If your childhood (and let’s face it adulthood) included annual viewings of Hocus Pocus, then you need to stop by these six filming locations during your next visit to Salem. Known across the states as one of the most spooky towns to visit, you are sure to fall in love with the filming locations that inspired a generation of young witches and warlocks. And Even if your childhood didn’t include the Sanderson Sister or you’ve found yourself in a recent Hocus Pocus craze because the sequel just dropped on Disney+ there is something for everyone to love.
Regardless, visiting Salem is a spooky good time. And you won’t regret adding these spots to your itinerary. They’ve got just the right vibe.
Why You Need To Visit These Hocus Pocus Filming Locations
With the history of this city dating back to the 17th century, you can’t help but feel the energy of all those who’ve come before. Match that with your memories of the movie, and you’re sure to enjoy temporarily stepping back into time.
Note: You won’t be the only one vying for this coveted experience, especially if you visit in October. Get out early in the day for the best photo opportunities.
Feel like you are on travel overload, then here is my list of the best self-care practices to do while traveling so you don’t get burnt out. Give it a read and don’t forget to implement some of these tips on your trip to Salem.
#1 – Old Town Hall -32 Derby Square, Salem, MA 01970
Popular with tourists and locals alike, the Old Town Hall is situated in Derby Square. The building is stately with its red brick, white-trimmed palladian windows, and green doors. You might recognize it from the original Hocus Pocus scene in which the Sanderson Sisters crash the epic Halloween party Max and Dani’s parents are attending. In the scene, Bette Midler belts out “Put a Spell on You,” and I was properly spellbound – you don’t want to miss this spot.
The building was opened to the public in 1816 after a four-year construction process at a cost of USD $12,000. After only two decades of use as a public hall, it transitioned to a private facility rented out to businesses and private events. It remains in use today, but it’s not open to the public for everyday access. Who knows how many times the iconic “Put a Spell on You” has been recreated by fans?
How to Get There
There are two public parking garages in Salem and the MBTA train station’s five levels. If you’re only planning to be in the area for 2-4 hours, you might even snag a metered spot.
Wherever you land in the city, you’ll be well-positioned to find the Old Town Hall.
Just head toward Derby Square, which is located inside the cross streets of Washington, Essex, Central, and Front streets – though Old Town Hall remains the star of the square.
Pioneer Village, situated inside Salem’s Forest River Park, was used in both the original movie and the sequel’s opening scenes, making this a prime Hocus pocus filming location in Salem. It is definitely a must-see spot to add to your itinerary. In the original movie, human-form Binx and his home are shown – prior to the cat curse. And in the sequel, we get a glimpse into the Sanderson Sisters’ time as young girls.
Tickets are available online or in-person which gives you a chance to explore the gardens and peek inside the village homes.
You might be a little disappointed to hear that this village isn’t original. No one from the 1600s lived in it. It was actually built in 1930 to celebrate the tercentennial of Massachusetts. It’s considered the first living history museum in America, and is meant to offer several examples of the colonial-era architecture as well as show the gardens that existed.
How to Get There
Pioneer Village is a bit over a mile south of the Old Town Hall. You can enjoy a nice walk through the commercial and residential areas. If you prefer to drive there is also a parking lot located just inside Forest River Park. When you arrive, you won’t be sure you’re in the right place, but you are. Tucked into the back corner – with a wooden platform leading the way- it’s a glimpse into Salem as it looked in 1630.
#3 – Phillips Elementary School – 86 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
Phillips Elementary School, or as it’s better known in the movie – Jacob Bailey High School, had its 15 minutes of fame as Max and Allison’s school. The beautiful brick exterior provided the perfect backdrop for a few scenes. The interior wasn’t used as those scenes were filmed on set.
The high school was used from 1883 through 1992. This was super convenient timing for the filming of the original Hocus Pocus as they started filming just a year after it shut down. Currently, the building is closed to the public, as it is now an apartment building. Fortunately, the exterior is accessible. Perfect for that quick selfie while you are on your personal tour of Hocus pocus filming locations in Salem!
How to Get There
The school is located just outside of Salem Common, the city’s main park. You’ll find the school/ apartment building near the southeast corner with the playground and basketball court. The closest cross streets are S Washington Square and Washington Square East.
This is a must-see spot to visit on your personal tour of Hocus pocus filming locations in Salem. You’ll find that everyone else visiting Salem knows that to be the case as well. It’s busy at all times of the day, but you can still get a photo in front of the Georgian-style historic structure that is portrayed as Allison’s House in the movie. The scene is set when Dani and Max are trick-or-treating and they joke about being forced to drink cider and bob for apples by the rich owners. But as they walk into the house and find an unattended bucket of candy, they’re met by Max’s crush Allison – it’s a feel-good scene, and you won’t want to skip this house.
The Ropes Mansion is one of the most prominent homes in Salem, and it has quite an interesting history. Built in the 1720s, it was purchased by Judge Nathaniel Ropes Jr in 1768. Just six years later during the American Revolution, a mob attacked the home and demanded the judge renounce his allegiance to the Crown. He died the following day of smallpox.
While his widow and their children left for a nearby town, one of the children returned to the home as an adult and ran a successful business – the property is now owned and maintained by the Peabody Essex Museum.
Tip: adding actual haunted places in Salem to your must-visit list is a great way to complement your trip – you’ll learn a lot about history and hopefully get spooked!
How to Get There
Like many things in Salem, this stop is less than half a mile from Old Town Hall. You make your way to Essex Street and start heading west. When you find the crowd that usually surrounds the area, you’re there. The mansion is available for a self-guided tour, and the garden is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased through the Peabody Essex Museum website.
#5 – Salem Common – N Washington Square, Salem, MA 01970
Salem Common was featured in several scenes of the original movie. Look out for the gazebo, which is the perfect spot for a photo-op. While it appears quiet and devoid of people in the movie, that couldn’t be further from the case in modern day. Each October, the town’s month-long Haunted Happenings hosts a carnival, food stands, and an annual showing of Hocus Pocus. The crowds flock to the area to enjoy the Halloween spirit fun.
The good news is, there’s still plenty of room to relax, throw a football amongst the fallen leaves, and take plenty of photos.
Salem Common began as a publicly-owned swampy area grazed by the townspeople’s goats and cows. In the mid-17th century, a militia was formed for the community’s defense, and the first muster drill took place in the Common. Because of this history, Salem has been designated as the home of the National Guard. By the early 1800s, improvements had been made to the land to fill in the swamp and make it a place where people could congregate.
How to Get There
Salem Common is difficult to miss as it’s a large green space in a sea of city blocks. From Old Town Hall, you’ll walk less than a half mile northeast along Essex Street, before turning left and making your way north up Hawthorne Blvd. Before long, you’ll find yourself at the southwestern end of the park.
#6 – Old Burial Hill – Marblehead, MA 01945
Old Burial Hill is featured along Max’s bike ride home. As can be seen, this scenic Hocus pocus filming location in Salem set the stage perfectly. Fallen leaves set the Autumn scene before Max is met by Ernie (aka ”Ice”) and Jay, two of the most ridiculous bullies in movie history. They steal Max’s shoes and dub him “Hollywood” before they ride off and pause while the church bells chime.
While the daytime cemetery scenes were filmed here, the nighttime ones (including Billy Butcherson’s resurrection) were accomplished using a sound stage in California – Regardless, Old Burial Hill is iconic for its presence in the original movie.
Fun fact: This cemetery was also featured in another film called The Good Son, which was also released in 1993 – it was a big year for this plot of land.
Old Burial Hill is one of the oldest and most picturesque cemeteries in New England. Established in 1638 as the first meeting house for Marblehead, it contains the remains of several Revolutionary War soldiers.
Fun Fact: Wilmot Redd, a victim of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, has a memorial marker here, although her final resting place is unknown. The nearby pond is named in her honor.
How to Get There
This stop is outside of Salem, and while it’s not terribly far, you’ll likely want to drive. Starting from Old Town Hall, you’ll head south and then northeast. In under five miles, you’ll find yourself in the perfect spot on the peninsula, overlooking Marblehead Harbor and Salem Sound.
Want more spooky places to visit, then do I have the thing for you? Here is my guide to exploring Old Town Savannah GA like a local. Still not enough spookiness, then here is also my list of the top most spooky events in Sleepy Hallow.
Final Thoughts . .
Overall, Salem is the place to be for the Hocus Pocus filming locations. And while it’s crowded in October, you can’t beat the chill in the air and the changing leaves. In essence, adding to the ambiance of the eerie spooky town. But if you find yourself there in March or July, still make the stops. You won’t regret it.
You might wonder about Max and Dani’s house. The exterior shots were filmed in Salem, but the city has said the home is privately owned and now considered inaccessible. So I’m adhering to that. However, if you do find your way there, please be considerate to the homeowners.
Have you visited these sites? Which is your favorite? If not – where will you stop first?!
P.S. If these spots aren’t enough for your visit to Salem, then check out my ultimate guide on what to do in Salem during October. It’s a ghoulishly good time!