Suspense is over. The raging questions of the season have been answered. No, not THOSE political questions. The OTHER ones. Will there be a Halloween in Salem, MA this year? Will local small businesses generate needed revenue? The answer to both is a qualified “yes” but due to COVID-19 circumstances, it will be a Salem Halloween in October, unlike past ones.

“There is no question that fall in Salem will look different this year,” points out Kate Fox, Executive Director, Destination Salem (the City’s marketing organization). “However, there are still things to see and do safely. We want to make sure people know all their options and are aware of Massachusetts travel orders and Salem’s public health orders, so we encourage everyone to visit salem.org and hauntedhapepnings.org and download the Destination Salem mobile app.”

Salem, if you are unaware, is a destination recognized around the world for its rich history, which includes the tragic Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the glorious maritime era that left its indelible mark on the city through architecture, museums, and artifacts — and for its unique month-long celebration of Halloween.

More than one million people annually visit Salem! That traffic flow translates into generating nearly $140 million in tourism spending for local small businesses. 

This year, there will still be Salem Halloween themed activities such as Tales & Tombstones Trolley Tour, Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour, the Halloween Museum, and the special exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum, The Salem Witch Trials 1692. For pictures that will stand out in any photo album, Witch Pix is a great for portraits with many options to dress in costume. 

In fact, Destination Salem has put together a nice round-up of Salem Halloween events and small businesses you might want to consider putting on a to-do list if you decide to visit during the month of October (bring a COVID mask or two!).

Museums and Attractions

If you will be in Salem this fall, a trip to the Salem Witch Museum will share the story of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and explain why they are still relevant today. If you can’t make it here this year, the Salem Witch Museum will offer lectures and online tours that will bring October in Salem to you, wherever you are.

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents two exhibitions brimming with the stories, people, and objects that can only be found in Salem. Beginning September 26, PEM opens The Salem Witch Trials 1692, which presents rarely-exhibited documents, and objects from the museum’s collection to reveal tragic, true stories told through the perspective of the accused and the accusers. Opening the same day, Salem Stories presents 26 vignettes about the people, places and events that made Salem the city it is today. The A–Z structure includes a variety of objects, from the fan-favorite leatherback turtle to Parker Brothers’ Monopoly and even a murder weapon. Click here for a list of recommended museums and attractions.

Outside Activities and Tours

Take advantage of the cool fall weather to take tours that include strolls through Salem’s historic neighborhoods and a glimpse into the City’s haunted past.  Head out on a Haunted Happenings Harbor Cruise to learn sea-faring folklore or soak in autumn colors on a sunset harbor tour. Options for outdoor activities can be found here.

Dining 

Foodies never run out of options with a diverse mix of restaurant genres. Seafood lovers can imbibe at Finz Seafood and Grill and Italian food lovers can wine and dine at Bella Verona Ristorante. For a list of Destination Salem recommended restaurants, visit salem.org/eat. If you cannot decide on a restaurant, consider taking a Salem Food Tour to learn all the ways in which the City’s history and contemporary culinary scene intersect.

Shopping

From creative masks at the Peabody Essex Museum and Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery to coastal treasures from Pickering Wharf, there is a wide range of local small businesses to satisfy every customer. Click here for shopping recommendations.

Accommodations

Historic hotels and beautiful bed and breakfasts including The Merchant and the Hawthorne Hotel and contemporary properties including the Salem Waterfront Hotel and the brand new Hampton Inn Salem are taking all of the public health precautions and looking forward to hosting guests. Click here for a list of recommended hotels and inns.  

COVID-19 Restrictions

The City of Salem will be monitoring the COVID-19 situation and its impact on activities and local small businesses, including Haunted Happenings. A detailed blog post outlining COVID-19 related procedures can be found at: www.hauntedhappenings.org/covidtips/

About Destination Salem

Thank you to Destination Salem for putting together these Salem Halloween suggestions. It does a fantastic job of marketing Salem as one of Massachusetts’ best destinations. Families, couples, domestic, and international travelers seeking an authentic New England experience, cultural enrichment, American history, fine dining, unique shopping, and fun know exactly where to go. For more information, click on this link: Salem.org.