You’ll recognize Salem, Massachusetts if you’ve seen Hocus Pocus, especially if you’ve been dying to visit Salem in October. It’s said to be a magical place all year, but especially in October, it’s as if the city rises from its sleep, ready to bewitch everyone.
All Must-Dos in Salem in October – How To Make The Most Out Of It
Are you intending to visit the city of the witch trials yourself? Make sure you don’t miss any of their prime locations! This town has several museums, and it’s easy to be persuaded to visit them all; nevertheless, I’ve found that most of them wind up conveying the same story – Focus on the must-do things in Salem.
City of Salem MA
Salem is a beautiful city at any time of year, whether you visit in October or at any other time of year. The largest difference when visiting Salem, around October, the magic wakes, as if the town awoke from a lengthy sleep. Before we get into the witchy stuff, let’s go over the essentials, such as where to stay, what else to do, and where to go (most important part).
Salem Fall – Oh The Colors!
Salem enjoys New England’s stunning fall colors with all of its vibrant colors. If you, like me, live in a region where only a few seasons are truly experienced, you will enjoy the Salem fall!
It is also crucial to remember that you may require additional items such as umbrellas, water-resistant shoes, and warmer clothing (check my absolute list on travel necessities here!). When I visited Salem in October 2021, it was reasonably warm during the day, so a sweater did the trick, but it turned chilly in the evening, needing a warmer jacket. It was near to freezing on my last day, which was in the middle of October, so make sure you check the weather here before you go.
Salem, Ma Tourist Stuff
Before visiting one of the most magical cities in the United States, keep in mind that it is swamped with tourists and tourist traps, the latter being the most prevalent. I really waited about 25 minutes to get inside a store selling vintage, antiques, and mystical items, just to be disappointed with items available on Etsy or eBay (not even anything specific but heavily overpriced). So, bear in mind that this is more like an entertainment park like Universal than a city in October – when it comes to tourist traps.
You may also ask yourself how crowded is Salem in October? No worries, I will let you know.
If you want to enjoy Salem, then I’d recommend going during the week if you can, I went Friday-Sunday and Friday was by far the best day to go and experience things. Saturday, would be more the relaxed one where you can do things that are not on the top of your list, like The Satanic Temple or The Witch Town.
And for the thrill-seekers and horror lovers, these 10 haunted places in the town are a total must!
Salem Massachusetts Halloween is one of a kind, however, if you go directly on Halloween, be prepared having to use your elbows to get through.
Salem is still a magical place to be at in October.
Another major issue is the lack of public bathrooms. The majority will be found at restaurants, gas stations, or similar, however you will need to purchase something to eat in order to use the restroom if you go to the restaurants.
Personally, I struggled to stay hydrated there since I knew it would be difficult to find a restroom – Just something to keep in mind.
Student and looking to travel on a student budget? Check out my article here!
Check out why Savannah should be your next destination if you love anything haunted!
New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in the US, dare to visit?
Best Places To Stay in Salem MA
First and foremost, it will be VERY expensive to stay in Salem – just keep that in mind. I’m talking about $500-1500 per night with majority being sold out already a year ahead.
However, if you’re set to stay at a hotel in Salem in October – maybe even with help of miles or points, then consider these:
The Salem Inn
The Inn features 40 guest rooms split over three historic buildings, each being named after a different aspect of Salem’s history. History, such as famous historical figures (the Derby Room), paranormal activities (the Haunted Room), or historical landmarks (the Southfields Room). They illustrate the city’s history and convey the rich flavor of the entire city.
The Hotel Salem
At the heart of Salem, this lively hotel in Salem, MA, is a former high-end clothing store site that was transformed into a contemporary boutique hotel with vintage retail-inspired details. Their interior design takes cues from vintage New England department stores from the 1950s and 1960s, blending mid-century modern elements with outlandish details.
Hampton Inn Salem Boston
the Salem Witch Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the House of the Seven Gables are all within walking distance. This hotel is only two miles from Winter Island/Waikiki Beach and Salem Willows, while offering complimentary breakfast is right in the heart of Salem’s downtown.
These would be the three main ones, if you’re curious to see what other ones are available, check them out here:
Plug in your dates and you will see any hotels that are available in Salem in October!
How Far Is Salem From Boston
This is one of the most common questions you will ask yourself, as it relates usually to places to stay. As hotels in Salem in October are extremely expensive, I’d recommend to stay outside of the city itself. The actual distance between Boston and Salem is 14 miles, while the road distance is 16.1 miles. This makes it easy to either rent a car (wouldn’t recommend because finding parking is going to be a nightmare), rather, use Uber/Lyft to get to hotels/hostels/airbnbs to the centre of Salem.
Again, check these websites where you will increase your radius and may even include north of Boston.
Even better, there’s a ferry going from Boston to Salem daily. Other options are train, Uber/Lyft, Bus, or rental car.
The train runs every hour and will cost you about $5 – $9, which would be the cheapest among all options. You will ride the train “North Station to Salem” which will take you about 30 minutes. It also stops in the neighboring towns, such as Chelsea, Revere, Lynn, and Swampscott. So, if you stay in one of these towns, you will get even faster to Salem by taking the train – also the cheapest way.
Taking Uber/Lyft/Cab will cost you about $40-80 depending on from where, while taking about 25-30 minutes. Which can add up if you’re spending a few days there. Certainly, if you stay in one of the neighboring towns of Salem it will be much cheaper and faster too.
I’d only recommend this if you’re staying closer to Salem or when you’re going from the airport to your hotel.
If you decide to take the bus, it’d be the line Congress St @ Haymarket Started to Essex St @ Summer St, which will take about 49 minutes from Boston to Salem and cost you $1 – $5.
Tickets of it can be bought at the station or when going inside the bus – I’d only recommend this if you have time and you’re on a budget as it takes you double the amount of time to get from Boston to Salem.
It will cost you depending on the car you pick, but it will also take roughly 25 minutes to travel while also costing gas. I’d only recommend to get a rental car if you plan to go to the ocean to walk by it (highly recommend), or any of the other places. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend it for Salem in October (especially!) because you will have a hard time finding parking. If you’re going at a different time in the year, then it may be a better option.
Where to Eat in Downtown Salem, MA
If you want to save money, then prepare your food and take it with you. Otherwise, there are some amazing options when it comes to restaurants.
I enjoyed eating at the Ledger Restaurant. Make sure to make a reservation, otherwise you may experience a longer waiting period, especially in October! It’s a healthy, delicious, and one-of-a-kind place. It used to be an old bank that they turned into a restaurant, so when you’re inside, pay attention to your surroundings to still see real parts of the bank from the 1800.
Tip: If you have to wait an eternity for a table – sit at the bar. You’ll get the same food and service (if not faster and better!).
There’s no doubt that there are various museums in Salem, MA. After all, it’s THE magic town. The Salem Witch Trials from 1692 made this place famous, making it the centre of attention for October – especially on Halloween.
If you want to go for Halloween specifically, make sure to keep this website in mind as they’re posting things and events specifically for it.
Are you down for some adventure and maybe a tour? Make sure to check out Salems Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour!
Because of that, Salem offers many museums telling the story of the poor women that ended up being hung, essentially because some women got bored and got the town riled up.
CAUTION: For some museums you can’t reserve anything online, but have to go there and hope to still get a ticket. Make sure to look up the museum itself to see what the guidelines are, as they seem to change depending on the time of the year.
Use this link to get a combination ticket for 3 museums: New England Pirate Museum, Witch Dungeon Museum, Witch History museum: http://www.piratemuseum.com
Before you get all excited, most of the real places from the witch trials can’t be visited. Either, there’s a new CVS or it’s further outside of Salem and private property. Still curious, what you can see?
Read further, there’s a self-guided walking tour that will not only save you money, but also a lot of time.
Tip: Focus on 2-3 museums to visit and spend more time investigating them to save time and money.
Craving for some extravagant souvenir? Don’t miss out on this one. Curious about witchcraft? There’s plenty. My personal favorite: a poster depicting herbs and magical plants with their mystical and physical abilities.
Salem Witch Trial Memorial
When you go visit Salem in October, make sure to stop by the Salem Witch Trial Memorial, which resembles different stones stacked above each other making space for the victims names and a place for flowers. It’s truly a humbling experience.
Just to give you an idea, about 200 people were accused of witch craft back then, while 21 were actually trialled and hung.
Each of the park’s 20 stone seats commemorates a victim of the historic 1692 Salem Witch Trials.
The witch trials memorial is located near the Charter Street Cemetery (Old Burying Point), where one of the witch trial judges, Judge John Hathorne, was buried – it’s the oldest cemetery in Salem.
Ever heard of the novelist and dark romance writer Nathanial Hawthorne? Judge John Hathorne was the great-great grandfather of the author! – Crazy.
If you want to take a step above this, make sure to visit The Burying Point, as it’s the burial ground of all judges that were involved in the Salem Witch Trials.
Down for some adventure? Take advantage of the tour offered that will give you more on the history – Tripadvisor makes it easy! Whether it’s a day or night tour, you won’t get disappointed, I thoroughly enjoyed my night tour. The Salem haunted happenings website has also many tours, so check them out!
Peabody Essex Museum (PEM)
This museum is the greatest in all of Salem. It features a real-life exhibit (which may or may not be on show at all times – check before going!) of artifacts from the witch trial. Displaying letters and court records from that era, which provided us with so much valuable history.
Tip: If you’re staying at a hotel outside of Salem itself, get a day ticket to this museum and store your backpack/jacket/purse in their free lockers. This saved me having to carry around my baggage on the day of the flight back.
Make sure to have some extra time for this exhibit – I had to wait around thirty minutes to go inside due to covid, but once inside, you may spend as much time as you like.
You can use a guide, but you can also go on your own and read about every single word individuals said at the time, including how these ladies defended themselves, or attempted to protect themselves.
Because of its age and significance, this exhibit alone is worth a visit to Salem. Aside from that, the museum contains a wealth of history, ranging from shipwrecks and paintings to more abstract art works, such as the room with the stunning light – peek my picture for that one! Breathtaking.
The Witch Town
Next to the Witch House, the Witch Town is a must. Fancy to experience something completely different? What about a real witch spell ceremony? There’s also a slightly hidden spot with a wax museum (surprise ha), haunted houses, and an opportunity to watch a real witch spell ceremony. It costs roughly $60 to visit all of the attractions, including the ghost tour.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d probably only do the witch spell ritual and the haunted tour, even if the rest was enjoyable if you like haunted houses.
Have you ever watched the film Hocus Pocus? Of course you did. This is Max’s home from the film; it’s around 20 minutes from downtown and allows you to glimpse the coastline. Unfortunately, it is private property and you are not allowed to enter; nevertheless, you are welcome to take photos from the outside and enjoy Salem as well. If you have more time, head to Allison’s house, the old town hall where the Halloween party was, and Pioneer Village, where Thackery resided before he was transformed into a black cat!
Have you seen the news? Hocus Pocus 2 will be released to commemorate the 25th anniversary!
Tours – Yes, you will have many tours offered in Salem and they’re all unique and great in themselves. However, I can only recommend the self-guided tour that you can find on GetYourGuide.com that costs $10 per person for the walking tours. You will get a code via email leading you to download their app and tour itself.
BEST THING EVER.
You are self-guided, equipped with a GPS and the exact directions and history of Salem. If you prefer to stick around places longer and don’t really want to bother with groups, this will be the way to go.
Click here to get directly to the tour – from there you can find other tours offered in the area.
Things To Do in Salem Ma
There are many other unique places in Salem, besides the Witch Trials. You may be wondering what else is there to do if you’ve seen all the witch stuff there is in Salem, well, consider these things and add them to your bucket list for Salem in October.
Make sure to check on the Salem Ma Events October 2022 – their website updates regularly with new ones! Everything from festivals, events, markets, even workshops – you get it all!
The Satanic Temple
For one, make sure to go and check out The Satanic Temple, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s worth the experience you will have.
You even get to sit on the throne of the founders and the statue itself – can you imagine how cool that felt?
The Witch Dungeon Museum
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go because it was sold out the entire weekend – for this one, MAKE SURE TO BOOK EARLY. Especially in October, you won’t be able to go if you don’t plan ahead of time.
Why should you go there? It’s made exactly as it was back then, so you’ll see the same sizes and awful circumstances prisoners were forced to remain in till their execution in their witch trials.
Did you know the original location of the Witch Dungeon, like many other historical sites in Salem, is said to be haunted by the negative energy from tragic past events? Check out the most haunted places in Salem here.
It’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Click here to get to the website – it’s open April-November only.
- If you go in October, get a hotel outside of Salem and Uber/Lyft to go downtown
- If you fly, store your baggage/backpack at the PEM for free for the day & explore Salem & PEM
- Pick 2-3 places you WANT to see
- Reserve prior going to events and attractions
- Check the Salem event page
If you’re on a budget (Time & Money)
- Take advantage of combo tickets
- Use self-guided tours to see everything
- Use Uber/Lyft instead of renting a car
- Rent a room at a place further away – even at the edge of Boston
- Don’t go to all museums – it’ll get disappointing
- Don’t run through everything fast just to get through it – take your time. Again: focus on a few things to experience them authentically
- Don’t bother going to Witchy Stores, most of it is overpriced and not as nice. Instead: visit the second-hand & antique stores
- Stay at a hotel outside of Salem if you go to Salem in October
Have any other tips you haven’t seen?
Let me know!