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Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

Crowds in Salem, MA hit over 100,000 per day near Halloween

The town is reaching a breaking point this October.

JQ Louise
Written by
JQ Louise

Salem has long been a mecca for all things spooky, especially in October due to its historical connection to the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s. However, the crowds have never been worse over the past few years and this year they are reaching new heights.

Salem, cemetery, witch trails
Photograph: Shutterstock/Ale VolpiThe Burying Point Cemetery where the Salem Witch Trials took place

Salem is dealing with biggest crowds in years

Last weekend Salem saw over 101,000 visitors come in that day alone. This is a city of just around 40,000 people and to put it in perspective, Gillette Stadium holds just 65,000. So with the ratio of day trippers to locals surpassing 2:1, locals are getting angry and frustrated. reported locals calling the crowds, “frightening” “wall-to-wall” and “insane.”

How are Salem businesses dealing with the crowds this October?

Obviously, the crowds mean the Halloween tourism industry is booming, but due to staffing shortages and issues with transportation and a general lack of space in this historic New England town, Salem businesses are also seeing some hurdles.

“As a business owner, I’m absolutely, absolutely thrilled,” said Beth Crowley, 45, founder and owner of Witch City Walking Tours when interviewed by

Where should I park in Salem? What is the best way to get to Salem, MA?

Basically, you should not drive to Salem. Mayor Kimberley Driscoll said in a release sent out last Saturday that people should park on the MBTA Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line and travel to Salem by train. “Do not drive to Salem,” she said.

There are ferries and commuter rail trains available from Boston if you are looking to get to Salem. From North Station take the Newburyport/Rockport line and get off at the Salem stop. There are frequent trains every day and tickets are $10 for the weekend pass, which offers unlimited rides on Saturday and Sunday, otherwise, they are $8 each way during the week.

Salem Witch House
Photograph: Courtesy Destination SalemSalem Witch House

Are these crowds normal near Halloween in Salem? 

Salem has always been busy during the month of October before Halloween. However, during the pandemic when international travel was at a standstill, local travel boomed, and it seems the trend has stuck. So, this level of visitors is unprecedented in Salem. However, if you are brave enough to make the trek before Halloween read our full guide to visiting Salem during Halloween season.

And if you would rather stay away from the crowds check out our guide to the best things to do in Boston this Halloween and our top picks for Halloween parties for more ideas.

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