October is finally here! Yay!
Readers, October has always been one of my favorite months. In particular, I love Halloween. Costumes, crisp air, chocolates covered in black and orange sprinkles, pumpkins everywhere. Guh. As a child, I owned a calendar so I could count down the days until Halloween. Please tell me I wasn’t alone.
So travelers, in order to celebrate this spooky part of autumn, why not plan a quick trip to Salem in Massachusetts? Salem is historically rich and eerie, and a gem for classic American literature lovers.
Note: I’ve only ever visited Salem in May with my students. So don’t expect lots of brightly colored tulips in October. Yellow and orange leaves, maybe, but not tulips. You’ve been warned!
The Witch Museum
No visit to Salem is complete without a trip to the Witch Museum. Obviously. Even if you’re not an avid reader, you ought to stop here to learn about the Salem Witch Trials and history of witchcraft. As for book fans, lovers of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible need to check out this place on their visit to Salem.
The Witch Museum is split into two different areas. The first part takes you to a large circular auditorium where you see a presentation. The museum uses life size sets and figures to tell the story of the Salem Witch Trials. Familiar names, such as John and Elizabeth Proctor and Abigail Williams, pop up in the presentation – although the actual historical figures were much different than Miller’s dramatic interpretations. The narration is pretty damn spooky, too. The second part of the museum offers a guided tour on the history of witchcraft and resulting persecution of women throughout the world. You learn a bit about Salem’s resident Wiccan community, too.
The Witch Museum is the most visited in Salem and offers extended hours in October.
The House of the Seven Gables
Okay, time to admit something akin to literary treason: I’ve never read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
I don’t know how I made it through high school, college, and graduate school without ever touching this novel, but there you go. I think everyone skips (at least) ONE famous novel in their schooling journey, haha.
The House of the Seven Gables provides a glimpse into both daily life in Salem and Hawthorne’s own residency there. You can’t enter the House of the Seven Gables without a guided tour, but I actually liked this. The tour guides are very knowledge, and I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed my visit as much without their insights.
My favorite parts of this visit were discovering the secret staircase and gazing at the lighthouse while wandering the quaint grounds.
Old Burying Point Cemetery
The Burying Point is the oldest cemetery in the city of Salem. Yeah, visiting graveyards can be morbid especially if you’re completely death phobic like me, but this place fascinated me.
Literary fans will appreciate this graveyard’s historical significance. For example, Justice Judge Hawthorne is buried here. Not only did he serve as one of the judges of the infamous Witch Trials, but Judge Hawthorne is also a relative of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. There’s also a memorial dedicated to those who died as a result of the Witch Trials.
Pack your New England guidebook.
Why I Loved Salem
As a lover of literature, Salem is a bookish dream come true! While I wandered through Salem’s charming streets and pretended I wasn’t responsible for thirty teenagers, I felt as if I had fallen into a creepy Hawthorne short story such as “Young Goodman Brown.”
Honestly, I loved Salem’s unique and slightly bizarre atmosphere.
And don’t even get me started on the city’s gorgeous colonial architecture. If I actually had money, I’d buy and restore one of the fantastic old houses that line the tree-shadowed streets.
Have you ever visited Salem in Massachusetts? What are some of your favorite spooky literary destinations? Share all your thoughts in the comments, please.
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