Salem is another one of Massachusetts’ most fascinating historic towns, home to the oldest continuously operating museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, which opened back in 1799, when museums were officially known as a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities.” It was a group of sea captains that founded the East India Marine Society with a specific charter provision to collect such specimens, the legacy became this fascinating museum which holds 1.8 million pieces of maritime, Asian, African, Indian, and Oceanic art plus 22 historic buildings, including the Qing Dynasty Yin Yu Tang house. Salem was the hub of the China Trade, and once one of the East Coast’s major ports, with its streets still lined by stately homes built for wealthy merchants and sea captains. It also has literary connections as the birthplace and home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, which can be toured, in addition to being the site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, which can be experienced through re-creations today.
Salem is known as one of the most popular Halloween vacation destinations as well as a place for year-round haunted tales. The Salem Witch Walk, run by actual witches, offers tours of its spookiest sights around town, telling the story from the witches’ perspective, including a magic circle, a tour of the most haunted graveyard in America, and lessons about spells and charms.