If you’re looking for new exciting things to do on Halloween this year then you’ll love this guide to haunted places in Salem! Known for its bewitching past, this enchanting coastal town is much more than its popular witch-themed attractions and spooky vibe. Salem also is home to some of the most enigmatic locations where all kinds of strange happenings can be found. Each of these buildings holds secrets that echo through centuries, captivating the curious minds of the horror lovers that visit during the spooky season every year.
Are you up for some ghost stories from the witch city?
If you’ve never heard much about Salem, Massachusetts, then you’re probably wondering why this city is such a popular destination during the Halloween season– and what its relation to it might be. So let me give you just a bit of historical background so everything makes sense!
The History Of Salem
Salem is often associated with hauntings and paranormal activity due to its historical connection to the famous Witch Trials of the late 1600s, known as one of the darkest periods in the U.S.
Between 1692 and 1693, more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft in Massachusetts. These accusations were followed by the imprisonment, torture, and execution of innocent victims, whose death sentences were performed in the most cruel and vicious ways.
In addition, Salem’s history has seen its fair share of hardships during the 17th century, such as epidemics, wars, and maritime disasters.
Due to all these tragic events, it is believed that many of these obscure forces still haunt the streets of Salem.
And now, let’s get to the good stuff!
The Most Haunted Places In Salem Massachusetts
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, every corner of this bewitching city has a story to tell and will offer a unique and exciting adventure.
Although experiences of the paranormal are subjective and can vary from person to person, I encourage you to pay a visit to these haunted places in Salem and see what happens!
The Joshua Ward house is a historical building with a reputation for being haunted due to its dark past associated with the Witch Trials. The house was built in the late 18th century and was named after its original owner, Joshua Ward, a prosperous merchant and shipowner. Since then, the building has served many purposes such as a trading center, a tavern, and a bookshop.
However, years before this home was built, this land belonged to a previous owner, the infamous Sheriff George Corwin –also known as ‘The Strangler’, sounds familiar?
Back in the 17th century, Corwin played a significant role in the witch trials as the high sheriff of Essex County, responsible for arresting and interrogating those accused of witchcraft. These interrogations were carried out in Corwin’s house, where the accused were held prisoners and subjected to horrifying tortures to get their confessions.
According to the legend, the sheriff’s body was buried in the basement of the property after his death in 1696. Because of this, The Joshua Ward House is said to be haunted by his ghost and the spirit of all his victims.
Today, this historical site is known as The Merchant, a luxurious hotel that’s popular for having recurrent accounts of paranormal activity. Over the years, visitors and employees have witnessed strange occurrences such as hearing unexplained footsteps, seeing shadowy figures, and experiencing a sense of unease while being alone in the room.
If you want to stay at the Merchant to have the full haunted experience in Salem, check out TripAdisor’s deals and book a room!
Interested in haunted hotels in Salem? Here’s my top list!
Top Hotels in Salem!
The Witch House, also known as the Corwin House, is considered a historic landmark and one of the most haunted places in Salem. The property’s original owner was Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges that served on the court that sentenced innocent people to death for witchcraft.
The house has remained a part of Salem for almost 400 years, being the only surviving structure directly linked to the trials.
A House With A Dark Past
So why is The Witch House said to be haunted? Well, visitors to the site have reported feeling an eerie atmosphere or having unexplained experiences within the house. Many believe that Corwin’s malicious acts have left a permanent mark on the building, which is now haunted by all his victims and even by Corwin himself. However, the strange activity that people experience at the house is still a mystery to this day –after all, that’s what makes it so exciting.
Nowadays, The Witch House is open to the public as a museum, offering a glimpse into the social and cultural context of the town in the colonial period, as well as interesting insights and displays related to the trials and the witchcraft beliefs of that time.
Whether you’re into horror or history, this spooky attraction is a MUST for anyone who wants to make the most of their time in Salem.
Looking for a tour of Salem that includes the Witch House? Book it here.
The Old Burying Point Cemetery, founded in 1637, is the oldest cemetery in Salem and one of the oldest in the country. Its doors are open to the public and visitors are welcome to explore the ancient gravestones and monuments elaborately carved with unique designs. It’s a great place for tourists and history enthusiasts to get some insights into the artistic styles and symbolism from Salem’s colonial period.
The site is also known for being the final resting place for various notable residents such as John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin –two of the judges involved in the witch trials– and some relatives of the accused witches.
However, it’s not only the bodies of these prominent figures that are kept within this graveyard but also their ghosts!
Walking Among Cursed Graves
As one would expect from any cemetery, the Burying Point Cemetery is said to be haunted by different spirits. In fact, many visitors reported seeing mysterious apparitions or a strange feeling of being watched. Others have also captured a shadowy figure on camera near the graves of the infamous judges.
Whether these stories are real or not, the cemetery is one of the main draws in the city for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators. So take note and add this historic landmark to your bucket list of haunted places in Salem!
Take a tour of the Burying Old Point and other haunted locations:
Did you think The Merchant was the only haunted hotel in Salem? Then you need to hear all about The Hawthorne Hotel! The building has been an important part of Salem’s history since its construction in 1925 and is considered an iconic landmark in the city, preserving the charming architectural style from New England’s colonial period.
Throughout the years, the site has welcomed notable guests like politicians and celebrities and has also served as a film location for movies and TV shows– including the popular show ‘Ghost Hunters’.
All Guests And Ghosts Are Welcome!
Without a doubt, the Hawthorne Hotel’s real popularity comes from its haunted reputation. Numerous guests and staff members have shared stories of ghostly encounters and unexplained experiences within the building. These include strange sounds like footsteps and voices, lights turning on and off by themselves, and feeling as if they were not alone in the room. Apparently, all these things are common here, especially for those staying on the 6th floor, which is said to be the most haunted area of the hotel.
But far from scaring tourists away, the hotel embraces its spooky side and receives new visitors all year round, especially during the Halloween season, when the most adventurous travelers come in search of the most haunted places in Salem.
Curious to see what would happen if you stayed for the night? Book a room!
More haunted hotels in the U.S.
Another location linked to the witch trials is the Salem Jail, which played a crucial role during this dark chapter in American history. This place served as a dungeon where the accused witches were held captive, long before it officially became a jail. During this time, prisoners were kept in crowded and unsanitary cells, with dirt floors, insects all around them, and freezing winter conditions. For this reason, many of them died from different diseases before their trial.
After the mass hysteria subsided and the remaining inmates were released, the facility was abandoned and stayed unoccupied for several decades.
The Salem Jail Today
In 2010, the old structure was finally renovated and converted into luxury apartments, including historical markers and plaques in the area commemorating the old jail.
Although the original Salem jail building no longer exists today, the horrors accumulated over the centuries don’t seem to have abandoned this place completely, since many claim that the negative energies can still be felt around the area. Some of the most frequent rumors about paranormal activity in the building are cold spots in certain parts of the premises, objects moving on their own, and the sound of a woman weeping. Some residents and employees even swear to have seen shadows and figures appearing and disappearing, including an old guard roaming the halls.
If you’d like to learn more about the Witch Trials as well as Salem’s history, here are some well-known museums and attractions you can check out:
One of the coolest haunted places in Salem has to be Wicked Good Books for sure. This independent bookstore is known for its amazing and varied selection of books, mostly focused on the history of the town and local authors, including some titles related to the witch trials. If you’re a literature enthusiast, you’ll have a blast browsing their collections of rare books and interesting gifts for book lovers.
But despite having a friendly and cozy atmosphere, the shop became known as Salem’s Haunted Bookstore, with mysterious shadows appearing in the corners and books flying from the shelves out of the blue. But what many people may not know, is that this business has some secrets lying beneath its surface –literally!
A Wicked Good Secret
During Wicked Good Books’ renovation, a tunnel system was discovered underground, which connects the store to a warehouse, leading some to believe that the system was used for moving people and goods back in the 1800s. What is more, the construction workers found evidence of desecrated human remains in the tunnels, which would explain why the place had such odd energy!
After this discovery, the owner invited a paranormal investigator and a psychic to the shop to check out the tunnels. Both of them felt a “warm, welcoming presence” and other signs of supernatural activity, such as cold spots, sounds of disembodied voices or footsteps, and batteries of electronics mysteriously draining when stepping into the tunnel area.
If this beautiful white house looks familiar, you may recognize it for being featured in Disney’s classic ‘Hocus Pocus‘! However, just like other haunted places in Salem, this movie location has a story of its own.
Backstory Of The Ropes Mansion
The Ropes Mansion was built by the prosperous merchant Samuel Bernard in the later 1720s. Although we know little about Bernard, it is said that after his first wife passed away in his former residence, he moved to Salem and remarried on three other occasions. Two of these women are assumed to have died in the mansion, and the third wife lived with the merchant until his death in 1762 –mysterious, right?
In 1768, the property was purchased by Nathaniel Ropes, a successful but unpopular attorney in the town who died years later a day after the house was attacked by infuriated colonists who threw mud, stones, and sticks at the windows.
Over the years, the mansion has witnessed several tragedies, including multiple fires that caused structural damages and the death of Abigail Ropes, who is believed to be Nathaniel’s daughter.
With such a catastrophic history, no wonder one would think this house is cursed! Visitors to the Ropes Mansion have reported hearing the sound of Abigail’s agonized screams. Others say that the ghosts of Bernard’s wives still inhabit the place.
Don’t miss these other Hocus Pocus locations in Salem!
Although it is now known as Turner’s Seafood, this historical building is remembered as The Lyceum by most locals. The property used to be an amphitheater for lectures, featuring many notable speakers, such as Salem’s most famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
After being destroyed by a fire, the place was rebuilt and used for different businesses until it turned into Turner’s Seafood, a restaurant that’s just as popular for its upscale dishes as it is for its ghosts.
Cursed By A Salem Witch?
Back in the 1600s, years before The Lyceum was built, the land used to be an orchard owned by Bridget Bishop, the first woman executed for witchcraft. For this reason, many believe that the building is haunted by this lady, who’s often seen in the restaurant wearing a long, white, period dress. And given that Bridget was unjustly punished for some severe accusations, it makes sense that she wants to bewitch everyone trying to take over her grounds!
Additionally, employees have witnessed numerous episodes of boxes being thrown, objects flying off shelves, and the feeling of being pushed or touched by unseen hands. This makes Turner’s Seafood different from the rest of the haunted places in Salem. While most of the spirits that haunt the town are seemingly harmless or even friendly, the entity that lives in the restaurant has proved to be of a darker nature, since its actions are clearly an attempt to cause physical harm to the living –and makes you wonder if Bridget Bishop was actually a witch after all.
Inspired? Check out these must-dos in Salem!
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Proctor’s Ledge is known for being where the horrific executions of the witch trials took place. In 1692, this small hill witnessed some of the most inhumane acts in Salem’s history, with the hanging of 19 innocent people. After being executed, the bodies of these ‘witches’ were dumped near the gallows instead of being properly buried.
Considering these atrocities, it’s no surprise that Proctor’s Ledge is charged with undeniably sinister energy. On several occasions, tourists have captured strange glowing lights in photographs, presumably the spirits of the victims. Some people also claim to have seen the ghostly figure of a lady in white wandering around the ledge thought to be the famous Bridget Bishop.
The site is now called Proctor’s Ledge Memorial and serves as a reminder of the tragic events of this dark period. People are welcome to visit the memorial and see the names of the victims as well as the date of their death.
By the way, if history is a MUST in all your trips, these tours are for you:
- Stories of Salem – a night tour with nearly 400 years of dark history.
- Bewitched Walking Tour – the most in-depth look at the Witch Trials led with a historian as your guide.
- History and Hauntings of Salem – visit the most iconic haunted locations in a nighttime tour led by lantern light.
The Turner-Ingersoll Mansion is one of the most famous and iconic landmarks in the city, drawing visitors with its distinctive appearance, captivating history and involvement in haunted legends. Most people may also know it as ‘The House of the Seven Gables’, thanks to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel of the same name.
The original home was built in 1668 for Captain John Turner and was owned by the family for three generations. In the beginning, it started as a modest structure, consisting of only two rooms on each floor. However, the house underwent several renovations and expansions over the years until it transformed into the grand mansion it is today.
After the last of the Turners died without any heirs, the home was sold to the Ingersoll family, who happened to be Nathaniel Hawthorne’s relatives.
Hawthorne would often visit the manor to see his cousin Susannah, learning about the design of the building and the stories behind it, which eventually inspired him to write his novel ‘The House of the Seven Gables’, gaining international literary fame.
Being connected with the Witch Trials, the house has curious architectural aspects that make it different from other homes of the period. One of them is a hidden staircase that leads to a secret room. This was built during the trials to protect the women in the family in case they were falsely accused of witchcraft.
Is The Turner-Ingersoll Mansion Haunted?
Many stories have been told about the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion that contributed to its reputation as one of the several haunted places in Salem that are still linked to an enigmatic past, causing unusual happenings that could only be explained as supernatural inhabiting the place.
Visitors to the site have reported several shadows and apparitions, including a little boy playing in the attic and a woman thought to be a member of the Ingersoll family.
Today, the House of the Seven Gables is open as a historic museum and offers tours where you can explore the rooms and learn about the history of the mansion.
There’s definitely something special and unique about Salem. Not only is it a location with rich historical and cultural value, but the line between the living and the dead actually seems to blur once you step on its grounds.
Visiting the witch city is always a good plan for October, and I’m sure that these spooky hotspots will make your Halloween adventure extra special.
If you made it to the end, I hope you feel excited to visit these haunted places. See for yourself if the stories are true!
P.S. Too many jumpscares and tension can be exhausting, make sure you take care of yourself while traveling with these tips!