things to do in salem, first timer's guide to salem ma

Last updated 4/3/2022. Please note this blog post may contain affiliate links. To read more about that, click here.

Here it is you guys!!! My first timer’s guide to planning a trip to Salem, MA. I decided to break up common themes into categories and share links and posts to help you sort it out! Feel free to click through the everything below to check out all of the content I have written and enjoy!! <3

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I post regularly on my website, Facebook and Instagram. I also send a weekly newsletter out every Sunday based around varying topics. In addition to that, you can ask questions in my FB group, plan, share resources and more, so feel free to join in with me in the following places:

Get your guides to Salem

Hotels and accommodations

Amelia Payson House
(978) 744-8304
16 Winter Street Salem, MA 01970
Check availability
The Hotel Salem
(978) 451-4950
209 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970
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Hampton Inn
(978) 414-3100
11 Dodge Street Street Salem, MA 01970
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The Merchant
(978) 745-8100
148 Washington Street Salem, MA 01970
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Northey Street House
(978) 397-1582
30 Northey Street Salem, MA 01970
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The Morning Glory
(978) 741-1703
22 Hardy Street Salem, MA 01970
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The Coach House
(978) 744-4092
284 Lafayette Street Salem, MA 01970
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The Salem Inn
(978) 741-0680
7 Summer St. Salem, MA 01970
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The Cove Hotel
(978) 955-7795
40 Bridge Street Salem, MA 01970
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The Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites
(978) 740-8788
225 Derby Street Salem, MA 01970
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The Daniels House
(978) 594-8757
1 Daniels Street Street Salem, MA 01970
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The Stepping Stone Inn
(978) 741-8900
19 Washington Square Salem, MA 01970
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The Hawthorne Hotel
(978) 744-4080
18 Washington Square West Salem, MA 01970
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Explore hotel options outside of Salem, MA

Parking and travel into Salem

Visiting Salem with the family

Logistics and planning

Visiting Salem in October

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

First and foremost is 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 on or around 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.

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.

Carry light

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 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.

Book early

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.

Good luck and have fun. There is no place like Salem so enjoy!! <3

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things to do in salem, first timer's guide to salem ma