Halloween Destination Guide: Salem, MA

(Feature Image by Alyson Horrocks from New England Today Travel)

With Halloween just around the corner, many destinations are postponing events until next year. However, there are some destinations that are still worth visiting, like Salem, MA. I was fortunate to visit Salem a few years ago on Halloween and it is one of the best holiday-specific destinations you can go to. Salem will give you everything from fun and laughter to gore and creeps all while giving you a history lesson in the process. So if you’re looking for some Halloween fun, here is my destination guide to Salem.

What to know before you go

Like most destinations, many of the city-sponsored events have been canceled this year due to the pandemic. However, some private organizations are still hosting events such as Virtual House tours and at Home Halloween Contests. This doesn’t mean that you cannot visit Salem for Halloween. At the time of posting, Massachusetts was in phase four of reopening, meaning many of their restaurants are open with inside limited seating. Many of the hotels, museums, and stores are open and there is no better place to spend Halloween than in Salem.

Check the events guide

Salem has a website devoted to Halloween called Salem Haunted Happenings. This is where you can find all the events happening in and around Salem which are Halloween themed. Many of the museums are hosting special exhibitions on the witch trials and the history of Salem. Also, check out Salem.org. This is the main website for Salem and keeps an up to date COVID page which visitors can visit and make sure they meet the requirements for travel within the state. They also post a list of business which are closed.

Bring good walking shoes

During the Halloween season, Salem has seen up to 1 million visitors, so needless to say parking can be challenging to find. Salem is a smaller town and easily walkable. If you’re driving in, park just outside the center of town and walk-in. Not only will you save on parking but you’ll also find it.

Everything closes early

If you’re a party animal, you’ll have to find an afterparty somewhere or have your own back at your hotel room. Many of the bars and restaurants close down at 11 PM, and will only stay open past that for ticketed parties. So, find a party you want to head to and pre-purchase tickets if you want to stay out past 11!

Accommodations

Hawthorne Hotel  Starting at $275/night during October

Image from the Hawthorne Hotel website

When you stay at the Hawthorne you are staying in one of the Historic Hotels of America in the National Trust. Although it can be a little pricey, you are staying in the heart of Salem, and most hotels in Salem are going to charge just as much during Halloween. If you’re looking for a bit of luxury after all your marauding this is the place to stay. The Hotel has two wonderful restaurants, Tavern on the Green and Nathaniel’s Restaurant, where you can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner. During a non-pandemic year, the hotel also hosts one of the largest parties of the Halloween season, the Witches Ball. Tickets are already on sale for next year and it’s one of the events that sell out the fastest.

Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast  Starting at $250/night during October

Image from the Morning Glory B&B website

Are you a fan of Nathaniel Hawthorne? Then there is no better place to stay. Situated directly across the street from the House of Seven Gables, the Morning Glory is a beautiful bed and breakfast that make you feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time. The building is a restored Georgian Federal and overlooks the Salem harbor. If you’re looking for a quiet B&B with beautiful views and within walking distance to many Salem attractions, stay here.

Cabot Lodge Starting at $135/night

Image from the Cabot Lodge website

If you’re looking to save a little bit of money on your accommodations head just North of Salem to Beverly and stay at the Cabot Lodge. The rooms are inspired by the sleeping quarters on historic clipper ships, so the rooms are cozy. They are located within walking distance to many of Beverly’s bars and restaurants and a 1/2 mile to the train station that can take you into Salem. So you can park in Beverly and not worry about trying to find parking in Salem!

Things to do

Now to the good stuff.

Peabody Essex Museum $20/pp for adults (follow the link for more info)

Image from the Peabody Essex Museum Wikipedia page

Do you love art? Are you a huge fan of ships? What about witches? The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has it all. PEM houses one of the largest collections of maritime art in the country. Everything from paintings to ship fragments are waiting to be explored. Since they reside in the Salem, they pay homage to the town’s history of witchcraft every year with a Halloween themed exhibition, and this year is no different. This October they have mounted two exhibitions, The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and Salem Stories. Both are ticketed timed events and you are greatly encouraged to purchase your tickets ahead of time. They are only allowing a limited number of people in certain galleries at a time, so make sure to pre-purchase your tickets.

Salem Trolley Tales & Tombstones Tour $20/per person for 1 hour

Image from the Salem Trolley website

Not only does the Salem Trolley operate a trolley service throughout the day and you can buy tickets in several locations throughout the town, but it also has a couple of themed trollies as well. Their Tales and Tombstones Trolley tour operate Thursdays through Sundays in October. The tour is a ghost tour so make sure you’re not of the faint of heart.

Bewitched After Dark Walks $30/per person

Image from the Bewitched After Dark website

Voted the best walking tour in Salem, Bewitched after Dark is a walking tour that combines the history of the area with the lore. It’s a great way to see Salem. The tour lasts about an hour and covers the Salem witch trials, early Colonial life in the area, and stories about witchcraft associated with the town.

Salem Wax Museum & Salem Witch Village $20 for admission to both sites on the same day for one adult

Image from the Salem Wax Museum website

Both the Wax Museum and the Witch Village are open and operating. Unfortunately, their haunted houses have not been open due to Covid but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of witchy fun to have there. No matter what time of year you go the Wax Museum is pretty creepy and they up the creep factor during the Halloween season. The museum also offers a Candlelight Ghost Tour. The tour is only offered in person. No advanced tickets are offered. So if you’re looking for a fun themed activity for the whole family hit up the Wax Museum and the Witch Village.

Can’t get to Salem this year?

Don’t worry there are several virtual events you can participate in.

Halloween in Salem $13.13 for a virtual house tour

Halloween in Salem is hosting several virtual house tours this year which you can take from home.

Spooky Kooky Kids Halloween Magic Show & Mini-Magic lesson $20 per viewing

This 45-minute magic show is hosted by Nickelodeon’s Mike Bent and promises to teach a mini-magic lesson as well. If you’re looking for a fun event to have for your kids why not a virtual show?

 

No matter what you decide to do Salem is a great destination at any time of the year, but especially during Halloween. What are some of your favorite events around the Halloween season? Let me know in the comments. Until next time.

 

Disclaimer: This post has not received any sponsorship. It is purely to be used as a guide of things to do and see in Salem. Enjoy!

 

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