Salem is amazing all year ’round, trust me. As someone who has been actively visiting the witch city for the last decade, believe me when I say there are always events being held, things to be seen and places to wander. However, we all know the time of year where the place floods with visitors from all over the ENTIRE WORLD and that is the month of October. Coming to Salem for Halloween is like going to NYC for New Years or Boston for St. Patrick’s Day. There are going to be flocks of people, huge crowds and it is a lot to take in. Below are some tips and basic info on visiting our beloved Salem around Halloween time.
Prepare for crowds
The first thing, which should be obvious, is there are going to be crowds. Lots of them. During the day, the city is bustling, and at night it is slammed. The closer in October you are to Halloween, the more this will intensify. Roads will be closed to vehicles, parking is scarce and there is a lot going on. Don’t let this deter you, but I’d be a fool to not mention it to those who might be a little less okay with massive groups of people.
What to wear
Next is what to wear. If you’re coming into the city and it’s not Halloween, I’d be sure to wear comfy shoes. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking and some of Salem’s streets are uneven brick and tree roots. I’d steer clear of heeled shoes or flip flops just so you don’t get hurt.
Now, if your visit falls over October 31st, I’d absolutely recommend wearing a costume. No, it doesn’t matter how old you are, and yes everyone else will be wearing them too. Believe me, you’ll be in good company. Some of the costumes you see on Halloween are amazing and there are those who spend months putting it together before hand. If you dress up, be sure it’s something you can tolerate wearing for extended periods of time and something that will keep you warm (ish) as October is chilly. If you come into Salem over Halloween and don’t have anything to wear, I’d suggest checking out the Army Barracks for some props to throw something together.
There might be a wait…
If you’re going to be in Salem for the entire day of Halloween, know that restaurants will be crowded and there will likely be waits. Luckily there are tons of restaurants all within walking distance of downtown Salem, so just keep that in mind. If you do happen to land a table at Rockafella’s, try to get a window booth if possible for people watching. It’s always a nice spot to check out costumes while you’re chowing down.
While you are dining somewhere (and hear me out on this one), I’d suggest using the bathroom, even if you don’t need to urgently at that moment. A lot of local businesses won’t allow non-customers access to their restrooms and some businesses have restrooms that are “out of service” in October. Honestly, I can’t blame them, but this is something to keep in mind.
I’d suggest carrying light personal items as you wander (that purse or back pack is going to get heavy over the course of a day) and carry some cash. Some businesses have minimums on credit card purchases or are entirely cash only and if you’re traveling in from out of town by car, you’re going to potentially need money for tolls as well. Don’t forget your camera or cell phone in place of the camera if you prefer because some of the costumes you will see will definitely warrant photos.
Hours and timing
Be aware, as well that not all attractions keep normal hours and some have extended hours during October. If you have your heart set on something, plan and call ahead to ensure it’s doable. Buy tickets ahead of time for anything that you can as well because this will save you time and ensure you’re able to participate.
The last tip I have for you is to book your hotel room early. Some hotels/inns have rate increases or multiple night minimums and can fill up for the October rush months and months in advance, so look around and plan ahead.
My reader, I hope you found this helpful! Feel free to leave comments below with your own tips and share with friends. As always, tweet pics of your trip @witchcityguide so we can all see your visit. Be safe and enjoy. <3
Recommended reading | You might also like…
- A first timer’s guide to planning a trip to Salem, MA
- Ten things to expect during an October visit to Salem, MA