Updated April 2019
The leaves are falling, Pumpkin Spice is in the air, Monster Mash is on repeat which means Halloween is fast approaching.
But where will you spend All Hallows Eve this year?
Hopefully, Salem, Massachusetts after reading my spook-tastic post. If not, boo to you!
Nothing compares to Salem throughout the month of October with ghoulish tours, haunted houses, seances and parades; it has everything covered.
In this article I will share my top tips and things to do go make the most of your Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts.
General Tips for Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts
How to get to Salem?
If you are travelling from Boston it’s really easy and you have a lot of options. Grab a MBTA Commuter train from North Station to Salem on the Rockport Line taking a little over 30 minutes. Want a fancier and much prettier route? Take the Ferry with Boston Harbor Cruises along the wharf, a 55 minute journey on the water and you’ll arrive at Salem’s harbor.
Travelling by car is an issue as parking is a nightmare on Halloween. There are lots of road closures as streets become pedestrianised to accommodate the large crowds. We stayed there for a couple of nights over Halloween so our Airbnb had room for our car. So if you plan to stay beforehand then you will be ok. I strongly advise against taking a car and opt for the train, ferry or bus. Plus, you can have a wee drink then!
My biggest tip if you are staying in Salem or nearby and want to make a night of it is to make sure you are in a bar or restaurant by 10.15pm. After the 10.30pm fireworks the police will start to clear the streets so make sure you are tucked up in a bar or else your night is over. The venues have been told that anyone trying to get in after 10.30pm will be turned away. Also, a lot of places shut before midnight - Mercy Tavern is open until 1am.
What happens on the day?
In a nutshell, it’s one big party, all day long. The atmosphere is infectious, the people of Salem know how to have a good time.
There are lots of things happening throughout the day. With 2 live music stages, one on Salem Common and the other on Federal Street, you can dance the day away. There’s usually an open air cinema showing an iconic Halloween film such as Hocus Pocus - my all-time favourite. All the stores and attractions are open so you can have a wander around all the cool and quirky haunts (I went there) Salem has to offer.
Everyone is in fancy dress. Don’t feel you need to wait until the evening. I didn’t. My Katniss Everdeen costume went down a storm! Flaunt it people.
Expect long queues for Haunted Houses and attractions. As you can imagine, it’s Halloween everyone wants to be a little scared and have fun so these get packed out. We went earlier on in the day and we waited 20 minutes or so which wasn’t too bad. However, I’m British we love a good queue.
Things to Do
Haunted Happenings Festival
Haunted Happenings is the Halloween festival that spans the whole month of October in Salem. Every day there is some form of entertainment whether it be a Parade, Dog Fancy Dress, Film Showings on the common, or Ghost Hunts. Check out Haunted Happenings October Calendar and plan accordingly as events get booked up a year in advance at times.
The Salem Witch Trials took place in 1692 - 1693 and though the event lasted a year and did not actually occur in Salem, it has stuck with the town all these centuries. It makes the experience all the more unsettling and spooky. Be sure to visit the Salem Witch Museum for a live action account of the Trial. Also, take a trip on the Salem Trolley to get your bearings and to learn more about the unique history of this magical community.
Scare Yourself Silly at the Haunted Houses
For adults and children there are Hair-raising Haunted Houses to visit. Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery transforms from a Horror Film Museum to a live action thrill ride, one of the best I've been to. Head over the road to the Haunted Neighbourhood and visit Frankenstein's Castle and The Haunted Witch Village for more scares. You can visit both with a Wicked Special Ticket and most of the attractions can be found near to the Salem Witch Trial Memorial.
If you have any energy left after the Haunted Houses, you need to get involved in a Ghost Tour. These walking tours take you around the most famous spots in Salem telling you facts about Salem's past whilst going all "Are You Afraid Of The Dark" with ghoulish stories and sightings. Check out Salem's Historical Tours and Bewitched After Dark Tours.
Admire The Halloween Decor and Costumes
Do not forget to pack your Halloween costume! 100,000 revellers descended on Salem last Halloween and half the fun is joining in on the fancy dress and pointing out your favourite efforts. Hey, even the dogs make an effort, what's your excuse? Take a walk around Salem town and see the spooktastic porches of the resident's houses, if you are taking the children, Trick or Treating is a must!
Take a piece of Salem home
Shopping in Salem is special. There are all manner of fantastic gifts to buy, unique candles at Kandel, perhaps a spell at Crow Haven Corner or pop to Hauswitch + Healing to pick up homeware for your house. Fancy Chocolate, stroll on over to America's Oldest Candy Company Ye Olde Pepper Companie where to can taste Gibralters and Black Jacks, staples of Salem.
I hope that has helped you with planning a trip to Salem at Halloween. If there is anything you feel I could expand on or you’d like to ask, please do comment below. I will help any way I can. I genuinely love hearing from you.
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