Halloween in Salem: A Travel Guide
Updated: Oct 2, 2022
In Salem, Massachusetts Halloween is Here
Halloween deserves to be celebrated correctly, and Salem, MA sure knows how to do that. If you’re wanting to experience Halloween to its full potential, then you definitely need to book a trip to Salem, Massachusetts in October! And book well in advance, it's a popular place for many great reasons. If you’re a haunted house, spooky season, witch vibe, and Halloween party lover, Salem will be a dream come true for you.
Halloween in Salem, MA is the biggest event of the year for both locals and visitors. When I say they go all out, they go all out and above and beyond. Think local Halloween festival…times about 200. It's not just a block, or even a neighborhood, event; it’s an entire city that goes into Halloween mode event. So what is it like to visit Salem Massachusetts in October?
Salem, Massachusetts Halloween Town
The History of Salem
In 1626, a group of immigrants founded the settlement originally known as Naumkeag, and soon began calling it Salem, which is actually the Hebrew word for peace! In the late 17th century, the infamous Salem Witch Trials began. Nineteen innocent people were hanged, and one man was even pressed to death. The town believed the devil was presenting itself through women, and even a few men, but these trials stopped when the governor’s wife was accused of being a witch herself.
Throughout the 18th century, political revolution swept through the town, Salem-based soldiers helped fight the British during the Revolutionary War, and it became the wealthiest city in the country per capita. Salem kept growing throughout the 1800s, adding museums, a shipping fleet, the Salem Common, and more. In 1838, the railroad between Boston and Salem opened, bringing in more people to the area.
The Salem Fire occurred in 1914, destroying thousands of buildings and leaving many people homeless and jobless. It was a tragedy that really shook the foundation of this city. But slowly, the city was built back up. In 1970, the seventh season of “Bewitched” was filmed in Salem, and the very first Haunted Happenings Festival happened in 1982, but only lasted one day.
Continuing through the late 20th century and into the 21st century, Salem lured in more Halloween fame thanks to its witchy history. The famous “Hocus Pocus” movie was filmed in Salem, the Witch Trials Memorial was dedicated by Elie Wiesel himself, and Salem began booming as the best Halloween town in the US. Check out more Salem facts if you're a lover of history!
Why You Should Celebrate Halloween in Salem MA
Every single part of the city turns on Halloween mode, and besides having a spooky, witchy history, Salem MA provides an incredibly festive celebration for everyone wanting to celebrate Halloween. From the detailed decor to the autumn leaves to the Haunted Happenings experience, Salem is the best place to spend Halloween in the US.
You will be expected to be in costume all day on Halloween, and if you’re feeling extra festive, wear your costume on the days leading up to Halloween. You’ll see all the different kinds of costumes in Salem. Some people go for a more common Halloween look, and other people go all out for their Halloween costumes in Salem. Some even hand make them with precise detail. So no matter how extravagant your costume is, you will fit in here. In fact, the bigger and bolder, the better you’ll be.
You can even make your own witch’s broom at The Witchery! If you’re up for it, go the extra mile and create the best Halloween treat for yourself. Channel your inner witch, get your broom ready, and hit the sky (errrm…streets) for a spook-filled night! Plus, what better souvenir will you find than a custom witch broom to remember your time in Salem, Massachusetts for Halloween? TIP: Remember to book all activities in advance.
If you enjoy history, tag along on a historical tour of Salem. Or walk yourself around the area to find famous historical monuments, such as the House of Seven Gables Museum and the Salem Witch Museum. This city is filled with rich history, so you won’t run out of sites to see and facts to learn about!
Another way to celebrate Halloween in Salem MA is just by roaming the streets. The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a great starting point; while wandering around, you’ll stumble upon Halloween stores, spooky cafes, haunted restaurants, and more. This was our plan, and it turned out to be great fun. We found tons of monuments and learned a lot about Salem by reading all the historical signs we could find.
At night, the city comes to life, and the people pour into the streets. The drinks and dr*gs come out, but don’t worry. If that’s not your thing, it’s very easy to avoid. Everyone is here to have a great, spooky time! (FYI: If you’re a people watcher, you will be in heaven spending Halloween in Salem MA). Just be prepared for very large crowds.
How Long Should I Spend in Salem?
While Halloween is only one day (obviously), you should spend around 3 days exploring Salem so you can see everything you want to. It’s quite a small city, but there is a lot to see, including multiple museums where you can learn a lot about the history of Salem. There are also many restaurants, cafes, and bars to try in Salem, Massachusetts, so if you’re a foodie, you won’t run out of places to try while in town!
If you're planning on visiting on Halloween, we recommend going a few days before and spending the first couple of days just exploring Salem. Maybe you'll want to take a day trip to Boston as well! And when Halloween arrives, you'll be ready to spend all day haunting the streets, meeting new friends, showing off your costume, and having the best Halloween ever.
What to Bring to Salem for Halloween?
The most important thing to pack for Halloween in Salem MA is definitely your costume. Okay, you won’t want to spend 3 straight days in your costume, but not having one will be a huge bummer. But besides bringing the greatest Halloween costume of all time, you also want to pack warm clothes, comfortable shoes, a camera, a day bag or small backpack, and your spookiest vibes.
Salem is located on the northeastern coast of the US so it gets very chilly by the end of October. Packing warmer clothes and layers you can easily take on and off is the key to any fall/winter adventure. You don’t want to have the sickest costume, but not be able to go outside and show it off because you’re freezing your butt off!
Having a day bag is great if you plan on being out all day exploring. You can store a jacket, a water bottle, a camera/phone, and more in a day bag or small backpack. This just makes your life so much easier while you're on the go.
How to Get to Salem, MA
The easiest way to get to Salem, if you don’t have a car, is to fly into Boston, Massachusetts. From Boston, you can catch a train straight into Salem so you can get right to the Halloween festivities. However, when we visited in 2020, the train leaving from Boston on the afternoon of Halloween skipped the stop at Salem. We believe they did this to deter so many people from filling the streets of Salem as it was still during the pandemic, but thankfully they warned all the passengers before the train even left the station. We were able to get off at the stop before and get a cheap Uber into the main part of Salem. This probably is not an issue anymore, but you have been warned.
Another way to get into Salem is by car. You might be doing a fall or Halloween road trip in the New England area. Please be aware that parking in Salem in October will be nearly impossible. We heard that for the whole month of October, all street parking is for residents only. There are parking garages and satellite parking lots available with shuttle buses into the town, but be prepared to have to walk or wait for a shuttle from a parking lot. You don’t want to risk parking on the street, especially on Halloween, and being left with a hefty ticket.
Because Salem and Boston are so close to each other on the coast, you can also take a ferry from the Long Wharf in Boston. The ride takes less than an hour and it’s a fun, scenic alternative to getting to Salem from Boston. For more information on parking, directions, and transportation, check out this Salem site here.
Salem, Massachusetts: Halloween is Here
We hope you’re prepared for your Halloween trip to Salem, MA. There is a plethora of things to do, sites to see, and food to eat while in town, and nobody does Halloween better than Salem. If you’re looking for a fun, haunted Halloween night, then Salem is most definitely the place you need to be. And if you want to experience the spooky season without all the craziness of overflowing streets, visit Salem in October the week or two before Halloween. The decorations are all out, the haunted vibes are in town, and festivities have begun. But you won’t have to deal with insane crowds like you will on the day of Halloween.
With all the details thrown at you, are you going to be riding your broomstick in to celebrate Halloween in Salem? Let us know below!