Salem Township, MI

Road Trip: Exploring Salem in the Fall

Heather Raulerson

Salem is a beautiful town to visit all year round, but in the fall, and especially around Halloween it is a fantastic place to experience. Salem, a.k.a. “Witch City,” is the one place where it is perfectly acceptable to embrace your inner witch. Embracing my inner witch is precisely what I did when I was on a day trip from Boston with my mom. 

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Witch in SalemHeather Raulerson

We were staying in Boston for the weekend and decided to make a day trip to Salem. Since we didn’t have a car, we opted to take the ferry over to Salem. The Boston-Salem Fast Ferry is a quick boat ride that takes less than an hour for $25 one-way ($45 round trip). Just be forewarned you are on open water so, the trip might/will be bumpy. Our ride over to Salem was a bit rough but, as the cloudy, rainy day went on the waves got higher (6-7 feet). We watched the passengers stagger off the ferry looking very ill and decided not to attempt the last ride back to Boston. We then had to scramble to schedule an UBER back to Boston which was unexpected, but smoother than the alternative.

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Salem Witch HouseHeather Raulerson

Historic Waterfront

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Salem WaterfrontHeather Raulerson

One of the first stops walking into town from the ferry is to explore the historic waterfront. The Salem Maritime National Historic Site shows the history of the Salem wharves. These shallow piers used to be thriving in the 1800s and when the larger clipper ships started being used the trade moved to New York and Boston, which had deeper wharves. There are historic buildings to go through, wharves to walk down, a lighthouse to photograph, and the vessel Friendship to visit.

Historic Buildings and Main Street

Salem Main StreetHeather Raulerson

As you walk through Salem, there are numerous historic buildings and colorful buildings to photograph on Derby Street. My mom and I spent 3 hours walking through the town and visiting the shops. One of the shops on Derby Street on the way back to the ferry is Ye Olde Pepper Companie. This store is the Home of the Oldest Candy Co., and with my sweet tooth, this place is heaven! They even have non-chocolate items here for us non-chocolate candy eaters.

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Ye Olde Pepper Companie in SalemHeather Raulerson

Witch Trials Memorial

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Witch Trials MemorialHeather Raulerson

The Witch Trials Memorial is a moving dedication to women and men unjustly condemned to death in 1692. Each Memorial slab represents the 14 women and six men who were falsely executed. The granite slabs are inscribed with each person’s name, and their mean and date of execution are powerful. One word “hanged” and is the whole description of your entire life.

The slabs in the ground at the entrance of the memorial are inscribed with the victim’s protests such as “God knows I’m innocent” and “On my dying day, I am no witch.” Also within the memorial are black locust trees which are assumed to be the type of tree that they were hung. It is not surprising to see how a group of people can affect the life of one individual with a mob mentality since it still happens today.

The memorial is at the corner of Charter Street and Liberty Street next to Old Burying Point Cemetery. I love photographing old cemetery markers. There is so much history written on these, and the designs are beautiful on the tombstones that make capturing them captivating.

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Old Burying Point CemeteryHeather Raulerson

Shops on Essex Street

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Shops on Essex StreetHeather Raulerson

Essex Street is a pedestrian street filled with an eclectic mix of shops that cater to all types of wanna-be witches. I wandered through a few of them. The minute you walk into the shops your nose is assaulted by incense. There are dry herbs hanging from the ceiling, fantasy figurines galore, and of course numerous occult items to purchase.

The Arrest of Bridget Bishop

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Bridget Bishop Arrest Re-enactmentHeather Raulerson

The reenactment of the arrest and trial of Bridget Bishop has been happening on Essex Street for over 26 years. If you come across it, stick around and become part of the story. First, you will hear the Town News which will include all the coming and going of the trade vessels in the harbor, the needs of the townsfolk, and then the accusations of witchcraft will begin. This is an entertaining show that leads everybody into the Old Town Hall for the actual trial of Bridget Bishop. You, as the audience, will be her jury of her peers. Do you embrace your inner witch and declare her innocent or guilty?

Embrace Your Inner Witch

To help you embrace your inner witch, Salem has several activities for you to partake. You can visit The Witch House, which is the only house that has direct ties to the Witch Trials. This is the home of the 17th century of Judge Jonathan Corwin. Open Mid-March through November.

The other must-see place is the Salem Witch Museum. Unfortunately, I was not able to see this on the trip as my mom had no interest. But, when I go back I’ll definitely make a stop to go through the museum. This museum goes into even more detail about the Salem Witch Trials and even has other special exhibits on witches. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and has extended hours during Haunted Happenings in October.

Here are a couple of other areas for you to visit while in Salem for some cool photo ops.

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House in SalemHeather Raulerson

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Heather posing with Samantha from BewitchedHeather Raulerson

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Witch's Brew Cafe in SalemHeather Raulerson

Salem is a unique town that has embraced its sordid history and has turned it into an educational and interesting place to visit.

Have you visited Salem? Have you visited during Haunted Happenings in October? I would love to hear about it.

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Heather is a freelance writer and photographer who loves slow travel where she can stay in one place to get to know the local scenery and culture. She is the owner of Raulersongirlstravel, a travel website sharing her solo adventures and photographs around the world.

Rochester Hills, MI
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