Your guide to planning the best day trip to Salem Massachusetts in October for a spooky Halloween visit!
The best time to visit New England is in the FALL! Coming from Houston, TX where we are seriously lacking in fall foliage is only one reason to make the trip. October is prime time for leaf peeping! It’s also the best time of year to visit the City of Salem!
We’ve now been to the Witch City multiple times and have the ultimate guide to visiting Salem Massachusetts. For the entire month of October, salem haunted happenings are the best way to celebrate spooky season!
The first thing to know, is that Boston is an extremely walkable city. The same goes for many of the small cities in the area. Our last two trips, we’ve stayed in Rockport which is the last stop of the MBTA commuter rail.
I totally recommend a stop here in Cape Ann, but that’s a whole ‘nother post! Using public transportation to get to Salem is extremely easy. You’ll leave from Boston’s north station and take the T to Salem. Once you arrive, everything is within walking distance. Plus parking can be a HUGE pain, so save yourself the trouble!
Riding the MBTA commuter rail is a little confusing because there is no one at the station where you get on. I recommend downloading their app and paying for your tickets there. You can also pay when you get on the train! Be sure you take note of the departure schedule and plan your return accordingly.
Best Things to do on a Day Trip to Salem, MA in October for FREE!
I personally think the best way to see any city is on foot and Salem is no exception. A guided tour can be really helpful, but can get pricey – especially if you’re traveling with several people.
There are plenty of spooky things to see just walking through down Essex Street. You can be your own tour guide! There are a ton of shops to pop in and out of with interesting things to look at and do.
You can try tarot cards and psychic readings! There are also street performers, live music, and plenty of visitors dressed up! You can have a great time people watching at no extra cost!
Another fun daytime activity is to wander the city and check out the gorgeous historic houses and historic buildings. The best places to see these are on Chestnut street.
It’s renowned as one of the the most beautiful streets in the United States. This is an easy stop to include on your Salem day trip. It’s a great place to see some of the oldest historic homes in America.
Another place to visit is mcintire historic district. It’s about 3 blocks from the Peabody Essex Museum. Just keep in mind, you may be outside a private residence! You should show respect to the people who live there.
Main Attractions on a Day Trip to Salem, MA in October
Salem Trolley Tour: On our last trip to Salem, the weather wasn’t cooperating and because it was a bit wet and rainy. Because of this we opted to do a trolley tour. If you’re traveling with people who have a bit of trouble getting around or your party just needs a break from walking, this is a great way to see the city!
The trolley is comfortable and you see a huge part of the historic stops in the city. You don’t get off and go in these places, so it’s a nice way to get an overview of the city.
The trolley stops include: Witch History Museum, Old Burying Point Cemetery, Witch Trial Memorial, Salem Maritime Site, The House of The Seven Gables, Winter Island Park, Salem Willows, Salem Witch Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Witch Dungeon Museum, Salem Witch House, and Phillips House, Hamilton Hall & Chestnut Street.
Salem Witch Museum – This is the top place we recommend visiting! The tour is about 75 minutes long and run every half hour. They do a super through telling of the witch hysteria, witch hunts, and the Witch Trials of 1692.
They use life size stage sets to illustrate the dark history. Because of this, caution should be taken with young children as some of the stories are obviously very unsettling. There are several other places that tell much of the same information and we found this one to be the best and most thorough.
Charter Street Cemetery – a free place to stop and visit. This cemetary is the final resting place of several historical figures from Salem. The victims of the witch trials were denied a proper burial. Their remains left in shallow graves on Gallows Hill where they were hanged. Many were dug up and reburied by family later and the final resting place for the victims is unknown.
Salem Witch Trials Memorial – Stop by this and take time to remember that these were innocent people that were brutally murdered. This is a good reason to learn the history of Salem and respect their memory. There’s no additional cost to visit here.
House of Seven Gables If you’re a fan of the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel of the same name, you will love visiting this historic home. Tickets are about $25 per person and the guided tour lasts about 45 minutes. This is one of the beautiful historic sites worth a visit if you have a full day to explore Salem.
Salem Walking Tour – If you’re able to stay in Salem until after dark, I definitely recommend a salem ghost tour! You get to hear ghost stories and visit a haunted house or two! There are a ton of options and you probably can’t go wrong with any of them!
Salem Witch House – The Jonathan Corwin House, known locally as The Witch House, is a historic home museum at 310 Essex Street. This was the home of judge jonathan corwin and worth a visit. They were sold out when we stopped by, but we were able to snap some photos outside. This place is especially spooky after dark!
Make your own “spooky vibes” DIY Halloween sweatshirt using my FREE Halloween SVG files!
Things to Skip on a Day Trip to Salem, MA in October:
Peabody Essex Museum – This is fantastic museum, but if you’re like us and coming to Salem specifically for Halloween fun, then I recommend skipping this stop. They do offer some special events in October, but I recommend checking out the other places specifically setup for the history of the witch trials, etc.
Salem Common – A beautiful greenspace but not much to see here! If you visit the Witch Museum, it’s right across the street so you’ll snag a view. But if you’re doing a Hocus Pocus tour, scenes from the movie were filmed here!
Derby Wharf Light Station – This might be the smallest light house I’ve ever seen! It does have a unique square design, but you aren’t missing much.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site: If you have more than a day to explore Salem, add this stop to your history tour. But if you’re just in Salem for spooky season – skip this stop.
Hawthorne Hotel: For site seeing, I would skip this stop. If you need a place to stay in Salem, this would be a lovely choice. It is of course, rumored to be haunted. So the choice is yours!
Salem Heritage Trail – This reminds me of the freedom trail in Boston! You can see plenty of cool places without following this though. Plus if you’re limited on time, this may waste precious minutes. Especially since most attractions have timed entry!
Salem Wax Museum and Salem Witch Village – I haven’t personally been here, but was told by multiple people to skip these stops. Do your own research though – you may see something that piques your interested!
Witch Dungeon Museum – We opted to skip this stop since we felt it would be a repeat of much of the information we learned at the Salem Witch Museum.
Pioneer Village – This would be amazing to visit if you have the time and a car. It’s over 1.5 miles from downtown Salem making it a bit out of the way for most visitors.
Do your own Hocus Pocus tour on a day trip to Salem, MA in October!
When we visited Salem in early October, we found that many of the tours we would have loved to go on were sold out. Many are only offered on the weekends. I was sad to miss out on a Hocus Pocus tour, but we kinda ended up doing our own!
Having a great tour guide can make a big difference on your experience, but these places are super easy to navigate to and since you can’t go inside many places anyway, you might as well do your own tour!
- Max & Dani’s House – 4 Ocean Avenue. This is pretty far from the “action” in Salem, so if you’re up for a nice walk you can head down to this address. You could pair this stop with a visit to Salem Pioneer village but I only recommend if you have a least a full day here.
- Allison’s House – 318 Essex Street. This is also known as the Rope Mansion and an easy stop on your walk though Salem.
- Old Town Hall – 32 Derby Square.If you need a bathroom on your visit to Salem, you’ll have to pass here! Many places don’t offer their bathrooms and there are only a few public bathrooms to visit. When we were in town, this building was showing popular show, Cry Innocent: the People vs. Bridget Bishop. It sounded great, but was sold out!
- John Bailey High School – Phillips Elementary School, Salem Commons. Many outside scenes for the movie were filmed right here!
- Daytime Cemetery Scenes – Old Burial Hill, Marblehead. Another stop outside of Salem. On foot, this wouldn’t be a realistic stop. It’s about a 20 minute drive to Marblehead. But this the scene where Max’s shoes get stolen!
Are you a big Hocus Pocus fan? Check out this Free Hocus Pocus Art! (5 free printables!)
Salem, MA has a rich history and is the perfect place to visit in October. Local historians have done an excellent job preserving what they could and there is a lot to see an experience on a day trip to Salem, MA.
If you have more time, there is a even more history around the American Revolution and a trip to Boston can be rounded up with an extra stop up in Salem and the surrounding area. This might be better to do in early November when many of the tourists disappear!
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Hi Amber! We’re getting ready to visit Salem this weekend. I was wondering about the location of where your first photograph at the beginning of this post was taken…the large witch sculpture hanging from the ceiling. Looks really cool!
Amber Oliver says
Hi Margaret! That’s in a store on Essex Street! I looked checked and I think it’s called BlackCraft at 253 Essex Street. The store was an old bank and you can see the vault in the back too!