Yes, The New England Pirate Museum is another Salem attraction in which the wax mannequins outnumber the staff, but unlike the Witch Museum, this is not a pre-recorded experience. This place is staffed by lively and informed guides who revel in their puffy shirts and roguish sashes and deliver their material with an irresistible combination of gusto and sincerity.

The focus is steadfastly local–you’ll only hear about New England pirates here–and their stories, even translated into dusty, dark dioramas, are fascinating. The lighting is intentionally low, probably because the exhibits are more Nate and Hayes than Pirates of the Caribbean (I’m pretty sure I spotted a pirate swashing his buckles in a Vera Bradley jacket…). And there are a few more stairs than I anticipated when I bought my 80-year-old mother’s ticket.

But these are quibbles. It’s fun and entertaining and you’ll probably come away wanting to know more. Don’t miss the obscure (and sadly not for sale) treasure maps of Cape Ann decorating the lobby gift shop. And look for the case with the sword pistol at the start of the tour. Rare, gorgeous, and the stuff of pirate legend.

The fellows outside also make for a good photo op.