Salem, MA: Dear Darkling’s Guide to The Witch City
Most famous for the infamous Salem Witch Hunts of 1692, Salem, Massachusetts has been many things to many people over the years: a thriving Puritan village, an important shipping port, a bustling college town. To weirdos, witches, and pagans the world over however, Salem is more like Mecca. It’s a place where being weird isn’t just ok, it’s embraced, and all the spooky fun of Halloween doesn’t end after October 31st. We wanted to embrace all of Salem’s beautiful witchy weirdness with all of you, so here is our roundup of the best places The Witch City has to offer.
Crow Haven Corner
Witch shops have come and gone in Salem, but Crow Haven Corner remains. The first witch shop in Salem (some claim the world) founded in 1971 by famed witch Laurie Cabot, the store is now run by her daughter, Lorelei. In addition to selling candles and spell kits, CHC also runs The Salem Witch tour, the only tour in Salem that is run by practicing Witches. Crow Haven Corner//125 Essex St.
This cluttered little shop made a bit of a splash back when it opened almost ten years ago, for focusing on the “darker side” of witchcraft. Some people might be turned off by darkness, but we here at Dear Darkling say, “give us some of that old black magic.” Be sure to leave a petition on their working altar while there. Hex//246 Essex St.
On a frivolous level, Hauswitch has our absolute favorite Salem themed mug. On a serious level, if you are looking for handcrafted healing tinctures and witch zines, this store has you covered to the moon and back. Be sure to check their events calendar for classes and lectures, they are not to be missed! The store opened a little under two years ago, and looks like a little doorway to Brooklyn opened up in New England. With brick walls, hand knit decorations, and spell kits set in tiny cardboard houses, Hauswitch feels like the future of witch shops, and we love it. Hauswitch//144 Washington St.
The lighter sister to Hex, and owned by the same man, Christian Day, Omen focuses more on the divinatory arts, boasting large selections of crystal balls, tarot decks, and pendulums. A wide arrange of psychics are always available, and they host several public seances throughout the month of October. Omen//184 Essex St.
This is one of the oldest stores in Salem for a reason. The large bookstore could almost be a one stop shop for many people. It advertises itself as “The New Age Bookstore” but whether you’re a New Age hippie, a hardcore Thelemite, or someone just getting started in Witchcraft, you will find the book you need here. Looking for a Tarot deck? They have it. Need some new crystals? They’ve got you covered. Pyramid Books//214 Derby St.
Wicked Good Books
A store that truly lives up to its name. While not a witchy or occult bookstore, Wicked Good Books has an amazing selection of books on local history, as well as great deals on fiction. If a trip to one of Salem’s witch trial museums has you wanting to know more, your first step should be picking up a book here. Wicked Good Books//215 Essex St.
Omg. OMG. It is hard to overstate just how huge this store is. Like many comic shops, it sells more than just comics. If you are looking for old horror movie posters, sci-fi action figures, or a new board game, Harrison’s is the place to go. Having said all that, Harrison’s is still proudly carrying on the grand American tradition of being an excellent, sprawling comic book store, and we salute them for their service. Harrison’s Comics and Pop Culture//252 Essex St.
Food and Drink
Flying Saucer Pizza
Gluten free pizza? Check. Vegan pizza? Check. TIE fighters? Check. Flying Saucer manages to be a great pizza shop for everyone, while still feeling like a place that was specially made for you. They’ve got slices named after comic book villains, Star Wars figurines hanging from the ceiling, and a wall dedicated to every Doctor Who Doctor, not to mention a fantastically friendly staff. If you miss out on Flying Saucer Pizza when you visit Salem, it’s truly your loss. Flying Saucer Pizza//118 Washington St.
If you’re feeling like some healthy vegetarian and vegan food, or are just in the mood for a great smoothie, look no further than Life Alive. They are proof that vegan food isn’t just salads and quinoa (although they do have great salads). Plus, their decor makes you feel like you are sitting inside an enchanted tree while you eat, which is always a plus. Life Alive//281 Essex St.
If you’re going to Salem with a large group and need to satisfy everyone, we recommend Scratch Kitchen. They’ve got vegan and gluten free options, while also serving up burgers and clam chowder like any proper New England establishment. They also make a real effort to source local ingredients, which we always appreciate. Scratch Kitchen//245 Derby St.
Jodi Bee Bakes
This bakery is a pure delight! Bring your friends here and don’t tell them half the menu is vegan (they won’t know). Even if all you do is stop in and grab a cup of tea (which they serve on a literal silver platter) your day is sure to be brightened by a visit to Jodi Bee Bakes. Get there early to grab a warm ginger scone just as they are pulling them out of the oven. Jodi Bee Bakes//7 Church St.
Far From The Tree
If cider is your thing, you have to stop here. If you don’t think cider is your thing, a trip to the Far From The Tree Tap Room just might change your mind. In addition to brewing traditional ciders made from local apples, this brewery has earned a reputation quickly in New England for its unusual concoctions, including ciders made with jalapeños, chai spices, and strawberries. Far From The Tree Tap Room//108 Jackson St.
We don’t know which retro planet the folks at Modern Millie hail from, but we want them to beam us up and take us there. This dress shop is perfect for any flavor of femme alt-fashion lovers. Lolita, Mori, retro, and rockabilly fans are all certain to find something for themselves here. If you can’t make it to Salem, they also do online orders! Modern Millie//3 Central St.
The Salem Witch Museum
Probably the most popular and iconic of all the museums in Salem focusing on the Witch Trials, this museum features eerie wax sculptures, spooky narration, and a section dedicated to all American “witch hunts” since Salem (i.e. The Red Scare and the AIDS Epidemic). The Salem Witch Museum//19 1/2 Washington Square North
The Salem Art Gallery
You might find the name misleading, as this gallery is also the new headquarters for The Satanic Temple, but TST maintains art and religion have always been intertwined, they’re just being honest about it. This gallery is filled with beautiful, evocative work, as well as the famous Baphomet Statue. The Salem Art Gallery//64 Bridge St.
The Witch House
In addition to being one of the most iconic buildings in Salem, the so-called “Witch House” (Otherwise known as the Jonathan Corwin House) is the only structure still standing with direct ties to the Witch Trials. The house was also the inspiration behind the HP Lovecraft story The Dreams in The Witch House. Tours are conducted all year, or simply pause for a photo op outside the austere, Puritan building. The Witch House //310 1/2 Essex St.
The Old Burying Point and Witch Trial Memorial
These two points of interest are located right next to each other, and right behind the world renowned Peabody Essex Museum. Ever aware of their history, and the significance of “witch trials” throughout American history, Salem invited author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to dedicate The Witch Trials Memorial on the 300 year anniversary of the trials. The Witch Trial Memorial// At the corner of Charter and Liberty street.
Salem is really a place that should be seen in person. It’s as much a state of mind as it is a town. However, if you can’t make the trip up, there are plenty of Salem artists that have online only stores.
What can we say about Burial Ground that hasn’t already been said? They are one of our favorite witchy jewelry designers, specializing in handmade talismans that feel otherworldly and earthy at the same time. If you visit around Halloween time, you may be lucky enough to meet the lovely artists (and best friends) behind Burial Ground, and purchase of one of their beautiful pieces in person at Salem’s open air markets. Burial Ground
Witch City Wicks
Operating for six years out of Salem, Witch City Wicks is one of our favorite scented candle companies. Their elegant, simple designs make for great gifts for darklings and non-darklings alike. Once again, you’ll always find Witch City slinging their olfactory offerings at the Salem open markets in October. Witch City Wicks
The Gravestone Girls
Creating magnets and art from gravestone rubbings collected from New England cemeteries, we can think of no better way to take home a piece of Salem than with one of the Gravestone Girls’ creations. The Gravestone Girls