Help me maximize the awesomeness of this trip
October 8, 2012 6:39 AM   Subscribe

I am taking a trip to Salem (MA) this weekend with several friends. The general goal is to have lunch together and see some of the cheesy haunted house attractions. What else should we see while we are there? Are there any non-cheesy attractions that are simply too good to be missed?

Also, since quite a few people are going, we will need to take multiple cars. What is a good place to park (ie, where are we likely to find parking without too much trouble) that is near the "haunted house district", for lack of a better word?
posted by wolfdreams01 to Travel & Transportation around Salem, MA (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Cry Innocent! is pretty neat- an interactive re-enactment of a witch trial, using transcripts of the actual testimony. You can ask the accused and the witnesses questions, and you get to be part of the jury at the end. I attended several times (my college put it on), and you'd be surprised how many times the "jury" decides to convict the witch.

The Salem Witch Museum, on the other hand, is TOTALLY cheesy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 AM on October 8, 2012

The Peabody Essex Museum is quite nice, and in the center of town.

Salem Willows has video games and skee-ball and caramel corn, though I don't know if it's open this late in October.

Pickering Wharf is tourist-cheesy, but okay. A decent place to walk around and window-shop.
posted by xingcat at 6:46 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Peabody Museum right in the heart of Salem!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 6:46 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

nthing the Peabody Essex museum, wherein they have transported an entire Chinese merchant's house and reassembled it in the US.

There is also a very moving memorial to the actual witch trials that shouldn't be missed.
posted by scolbath at 7:05 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Read House of Seven Gables immediately and then go there.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:05 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can second both Cry Innocent! as being really cool and The Salem Witch Museum as being totally cheesy.

Just be warned I made the mistake of going there with some friends around this time of year and the place is insane. As in the traffic starts backing up on the highway before you get to the exit. We ended up finding street parking back on some little side street and walked a good distance to get into the town center.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:06 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When coming into Salem, come in via Beverly and 1A South. Park on Bridge Street - start keeping an eye out when you near Coffee Time Bake Shop. Once parked, just go down Bridge and turn left onto Winter. You'll see Salem Common ahead. A little bit of a walk is much better than the 15-20$ per car parking you'll find around downtown.

Attraction wise, most of them are cheesy. I mean, we just got a custom Harry Potter wand store on the Wharf. PEM is your best bet for class (you just missed the Ansel Adams exhibition, but there's a hat show that's been getting good reviews).

Lunch wise, it depends o. The weather. I'm a fan of the Lobster Shanty when the weather is nice for people watching on the patio. Big groups will have more luck at one of the Demi-Chains like Beer Works or Tavern in the Square. Other options are Gulu Gulu (wraps, panini, cheese plates, good beer list), Village Tavern (people watching, standard fare but they are new and may have more kinks to work out), and if you do the veggie thing, there's Life Alive down Essex near the Witch House.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:10 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

For my money, the best restaurant in Salem is the Thai Place at Museum Place Mall. Don't miss the Derby Street Bookstore - pillars of used books piled way over your head, but I haven't had a book fall on me yet. You have to peer through a frame of books to pay the (suitably owlish) proprietor for your purchases!

A non-cheesy recommendation, if you are in the mood: the meeting house where many of the "trials" took place was actually located in what is now Danvers, MA.

The original house is gone now, but across the street from the property is a memorial engraved with the names of those who were convicted and sentenced to death, as well as quotes from some of them. It's pretty sobering but I think it is worth a look if you have some time to spare and have more than a passing interest in the history of the region (and of the country, for that matter). That part of Danvers is lovely and quiet, unlike Salem at this time of year.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:56 AM on October 8, 2012

Let me clarify exactly how "cheesy" the Salem Witch Museum is.

I can deal with cheesy stuff, especially if there's a lot of it and it's fun to giggle over. I was all about the late, lamented Liberace Museum.

The Salem Witch Museum is a bunch of mannequins with a bunch of pictures of the Wicked Witch of the West and then a man and a woman dressed in crushed velvet being modern Wiccans. And then the gift shop is full of crap with dragons on it.

Avoid the Salem Witch Museum at all costs.
posted by Madamina at 8:13 AM on October 8, 2012

Best answer: I was just up in Salem. It's a very walkable town, and despite all the touristy attractions and shops, it is packed to the gills with history. You can see why H.P. Lovecraft based his fictional Arkham, MA on Salem.

We were in town on a Monday, so the Peabody Essex museum was closed. You can get a discounted Pay One PriceTicket for three Attractions: The Witch Dungeon, the aforementioned Pirate Museum and the Witch History Museum. The first two strike a nice blend of of cheese and actually being historically interesting. if you're a horror film aficionado, Count Orlock's Nightmare Gallery was fun, though it was a little short for my taste (it has the Rob Zombie seal of approval, FWIW) . And yes, the actual witch memorial is rather moving and understated. To be honest, you can knock out Salem in a day. It's a very walkable town, and despite all the touristy attractions and shops, it is packed to the gills with history. Take advantage of the ferry into Boston (the ride itself is worth the ticket price) or drive up to Gloucester & Marblehead while you're up there.

You can get lunch & micro-brews at the Salem Beer Works (right next door to the Pirate Museum) or get some chicken at Custom House Rotisserie.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:53 AM on October 8, 2012

In case you still weren't going to take them on the suggestion, I wanted to be one more person to recommend Peabody Essex Museum! My last visit there was, gosh, 7 years ago? and I still vividly remember several of the artworks.

House of Seven Gables is also appreciable if you have not read the book (I went, and had not read the book and still have not). The people really know their stuff and the house and its surroundings are breath-taking in a very New England way.
posted by whatzit at 10:59 AM on October 8, 2012

For guaranteed parking, park at the Lynn, Swampscott or Beverly commuter rail stations and take the train to Salem. As others have said, parking and traffic are impossible.

The Peabody Essex Museum is amazing- you should definitely check it out.

Take a trolley tour. The tourguides are great, and you can sometimes get deals for trolley and the museums.
posted by bryghtrose at 2:01 PM on October 8, 2012

Best answer: I live in Salem.

Assuming you are coming the weekend of the 13th and that you were not, say, coming today, the Willows will, sadly be closed for the season. Columbus Day Weekend is the last hurrah, so that won't be an option for you.

And while I know this is frowned upon, it is entirely possible to park in the MBTA commuter station lot for $4.50. I mean, it's supposed to be used for people taking the train, but, uhh...I don't necessarily know how anyone would know unless someone is watching everyone park before a train arrival/departure. So that would be an option.

I would also check out Haunted Happenings for a list of special events. There are movies on the Common beginning next weekend, if you're planning on any evening adventures, and there's an awesome make-your-own-hat event at the Peabody Essex Museum to go along with the amazing exhibit on, well, Hats (the original Darth Vader mask is featured in this exhibit! I saw it today!).

As for lunch---New England Soup factory or Kuschko's for something quick. Rockafella's or O'Neills for sit-down. Lobster Shanty is also excellent, as is the Sea Port Cafe. But as others suggested --- really depends on what you want. There are lots of options.
posted by zizzle at 5:13 PM on October 8, 2012

@Madamina has it right re: the Witch Museum. it really is that cheesy, but if you're into that, you can laugh at its horribleness. for less cheese, there's the Witch House (which is a different thing), the House of the Seven Gables, and the Phillips House (not cheesy at all). but there are tons of things within walking distance.
posted by FlyByDay at 7:57 PM on October 8, 2012

« Older Broadcast TV over coax for free?   |   Do technophile jobs exist at large companies? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.