Get us in your inbox

Search
House of the Seven Gables
Photograph: Christo Tsiaras

The best things to do in Salem, MA for Halloween

From spooky shops to popular food haunts, here's your guide to the Witch City during Halloween season.

Katie McAleer
JQ Louise
Written by
Katie McAleer
Written by
JQ Louise
Advertising

If you read our fall getaways guide you know we love Salem! If you want to really embrace spooky season, Witch City is the place to be. October may be the busiest time of year to visit Salem, but if you plan ahead, you will have the best time. Make sure you purchase tickets for events and experiences in advance and make dinner reservations as soon as possible. Read on to plan your perfect Halloween trip to Salem this October. But also check out the best places for pumpkin picking near Boston, the most haunted places you can visit in Massachusetts and the scariest haunted houses in New England for a true spooktacular season!

Recommended: A full guide to the best things to do in Boston.

The ultimate guide to Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts

Book a hotel for the weekend
Photograph: Courtesy Hawthorne House

Book a hotel for the weekend

There is so much to do in Salem during Halloween season. If you really want to experience Salem, stay for a couple nights. Accommodations fill up quickly so make your reservations asap. 

The Merchant (148 Washington St, 978-745-8100) a Lark Hotel, The Merchant is conveniently located right down town. Walk to all the witch shops, great restaurants and plenty of nearby tours and museums. 

The Hotel Salem (209 Essex St. 978-451-4950) located right in the heart of downtown Salem, this boutique hotel is a great choice if you want to be right in the thick of all the excitement. They have a restaurant on the first floor The Counter and they have a season rooftop bar and restaurant where travelers can enjoy fantastic views of downtown Salem.

The Hawthorne House (18 Washington Sq. 978-744-4080) one of the most historic hotels in Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel was established in the 1920s. This elegant hotel is conveniently located downtown and has 2 dining options on site: Nathaniel’s Restaurant and Tavern on the Green.

Grab a bite to eat at a local haunt

Salem has an incredible food scene, from quick cafes where you can grab and go to intimate restaurants perfect for date night. Here are our top 3 picks:

Rockafellas (231 Essex St. 978-745-2411) a go-to spot for many in Salem, Rockafellas is a great choice for a delicious but casual bite to eat. Diners will find all their favorite dishes from New England seafood classics to flatbreads and burgers.  

Howling Wolf Taqueria (76 Lafayette St. 978-744-9653) keep things spooky with a red-hot ghost pepper infused margarita. Howling Wolf Taqueria is known for their massive burritos and their wolf bites like avocado fries and ceviche.

Bambolina (288 Derby St. 978-594-8709) enjoy Neapolitan pizza at this local’s favorite. They do walk in seating, but will take reservations for party of 8 or more. Or travelers can order a pizza to-go.

FRANK (112 Rantoul St, Beverly) Sometimes the best tip for where to eat in Salem in October is to actually leave the city! FRANK is located in Beverly, just minutes away, but a world from all the madness of Salem near Halloween. This farm-to-table gem by Chef Frank McClelland is worth a visit year round, but is especially cozy in the fall and winter. 

Advertising

Visit a witch shop

Salem is packed year-round with thrill seekers. Travelers can explore witch shops, get a psychic reading, or take a tour of one of the many haunted sites through the city. We definitely recommend checking out a few of the famous witch shops, our top 3 favorites are: 

Immerse yourself in witch history
Photograph: Shutterstock/Ale Volpi

Immerse yourself in witch history

The tragic Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft and 20 were executed, put the city on the map. Nowadays, you can learn all about the area’s sordid past by visiting local landmarks and museums pertaining to the infamous colonial hysteria. Amongst the must-see spots: The Salem Witch Museum, where exhibits and life-size sets teach guests all about the trials; the Witch House, a spooky looking dwelling where Judge Jonathan Corwin used to reside; Old Burying Point Cemetery, one of the oldest graveyards in the U.S. where the judges involved in the Salem Witch Trials are buried; Proctor’s Ledge Memorial at Gallows Hill, where 19 of the 20 victims were hanged; and The Salem Witch Trials Memorial, a simple stonewall bearing the names of the wrongly condemned and killed.

Advertising
Book a walking tour or visit a museum
Photograph: Courtesy Destination Salem

Book a walking tour or visit a museum

Once you’re done shopping, book tickets for a museum or one of the great walking tours available in Salem. Our list of top museums and tours include:

  • Witch Dungeon Museum (16 Lynde St. 978-741-3570) one of the most exciting experiences in Salem. The Witch Dungeon Museum does lie re-enactments of the Salem Witch Trials and tours of the dungeon.
  • The Witch House at Salem (310 1/2 Essex St. 978-744-8815) The Jonathan Corwin House, better known as The Witch House, was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640–1718) and is the only structure you can visit in Salem with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692. Take a self-guided tour daily 10am-5pm.
  • Salem Witch Trials Memorial (24 Liberty St. 978-744-1692) this memorial is dedicated to the 20 victims of the witch trials.
  • Salem Night Tour: (127 Essex St. 978-741-1170) are you brave enough to walk through Salem’s haunted streets at night? Then the Salem Night Tour is for you! Hear ghost stories and learn about the history of some of Salem’s oldest sights.
  • Candlelit Ghostly Walking Tour (288 Derby St, 978-740-2929). Another great walking tour option, this hour-long walking tour will take you around some of Salem’s most haunted locations.
Explore where "Hocus Pocus" was filmed
Photograph: Olivia Vanni

Explore where "Hocus Pocus" was filmed

Are you a Hocus Pocus fan? I mean, who isn’t? The 1993 Disney cult classic was filmed in various locations throughout Salem, many of which you can see for yourself and totally nerd out. Amongst the sites that you can visit: Pioneer Village (aka Salem Village in the flick), where you can retrace the steps of Thackery and Emily Binx; Old Town Hall, which will put a spell on you as you remember that bewitching performance the Sanderson Sisters gave there; and Allison’s house, which is really The Ropes Mansion and will be decked out in full Halloween decor just like in the movie this Oct. 31. Before you embark on your adventure and live out all of your Hocus Pocus fantasies, be sure to check the business hours for each spot. (Also note that Max and Dani’s house is a private residence—you can casually walk by it and quietly admire its exterior, but please don’t pester the owners).

Advertising
  • Restaurants

There’s nothing quite like the Gulu-Gulu Cafe; it perfectly embodies the funky little slice of bohemia that is current-day Salem. Part sandwich shop, part craft coffee and beer bar and part live music venue, Gulu-Gulu simultaneously feeds your inner artist and your stomach from morning to night. Take a seat inside (look for the building with the bulldog sign) or on its patio (right in front of the Bewitched statue), and order up a fresh crêpe, gourmet sandwich or some snacks, like spiced pickled eggs or Hermelin aka marinated brie. This place is made for prime people-watching, so be sure to grab a coffee (spiked or sober), seasonal cocktail or wine special, or a beer from its extensive list of mostly local brews. As far as entertainment goes, you can expect to find live bands, old school vinyl nights, drag brunches and open mics on its jam-packed calendar of eclectic events.

Have some spirits at these local craft taprooms
Photograph: Courtesy Far From the Tree

Have some spirits at these local craft taprooms

Maybe the only thing that early colonists in Salem were really good at (besides accusing innocent people of witchcraft) was making booze. Today, the city has revived this local tradition, boasting a number of brewing businesses that crank out craft New England beverages for adult consumption. Hard cider aficionados should pay a visit to Far From The Tree, where they can sample seasonal drinks like its neon-green October release, Ectoplasm (it’s made with bell peppers, kiwi and jalapeno), as well as cider experiments exclusive to the taproom, including Sapho (an off-dry brew made with beets, pomegranate and dried orris root). Beer fanatics can crush pints and flights at Notch Brewing (they brew everything from Czech pilsners to American ales) or East Regiment Beer Co. (go traditional with its New England IPA Galaxy Drops or opt for unconventional Vanna Weiss Fruit Punch). And if you’re feeling some spirits, be sure to do a tour and tasting at Deacon Giles Distillery, named after a local Temperance Movement villain.

Advertising
See some spooky art
Photograph: Courtesy Peabody Essex Museum

See some spooky art

Looking to incorporate some eerie art into your Salem itinerary? The Satanic Temple has opened up its funeral parlor-turned-headquarters to the public, with its Salem Art Gallery dedicated to all things “witch-hunts, Satanism, and moral panics.” Here, you’ll find permanent fixtures, like its infamous Baphomet Monument, a library dedicated to the occult and plenty of merch. If you’re looking to take a more mainstream route, the acclaimed Peabody Essex Museum is also currently featuring an exhibit entitled The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming, which will be running from now until March 2022. It explores the “factors that fueled the storied crisis,” highlights people who “rose to defend those unjustly accused,” and spotlights “two creative responses by contemporary artists with ancestral links to the trials”—namely, photographer Frances F. Denny and the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

Stop by the Haunted Happenings

Salem does October right, with an entire month of “Haunted Happenings.” There are events for all ages from family movie nights and witch hat decorating contests to psychic readings and the official Halloween Costume Ball. Here are the events we’re most looking forward to this year:

Haunted Happenings Marketplace – every weekend 10am-8pm – All Ages

Every weekend in October stop by the Salem Common for the popup marketplace to shop different vendors, enjoy live performances and more.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!