Last Updated on December 26, 2022 by admin
The ultimate place to spend Halloween is Salem, Massachusetts. The town celebrates Halloween during the entire month of October during their annual Haunted Happenings festival. I lived in Connecticut for several years, and I got the chance to visit Salem during Haunted Happenings. I’m convinced no place does Halloween better than Salem! The entire town is filled with spooky historical sites, costume parties, and Halloween celebrations. In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know to spend Halloween in Salem!
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About Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is a small New England town located in the state of Massachusetts. The town is known for the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. During the Salem Witch Trials, more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft. The hysteria led to the deaths of at least 19 people at Gallows Hill. The tragedy has taught future generations that fear and hysteria can lead to scapegoating of innocent people. If you haven’t read the famous play script The Crucible, we highly recommend that you read it ahead of your trip. It’s a dramatic re-telling of the Salem witch trials. You can purchase it here.
Today, people visit Salem to experience mysticism, magic, hauntings, and witchcraft. Salem is worth visiting year-round, and you’ll find all sorts of spooky events any time you visit. However, Halloween is truly the best time to visit Salem in its glory! It’s one of the best ways to enjoy fall in New England. (We wrote a full article about how to best enjoy fall in New England, you can read it by clicking here.)
One of the best ways to explore the city is to book a night tour of Salem. Your guide will show you important sites from the Salem Witch Trials, as well as other spooky sites.
How to Get to Salem
Salem is located on the coast of Massachusetts. Salem is easy to visit whether you travel by car, train, or boat.
When we visited Salem, we drove our own car from Connecticut. The city is located not too far away from I-95. Parking can be a bit more difficult during Haunted Happenings, so it’s best to arrive during an off-peak hour to secure a parking spot.
You can also take the MBTA Commuter Rail to Salem. Take the Newburyport/Rockport line. The ride is only about a 30-minute drive from Boston.
During the summer and fall months, you can also take the ferry from Boston to Salem. You can book your ferry ticket here.
Salem Massachusetts Hotels
Looking for hotels in Salem, Massachussets, for Halloween? We recommend that you reserve a hotel so you can stay at least one night in historic Salem. That way, you can enjoy the evening festivities without worrying about late-night travels. Here’s a few places to consider for your stay:
- Hawthorne Hotel: This hotel is one of the most popular in Salem. Each year, it hosts a grandiose Halloween costume ball. The hotel was built in 1925, and its guest rooms are decorated in shades of white and light grey.
- The Salem Inn: If you want to stay in a place with a lot of charm, consider The Salem Inn. The inn is comprised of 3 historic homes that contain a combined total of 40 guest rooms. Each room is named after an important historical Salem event. They even have a Haunted Room!
- The Merchant: If you’d like to stay in more of a luxury hotel, consider staying at The Merchant. The rooms have heated tile bathroom floors and gas fireplaces. The property even hosted in President Washington in 1789! It’s not every day you can say you stayed in the same place as George Washington!
For a full list of Salem hotels, click here.
About Haunted Happenings
Haunted Happenings is a month-long festival held in Salem each year. You can view the event calendar here. As Halloween approaches, more and more events will be added to the calendar. At the time of this writing, the calendar contains activities such as broom decorating and a magic potion party for children. Each year there are annual events scheduled such as the Grand Parade, Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair, and haunted houses.
The festival has been operating since 1982. Haunted Happenings runs from October 1st through October 31st. You can find answers to frequently asked questions here, and you can also find the link to the Salem app here.
Things to Do in Salem for Halloween
1. Salem Witch Museum
19 1/2 N Washington Square, Salem, MA 01970
Salem is known for the witch trials of 1692, so it makes sense that one of your first stops should be the Salem Witch Museum. It’ll give you the necessary background information to appreciate many of the town’s historic sites from that era. If you’re planning to visit Salem during October, we highly recommend that you purchase your tickets online. Give yourself up to 1 hour and 15 minutes to explore the museum. (At the time of this writing, tickets may be purchased for same-day only. The cost for an adult general admission ticket is $15.)
2. History & Hauntings of Salem Walking Tour
One excellent way of navigating the city is to take a walking tour with an experienced guide. In the History & Hauntings of Salem Walking Tour, you’ll get to learn about over 400 years of history in the town of Salem. There’s also an option to choose a nighttime tour led by lantern light, if you’re looking for an even spookier experience. The tour is two hours long. You’ll see important sites such as the Burying Point Cemetery, Ropes Mansion, and Witch House. You can book your tour ticket here.
3. Salem Witch Trials Historical Walking Tour
With the Salem Witch Trials Historical Walking Tour, you’ll be able to have a tour focused exclusively on the Salem Witch Trials. You’ll visit sites such as the witchcraft memorial and the courthouse. The tour is 90 minutes long and you can book your tickets here.
4. Mysteries & Murders of Salem Guided Night-Time Walking Tour
The Mysteries & Murders of Salem Guided Night-Time Walking Tour is another guided tour option. Taking place during the evening, you’ll learn all about spooky events in the town of Salem outside of the witch trials. Instead of learning about the Salem witch trials, you’ll learn about murders and ghost sightings. This tour is 90 minutes long and is for adults only due to the content. You can book your tour ticket here.
5. Witch House
310 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
“The Witch House” by aresauburn™ is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The Witch House was the home of Jonathan Corwin. Corwin was one of the judges during the Salem Witch Trials and he presided over many of the examinations, along with Judge Hathorne. He never showed any remorse for his actions in the years after the witch trials. His home is the only structure still standing from the 1692 witch trials. Today, it is a historic museum that has been in operation since 1948. At the time of this writing, an adult general admission ticket costs $8. Tickets are purchased at the door.
6. Attend the Haunted Biz Baz Fair
The Haunted Biz Baz Fair is a street fair that takes place in Salem. There are dozens of vendors selling merchandise, crafts, and food. We attended the Haunted Biz Baz Fair and really enjoyed the festive mood and live music. The event is hosted by Salem Chamber of Commerce. As of this writing, the street fair takes place on Saturdays and Sundays along the streets by the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall.
7. Salem Witch Trials Memorial
24 Liberty St, Salem, MA 01970
“Salem Witch Trials Memorial” by GWP Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is comprised of a granite wall with stone benches. On each bench is the name of one of the person killed during the trials. The memorial was dedicated in 1992 by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. The year 2022 marks the 30-year anniversary of the memorial. When we visited the memorial, it was a somber and quiet place for reflection. Many people had left flowers on the benches.
8. Go Shopping
There are a lot of spooky shops in Salem! Hex Old World Witchery is one shop you should definitely check out. They have a variety of spell kits, witchcraft books, crystals, and candles to purchase. At the Black Veil studio shop, you can purchase grim art and clothing. Their foyer has tons of melted candles that also make for a perfect backdrop for photos. Witch City Wicks is the place to go for candles. You can purchase your own wizarding wand at Wynott’s Wands, which carries lots of Harry Potter merchandise. Bewitched in Salem carries statuaries and crystals. Finally, Die With Your Boots On sells all sorts of witchy outfits.
The oldest witch shop in Salem is Crow Haven Corner. This shop was featured in The Bachelorette Season 19 (Episode 8), in which bachelorette Rachel Recchia visits Salem with contestant Aven Jones. (You can view the clip here.) Lorelei, known as the “Love Witch of Salem”, is a love clairvoyant. You can book an Apple Love Spell or Magic Awaken the Passion. (They also book bachelorette parties!)
9. Proctor’s Ledge
7 Pope St, Salem, MA 01970
Proctor’s Ledge marks the site of the executions. It was discovered in the 1920s by the extensive work of a local historian. The City of Salem purchased that piece of property and called it “Witch Memorial Land.” There is a simple memorial at the location.
10. Salem Heritage Trail
As you walk around Salem, you might notice a red painted line on the ground. This line marks the Salem Heritage Trail, which will take you to notable historic sites in the city. You can read about each of the sites on the trail here.
11. Tales & Ales
7 Lynde St, Salem, MA 01970
One of our favorite things about our visit to Salem was attending Tales & Ales at the Gallows Hill Museum/Theatre. With our admission ticket, we tried three different types of local craft beers as we listened to two separate scary tales. I attended the event with my husband and best friend, and we still talk about how amazing the performance was!
12. Participate in a Seance
When you step into the Spirit Parlor at Omen, you’ll be able to participate in a seance. The seances occur seasonally Thursdays and Sundays at 7pm. Check the current schedule here. As part of the seance, you will receive a spiritual blessing, participate in a meditation, and a psychic will let you know if they sense any loved ones that have crossed over to the other side.
13. Visit a Vampyre House
1 Derby Square, Salem, MA 01970
At Maison Vampyre, you’ll be able to enter Salem’s only vampyre parlour. You must book an appointment to be able to attend. When you visit, you’ll receive either a personal or group psychic reading.
14. Attend the Festival of the Dead
This event takes place annually in Salem. At the Salem Psychic Fair and Witches’ Market, there is tarot card readings, clairvoyant visions, palm readings, crystal ball scryings, past life readings, and more.
15. Bewitched Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery
“Bewitched statue” by Anosmia is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Growing up, I loved the TV program Bewitched. Salem has a statue in town depicting actress Elizabeth Montgomery. The 7th season of the show was actually filmed in Salem!
16. Go On a Haunted Cruise
One really fun thing we did while we visited Salem was take a haunted cruise. The cruise was 75-minutes long and it included a lot of fun activities, including tarot readings and face painting. We also enjoyed some spiked hot beverages from their full-service bar. The cruise took us along the coast and the Misery Islands. You can book reservations here.
17. Old Burying Point Cemetery
51 Charter St, Salem, MA 01970
“The Burying Point Cemetery – Salem MA” by Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Old Burying Point Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Salem. It opened in 1637. Judge John Hathorne from the Salem witch trials is buried on the grounds.
18. Hocus Pocus Walking Tour
If you’re a fan of the 1993 movie classic Hocus Pocus, then you have to take the Hocus Pocus Walking Tour. Many of the film’s scenes were filmed in Salem. You’ll get to see 5 of the film’s scenes on this 2 hour 15 minute tour. You can book the tour here.
19. Take the Salem Trolley
The Salem Trolley offers daily tours of the city. Tickets must be purchased in-person for the same day. Your trolley guide will provide a narrated one hour tour. This is a great option if you’d rather not do a walking tour but you still want to learn about the city.
20. Ropes Mansion
318 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
This Georgian Colonial mansion has a long history in Salem. You can learn all about the odd and frightening visits when you visit the Ropes Mansion.
21. Dress Up Like a Witch and Have a Photoshoot
Looking for the perfect souvenir of your time in Salem? Dress up like a witch and have professional portraits! Magick Avenue has over 300 costumes for you to choose from. You can book your reservations here.
22. House of the Seven Gables
115 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970
The House of the Seven Gables, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is an American classic. In Salem, you can visit the real House of Seven Gables. The house was built in 1668. You can purchase the book here so you can read it in advance of your visit.
23. Attend the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade
On one day each October, Salem hosts the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade. Enjoy the marching bands and parade floats!
24. Attend a Halloween Ball
If you want to attend a costume party like no other, head to the Hawthorne Hotel‘s Halloween Costume Ball. Be sure to bring your best Halloween costume, because the event is known for having elaborate costumes! The Halloween Costume Ball takes place once per year during the month of October. Be sure to reserve your tickets and/or hotel reservations well in advance. They sell out quick!
25. Make Your Own Witch’s Broom
At The Witchery, you can make your own broom. You’ll get to choose your own broom handle and any embellishments.
26. Drink a Halloween Cider
108 Jackson St, Salem, MA 01970
Drink a cider flight at Far From the Tree ciders. They typically offer special Halloween ciders. Their tasting room is the ideal spot to stop and rest while you plan the rest of your day.
27. Take a Sailing Tour on a Schooner
One of the best ways to see Salem is from the coast! When you take a sailing tour on a schooner, you’ll ride on a replica historic privateer schooner. The crew will share stories about historic Salem on this 1 hour 45 minute tour.
28. Learn About the Naumkeag
The Naumkeag band of the Massachusetts Tribe are the original indigenous people of the Salem area. Learning about their history is just as important as learning about the witch trials. They were partially nomadic and had housing structures throughout the region to allow them to make the most of each season. When settlers appropriated their seemingly-abandoned homes, tensions rose. The Naumkeag were peaceful and kind to the settlers, and yet they were still forcibly removed from their homes. Many of them were killed. It’s important to keep their history and legacy alive. You can read more about the Naumkeag here and here.
29. Salem Maritime National Historic Site
160 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970
Did you know that Salem is the location of the country’s first National Historic Site? You can check out the visitor center and learn all about maritime history at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. You’ll learn all about the illegal activities that took place there at this once-bustling trading site.
Halloween in Salem for Kids
If you’re bringing young children to Salem, there’s plenty of things for kids to do as well. Some ideas include:
- Decorate a broom at The Witchery. At the time of this writing, it costs $35 to make a broom and it takes approximately 45 minutes.
- Choose a magic wand at Wynott’s Wands. There are dozens of different wands to choose from!
- Make a magic potion at The Good Witch of Salem.
- Learn about pirates at the New England Pirate Museum.
Visiting Salem Massachusetts in the Fall
We visited Salem during the month of October, and we think it’s the best time of year to visit Salem. The entire city was filled with spooky decor, Halloween-themed events, fall colors, and festive treats. We visited on a weekend in early October, and thankfully the crowds were manageable. We do recommend making reservations in advance of your trip for tours and restaurants.
I loved visited Salem in October because we saw lots of people dressed up in costumes, even though it wasn’t officially Halloween. It was worth visiting Salem just for the people-watching! Next time, I want to pack a witch’s hat an easy costume and some photos. (I’ve linked the witch’s hat that I bought here.)
One of the best reasons to visit Salem in October, besides the Halloween-related events, is to see the fall foliage. There’s nothing like walking through the streets and hearing leaves crunch underfoot as you learn about the town’s dark history. There’s no place to visit like Salem in the fall!
What to Bring for a Trip to Salem
Here’s a few things we recommend bringing to Salem:
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking around town and campus, so make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes. I’ve been wearing Brooks brand shoes for years and have loved them. I’ve linked them here for women, and here for men.
- Power Bank: We always keep a fully-charged power bank with us while we’re out exploring. That way, if our phone battery is running low, we can easily plug it in and re-charge on the go. We rely on our phones heavily for navigation and photography, so this product is a must for us.
- Water Bottle: We prefer to bring an insulated re-usable water bottle when we are out exploring.
- Travel Guides: When I moved to Connecticut, I brought a travel guide and it gave me so many ideas for weekend adventures. It also provided good historical background to the places I visited. I’ve linked a couple here.
- Halloween Attire: When you walk around Salem, you’ll notice a lot of people dressed up in Halloween-themed attire. Pack plenty of black! (We also recommend packing a witch’s hat so you can take some Halloween-themed photos in the city.)
(Click on any of the above images for current pricing and shipping information.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Salem do anything for Halloween?
Salem is perhaps the best place to spend Halloween in the country! The entire town celebrates Halloween all month long in October for the Haunted Happenings festival. There are tons of witchy shops, spooky walking tours, and historic sites to visit.
When does Halloween in Salem start?
Salem starts decorating for Halloween early in the fall, and there are events and decorations throughout the month of October. If you’d like to see Salem during the Halloween season, we definitely recommend that you book a trip for October. On the actual day of Halloween, you’ll find events all day long!
How long should I spend in Salem?
We recommend spending at least one night in Salem. Many of the Halloween-themed activities occur during the evening, so you’ll want to make sure that you stay overnight so that you can fully enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Is Salem worth visiting?
Salem is absolutely worth visiting. If you’re a fan of history, there are several museums and memorials related to the 1692 Salem witch trials, as well as a museum dedicated to maritime history. If you’re a fan of witchcraft or spooky events, there’s lots of psychics, tarot readers, witches, and more.
What are some haunted places to stay in Salem, Massachusetts?
If you’re looking to stay in a hotel with a reputation of being haunted, we recommend that you stay at the Hawthorne Hotel. It’s been rated as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. Another haunted option is the Salem Inn, which was built in 1834. Guests have reported paranormal activities at both of these hotels.
Summary of Halloween in Salem
We visited Salem as part of a Halloween-themed drive around New England. I traveled to Salem with my husband and best friend while she was visiting from out-of-town. We really enjoyed learning about Salem’s history, as well as some of the evening events, like the Tales & Ales experience! As part of this trip, we also visited Sleepy Hollow, which is another great place to visit during Halloween. I highly recommend that you visit Salem, Massachusetts, if you get the chance!
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Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please see individual websites embedded in this post for the most current trip-planning information.
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