that a good chunk you know maybe up to a third or even half of that number are gonna do it on Halloween night.

With that many people in that small of a space, with testing as low as it is, the conflicts between the state and federal government what they are, some states considering reopening right now, which will cause further peaks, will cause floods in the healthcare market later down the road, will extend this thing, it just seems like there’s no way you could have even a tenth of that number of people in that small of a space with anything resembling responsible safety. So that should tell you that what does need to happen this year in order for Salem to have a safe Halloween is a significant ramp up in what they’re able to do medically.

So what does that look like? Well let’s get back to those metrics that I mentioned at the very beginning of the video. So in Salem and the surrounding areas they’re really looking at four metrics that they kind of look out and say okay if we hit these four metrics this means that it is really safe to open, everyone can come and know that they’re gonna have a good time and be safe and no one’s gonna get this thing or very few people are gonna get it or basically we can have our normal Haunted Happenings go off.

One, the healthcare system has to be able to handle the current volume and severity of the patients that they are currently seeing. Two, they want to have a 14-day period without a positive COVID case or death coming in through the doors. Three, they want to be able to widely test all contacts of patients who have tested positive for COVID. This is why they need so many tests, they’re not just testing the doctors and nurses who have symptoms, they want to test the doctors and nurses you don’t have symptoms which they can’t currently do.

They don’t just want to test the patients who have late stage symptoms, they want to test the patients who have earlier stage symptoms which they can’t currently do. And when someone is positive, they want to be able to look at that person’s social network and test everyone around them to see how far it is spread and therefore isolate that particular strain coming from that particular person and if they need to provide a place for those people to stay to quarantine until they’re better, they want to be able to do that – none of that is possible without the tests. And for they want to have it so that if they introduce all these measures, one person is only infecting one other person.

Currently in the Commonwealth one person is infecting three to four people, that needs to come way down. So considering where we’re at and where we need to get to, now that we know what that is, the medical establishment and the administrative bodies in Salem are really looking at a much much different Halloween in Salem because it’s starting to become clear to them that they’re not gonna get what they need to be a hundred percent safe in October. So here are some things that they are currently exploring in Salem in terms of what Halloween might actually look like given the circumstances as they are right now. So this would be stations that offer sanitation, disinfection and masks. The promotion of small group activities and events, which follow the CDC guidelines of social distancing.

Extreme changes for any attractions and events with multiple touch points. So those attractions where you go in and you’re encouraged to touch things, got to scale that back. Likely elimination or limitation of print materials including the Haunted Happenings brochure throughout all of Salem. This includes all brochures, you go to Salem for Halloween, you come away with like 15 brochures from the tours and the museums and the attractions trying to get you to go visit. Probably not gonna happen this year, it’s just too hard to control that paper flow and keep it sanitized and safe. Restaurants and retail establishments are gonna utilize excess outdoor space like parking lots and sidewalks as shopping and dining space. I’m actually pretty excited about that. So now that is all accumulated from people I’ve talked to, heard from, and read about over the past week and a half or so.

This is what I will just say is coming from me. I would expect all large-scale gathering events related to Halloween in Salem this year to just be canceled. This might include things like the parade, concerts, Halloween balls, Samhain ritual circles stuff like that. Basically if they can’t control the volume of people and ensure that people are being 100% safe doing whatever the thing is, I just think they won’t do it and honestly I think that’s probably for the best even though it sucks. Now if we had a significant ramp up in testing, we might be having a different conversation come June, July but as it stands right now it doesn’t seem like that’s gonna happen.

So those things not being there would not be ideal, right that’s not the Halloween we all know and love. But there is plenty of stuff still to do in Salem and actually there’s plenty of cause for hope that some version of Halloween is going to go off. So here are some other sort of key takeaways that I’ve been able to gather about what we can expect in Halloween this year. The first is that if something does go off we can likely expect far fewer people to come then we have seen before.

Cause for Hope

Now there’s a significant hope that it seems the entire business and administrative bodies in Salem, everyone who has a business or is in public office and medical establishment, all of them are expecting a giant surge to come to Salem when it becomes safe to travel. Now they expect that safety to sort of go in tiers. They expect people who live within the immediate region up to four hours of driving range away from Salem to be the first to return. And so they’re gonna start reaching out to those people starting sometime around June to try and get them to come to Salem safely.

By that point, they’re gonna have their procedures and guidelines in place because that report is gonna come out in mid-may. They’re gonna have adhered to that and it’ll be relatively safe for the people around Salem to come enjoy Salem through the mid summer. After that they are gonna target people who live a further driving distance away and then just keep expanding out. Then they’re gonna go into domestic flights and international flights. But that is a process that’s gonna be going through 2021 maybe even 2022. So it’s not like you know: May close people, June the entire country.

How You Can Help #SaveHalloween

Another reason to hope is that you can actually help make sure that Salem remains Salem. There’s a lot you can personally do right now to help make sure that Halloween goes off this year and not that Halloween goes off this year but that Salem comes back from this admittedly gigantic hit. A lot of the businesses in Salem are trying to pivot into a digital first mentality, they’re trying to figure out a way that they can share their attractions, their shops, their merchandise with people digitally, so if you have a shop whose brand you absolutely love whether it’s clothing witch supplies, restaurant, whatever buy from their stores online right now if they offer it.

Keep them afloat through this time if you can and if you don’t have expendable income, find them on social media, drop them online just say hey I miss you, I love your stuff, I can’t wait for you to come back, I’m so so excited about walking into your store again when I can. I personally would like to shout out Gulu Gulu Cafe, Die With Your boots On, Pyramid Books, House of the Seven Gables, Peabody Essex Museum, Emporium 32, God there’s so many, so many places that I cannot wait to go back to and I hope you’re all staying strong and I can’t wait to see you again. I’m gonna be ramping up my buying from these places in the months to come to try and keep them afloat. I’m gonna be reaching out to these people via social media and making sure that they’ve got what they need and helping spread the word here if I can and you can do that on your own platforms as well. My bottom line is I think Halloween will happen this year.

I think it will be a very different Halloween than we’ve seen in Salem before. Nobody knows what that’s going to look like yet but the comments, the new subscribers, the support here on the channel, there’s been a big uptick recently, I’ve been producing more, you guys have been loving what I’m doing, and letting me know that, that has warmed my heart so much to log onto YouTube and see a new sub, or a new comment, or whatever, a new like. To see that on the Facebook on the Twitter on the Instagram on the website it’s like it just gives me what I need to keep going through this. So spread that around to the Salem community. Give it to them, you’re giving it to me, I’m giving it to them, you give to them, they’ll give it to you.

It’s how we get through this thing together. And you can be damn sure that if Halloween in Salem is canceled this year, it will be back. And I promise you that I will do my level best with your support to keep that autumn fire burning and stoked and ready until that beautiful city can return. So that’s all for today, that got a little sentimental there at the end. Won’t apologize for it, I’m a ooey gooey cancer. Please continue the support, it’s been absolutely phenomenal the way this stuff is growing. I really can’t believe it, I’m so so grateful. Share this stuff around, spread the word.

I’m so so excited about next week’s video, so if you are watching this and that is already out, you should check that out because the very first interactive ToSalem experience is coming your way and boy is it a lot of fun. It is my first offering into the land of let’s keep it Halloween all the time and I’m very, very excited to share it with you and I will be announcing it formally next week so check out that video if it’s popping up on your screen right now. If not, subscribe to the channel and hit the notification bell to be notified when that does go live so you can be sure not to miss it. So that’s it for today, stay weird witches, I’ll see you next time.


Should You Visit Salem MA | Is Salem Massachusetts Worth Visiting?

Should You Visit Salem MA | Is Salem Massachusetts Worth Visiting?


As a long-term lover of Salem Massachusetts I often find myself justifying my continued interest in the city. Unfortunately, my inability to think on my feet usually means that my response to, “Oh, you’re into Salem,” is usually a dull, uninformative, stuttering mess. Yet still, every couple months or so, the itch to return to Salem emerges and I pack up the car, load up Spotify with Fleetwood Mac, and head toward Boston. So I thought today I would do my absolute best to justify why you should visit Salem Massachusetts, even if you’ve been before, even if it’s not quite what you expect it to be, and yes, even if it has little to do with The Salem Witch Trials. In this video, I lay out both sides of the argument because, as it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons not to visit Salem as well. Watch the whole thing to make up your mind. Please don't forget to subscribe and follow/contribute to the hashtag #SaveHalloween on twitter and Facebook. While you're at it, you can also follow ToSalem on those platforms via the links below: Find way more about all things Salem at Facebook: Instagram: Twitter:


As a long-term lover of Salem Massachusetts I often find myself justifying my continued interest in the city. Unfortunately, my inability to think on my feet usually means that my response to, “Oh, you’re into Salem,” is usually dull, uninformative, and a stuttering mess.

Yet still, every couple months or so, the itch to return to the Witch City emerges and I pack up the car, load up Spotify with Omnia, and head toward Boston. So I thought today I would do my absolute best to justify why you should visit Salem MA, even if you’ve been before, even if it’s not quite what you expect it to be, and yes, even if it has little to do with The Salem Witch Trials. To begin, let’s jump into why you may want to steer clear of Salem, then we’ll progress into the myriad reasons I think Salem’s still worth loving.




Why You Shouldn’t Visit Salem MA


Salem is Basically Shuttered for Most of the Year

The first and, in my opinion, least persuasive argument for not wanting to visit Salem is a consequence of the city’s success in branding itself as Halloween-central. Be honest, when you think Salem, you think Autumn. I used to as well. Unfortunately, the popularity of Salem during the Halloween season is a bit of a double-edged sword. Many attractions that operate through the late summer to November, shutter for the rest of the year. Why? Well, the crowds just aren’t there.

Fortunately, there are tons of attractions, museums, restaurants, and much more that do indeed operate year-round. There are even a few witch-themed attractions that maintain this calendar as well. So, if this is your big reason for not wanting to visit Salem MA in any other time of the year, trust me, there is tons to do year-round. The one exception I would mention here is the dead of winter – not because there’s nothing to do, but because the winters in Salem are a notoriously frigid, icy affair. But, if that’s your thing, there are few better places in the North Shore area for seaside chilliness than Salem.


Finding  an Authentic Witchcraft Experience Is Somewhat Difficult

I’m probably going to get around to making an entire video on this topic someday, but for now I’ll just say that this is also a somewhat valid criticism. Putting aside the Salem Witch Trials for now (I’ll cover that next), tapping into Salem’s modern-day witchcraft community outside of commerce is actually pretty challenging. So if you’re hoping to spend a week visiting coven gatherings, attending Ostara ceremonies, or dancing in the moonlight with your fellow Pagans, you’re going to need to do a bit of sniffing before you find the folks who’ll join you in such revelries.

But, again, this criticism falls flat when you propose this: Even if it is somewhat difficult to root out the authentic pagan experience in Salem, point me to another New England city where the vibrancy of the community is one-tenth of what it is in the Witch City. It may not be perfect and it may need improvement, but it’s the best we’ve got.

Not where Salem Witch Trials Happened Really

I’ll close out the criticisms with the one I find to be the most persuasive and, to be brutally frank, the one that Salem itself does its best to hide: The Salem Witch Trials and modern-day Salem are loosely connected at best. There’s actually a whole lot of history that goes into why this is the case, but here are the bullet points:

The Contemporary Locations of The Salem Witch Trials
  • Most of the hearings and people associated with the Trials actually occurred/lived in the towns surrounding modern-day Salem, not Salem itself. At the time of the Trials, Salem was split between the rural, agricultural Salem Village and the more modern, urban Salem Town. These were two entirely distinct locations, who expressed a fair amount of vitriol with each other (which was actually a major factor in why the Trials occurred in the first place). Salem Village is where the vast majority of the events in The Salem Witch Trials took place. The area was renamed years later and largely encompasses modern Danvers, just a bit north of present-day Salem. The urban Salem Town is what we now know simply as, “Salem.”
  • This means that not only are there few sites historically connected to the Trials in Salem, but there never really were many in the first place. Most of the events literally occurred somewhere else entirely.
  • Still, there are a few historically relevant sites to the Trials in Salem, like the home of one of its judges where a few hearings took place, the site of the Salem Jail where prisoners were held while they awaited trial or execution, and the site of the executions.

BUT! If this fact is halting you from visiting Salem Massachusetts, there’s an argument to be made. Most of the surrounding towns where the Trials actually occurred or where their players lived have managed to restore or preserve relevant sites. And there are two memorials within Salem dedicated to the victims of the Trials. So, what better place to set up shop while you explore the entire North Shore area than Salem? You may have to do a bit of driving to see it all, but Salem is still the most active, most central place from which to explore the history of The Salem Witch Trials.




Why You Should Visit Salem MA

Now that we’ve gotten the arguments against Salem out of the way, let’s dive into why I still think the city holds a lot of magic, no matter what time of year you choose to visit.


Let’s just get the most obvious one out of the way. No one does Halloween like Salem, Massachusetts. Looking for something scary? Salem’s got haunted houses, monster museums, and ghost tours. How about something spooky fun? Check out all of the filming locations of Hocus Pocus, enjoy the yearly Halloween Carnival, or wander up the supposedly haunted hidden corridor in The House of the Seven Gables. Witchcraft more your thing? Well, check out the entire freaking town in that case. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people descend on Salem for one glorious night. And they bring with them an electricity unlike any I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. It’s an insane, glorious, beautiful thing that you have to experience at least once in your life.


Salem Massachusetts is without a doubt the place to be for Halloween in the United States. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly how that happened? How did a town that was ashamed of its terrible past come to build a massive economy around it? In this first part of a three part series, we tackle that question and the answers are so very weird, there's absolutely nowhere else they could come from besides good ol' Salem Massachusetts. Research for this episode: Music: Darren Curtis “Come Out and Play” Twitter: @ToSalemSite Instagram: @ToSalemSite Facebook:





The Rest of Salem’s History

I’m going to frame this in a way that most Salem historians are going to hate, but it turns out that The Salem Witch Trials is actually some of the least interesting history that’s happened in Salem. The city positioned itself perfectly at one point to be the premiere trading hub in early America. You read that correctly. I’m talking ahead of Boston, ahead of New York – the golden child of Puritan America was Salem. And then nineteen people met their deaths at the end of a rope and everything changed.

Salem then established a trade connection with China that is unparalleled anywhere else in the country. Ever wonder why there’s a giant Chinese house sticking off the back of the Peabody Essex Museum? That’s why. Go in sometime and find out more. It’s absolutely fascinating. Indeed, Salem has gone trough so many compelling eras it’s hard to distill them in this short format but the sheer volume and variety of Puritan, Maritime, Industrial, Literary, Philosophical, Occult, and Architectural history in Salem is staggering. When you visit Salem MA, start at the Visitor’s Center. They’ve got tons of information on the Peabody Essex Museum, National Maritime Site, Customs House, and much more to help you dive into Salem’s storied, fascinating past.




The Architecture

While we’re on the topic of architectural history, Salem houses an absolutely jaw-dropping array of early American homes. The list of influential architects and buildings in this town is too long to dive into here. But for my money there is no other town on the North Shore to get full exposure (meaning places you can actually go inside of, many of which feature stunning, original furnishings) to early American architecture, ranging from the Puritans to the Civil War and beyond, than Salem.

And many of these historic places have been converted to bed and breakfasts, so you can actually spend entire vacations surrounded by the thick history within Salem’s walls. I’m not even personally that much of an architectural guy, but the work of Samuel McIntire alone has filled many of my Salem trips with wonder, beauty, and a deeper appreciation of the American aesthetic than I likely would have otherwise found.

Plenty of Free Things to Do in Salem

Another incredible thing about Salem’s architecture is that it’s largely free to enjoy. You could, and I have, spend an entire weekend just wandering through the famous Chestnut Street district. Of course, if you want to go inside many of these buildings, that may be another issue price-wise. But there are structures, like the Salem Athenaeum, you can check out totally for free. There’s also a bevy of parks (Salem Willows Park, the Salem Common, Ropes Mansion garden, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, just to name a few) that are entirely free to enjoy.

If you’re around during Halloween, you could literally spend all day and night just wandering the city. And trust that you’d be fully entertained by the costumed revelers, street performers, vendors, outdoor concerts, and the fireworks display that take place on that gorgeous night. You could also stroll through The Salem Witch Trials or Proctor’s Ledge Memorial for a free dose of the Trials‘ history. Or why not spend a lazy afternoon wandering through the Broad Street, Old Burying Point, or Howard Street cemeteries? These do contain, after all, the real graves of some of the Trials accusers, judges, and accused and therefor represent some of the closest contemporary connections you’ll find in Salem to the Witch Trials. I could go on, but you get my point. Salem is a highly walkable, very well laid out city with tons of free stuff along the way.




But You Want Spooky

I get it. Salem has a bit of a reputation for the spooky, the macabre, the witchy. Can you visit Salem MA and get that experience outside autumn? Yes, yes, and yes. I could do an entire article on just this (and I just might). But here are just a few places to get that spooky vibe year-round:


Honestly, I’m limiting myself here, but you get the idea. Everything above is available year-round for your enjoyment. Some places operate, however, on fluctuating schedules due to inclement weather. This happens a lot in the winter. So always be sure to check websites before you go. If you hadn’t noticed, a fair number of the above are related directly to The Salem Witch Trials, so if you’re looking for this particularly spooky era of American history, don’t fret if you can’t visit in the fall – there are plenty of witchy resources and activities available all year in Salem. This ever-presence of spooky fun is yet another fantastic reason to visit Salem MA.


Is Salem Massachusetts haunted by more than its past? In this paranormal look at Salem Massachusetts, I explore five places you can visit in the Witch City to find out! Get your EMF readers ready and your proton packs primed - we're getting spooky! You'll dive in the deep end with a thorough overview of Salem's haunted past with a once-over on a wide range of haunted Salem history from such eras as: The Salem Witch Trials, Prohibition, The Revolutionary War, Salem's Era of Maritime Trade, The Civil War, and more! Here are my selections! 00:01:07 Number 5 - Wicked Good Books 00:02:40 Number 4 - Bunghole Liquors 00:04:23 Number 3 - Mercy Tavern 00:07:04 Number 2 - The Gardner-Pingree House 00:12:44 Number 1 - The Hawthorne Hotel Please support the site and YouTube channel by subscribing to the channel and throwing your email on the newsletter at You can also support us financially by purchasing some of the books below! Supplementary Reading from this Episode: Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City (Haunted America): The Ghost Chronicles: A Medium and a Paranormal Scientist Investigate 17 True Hauntings by Ron Kolek:










The Culture

I saved this point for last because it is by far my personal favorite aspect of Salem, Massachusetts. It’s the single reason I keep going back time after time. Snd why I’m ultimately sure that someday I’ll be packing up my bags and headed to the Witch City for good. In a word, it’s the culture. The cumulative culture in Salem is a fascinating, perplexing, multifaceted thing. There are two specific areas of the culture in Salem that I’d like to highlight:

The Food

Salem has a very healthy and vibrant food scene both inside and outside of the city center. For our purposes, I’ll focus on anything that’s walkable from downtown. Just within this few block radius you’ve got insanely good pizza, a few coffee shops with a wide array of beverages and sweets, a couple fine dining establishments, some of the best seafood joints you’ve ever had the pleasure to visit, a vegan shop that is a must-try (Life Alive near The Witch House), a couple diners, a few pubs, some cafes, a liquor store, the country’s oldest still operating candy shop – I could go on. The food scene in Salem is an absolute delight that continues to surprise me every single time. It alone is a solid reason to visit Salem MA.

The People

Salemites sometimes get a bad rap in our larger cultural discourse for being confrontational, exclusionary, and gruff. While I won’t deny any of these – I don’t think I could unless I’d lived in Salem for some time. I will say that you won’t find a lot of these kinds of people in the tourist areas. Why? Well, they aren’t very good for business. So, for tourists, this point is kind of irrelevant.





My experience of the people of Salem is the exact opposite of this reputation. I’ve sung along in a drunken stupor with the karaoke singers at Gulu Gulu Cafe, laughed at how horrible a game is with folks at Bit Bar, had two hour-long conversations about Hermeticism with shop owners, and so much more. To me, the people of Salem are like none other. Their passion, intensity, welcoming spirit, and acceptance has always been on full display to me. This is likely why Salem is well regarded as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly communities around. Perhaps it’s also why there are so many pet-friendly initiatives as well.

The people of Salem have massive hearts, welcoming arms, and are a delight to be around any time of year. The one key exception being November 1st, when every single person dreads the daylight. I’ve enjoyed life-changing tattoos in Salem. I’ve wept across the table from tarot readers. Shop owners and I have pontificated over Crowley and Gardener. I’ve participated in pagan rituals. And during each of these beautifully memorable events, I’ve found only welcome, only warmth, only acceptance and love. The people of Salem truly are the great hidden strength of the city. And they are by far the thing about the Witch City that I cherish the most.


What about you? Have you been to Salem? What was your experience like in the Witch City. Comment and let me know. Thanks so much for reading. Stay weird, witches!


Does the Salem Dispensary Sell to Tourists?

Does the Salem Dispensary Sell to Tourists?


What’s up witches! The biggest tourist season for Salem is upon us and that means throngs of tourists are flooding into the streets of The Witch City. But, ghosts and witches aren’t the only things to do in Salem Massachusetts. You may have heard that Massachusetts has a very progressive view on marijuana legalization, but here’s the question: can you buy marijuana as a tourist at a Salem dispensary this Halloween?


I know this is an issue near and dear to my heart, so I whipped out my grinder, grabbed my lighter, and dug in for the answers. My research has been vetted by some of Salem’s licensed sellers, so you can trust this is THE place for accurate marijuana information. Alright, enough build up, here are the questions and answers you care about.





Is there a marijuana dispensary in Salem, Massachusetts?

Yes! Not only is there a very fine dispensary, but it sells both recreational and medical marijuana.


Can I buy recreational marijuana in Salem Massachusetts?

You sure can! You can check out the dispensary’s inventory on their website, this includes pricing. Here’s what you need to know before heading to the shop:

  1. Salem’s breakout dispensary is Alternative Therapies Group.
  2. They are located at 50 Grove Street Salem, Massachusetts 01970. This is about a ten minute drive or 25 minute walk west (heading past the Witch House coming from downtown) from the main Essex St. drag in Salem.
  3. You’ll need a valid State ID (any US state will do) showing that you are over 21 years of age to purchase recreational marijuana from ATG.
  4. You’re allowed to make a single purchase per day.
  5. You can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana flower per visit, this is the state limitation.


How does medical marijuana work in Salem?

If you have a Massachusetts state medical card, you’re good to go. Unfortunately, if you have a medical card from another state, you won’t be able to use it to purchase medical cannabis.


Are there any Halloween products for sale?

Alright, so maybe I’m the only one asking this question, but the answer is yes! The shop has some gorgeous pumpkin-shaped glass pipes for sale during the 2019 Halloween season, courtesy of Salem’s Witch Dr.




How Salem Became Halloween Central - Part Three

How Salem Became Halloween Central - Part Three


Today we're wrapping up our series on how Salem became Halloween-central with an epic conclusion. In this video, you'll start with the pagan integration in the 1970's and wind your way up to the present. Check out the video and full transcript below!


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Full Episode Transcript

What’s up witches and welcome to Salem, the weirdest plae on earth. My name is Joel and today we’re concluding our series on how Salem went from a town ashamed of its past. All the way to Halloween-central, USA. Please take a minute to watch the previous two videos if you haven’t already.


Salem Massachusetts is without a doubt the place to be for Halloween in the United States. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly how that happened? How did a town that was ashamed of its terrible past come to build a massive economy around it?


Salem: Myth, Place, and Memory

Like in the last video, a lot of today’s information came from the book Salem Place Myth and Memory. Specifically Frances Hill’s chapter. If you’re not familiar with Frances Hill, she’s one of the gatekeepers of all things witch city lore, so you’ll definitely want to check her out. You can find a link to the book we’re using today in the description. And, if you buy it, you give us a little financial help, which we would super appreciate. Alright, let’s get spooky witches.


Salem & Halloween

“Halloween in Salem is the equivalent of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Christmas in Bethlehem, Easter in Rome, or the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. But in all these cases except Salem’s, ancient pagan or religious traditions link the place with the festival. There is no such link between Halloween and this Massachusetts town.” These are the opening words to Hill’s chapter and I’ve got to say they’re a pretty decent encapsulation of the entire experience of Halloween in Salem.

So let’s begin, as Hill does, by looking at Salem as a modern pagan Mecca. Because that story and the story of how Salem became Halloween-central are one in the same once you get into the 1970’s. Now, it’s important to understand that the cultural linkage between Salem and witchcraft never really disappeared post-1692. The lack of clarity in the aftermath of the trials, due to pretty much everyone except the accused doing their level-best to pretend like none of it ever happened, led many to conclude that there must have actually been witches in 1692’s Salem.

And I’m not just talking Puritan-era America here either. You can draw a straight line between this perception and that run of Bewitched episodes we talked about in Part One of this series. You can draw an even straighter line between the beliefs that led to the trials occurring in the first place and the TV show Salem. Or Sabrina or Hocus Pocus or American Horror Story. Each of these stipulates, or in some cases goes so far as to be narratively dependent on the stipulation, that there were real practitioners of witchcraft in Salem in 1692. This popular perception eventually drew people to the town. They claimed to be practitioners of the Craft and those people would go on to, at the very least commercially, change everything.


Salem Halloween Commercial Links

But the Pagans weren’t the first to seize on the easy commercial link between Salem and witchcraft. Prior to the 1970s, there were a handful of businesses who flirted with the idea of The Witch City monicker. These included companies from varying industries like: fishing, jewelry, a popcorn factory, oil firm, and even the Parker Brothers who created a board game called “Ye Witchcraft,” but got rid of it when the citizens of Salem revolted. If only those same citizens could see Salem now.

Perhaps the first real Witch City Attraction as we’d recognize it today was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, more commonly known as, “The Witch House.” Now this is still the only structure in Salem with any direct ties to the Witch Trials as it belonged to one of its judges, Judge Jonathan Corwin.

But it wasn’t really marketed as such until well into the 20th century. Again, quoting from Frances Hill, “In 1944 city plans...necessitated either demolishing or moving the building...they relocated it by a few yeards, restored the house, and opened it to the public...the organization renamed the building “The Witch House” to attract as many tourists as possible.”

And then, roughly two decades later, just as the Bewitched Salem run was gearing up for release, the now-infamous Witch City logo started popping up on merchandise in town.


The Real Salem Halloween Culprit

But, in truth, we can examine a whole host of elements in this fascinating history. We can talk about the witch trials, Bewitched. Attempts to commercialize the tragedy, the rise of Halloween in general. The Crucible. We can examine each of these things in-depth and assign some minimal level of responsibility for the spookifying of Salem Massachusetts. But, at the end of the day, there is one person more responsible than any other for what Salem in October has become. Her name is Laurie Cabot. She’s a practicing witch. And in 1971, she came to Salem, Massachusetts.

She brought with her a small group and opened a witch shop. The buzz around her and her coven was instant. Suddenly, not only were there real witches in Salem, but they were out and proud witches. Cabot went on to open more shops and was even declared the “official witch of Salem” after self-filing a petition. Cabot’s witch style was clearly influenced by her era. It would go on to be foundational stylistically and commercially for every single witch who’s migrated to Salem since. When you pass the fifteenth witch shop in Salem and are wondering how this happened: Laurie Cabot is how.

In 1972, one year after her move, the Salem Witch Museum opened its doors. You can learn more about that by watching this video if you’d like. A decade later, the first Haunted Happenings celebration in Salem was launched by that same museum. With the support and engagement of Cabot and her followers.

Salem in the 70’s and 80’sproved to be the perfect cauldron in which to brew a total industry shift. As we’ve already talked about, the industrial era in Salem was coming to a close. It was a city without identity. And by the time the Haunted Happenings celebrations got extended from one night to a few days to a week to a month-long affair, the Salem that was was no more. And the town’s new masters were covered in Aqua Net and eyeliner.


The Salem Halloween Debate

There was a backlash, of course, to the change in the city. A debate began that still rages to this day. It’s a debate about the value of historical diversity, honoring the lives of the viciously murdered. And the preservation of authentic cultures versus financial expansion, self-expression, and religious freedom. About the nature of witchcraft and how it’s presented to the Puritans, the local pagans, and the tourists of Salem. It’s a debate about outsiders and newcomers. About the very soul of a place. And, apart from the stalwart efforts of a few outstanding institutions, it seems to a fascinated observer that the witches have won.

By many accounts, 1992 was the last time the actual event of the Witch Trials were treated with absolute civic and cultural dignity. It was the tercentenary of the trials. Arthur Miller and Elie Wiesel spoke. Two memorials were erected in somber remembrance. Later, the site of the actual hangings was confirmed and it too was memorialized.
By many accounts, 1992 was the last time the actual event of the Witch Trials were treated with absolute civic and cultural dignity. It was the tercentenary of the trials. Arthur Miller and Elie Wiesel spoke. Two memorials were erected in somber remembrance. Later, the site of the actual hangings was confirmed and it too was memorialized.


A New Tone?

But, this new tone didn’t last long. In 1993 a new office of tourism and cultural affairs was founded and, although it initially tried to embrace historical diversity and a more dignified approach, it soon found itself promoting Halloween just as much as it was its more varied counterparts.

The Peabody Essex Museum had largely distanced itself from Halloween and 1692 by this time so other “museums” jumped in to fill the void. Many are still in Salem today as is THe Peabody Essex, still standing against the storm - still insisting Salem is more than what it appears.

If the 70s was the beginning, the 90s was the end of the struggle to embrace Halloween. By the end of that decade, Salem very much resembled what it is today. Streets were crowded with attractions, Haunted Happenings had expanded well beyond its initial scope, and tourism was the central industry in Salem Massachusetts.


The Modern Salem Halloween

Today, Halloween is an absolute free-for-all. Current estimates claim that around half of Salem’s annual tourism comes in the month of October. I know it was the first time I visited the Witch City. And, in truth, it was the entire reason I went. But now that I’ve seen how much there is beneath the surface, I do wish I’d known  before that first trip. I’ve been fortunate to go back many times. But I often wonder about the 13 year-old girl from central Illinois who visits Salem with her parents on Halloween. With only a weekend on the Salem streets, what conclusions has she drawn as she winds her way back to the airport? Has she found a place worth returning to or a grotesque amusement as easily discarded as all the rest?

Thanks for watching this video, please do subscribe to the channel if you enjoyed it. You can find articles and whatnot at Hey, spread the word about the witchy stuff we’re putting it, it’s incredibly helpful. Stay weird Witches, I’ll see you next time.

salem halloween central part two

How Salem Became Halloween Central - Part Two

How Salem Became Halloween Central - Part Two


The subtitle for this episode of my ongoing Salem Halloween series should really be Rise of the Witch City. And that's exactly what this video talks about. I begin where we left off in the last video and examine the pivotal impact the 1970's had on Halloween in Salem. As always, the full transcript and link to all sources used is below. Enjoy!




Check out the book I mention in the video:


How Salem Became Halloween Central Part Two Full Transcript Below

What’s up witches and welcome to Salem, the weirdest place on the earth. Today we are continuing our exploration of how exactly Salem Massachusetts became Halloween-central. If you missed the first episode, watch that before you get into this one or you’re gonna be lost.

Before we get started, please take a second to subscribe to the channel and hit the notification bell so you’ll be alerted when I post new stuff. Also, a lot of the information in this series came from the book Salem: Place, Myth, and Memory. It features a bunch of Salem history experts and covers the Witch City’s various eras going all the way back to its formation. I highly recommend reading this if you’re into Salem history at all. And, if you’d like to support To Salem, you can use the link in the description to purchase this book and I’ll get a little cut of that. Thanks so much to everyone who decides to do that. Now, let’s get spooky witches.


The 1970s

So, it’s the 1970s. Up to this point, Salem has largely ignored its witch history. Sure, there have been a few forays into the witch city tourism market, but nothing significant. Two Salem-focused episodes of Bewitched have just aired and sparked renewed interest in the town’s Puritanical past.

The 1970’s would go on to be the pivotal decade for Halloween’s explosion in Salem. But before we get into that, let’s have a look at what Halloween was generally like at this time.


This is Halloween

In the post World War 1 United States, money was sprinkled over what we now call the middle class like pixie dust and this led to a lot of interesting developments, the roaring 20’s for example. It also was a significant turning point in the Western commercialization of holidays. It’s around this time that Halloween (along with Christmas, Easter, and a few others) start transforming from cute little events you did with your neighbors to cultural signposts that represented us as a people. Salem was, for a long time, reluctant to join in this fun as were a lot of the New England towns with deep-rooted Puritanical belief structures.

But eventually, Salem couldn’t escape the joyous disintegration of societal norms for one blessed night, so by the time the 1970’s rolled around, the soon-to-be-called Witch City was as interested in All Hallow’s Eve as the next town. While there was no formal city-wide celebration of the holiday yet, you’d likely see trick-or-treaters, costumes, and decorations floating about on Samhain-eve.


Why Salem?

Crucially, though, Salem was positioned uniquely to take up the mantle of Halloween-central for a few reasons. First, it was, in the mid-70’s, in the midst of totally revitalizing its downtown area. This changed a lot of the character of the town, transforming Salem’s long-thriving Essex Street into a pedestrian walkway meant to encourage shopping and tourism. It failed, at first, to generate much of either.

Second, and most significantly, Salem was on the brink of economic failure and had been for some time. Something a lot of tourists don’t necessarily understand about The Witch City is that the whole tourism trade is a really recent development. Up until this point, Salem’s economic livelihood was provided by an array of industries, none of which were touristy. Some of these include international maritime trade, manufacturing, and a few more. I’m sure, in time, I’ll have a look at each of these industries on ToSalem (yet another reason to subscribe), but for now just know that by this point they had all failed and Salem was in a bit of an identity crisis. Pretty much all it had going for it was the oncoming American Bicentennial celebration in 1976, a year-long tourism boom that many historic cities enjoyed the benefits of.


The Scene is Set

So, in the early 1970’s Salem has the eyes of America upon it due largely to The Crucible a couple decades prior. And a recent Bewitched storyline. The economic situation is dire in town. No prominent industries have yet emerged in the wake of the decline of others. Despite the hardship, Salem has geared its central area towards pedestrian foot-traffic. Halloween is on the rise as much in Salem as it is everywhere else in America. And finally, the American counter-cultural movements of the 1960’s have been fully adopted into the fabric of the country. This has led to a greater emphasis on individual fashion, sexuality, and religion especially among those who were teenagers or in their 20s in that decade.

The scene is now set for a huge shift in Salem’s cultural, spiritual, and economic identity. Into this now-boiling cauldron came the real witches. And what they brought with them would change Salem Massachusetts forever. It was a small town previously ashamed of its Puritan history. Proud of its maritime contributions to the expansion of America as a global financial force. Reeling from the failure of industry after industry, unsure of who it was and who it wanted to be. The Pagans came in the early 70’s. And in one fell broomstick-riding swoop, they shifted the popular cultural identity away from all of that. And Salem Massachusetts officially became The Witch City.


What's Next for Halloween in Salem?

In the next episode we’ll explore the final component to how Salem became Halloween-central: the witches themselves. If you’re interested in the sources of this video, check out the description for a link. Please visit for all the witchy goodness your black heart can handle. Stay weird witches, I’ll see ya next time.


how salem became halloween central

How Salem Became Halloween Central - Part One

How Salem Became Halloween Central - Part One


One of the first things I wondered the first time I went to Salem on Halloween was, "How did this happen?" It's an interesting question and not so simple to answer. So, I put together a series examining the question from every angle. Here's part 1!

Watch the entire series here!


How Salem Became Halloween Central Part 1 Full Transcript Below

Hello witches and welcome to Salem Massachusetts, the weirdest place on earth. Today we’re diving deep into the first segment of a three-part mystery. We all know Salem is the most celebrated Halloween destination in the United States. In fact, it frequently comes in second for Halloween tourism in the entire world, just behind Derry, Ireland. But how did this happen?


Witch Shame

For centuries the town did everything it could to avoid discussing the Witch Trials at all. On a personal note, I’ve even had a conversation with a Salem shop owner who vividly detailed how all the way up until the day she died, her grandmother who’d spent her entire life in Danvers (which is relevant because a lot of the activity of the Salem Witch Trials actually occurred in Danvers, not present-day Salem) would barely talk about the witch hysteria. And when she did broach the subject, it was met with disdain, avoidance, and disgust at the burgeoning industry celebrating or maybe even glorifying the city’s dark past.

So what happened? How did we go from a Salem that avoided these discussions at all costs to one that hosts half a million people in October and has so adopted the symbols of its murderous past that they’re literally plastered on Police uniforms? The answers to those questions are fascinating. Let’s begin, as all great things do, with television.


Bewitched and Salem

Let’s talk Bewitched. It may seem silly now, but this quirky little comedy was actually pretty groundbreaking for its day. The sitcom debuted in 1964 and followed the adventures of married couple Darrin and Samantha Stephens. They were like many young American couples in the 60’s: simple, raising a child, and trying to put up with a seemingly ever-present mother-in-law. Oh, and Samantha’s a witch and the marriage is bi-special, because apparently witches aren’t human. This little sitcom went a long way toward transforming the popular culture of the day and its ripples extend out far beyond the decades in which it aired. In my opinion, if you like Buffy or The Craft or Salem or The Witches of Eastwich or a whole host of other spooky, interestingly witchy media, you have Bewitched to thank for the cultural space in which such things were not only allowed, but celebrated.

But for our purposes, Bewitched really succeeded in three ways, each of which helped to kick off the transition of Salem toward its present-day Halloween madness. These were: 1) It featured two very powerful and self-determined women, both of whom were generally treated as strong and independently-minded members of society. 2) It glorified, celebrated, and even poked fun at the idea of witchcraft. And 3) In a very popular story arch, the show featured Salem itself.


The Crucible?

Now, before we  talk more about Bewitched, if you’re a Salem-lover, there’s likely one question in your head right now: What about The Crucible? Arthur Miller penned the brutal fictionalization of The Salem Witch Trials in 1952 and it was as much connected to his time as it was the Puritans’. And it’s true that the play did begin to replant Salem in the social fabric of the American quilt.


Salem in the 1950s

But, Salem itself was still very much in their quiet place about the hysteria. When Miller visited Salem to research for the play, he even remarked, “You couldn’t get anyone to say anything about it.” And, at the time of Miller’s writing, Salem was not doing so hot. Its maritime industry was already dried up for the most part and manufacturing wasn’t going so great either - and then there was suddenly this play which discussed on a national stage a part of its history that it was still very much ashamed of. One couldn’t fault a 1950’s Salemite for perhaps believing some long-tortured spirit was enacting centuries-old vengeance on the city for the evils of its past.

Then Bewitched came along in the 60’s. The show’s writers decided to set a number of episodes there. Samantha and crew venture back in time to the days of the Witch Trials. There, she is promptly accused of and admits to being a witch. Then, using her considerable guile and charms, she both escapes execution and levels the Salem villains by exclaiming, “The people that you persecuted were guiltless. They were mortals, just like yourselves. You are the guilty.”

The Salem chapter of Bewitched was a massive success for the show. And the residents of the town would later realize, albeit with some opposition because this is Salem after all, just how important it had been to their present-day successes. And this is in part why the Samantha Stephens statue was dedicated in Salem in 2005.


What's Next for Halloween in Salem?

It didn’t take long before the influence of the show became commercialized in Salem. And the renewed cultural focus that Bewitched in many ways sparked, had some unexpected benefits. From here, there are two crucial components to the evolution of Salem between the 1960’s and today: 1) The American Halloween Explosion and 2) The Arrival of the Real Witches in Salem. And those two elements are what we’ll explore in Parts Two and Three of this mystery. Thanks for joining us for Part One and we’ll see you next time. Stay weird witches.

Omen Psychic Parlor and Witchcraft Emporium Psychic Reading Tarot Decks

Salem Tarot Card Reading - Where Do I Go?

Salem Tarot Card Reading – Where Do I Go?


If you’ve been looking for the perfect place to get your Salem tarot card reading, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve put together a brief quiz that will point you in the direction that YOU should go to get your Salem reading. After the quiz, continue reading to learn a bit about each selection included and follow the links for even more info! Stay weird witches.



Take the quiz externally here!

Continue reading to learn a little about each place featured in this Salem tarot quiz.


Free Tarot Reading

Salem Tarot Reading Locations


Omen: Psychic Parlor & Witchcraft Emporium

Omen is one of the more tourist-friendly shops in Salem. This light-sided sister store of Hex has a decent variety and knowledgeable staff. In 2018, the shop owners renovated the floor plan substantially. These days, the book selection and shopping areas follow a much more open, spacious layout. Here you can enjoy a few different types of readings as well as readings with different styles of tarot decks. Omen is a great choice of the Salem tourist as it’s centrally-located and very commercially approachable.



Hex Old World Witchery

Hex Old World Witchery is the sister store to Omen. This one is the darker of the two and it’s highly commercial and approachable. These aspects make Hex the perfect stop for the Salem tarot visitor who’s interested in the heavier side of the occult. The readings and mediums here reflect that tone nicely as well. The reading space at Hex is in the front window of the store. So, before you purchase a reading here, know that you will be viewable by the foot traffic on the street outside.



The Coven’s Cottage

Coven’s Cottage is, surprisingly, the only Salem witch shop that really leans into the Celtic, Druidic, and Norse aesthetic. Following a renovation in 2018, the store space has expanded, but the tarot reading area remains the same. Coven’s Cottage also renovated in 2019. Here, you can enjoy your reading in a quiet, curtained area. The store’s selection is small, but thematically specific and a joy to be around.


Crow Haven Corner

Crow Haven Corner is perhaps the most authentic witch store in Salem Massachusetts. This one has ties to the original witch boom in Salem, which led to the Pagan friendliness of today’s Salem. It’s New England architecture and overall aesthetic are the perfect accompaniment to your tarot reading. Unlike other parlors in Salem, this reading also takes place in an isolated environment. So you can feel free to feel anything that comes up during your reading without being on-display to every single Salem tourist.



Pyramid Books

Pyramid Books is the largest Salem tarot store featured in this quiz. So if you’re into shopping, you really can’t go wrong here. It’s also on the wharf and has a rotating list of psychics and mediums available for your private tarot reading. Pyramid’s readings take place in a private area and, in general, they are well-reviewed. Additionally, the store is right on the wharf. So, when you’re finished with your reading, jump out of the store, head to Jaho Coffee, and digest everything you were just told about your future.



Enchanted of Salem

Enchanted is a nice shop down on Pickering Wharf that has deep ties to the Salem Witchcraft community. Additionally, the selection offered in the shopping area is varied and some items very much have that “made at home” feel that’s honestly hard to come by these days in Salem. The reviews of the readings here are pretty positive. Trust that here a practicing Pagan will conduct your reading. This person will have, in some instances, generations of knowledge upon which they draw.



New England Magic

New England Magic is centrally-located. The store features tourist-oriented merchandise, which includes a pretty decent collection of books, trinkets, and more. There are a few different readings to check out at New England Magic too so have a go at them all!

to salem ma halloween 2018 restaurant picks

Salem Ma Restaurants - Halloween 2018 Picks

Salem Ma Restaurants - Halloween 2018 Picks


In preparing to go to Salem, Ma this Halloween, something that's definitely been on my mind is: Where am I gonna eat? So here are a few of the Salem Ma restaurants I'm looking forward to the most during the 2018 season. Get your nom noms and witch hats, let's get stupid full.





Below, you'll find the full transcript for the video if you'd rather read it:


Salem Ma Restaurants - Halloween 2018 Picks Transcript

What’s up witches and welcome to Salem, the weirdest place on earth. My name’s Joel from and I’m gearing up for my Halloween trip to The Witch City. So, since I’m planning my trip anyway and, since I’m a little burned out on all the heavy history following my list of the top five insane theories related to the Salem Witch Trials, I thought I’d do something a little more casz. Today, I’ll be telling you where I’m planning to grab a bite in the Witch City this year. Some are old Salem Ma restaurants favorites, others are new flings. They’re ordered by my personal level of excitement. So, grab a witchcicle, sprinkle fairy dust on your deliciously hairy tummy, and let’s dive headlong into a vat of crony goop. What does that even mean?  


The Lobster Shanty

4) Ahhhhh the Lobster Shanty. What can I say that I haven’t said before? It’s a shanty. There’s lobsters. They’re fresh. Beer. Patio. People. Lobster Mac and Cheese. The best rangoon in town. Just go. The Shanty's one of the most venerable Salem Ma restaurants and it’s right in the middle of town, you can’t miss it. And if you see a raving lunatic in all black who’s screaming at the top of his lungs about HP Lovecraft’s connection to Salem, Massachusetts, well just go ahead and approach me and I shall bequeath you with my witticisms.


Tavern on the Square

3) Right in the middle of town, there’s Tavern on the Square. It also happens to be right beside where I’m staying this year, The brand spanking new Hotel Salem. Gotta tell ya, I’m stupid excited for this hotel and it’s super cool looking rooftop bar and the incredible convenience of being able to pop right into the Tavern and order the Salem Joel special: two barrels of squirrel blood, a chalice filled  with malice, and a partridge in a v-neck t. They’ve got pretty much everything you want at the tavern. Out of the four, I’d say it’s on the pricier side, so be sure to get some money magick spell kits from Omen before you go in.



2) Ohhhh, look at your fancy jeans. I bet you’ve got fancy shoes and fancy skin care products and a fancy uh purse satchel. Well, you don’t even know about the fancy place called Finz. That’s right, Finz. Like a fish has. Down by the Salem wharf, you can drop into this little place and get delicious foodstuffs. I like it because it’s a little out of the way, so it’s not super crowded all the time. It’s on the water, the food’s great, especially if you like seafood. And it’s like super romantic. So, if you’re cool and you’ve decided to finally ask Marie, the Satanic accountant out to dinner, this is totally the place to worship death hand-in-hand in the demon dungeon below the restaurant and then get a great meal after. What’s that? I’m being told by the ToSalem lawyers that I can’t officially claim there’s a bloody demon dungeon below Finz. I can’t OFFICIALLY claim it.


The Flying Saucer Company

1) The Flying Saucer company is, I think, unfairly categorized among the Salem Ma restaurants as “that one pizza place with the Picard Borg statue.” Accurate? Yes. The whole story? No. They also have nice bathrooms ya big dummy. And their pizza is an ever-evolving gift from the gods. And the staff looks like I looked in my head when I was a young person, not yet saddled with student loans and disappointed with the bitterest truths about love and death and how literally everything the internet tells you that you like it’s simultaneously manipulating you to like - including this very video and what does any of it mean? Delete your social media. Join me on an ocean liner. Let’s start the revolution. But, yeah. Just top notch bathrooms.


And that’s it witches! I am 100% going to make a best restaurants in Salem list after the holiday this year, but I have a few more I want to sample before I put that thing together. Some other places I’m absolutely sure I’m going to visit, but that didn’t make the list are Gulu Gulu Cafe for the best mother creping crepes you’ve ever put in your dirty crepe mouth, go sit in the corner and think about what you did, ya filthy crepe. I’m pretty sure cider or hot chocolate or ice cream or a cookie will come from Ye Olde Pepper Company or Maria’s Sweet Somethings (don’t get weird). And, no trip to Salem would be complete without at least one unique, delicious, powerful Dark N Stormy from Olde Main Street Pub. That’s all for today witches. Whatchu gonna be muchin on this Samhain. Leave your comment below the gallows and I’ll see ya next time. Stay weird, witches.

where do i go first in salem massachusetts

Salem Massachusetts - Where Do I Go First?

Salem Massachusetts - Where Do I Go First?


Salem Massachusetts is a hot bed of fascinating activity no matter what time of year you visit. There's so much to do that it can be overwhelming for first time visitors. This is especially true during the Halloween season when 500,000 people pour into a town that's only 18 square miles. And the vast majority of them roam a 3 square mile area (until they're spirited away by the witches).

So we've thrown together a guide to help you find your first Salem Massachusetts destination. Just find your primary interest in the bullet-points below and head to your first destination!


If You're Primarily Interested in Salem Massachusetts for:


Not Really Sure Yet

Well, luckily for you, you don't have to be! I'd say first check out this video on our Top 5 Salem Massachusetts Destinations to get a feel for some very different offerings.




If none of these speak to you, the Salem Regional Visitor Center is a fantastic place to pop in and check out everything the town has to offer. In the Halloween season, this place is filled with spooky brochures in addition to its usual merchandise. Oh, and the people working there know everything you'd want to know about the Witch City. Definitely a great place to get started.


The Witch Hysteria of 1692


the salem witch museum salem massachusetts


Why kid ourselves? Salem Massachusetts is famous for one reason and one reason only: a bunch of religious zealots did some murderously stupid stuff over 300 years ago and we're still looking back on it to (hopefully) keep from doing similarly stupid stuff. If you're here to learn about the unique brand of idiocy that our Puritan ancestors unleashed on colonial New England, than the Salem Witch Museum is your first stop. Lucky for you, we've got everything you'd want to know about this particular museum in this handy video on The Salem With Museum.


Other Salem Massachusetts History


the spirit of salem salem massachusetts


This one's kind of tricky because Salem Massachusetts is actually a pretty diverse place historically. There be more than witches on those rocky shoals. And the kind of history you're into definitely determines your first Salem destination. So here's a brief selection:

Pirate History:


Modern Witchcraft/Witch Shops/Divination


cros haven corner salem massachusetts


If you're looking to replace your smudge sticks, grab some deliciously sweet-smelling incense, have your palm read by a blind man, or participate in a ritual to raise your Great Grandmother so you can finally ask her where she hid the inheritance, Salem Massachusetts definitely has you covered. In my opinion, the best place to start this journey is at Crow Haven Corner. It's one of the more respected witch shops in Salem and there are train plenty of good reasons for that. Start there, then head west down Essex Street and you'll likely find everything you need by the time you reach the Witch House on Essex and Summer. Off the main drag, I'd suggest Pyramid Books on Derby and Union for the widest selection in town and HausWitch on Washington between New Derby and Essex for a contemporary, mindful approach to the Pagan Arts.


Great Food


lobster shanty salem massachusetts


At this point, The Lobster Shanty is Salem's least best-kept secret place for great food. But incredible reviews and being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives hasn't gone to its head. This super centrally-located restaurant is the go-to place for seafood. Throw in a cold beer and a warm patio and you've got the perfect lunch spot. It is seasonal, though, so be sure to check out the site before you visit. We love it here so much, we've actually covered it in the past. So grab your bib, make room for some Lobster Mac N' Cheese, and we'll see you at The Shanty.

Salem Massachusetts Family Fun


salem massachusetts trolley


Salem Massachusetts might seem like an adults-only playground, but the tourism board has done a lot in recent years to ensure that's not the case. If you're visiting during the Halloween season, head to the carnival near the wharf for the best kid-friendly experience. At all other times of the year, the Salem Trolley is a fantastic option. Kids adore trolleys and this one is particularly quant and informative. It runs April-October and you can give them a ring at all other times to get their schedule.


Salem Massachusetts Art and Culture


peabody essex musem salem massachusetts


One of the more fascinating aspects of Salem culture is the tension between the witch/tourism industry and the arts community. This is no better exemplified than in the Peabody-Essex Museum (PEM). Honestly, this place has a super interesting history all its own and we'll probably cover it at some point. Until then, check out J.W. Ocker's wonderful book A Season with the Witch for a deep dive on this tension as well as a bunch of other interesting Salem coverage. PEM is a world-renowned museum featuring literally an entire eighteenth century Chinese house! They've also got deep connections all over town, so they can point you in all kinds of directions after your visit. If you're into engrossing art and expansive culture, PEM is the perfect place to start your Salem journey.

There you go! Now you know exactly where to begin your trip on the Witch City. We've mentioned it before, but be sure to chat up shop owners, service professionals, tour guides, hotel clerks, and all the others who actually live and work in The Witch City. They can turn you onto some more off-the-beaten-path attractions. That's all for today Witches. We'll see you next time.

top 5 things to do in salem massachusetts

Top 5 Things to Do in Salem Massachusetts

Top 5 Things to Do in Salem Massachusetts


Whether you've been to the Witch City or not, this list is sure to set you up with some fantastic attractions, museums, and more to wet your spooky appetite.

Believe it or not, Salem isn't only about witches. This video will expose you to some of those tried and true witch attractions as well as help you stray off the beaten path a bit. Whether you're in the mood for Pagan fun, Pirate shenanigans, incredible seafood, or literary history Salem Massachusetts has got something for you. In this video, we cover all the heavy hitters from these fields.

There are so many things to do in Salem Massachusetts that we couldn't possibly cover them all in one video. But, despite better advice, we're trying to include it all elsewhere! Please check out our Things to do in Salem page for an ever-expanding list of restaurants, hotels, attractions, information stops, events, and more. As of September, 2018 this page is still pretty new though, so please be patient with us while we populate it.

If you're new to Salem Massachusetts, be sure to also check out our guide to the First Place You Should Go When Visiting Salem.



Be sure to check out our YouTube Channel and subscribe while you're there:

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Here's a collection of the top 5 places to go in Salem Massachusetts!

 5) The Salem Witch Museum

Learn More About the Salem Witch Museum Here

If you’re anything like the rest of the 100,000 tourists who flock to Salem during Halloween, the first place you’re going to visit is the Salem Witch Museum. Honestly, look at that building. That’s exactly what you want Salem to be like. Inside you’ll find a gigantic open room featuring wax figures straight out of Walt Disney’s nightmares (or maybe his fantasies – that dude was weird). These grotesque and frankly comically outdated figures are the perfect introduction to this super weird city.

A raspy, British voiceover is going to tell all about the 20 people who were ‘s hanged and pressed, not burned, to death in the witch trials of 1692 as the wax tableaus are lit in a circle above and around you – the conclusion of which ends on everyone’s favorite strange badass: Satan himself. After the main presentation, you’ll be led into a back room where a tour guide will walk you through an exhibit exploring the perceptions of Paganism and Witchcraft throughout the ages and the modern day. Pop out into the gift shop, grab some brochures on your left on the way out, and let’s jump into some more weirdness.


4) Salem Maritime National Historic Site 

The reason people go to Salem over and over again only has a little to do with witches. This town really is a super strange hodgepodge of huge historical and cultural influences. Like, did you know that Salem was at one time one of the most pre-eminate seaports in the United States. Some people even speculate that had the witch hysteria never occurred, Salem might these days have a reputation for being one of the larger trade hubs on the east coast. At number 4, you should really check out the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. This National Historic Site features a 171 foot replica of a 1797 East Indiaman ship, a 17th  century home, and The Custom House which features a surprisingly fascinating collection of stuff surrounding Salem’s financial history as well as the office of potentially the city’s most famous native son: author Nathanial Hawthorne who was, by the way, a descendant of one of the judges in the witch trials which is probably why his work was so guilt-ridden and gloomy.


 3) The House of the Seven Gables

​Learn More about the House of the Seven Gables Here


Speaking of Nathanial Hawthorne, one of the more interesting sites in Salem is featured prominently in his work, “The House of the Seven Gables.” This 1668 house is off the beaten path enough as to not be swarmed by the seasonal tourists. But close enough to be easily walkable. There’s a gorgeous garden out back, an incredible tour, some super cool programming if you’re a local. There’s even a black cat named Lucky that wanders the grounds. He houses the reincarnated spirit of Witch Trials judge John Hathorne – ok, I might have made that last bit up.


 2) The Lobster Shanty

At number two, we’re getting away from the witchy part of Salem and jumping right into the center of town. Lest we forget, Salem is an east-coast town just a scouch north of Boston. And what are east coast cities really well-known for? Great seafood. Salem is no exception and there are a bunch of choices for you. My personal favorite is in the shadow of the best building featured in the Salem classic Hocus Pocus, the Old Town Hall.


The Lobster Shanty is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s small, has some indoor and outdoor seating, a great staff, and the best seafood in town. My personal favorite is the lobster Rangoon and cod and chips, although a close second is the traditional lobster roll. There’s also a selection of incredible burgers if seafood isn’t your thing. Some of my favorite memories from Salem have happened on the patio at the Lobster Shanty with a cold glass of beer. Whether you’re there for the Halloween season or not, this famous little spot is my go-to whenever I’m in Salem and it should be yours too.

Learn More about the Lobster Shanty Here


 1) Crow Haven Corner


You like weird things, I like weird things. So let’s get honest with each other. So far we’ve covered witch history, maritime history, an old house immortalized in fiction, and the best spot for seafood in the area. But what’s the reason we really go to Salem? If it’s on Halloween it’s to party with the other weirdos, of course. But if you’re drawn to the city itself, it’s probably because Salem is a nexus (some Pagan people say it’s literally a leyline) or crazy energy.


The city draws all manner of off-center people and many of them end up setting up shop there. And in my opinion, the queen of these modern, witchy entrepreneurs is Laurie Cabot. If you’ve visited Salem and love all the contemporary witch shops and Pagan flare, you have Cabot to thank. She arrived in the early 70’s in a time when there were no new age shops. And the climate was definitely not friendly to the idea of one. Enter Cabot. She set up a shop and a few years later, moved it to Essex Street in the heart of Salem. She renamed her little spot Crow Haven Corner. And guess what – it’s still there. And it’s by far my favorite witch shop in town. I mean there are other close contenders: Pyramid Books and The Coven’s Cottage come in a close second and third. And you should definitely check those out too if you can. But there’s something about Crow Haven Corner.

Learn More about Crow Haven Corner Here


Watch Your Head

If you’re tall like me, you’re going to find yourself ducking around a lot to avoid the various talismans and art pieces hanging from the ceiling, but that’s all part of the charm. In this cozy old house, you can get a reading, sample some herbs, oils, and incense and all the other things you’d expect from a witch shop in Salem. Crucially though, you can also check out The Salem Witch Walk which is one of (and in my opinion the best) guided tours in Salem. Take a walk on this tour and you’ll get to participate in an actual pagan ritual led by an active practitioner as well as get introduced to a few witch-specific spots around town. This is the perfect ending addendum to the 1692 experience you got at the Salem Witch Museum and rounds out your Salem visit with a bit of contemporary lore. Crow Haven Corner is on my must-visit list every time I’m in Salem and is staffed by some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff members in town. Be absolutely sure to stop by this shop whether you’re in town for Halloween or the off-season.


If you’ve visited Salem and love all the contemporary witch shops and Pagan flare, you have Cabot to thank. She arrived in the early 70’s in a time when there were no new age shops. And the climate was definitely not friendly to the idea of one. Enter Cabot. She set up a shop and a few years later, moved it to Essex Street in the heart of Salem. She renamed her little spot Crow Haven Corner. And guess what – it’s still there. And it’s by far my favorite witch shop in town.


What About the Other Witch Shops?

I mean there are other close contenders: Pyramid Books and The Coven’s Cottage come in a close second and third. And you should definitely check those out too if you can. But there’s something about Crow Haven Corner. If you’re tall like me, you’re going to find yourself ducking around a lot to avoid the various talismans and art pieces hanging from the ceiling, but that’s all part of the charm.


Cozy Old House

In this cozy old house, you can get a reading, sample some herbs, oils, and incense and all the other things you’d expect from a witch shop in Salem. Crucially though, you can also check out The Salem Witch Walk. This is one of (and in my opinion the best) guided tours in Salem. Take a walk on this tour and you’ll participate in an actual pagan ritual led by an active practitioner. You'll also get introduced to a few witch-specific spots around town. This is the perfect ending addendum to the 1692 experience you got at the Salem Witch Museum. And it rounds out your Salem visit with a bit of contemporary lore. Crow Haven Corner is on my must-visit list every time I’m in Salem. And it's is staffed by some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff members in town. Be absolutely sure to stop by this shop whether you’re in town for Halloween or the off-season.

That’s all for today weirdos! Be sure to subscribe for more strange videos and please spread the word to all your odd friends. My name’s Joel and is that a dancing cat behind you?


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