A Salem Tarot Consultant's Guide to the Witch City

Updated: Sep 23, 2021


So you’re thinking about visiting Salem this fall? Whether you have been before or you’re planning your first trip ever, it always helps to get a local’s perspective. I’m Angelica Cresci, I grew up less than 30 minutes south of Salem. Now I’m a Salem Resident & Full-time Tarot Consultant here & these are my tips and recommendations.


TIPS


1. WHEN TO COME: Salem is a wonderful place to visit all times of year, not just in Fall! Winters can be cold and Nor’easters often hit this seaside town, so most of the shops have short Winter hours. I would recommend coming in Spring or Summer for all of the fun but none of the crowds. Lots of Tour companies host tours year round, and the museums are open, so other than the lack of pumpkins- why not come to Salem in the Spring/Summer?


2. FALL CROWDS: That being said, if you’re coming for the fall- there will be crowds so prepare in advance to wait in lines at museums and get your tour tickets early! If you’re driving, parking at your Airbnb or Lodging and walking everywhere is your best bet. So many destinations in Salem are Downtown and in walking distance to one another. There are two main streets in downtown you want to be familiar with: Essex St. and Derby St. they run parallel to each other and host many of the businesses and destinations you’ll want to check out. Derby runs by the waterfront and Pickering Wharf area, where Essex street abuts the Salem Common and Old Town Hall.


3. FINDING SPECIAL EVENTS: There are tons of special events happening in Salem, MA all year round. Some are annual events like Haunted Happenings, Salem’s So-Sweet Festival, and more. Some are put on by the town, others are private events, so it can actually be hard for tourists and travelers to find these events. I often do a quick sweep on Facebook to find special events in Salem as well as checking the Haunted Happenings Website. Another way to find special events is to visit the social media or websites of a lot of the breweries/event halls in the area. Notch Brewery, for example is always hosting events.


Must Visit Witchcraft Shops for the Actual Occult Practioner


1. The Hermetic Arts Learning Center & Botanica: This is my home shop & where you can find me for in-person tarot readings. I’ve always loved the mission of this shop and find it to be the most helpful place to buy magickal supplies. This shop sells a wide variety of botanica items like soaps, a large section of 7-Day & figure candles, spiritual colognes, as well as must haves for Ceremonial Magick. A curated selection of important occult texts & statues of orishas, saints, deities, and more make this shop a must see. Staff is incredibly well spoken about every type of magick you could have questions on, and of course, this is THE place to get a tarot reading (especially if it’s by me! Ask for Angelica).


2. Artemisia Botanicals: THIS IS WHERE YOU BUY HERBS IN SALEM. Period. This is where all the locals come to buy their herbs for medicinal and witchcraft properties. The prices are unbeatable, and the selection is unlike any other. These herbs are food grade so you can stock up on herbs here to mix your own teas! This shop is not far from Essex Street, but it’s tucked away and often forgot about. It has a giant Pentacle in the window and is on the same side of the street as the Hawthorne Hotel.


3. Pyramid Books – There huge selection of tarot decks & books make me so happy! If you are looking for any tarot deck ever (they carry entire shelves of different decks) or a book about paganism, traditional witchcraft (wicca), or Psychic Development and other New Age topics, this shop probably has it in stock. There is also a large display of tumbled crystals, so if you want to try out new crystals but don’t want to commit to a huge chunk – you can get an entire handful of gems for under $10.


4. The Coven’s Cottage- This shop is famous and will likely have a line in October, but is totally part of the Salem experience and I recommend giving it a visit. This is a family owned and operated store specializes in Norse/Celtic pagan supplies, herbal bundles, runes, and altar items. Just make sure to put your phone away because this store does not allow photography or any phone usage once inside.



Honorable Mention

I occasionally shop at these two honorable mention witch stores, but they aren’t my most visited.

The Cauldron Black, holds interesting and cerebral witchcraft events and classes (online & in person) and huge incense collection.


HausWitch, is a great place to buy witchy zines and I really love their mugs, but it feels a little more like a gift shop to me rather than a full-blown occult store.


BEST GIFT SHOP/BOUTIQUE: Hive & Forge is a collective shop, meaning the store is made up of items from small artisan sellers. Everything here is spectacular quality & I could get lost and easily wind up with a huge bag of spooky goodies if I’m not careful! They sell: Bath & Body products, Scented Candles, Tote Bags, Jewelry, Books, Indie Tarot Decks, and more.


Drinks


BEER: Notch Brewery is tucked away on Derby Street by Pickering Wharf you’ll find Salem’s best brewery. Notch serves up micro-brewed, German-Style beer & the outside biergarten is a really fun place to hang out and check out the water views.

SPIRITS: Giles Corey Distillery, they make their own spirits in house. Get their Gin, it’s so good. This Distillery is on Canal Street, about a 5-10 minute walk from all the hustle and bustle. At the height of October, having some separation with the main downtown area can be a good thing.


OVERALL: All Soul’s Lounge, a Cozy Lounge with a list of specialty cocktails named after the time periods that inspired them. Craft cocktails can get expensive, but I find these to be well priced for the quality and curation. They are located on Derby St.


Dining


BREAKFAST: Red’s Sandwich Shop is where the local’s eat breakfast, and it's right off of Essex in the heart of Downtown. Perfect walk from any of the Downtown hotels.


LUNCH: Boston Hot Dog Company might not sound like much, but this place has the best portable lunch you could dream of. These hot dogs are the best you’ll ever eat and creative combos will have you coming back daily to try them all. They even offer a large menu of vegetarian/vegan hot dogs and sausages.


DINNER: Turner’s Seafood, this place is a Salem standby for Seafood. Salem is a seaside town, which is easy to forget when it’s so well known for its fall tourism.

Antique Table, an upscale Italian restaurant on Pickering Wharf. Gorgeous outside seating area makes it perfect for a date night. It’s nearby Notch, so after you’re done with your meal walk over to the Brewery to continue the evening fun.


DESSERT: Goodnight Fatty is across from the Salem Commons, in the Carriage House. This cookie shop has a really fun history, they started as a pop-up shop late night on the weekends in Salem when I was in college. In fact, their pop-up shop used to be in an ally off Essex St. I have been coming here for their unique cookies since the first weekend they opened. Since their popularity has risen, they are now located across from the Salem Commons in a permanent location. They stay open late, so it’s perfect for an after-dinner cookie run!


Coffee

Okay Coffee is important to me, so here are my recommendations for coffee shops, all things considered.


BEST OVERALL: Brew Box is small but mighty. Perfectly placed on Essex street, the Brew Box is my best overall coffee shop because everything I’ve ever ordered there has brought a tear to my eye. The coffee, hot and iced, is immaculate. The creativity in their drinks & offerings are truly unmatched, and every time I walk out of those doors I just feel happy. Plain and simple. They also have something called Cereal Milk, aka they steep various cereals in milk, then strain out the cereal and pour it into your coffee.


BEST FOR DRINKS THAT AREN’T COFFEE: Jaho, this Japanese inspired coffee and tea shop is a Salem landmark but if I’m being totally honest, I don’t prefer their coffee. The good thing is they serve so much more than coffee here—in fact you can even get cocktails to go. They are best known for their bubble tea.


BEST FOR SITTING AND CHILLING: Gulu Gulu Cafe has a full bar for nighttime, but in the daytime is the perfect place to sit and sip a cappuccino. They are known for their Crepes, so if you’re hungry I’d recommend trying them!


NEWEST: Odd Meter is the newest coffee shop to hit Salem, and has quickly become a favorite among locals. If you’re returning to Salem and want to try somewhere new, this is a great new shop to check out!



Other Places to Visit


The Satanic Temple of Salem aka the Salem Art Gallery is located on Bridge St. you’ll want to drive to this destination. The Famous statue of Baphomet that the TST commissioned is held within this Temple/Art Gallery, and every curated room in this Ex-Funeral Home is a must-see. They often run events like dinner parties, Burlesque Shows, Candle Making classes and more (but COVID may affect this).


The Spirit Board Museum is a boutique museum on Essex Street that covers Ouija Boards and their history and usage.


Cinema Salem, an independent, grassroots theater that is a staple for Salem locals. This theater shows curated movies like The Craft and classic horror films during the Fall, as well as blockbusters and new releases. It’s hidden inside the Witch City Mall and it’s the perfect nighttime activity to escape the crowds and settle in for a classic film!


Pioneer Village: A short drive from downtown will get you to Salem's Pioneer Village, a shore-side park that has an area that mimics how old Salem Village would have looked back in the 1600's. If you're into history its a wonderful place to visit and see how people might have lived.






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