Halloween family travel: the witches of Salem

Salem MA Witch Memorial, Rebecca Nurse, hanged in 1692 (courtesy Foxicat at flickr's Creative Commons)Most parents will someday see Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible,” about the infamous 1692 Salem Witch Trials, on their teen’s English class required reading list.

Why not pay an October visit to the actual seaport town, plus see the real House of Seven Gables?

Salem, Massachusetts is a National Trust “distinctive destination.” They really do it up for Halloween month, but instead of a lot of fake blood and skeletons, your kids can learn some of the history of intolerance and fear (scarier than any amusement park “Howl-o-Scream,” I think.)

The Puritans in Salem had a bit of a problem from the beginning when it came to getting along with other folks. They didn’t like the outspoken pastor Roger Williams and tossed him out in 1634 — no matter, he just went and founded Rhode Island. Even the local Quakers were persecuted for their beliefs.

Intolerace came to a head with the 1692 trials of approximately 190 citizens for “witchcraft.” As a result, 19 people were hanged and one man was crushed to death.

Today, visitors can learn more at the Salem Witch Museum, and there are many historical interpreter-led special events and reenactments offered in October. Un-witchy things to see include fine art at the Peabody Essex museum and Salem’s proud seafaring heritage at the Maritime National Historic Site.

Travel & Leisure magazine reflected on The Salem Witch Project and the town itself a few years ago.

Your family can stay at historic lodgings in the middle of town; the 1925 Hawthorne Hotel. Even better, they blog. 🙂

Technorati tags: travel, family travel, Salem, Massachusetts, New England, Halloween, witch trials