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55 Best Things To Do in Salem MA In October

Looking for the absolute best things to do in Salem MA in October? After living in downtown Salem for three years, we’re here to help!

Not only does Salem Massachusetts have a rich history and a penchant for the paranormal, but it also has several tourist attractions. And if you read on, you’ll learn about all the great things to do in the area.

Salem is roughly 50 minutes north of Boston, on the shoreline of Massachusetts. Over 200 individuals were accused of witchcraft in 1692, leading to the execution of 20 innocent people. The town now attracts visitors worldwide, especially in October, when Halloween takes place.

About 500,000 people flock to Salem in October alone, so much so that hotels and Airbnbs often fill up a year ahead. Salem has the best Halloween celebrations, lasting the entire month and featuring a parade, games, numerous haunted events, and Halloween fireworks.

The town of Salem in Massachusetts is also a cultural treasure trove. It’s easy to see why this place draws so many visitors. Historical sites and ghost tours are just two of the many exciting activities available in Salem.

Legends of witchcraft, the paranormal, and ghosts surround the town. But there are also many shopping centers, delicious restaurants, and hotels that you can visit to round your trip. You are also in luck if you seek beautiful scenery and an abundance of exciting recreations.

So, pack your bags and get your schedule ready as we explore the 55 best things to do in Salem MA this October!

55. Head Over to Salem Witch Museum

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

If you are curious about the Salem witch trials, head to Salem Witch Museum. It is in the historic Witch House and is the only museum worldwide devoted exclusively to the Salem witch trials.

Pauline Baynes, an artist and writer opened the museum on November 1, 1982. City officials in Salem wanted to remember and teach about what happened during that time, so they opened a museum.

This museum looks at the infamous trials over 300 years ago. You can view it through the eyes of the accused, the accused’s accusers, the judges, the jurors, the townspeople, the ministers, and others who were directly or indirectly involved (1692-1693).

Items from both sides are on display, such as those used during questioning meetings or old court papers documenting evidence provided by those guilty at their tribunals during this trying time.

If you visit, we strongly advise purchasing tickets in advance for the Salem Witch Museum, as it is among the city’s most visited sites.

54. Explore Salem Maritime National Historic Site

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Since Salem has been inhabitants, the sea has significantly shaped the town’s character.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Salem flourished into a major port that sent tall ships across the globe. And the best place to learn about this rich maritime history is at Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

Enjoy a lovely walk along the downtown beachfront to the city’s most extended docks, Derby Wharf.

It reaches into the harbor, close to the Pedrick Store House, for almost half a mile. This home was built in 1770 and served as a storage facility for looted British goods during the American Revolution.

Friendship of Salem, a remake of a three-masted merchant ship from the 18th century that sailed to many different destinations before becoming captured in the War of 1812, is docked nearby and welcomes visitors on weekends.

Derby Wharf Lightstation, shining since 1871, is a sight from the end of the harbor.

This port has more to offer in terms of discovery. Most buildings, shops, and homes here date back to the early 1900s and are open to the public.

53. Visit the Burying Point Cemetery

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Charter Street Cemetery, or the Burying Point Cemetery, has been used since 1637. The Salem Burial Ground is one of the oldest cemeteries in the country.

Many notable historical figures are buried there, including Richard More (a Mayflower passenger) and Simon Bradstreet, as well as judges participating in the Salem Witch Trials and victims of the Revolutionary War.

You can take pictures or stroll along the predetermined route while you’re there. Also, you can help keep it clean by clearing trash and debris like plastic and paper.

But, the best part here is reflecting on what you can learn from the witch trials today.

52. Have Fun at Bit Bar’s games

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

This next one is for all the retro gamers out there.

Bit Bar was born at Bit Fest out of a passion for retro gaming; it’s an absurd idea in which 30+ arcade machines leave their usual homes to local breweries, cafes, bookstores, and even hair salons for a couple of days.

The response to this event was phenomenal. The modest earnings enable the locating and repairing other games, leading to Bit Bar’s eventual success.

Bit Bar is a great hangout where you can enjoy drinks and video games. Air hockey, skeeball, and classic arcade games such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man are all available here. You can also access pinball games.

Cocktails, wine, and beer, all with an arcade theme, accompany the arcade machines. If you are hungry, there is also bar food available.

51. Experience Witch Dungeon Museum

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Witch Dungeon Museum is another excellent historical tribute to Salem. While this one leans more heavily toward schlock, it’s still a blast to watch.

Witness a staged witch trial at the Witch Dungeon Museum, complete with a mannequin jury. You’ll also explore a basement where you might experience a “boo!” moment.

On the whole, though, it’s a fun, albeit cheesy, time. You won’t find a more charming destination in all of Salem than this one. This place will delight if you have dark humor.

You can go to it any day of the week between 10 am and 5 pm. The price of admission is as follows: $13 for grownups, $12 for seniors, & $10 for kids 4-13.

50. Participate in a Ghost Tour

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Are you courageous enough to go on a ghostly stroll through the city?

If so, you can learn about the horrible history of Salem by seeing all the city’s must-see landmarks. You can also see the city’s beautiful buildings illuminated by the glow of lanterns while listening to ghostly tales of the macabre.

This tour will reach the Town Hall and the First Church of Salem as you stroll the city’s historic cobblestone streets. You can even check out the Bewitched monument and the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, both of which have drawn controversy.

Overall, this haunting tour is a thrilling experience for all ages. It’s well-known as one of the best things to do in Salem Massachusetts in October for a reason!

49. Learn at Salem Witch Trials Memorial

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Here’s an excellent introduction to the Salem witch trials for anyone curious about the subject. It’s possible to visit the memorial whenever you want, and it doesn’t cost anything.

In 1992, the memorial for the victims of the Salem witch trials was in Salem’s Memorial Square. A bronze statue and granite slab depicting three women in solidarity make up the memorial.

Anna Hyatt Huntington & Paul Manship conceived of and designed the memorial. Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, and Susannah Martin are the three women portrayed in the statue; they were all accused of becoming witches during the 1692 witch trials.

Honors of all accused witches and those who perished in the witch trials are on the granite slab.

This is one of the best free things to do in Salem Masschusetts in October (and other months!) that gives you a taste of history!

48. Tour Peabody Essex Museum

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Peabody Essex Museum is the oldest exhibition in the United States. Salem merchant marine officers and sea captains established the organization in 1799 under the East India Marine Society.

Within the Society’s “cabinet of natural and synthetic curiosities,” members would display artifacts they had gathered from all over the world. The institution has grown and changed over the years to become a museum of international renown.

PEM’s collection has over 1.8 million works, including notable maritime art and artifacts, American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, South Asian, Oceanian, and African.

The city of Salem has a rich maritime history, and its trade with Asia in the 19th and 18th centuries provides the foundation for much of the museum’s primary collection.

The 200-year-old Yin Yu Tang, a wooden residence initially built in southeastern China for a wealthy merchant’s family and relocated to Salem in 1996, is a major attraction. Apart from its regular exhibits, PEM regularly features various unique shows.

You’ll want to dedicate at least half a day to visiting the museum.

47. Discover Treasures at New England Pirate Museum

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Your Salem trip would be incomplete if you skipped seeing the incredible artifacts and treasures that once belonged on a pirate ship, which are now on display at this fascinating museum.

You can relive the times when pirate captains like Kidd and Blackbeard roamed the open seas in search of unsuspecting merchant ships to plunder. You can also go on a live walking tour led by an expert who welcomes questions from students and provides accurate historical context.

The tour kicks off in an artifacts room filled with genuine pirate artifacts. Then, you’ll stroll through a colonial seaport, climb aboard a pirate ship, and investigate a cave that’s eighty feet deep, where you’re guaranteed to run into some rascals from the 17th century.

This is a great museum to visit with kids! It’s small but very informative and fun.

46. Shop Mystical Goods at Crow Haven Corner

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

When shopping for items with a witchy theme, head to Crow Haven Corner. You can buy everything from herbs to crystals to candles to jewelry to spell books at this fascinating shop. The store also serves as a venue for psychic readings.

Lorelei, Salem’s well-known love clairvoyant, is often in the shop. For more than three decades, Lorelei has worked as a psychic and Salem Witch, specializing in Tarot reading, clairvoyance, palm reading, and mediumship.

However, there are tons of other psychic stores to check out.

Other favorite stores include Enchanted, Omen, Hex, The Coven’s Cottage, HausWitch, and The Witchery.

If you’re at all interested in the paranormal, then we recommend metaphysical stores as one of the best things to do in Salem Massachusetts.

45. Visit a Bewitched Sculpture

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

As fate would have it, Salem isn’t just full of monuments to those who face execution due to witchcraft. A figurine of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable witches stands at six feet tall.

On Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, you can find a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha on the 1960s TV show Bewitched.

Even if you discount the show’s “witch connection,” the fact that several episodes were in Salem certainly helps cement the town’s association with the show and the tourism boom it sparked.

44. Experience Halloween in a Whole New Level

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

A city with a supernatural history would likely go all out for Halloween, and Salem, Massachusetts, does not disappoint. October is the best time to see many of the most impressive decorations.

Seeing their unique Halloween decorations alone is reason enough to plan a trip in October. Taking a stroll through a residential area on Halloween will show how much effort people put into transforming their homes into frightening places.

Salem is the best spot to celebrate Halloween, thanks to all the themed events and decorations centered on witchcraft. In October, there is a festival called “Haunted Happenings,” so if you’re looking for a spooky good time, you can celebrate Halloween here.

You don’t really have to “do” anything at all in Salem when you come during Halloween. Just take a walk around the streets and you’ll see some insanely cool sights!

One of the best things to do in Salem Massachusetts is to walk around during the Halloween season. If you’re visiting in October, you won’t need to plan beyond dinner reservations. But if you’re visiting in the off-season, you may want to book tickets for attractions since walking around isn’t as insane.

43. Check Out Salem Witch House

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Salem Witch Village is a fun and kitschy way to learn about the city’s spooky past. While the emphasis is clearly on fun, some information is among the scares and mementos.

Learn the true story of witchcraft’s past and its origins. A real-life witch who is also a tour guide will show you around. Everything that goes jolt in the night, plus some spooky antics, will be here.

This one of the things to do in Salem Massachusetts that you simply can’t miss!

42. Partake in a Salem Night Tour

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

You haven’t experienced fear until you’ve done a graveyard tour in Salem at night. Locals highly recommend this type of tour as the top activity in Salem.

Learn the truth about the horrific Salem Witch Trials by touring every significant landmark in the city. You can count on seeing ghosts and experiencing dark magic and other mysterious occurrences.

The chilling sensation will sweep over your entire body, and the chills will multiply as you continue your stroll. There’s no joking around with Salem’s night tours. If you’re looking for spookier things to do in Salem Massachusetts then this tour is a good start.

41. Travel the McIntire District

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

This residential area to the west and south of the Witch House is well-known for its abundance of 18th- and 19th-century homes.

The McIntire District is a great place to stroll if you are interested in architecture, as it showcases a wide range of architectural features from 1640 to 1940.

Among Summer/North Street & Flint Street, Federal, Essex, Chestnut, and Broad Streets serve as the primary thoroughfares.

Hamilton Hall, erected by McIntire in 1805 as a community gathering place, is just one of many delicate Federal-period buildings that make Chestnut Street one of the gorgeous streets in America.

In this district, you will also access several places open for tours to learn about the residences.

40. Try Witch Pix

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Book a photoshoot with a Salem-themed backdrop if you wish to get into a Halloween spirit. The Witch Pix store has hundreds of outfits, props, and elaborate sets to choose from, ensuring that you and your friends receive a flood of likes on social media.

Since 2003, Witch Pix has been a popular tourist destination and award-winning portrait studio with a spooky witch theme.

Try on some of the more than 300 available costumes—spanning dark to vibrant colors and sizes and complete with illumination and props. The photographer can also take you on an adventure through the worlds of art, Hollywood, the past, and good times.

Pick the ideal photo shoot for you!

39. Explore the New England Phillips House

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

This 1806 original building is also known as Stephen Phillips House.

In this 1800s-style home, you can experience life the way it was back then. You can also witness stunning architecture as you walk around the house. Make sure to check when these tours are available because the home has very select hours!

This is one of my favorite things to do in Salem Masschusetts because it’s a really authentic tour compared to some of the other more touristy sights!

38. Make Your Way to Salem Art Gallery

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Salem Art Gallery houses the Satanic Temple, a nontheistic religious organization that emphasizes empathy, reason, and advocacy, and is home to a world-famous work of art.

Over eight feet in height, the Baphomet Statue has come to represent tolerance and religious tolerance. It is just one of the several things you can access here.

Besides the artwork and media showcasing the Temple’s culture and history, visitors can also view the throne room of the Satanic Temple’s founders.

37. Ride a Trolley Tour

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Since 1982, visitors to Salem have been able to take the iconic trolley tour of the city. Guests can take in the city’s most notable landmarks in just one hour while learning exciting anecdotes.

The tour goes around the city, about eight miles away. It stops at fourteen places, including the Charter Street Cemetery, the Salem Witch Museum, the House of the Seven Gables, and the lovely waterfront.

You’re free to hop in and out as often as you like to see as much as possible. It would be best if you didn’t miss out on these tours.

If you only have one day in the area then the trolley tour is one of the best things to do in Salem Massachusetts because you’ll get to hit all the main sights!

36. Take a Stroll With a Candlelight

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The town of Salem, Massachusetts, is home to more than just ghost tours and eerie attractions. Its horror is the town’s calling card, and if you head on to this next one, you’ll realize how dark and ghostly Salem is.

There is more than just Salem history discussed on the candlelight tours. They detail witchcraft, how witches do their magic, ghosts, the afterlife, the occult, and other spooky topics.

Just be mindful that once more, these tours are not for someone with a faint heart.

35. Visit the House of the Seven Gables

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

This historic home, built in 1668 for the prosperous trader and shipowner John Turner, is meticulously preserved in lovely greenery overlooking Salem Harbor.

The structure underwent numerous changes over the years, including removing gables and adding odd features like a staircase concealed within a chimney.

The grounds and gardens, including the home where Hawthorne was born, are open to visitors without restrictions, and guided tours of the main house are available.

Tickets for just the gardens & grounds are available at a discount, though the guided tour of the house is the best way to see the entire historic site.

The home is said to be haunted, but the gardens are views are beautiful, too, making this a well-rounded place to visit.

34. Wander Around Punto Art Museum

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Wandering around Punto Art Museum should be on your list of things to do in Salem.

Within a three-block radius of its center, Salem, Massachusetts’ “El Punto”  is in more than seventy-five large-scale murals created by thirty internationally renowned and twenty-five local artists.

The purpose of the artwork is to boost community morale and provide new opportunities for local businesses.

Individuals, groups, and schools can all benefit from the museum’s informative and themed guided tours. Exploring this site will give you additional information on public art.

33. Go for a Stroll Along Salem’s Heritage Trail

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Salem Heritage Trail is one of the best free things to do in Salem, Massachusetts. This trail connects many of Salem’s most famous sights onto city sidewalks with paints.

The Phillips House Museum, the Bewitched statue, and the Witch House are just a few attractions you’ll see along the way.

32. Stop at Pioneer Village

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

A trip to Pioneer Village, America’s first living history museum opened in 1930, is like stepping back to 1630.

Wigwams, thatched-roof cottages, a dugout, and the Governor’s Faire House are some of the colonial buildings in this park’s three acres. Gardens that produce food or herbal remedies and a re-created blacksmith shop can also be part of a tour of the facilities.

Scenes from the classic horror film Hocus Pocus were here, making it an exciting destination for movie fans.

The park is open on the weekends from 12 pm to 4 pm and costs $5 per person. It is in Salem’s Forest River Park to the south of the city center.

31. Have Some Fresh Sea Breezes at Salem Willows Park

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

You can’t find a better urban park than Salem Willows Park. It has more than 35 acres of picnic premises and sports facilities, plus a few beaches, and it’s right next to the ocean.

The Kiddieland section of the amusement park features some kid-sized rides, such as a carousel built in 1905.

Also, the Willows Arcade, located in the park, will entertain visitors of all ages. Peppy’s Pizza, Clam Shack, and Cappy’s Seafood are all in the arcade, besides the classic games like Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Skeeball.

This is one of the best things to do in Salem Massachusetts during the summer!

30. Venture into Hocus Focus Tours

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

A winning historical tour of Salem is available at Hocus Pocus Tours.

The walking time for the tour is roughly 90 minutes. Possible highlights of the tour include insights into the town’s history and the infamous Salem witch trials.

Even though the tour company shares a name with the famous film Hocus Pocus, the sights you’ll visit are from the real-life history of the area rather than the plot of the movie.

There are fifteen tours planned, each led by a skilled writer who vividly describes the city’s fascinating past. Hocus Pocus Tours is an educational, professionally guided excursion that will give you a deeper understanding of Salem’s past.

29. Go to Salem Wax Museum

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

A visit to Salem Wax Museum will ensure a fun and horror-filled time. The classic period of literary horror is the inspiration for this location.

You can step into dungeons at this museum and reach Dr. Frankenstein at a notorious spot. It comes with actors and animatronic scares to enhance your experience.

There, you can weave through the twisting, dark corridors to witness the depths to which a madman will go in his pursuit of the ultimate monster.

28. Expand Your Knowledge at Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Many people consider the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site to be the beginning of the steel and iron industry in the United States. In the middle of the 1600s, this location opened as the initial ironworks in North America.

Waterwheels, mills, and even some of the original homes from the area’s early settlement are all still there for visitors to see today.

27. Visit Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

If you enjoy scary films, then you will enjoy this one.

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is a wax museum featuring over sixty life-size replicas of some of the most iconic characters from horror and science fiction. It is not for the weak of heart; fans of monsters and villains won’t want to miss it.

The museum is accessible from 10 am to 6 pm and costs $13 per adult to enter.

26. Try Out a Schooner Cruise

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Salem’s historic harbor, once among the country’s most important, is now a bustling commercial hub. Take a private boating tour along the Salem coast to learn about the region’s maritime history.

Join the crew of an iconic sailing ship for a day and experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Learn about the pirates who fought for the country by listening to stories about the city’s past.

25. Detour at Pickering Wharf

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Besides its historical significance, Pickering Wharf also offers excellent shopping and dining.

Incredibly, the Friendship of Salem Ship Replica is the primary draw for many visitors. For the ship’s opening and closing times, plan.

There are a lot of shops on Pickering Wharf, so it’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs. And when you’ve had enough retail therapy, you can take a break at one of the many nearby beaches.

24. Find Treasures at Black Veil Shoppe

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Is finding a memorable memento to remember your time in Salem your top priority? If so, you must head to the Black Veil Shoppe of Drear and Wonder.

Curiously, the store also offers art prints and stickers, all of which feature intriguing and eerie designs on clothing and other accessories. At Black Veil Shoppe, every item is handmade, making it possible to get a truly unique piece.

23. Check Out Herb Mackey’s Metal Sculpture Yard

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Located close to the Salem Ferry, this intriguing spot looks like something out of a fairy tale. A residential home is in this area, surrounded by a menagerie of metal sculptures in bright colors.

The artist creates his creatures out of “found objects,” and the public is welcome to view them. Indeed, it is among the most thrilling sights in Salem.

22. Splash at Water Park of New England

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Water Park of New England is a little over 20 minutes from downtown Salem. Water slides, rapids, pools, slides for younger children, and aquatic play areas are all within this primarily indoor attraction.

Get a taste of the tropics by floating down the Coconut Grove Adventure River or soaking in one of the outdoor whirlpools. When you work up an enthusiasm after a day in the water, you can stop by the park’s on-site restaurant, gift shop, or coffee shop.

21. Explore Misery Islands

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Misery Islands are a group of uninhabited islets located in the Boston Harbor near Salem, Massachusetts. The islands are not as challenging to reach as the name might imply.

The islands are teeming with fascinating species. Misery Islands is a top spot in Massachusetts if you’re interested in bird watching.

Misery Island Charters provides boat tours of all three islands from May until September if you’re interested in seeing them. Tours last for approximately three hours at the expense of $38 per person (kids under 12 are free).

20. Go Shopping Along Essex Street Pedestrian Mall

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Shopping for souvenirs on the pedestrian mall of Essex Street is a must-do.

The road is closed to traffic and lined with stores, museums, and eateries. As you stroll along the busy shopping district, you’ll come across a wide variety of shops selling everything from unique gifts to trendy clothing to tattoo studios.

This is one of those quintessentially Salem MA spots that you can’t miss!

19. Enter Hammond Castle Museum

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Hammond Castle Museum is a middle ages mansion built in the 1920s by John Hays Hammond. He is famous as the “Father of Radio Control” and was a good friend of Thomas Edison.

A visit to this former home, designed to house the vast artifact collection he amassed while traveling the world, is akin to exploring a museum of the highest caliber.

The museum is accessible from 9:30 am to 4 pm daily and costs $18 per adult to enter.

While the castle is actually a few towns over from Salem MA, it’s an easy Uber ride and is one of our favorite activities during the summer.

18. Race Karts at Castle Creek Adventure Land

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Older kids and adults will love Castle Creek Adventure Land. Take a spin in the electric go-karts, putting a game of mini-golf, and sample one of the park’s 50 flavors of ice cream with your loved ones.

The 18-hole mini-golf training is one of the most creative on the North Shore, and it features a fairytale setting complete with a castle and a waterfall. There is a driving range at the park where avid golfers can hone their skills with the help of a pro.

Without a doubt, this is one of Salem’s most entertaining establishments during the off season!

17. Travel to Joshua Ward House

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Joshua Ward House is a museum dedicated to preserving the home’s history. Popular Salem merchant and shipowner Joshua Ward, Jr. constructed the historic house in 1790.

One of Salem’s most famous architects, Samuel McIntire, was responsible for designing this home. Since 1894, visitors have been able to explore the building under the watchful eye of Historic New England.

The Federal-style mansion, once home to Joshua Ward and his relatives, also served as General Israel Putnam’s headquarters during the American Revolution’s Siege of Boston (1775-1783).

16. Have Brunch at Fountain Place

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Fountain Place is an excellent spot for brunch in Salem, Massachusetts.

A variety of tasty breakfast and lunch options are available at the restaurant. Omelets, waffles, French Toast, and pancakes with a selection of toppings are just some of the breakfast items on the menu.

Fresh fruit juice or a smoothie is available as an option to complement your meal.

Looking for more eating options? Check out our favorite restaurants in Salem.

15. See Marblehead Lighthouse

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The Marblehead Lighthouse, built in 1896, is one of only 14 pyramidal skeletal lighthouses in the United States that is still in use today.

It replaced a previous lighthouse, constructed in 1835, that had been overwhelmed by development. It’s a unique building, especially if you’re used to seeing adorned lighthouses, as it almost seems like the structure forgot to put on its “clothes” one morning.

Even though the lighthouse is off-limits to visitors, those on the Marblehead Peninsula can still see it.

14. Go Horseback Riding

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

For something different, tours and lessons on horseback are a fun way to get out into the landscape and learn more about the area’s history and culture. Try a lesson and spend time with these beautiful, peaceful animals.

Professionals teach classes on a real farm and focus on novices. Try out some of these courses and make the most of your time in Salem.

13. Learn History at Nathaniel Bowditch House

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

If you’re a fan of history, you must check out the Nathaniel Bowditch House. This museum is free and accessible to the general public all year long; it highlights Nathaniel Bowditch’s life and scientific advancements.

Bowditch, a Salem, Massachusetts-based ship captain, astrophysicist, and mathematician of the 19th century, wrote the New American Practical Navigator (first published in 1802).

Because it provided precise tables for calculating latitude using the sun or stars, this manual was indispensable for seafarers venturing great distances at sea.

12. Grab a Drink at the Hawthorne Hotel

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Hawthorne Hotel, which bears Nathaniel Hawthorne’s name, is a landmark establishment in the area. Being a guest to enjoy a drink at The Tavern is not necessary.

Original cocktails, as well as beer and wine, are on the menu. Mule cocktails, such as the caramel apple mule and the maple rye mule, are also available.

11. Stop by Abbot Hall

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Close to the Marblehead Lighthouse is this stunning Romanesque brick structure. In 1877, Abbot Hall rose with the help of a donation from a resident named Benjamin Abbott.

This building now serves as a town hall, an art exhibit, and a maritime museum. The establishment is open from Monday to Friday or on weekends during the summer.

10. Picnic at Salem Common Park

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The historic Common is conveniently close to the Witch Museum and a great place to take a stroll or unwind in Salem. There is a small recreation area and a bandstand from the 1920s.

Fans of the 1993 Disney film Hocus Pocus, set in Salem, will be pleased to learn that the city’s common was for filming. In addition, the first United States National Guard was formed there in 1637.

Picnic is among the best ways to enjoy a time here.

9. Scream at Chambers of Terror

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Even though it’s not historically accurate, Salem’s Chambers of Terror is the most famous haunted house in town. Be on the lookout for ghosts, demons, and armed psychopaths as you make your way through the seedier parts of the city.

Plunge into a dystopian nightmare where it’s always Halloween. Anyone brave enough to enter will have a blast. Those with a weak stomach should avoid The Chambers of Terror.

8. Plan a Camping Trip to Winter Island Park

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

From 1643 until 1930, a fort on Winter Island protected Salem Harbor from enemy invasion. The island also served as the city’s first boatyard.

There are now campgrounds, beaches, and boating facilities in the park, making it a year-round destination for recreation.

Tourists can visit the neighboring Winter Island Lighthouse and the abandoned Fort Pickering. There is a camp and gift shop at Winter Island Park, also on the Salem Trolley Tour.

7. Spend the Day Golfing at One of Salem’s Top Facilities

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Olde Salem Greens is the best nine-hole course in the area. There are plenty of tricky shots on this municipal course, which is well maintained. Plus, you can get great breakfast and lunch options at the Greens’ excellent snack bar.

The Kernwood Country Club and the Meadow Golf Course are excellent options for a round of 18 holes. Many professional tournaments have been at the neighboring Salem Country Club, a conventional private club.

6. Discover Fort Pickering

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Initially constructed in the early 17th century, Fort Pickering served to protect Salem Harbor till the 1930s. It went by not many different names before finally being named Fort Pickering in 1799 after U.S. State Secretary Timothy Pickering.

Three ammunition bunkers in the 1800s and remnants of the building from the Civil War are all that remain of the fort today. Those curious about the city’s naval and military past will enjoy a visit here.

5. Use a Scavenger Hunt To Learn More About Salem

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

A scavenger hunt is a great way to get to know a new place, and what city wouldn’t benefit from more exploration? You can work with your pals or compete against them as you visit the city’s most notorious landmarks.

You can take these fun self-guided tours by downloading an app and following the instructions.

Discover the next stop by solving puzzles and testing your knowledge with trivia questions. Find the hidden history of Salem by visiting its cemeteries, landmarks, and sculptures.

This is one of our favorite free things to do in Salem Massachusetts!

4. Go to Gallows Hill Museum Theatre for Spooky Fun

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Gallows Hill, a prominent landmark in the area, has long been associated with the infamous Salem executions. Proctor’s Ledge is now widely accepted as the most likely execution site. Gallow’s Hill, as you might expect, is home to several thrilling haunts.

At the Gallow’s Hill Museum Theatre, “historical” events are reenacted with the help of holograms, projections, and actual human actors. You can count on an exciting excursion into Salem’s past full of witches and ghosts that would terrify a puritan.

If you’re looking for historical activities then this is one of the best things to do in Salem Massachusetts.

3. Grab a Bite at Red’s Sandwich Shop

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

Red’s is far more than a sandwich shop; it also serves some of the city’s most satisfactory breakfast and lunch fare. This restaurant in Salem has a laid-back vibe and cheap, hearty plates.

Red’s, positioned in the Old London Coffee House, serves traditional diner fare like pancakes, waffles, omelets, and grilled sandwiches.

The menu also accommodates those following gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian diets. Due to its widespread appeal, it often experiences high demand during popular hours.

2. Enjoy at Breakheart Reservation

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

The name “Breakheart Reservation” might lead you to believe it is a location dedicated to breaking up couples. However, it is undeniably one of the state’s most beautiful spots.

Over 600 acres await discovery. Even if you see only 10% of it, you will still gain valuable insight. It’s hard to pick a favorite part of Breakheart Reservation because the scenery on both land and sea is breathtaking.

Unique forests, breathtaking stretches of the Saugus River, and commanding vistas from a variety of hilltops await you on this hike.

The area is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, whether they prefer to ride bikes or go on hikes. You can go swimming or fishing pretty much anywhere there is water.

Begin your exploration of the stunning landscapes surrounding Salem here.

1. Taste Some Sweets at Harbor Sweets

The best things to do in Salem Massachusetts

It stands to reason that a location with a solid connection to Halloween would also stock up on some delicious treats. Harbor Sweets is an excellent illustration of this.

Harbor Sweets has been serving New England for over 40 years. It exemplifies the highest possible level of sugary indulgence. Plus, its handcrafted chocolates have become internationally renowned.

Everything from milk to dark chocolate to caramel and even gluten-free options are on hand. Also, you can get some great presents here.

It ranks among the top 10 candy companies in the United States, so it’s no wonder it’s a part of Salem’s history.

The store is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.

Where To Stay In Salem:

When you’re planning your trip to Salem in October, you need to book WAY ahead. Seriously: some of these hotels fill up a year in advance. You can never book too early!

Here are some of our favorite tried-and-true hotels in Salem:

Hawthorne Hotel: Located in the heart of Salem, the historic Hawthorne Hotel offers comfortable accommodations with a touch of New England charm. It’s conveniently situated near many attractions and provides a cozy atmosphere.

The Merchant: This boutique hotel combines modern style with historical elements. It’s located in downtown Salem and offers stylish rooms and amenities, including a rooftop bar with panoramic views.

Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites: Situated on Pickering Wharf, this hotel provides beautiful waterfront views and easy access to shopping, dining, and attractions. It offers spacious rooms and a range of amenities for a comfortable stay.

The Hotel Salem: A trendy and stylish boutique hotel located in downtown Salem. It features uniquely designed rooms, an onsite restaurant, and a rooftop bar with views of the city.

The Salem Inn: Set in a collection of historic buildings, this inn offers cozy and charming accommodations. It’s located within walking distance of many attractions and provides a warm and inviting atmosphere.

You can also look for VRBOs if you’re closer to October and there’s no hotels left.

FAQs About Visiting Salem MA In October:

Here are some of the most-asked questions about the best things to do in Salem MA in October!

What are the top MUST-do attractions in Salem, MA?

Salem is known for its rich history and witch trials of 1692. Some of the top attractions include the Salem Witch Museum, The House of the Seven Gables, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and the Peabody Essex Museum.

Additionally, exploring the historic downtown, visiting local shops, and taking a harbor cruise are popular activities.

Are there any special events or festivals in Salem?

Salem hosts several annual events and festivals. The most famous is Haunted Happenings, which takes place throughout October and features various spooky events, parades, and activities. Other notable events include the Salem Arts Festival, Salem Jazz and Soul Festival, and the Salem Film Fest.

Check out the events calendar here.

Where should I go if I want to specifically learn about the Witch Trials?

The Salem Witch Museum provides an informative overview of the witch trials and their historical context. Additionally, you can visit the Witch Trials Memorial, the Old Burying Point Cemetery, and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial Park for a deeper understanding of this dark chapter in history.

How busy does Salem get during October?

Salem gets extremely busy during October, especially around Halloween. The city attracts a significant number of tourists who come to experience the Halloween season and the history surrounding the Salem witch trials. The streets can become crowded, and popular attractions often have long lines. It is advisable to expect larger crowds, plan ahead, and consider visiting during weekdays or earlier in the month if you prefer a less congested experience.

If possible, I recommend visiting Salem in late September or early October. If you go in late October on the weekends, be prepared for serious crowds.

What is the best way to go to and around Salem?

The best way to get to Salem, MA is by taking the commuter rail from Boston’s North Station. The train ride is convenient and offers direct service to Salem, taking approximately 30 minutes. It’s a popular mode of transportation for visitors, providing easy access to the city while avoiding traffic and parking issues.

You CAN drive but you’ll have a lot of trouble parking. The garages fill up pretty quickly, and the town removes free parking during October. I recommend getting there early and shelling out the money for a garage spot.

The only way to get around Salem during October is to walk. It’s absolutely impossible to drive and most of the streets are blocked off!

Can I visit Salem with kids in October?

Yes, you can definitely visit Salem with kids in October. However, it’s important to note that October is the busiest time of the year in Salem, especially leading up to Halloween.

While Salem offers various family-friendly activities and attractions, it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for larger crowds.

Some popular family-friendly attractions include the Salem Witch Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and the House of the Seven Gables.

Additionally, you can explore the city’s historic downtown, take a harbor cruise, or participate in kid-friendly events and activities organized during the Halloween season. Consider visiting on weekdays or earlier in the month to avoid the peak crowds and enjoy a more relaxed experience.

Is Salem pet-friendly in October?

Salem is generally a pet-friendly city throughout the year, but it’s important to note that the Halloween season in October can be quite busy and crowded.

While pets are allowed in certain outdoor areas and parks, it’s advisable to consider your pet’s comfort and well-being in such a bustling environment.

You won’t be able to bring your pets to any of the museums, but you will be able to walk around and eat outside. And there’s plenty to do in the outside area!

Should I dress up in costume to visit Salem?

Dressing up in costume is a popular activity in Salem, especially during the Halloween season in October. Many visitors choose to embrace the festive atmosphere and wear costumes as they explore the city. It can add to the fun and immerse you in the spirit of the season.

You will see some serious wacky costumes, so don’t worry about looking out of place!

However, wearing a costume is entirely optional, and you can enjoy your visit to Salem without one as well. Whether you decide to dress up or not, make sure to dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather, as October in New England can be cool and variable.

Can I take a day trip to Salem from Boston?

Absolutely! Salem is an excellent day trip destination from Boston. The commuter rail journey takes around 30 minutes, making it easily accessible. However, there is enough to see and do in Salem to warrant an overnight stay if you have the time.

In Closing

Salem, Massachusetts, is a fantastic city with many historical, environmental, and social exploration opportunities. Even though the witch trials are a significant part of its history, that is only the tip of the iceberg.

So, if you are heading there, try a few things on our list of the 55 best things to do in Salem Massachusetts. You will have a truly unique experience in your time in the city!

Up next: The 31 BEST Restaurants in Salem Massachusetts

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