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Living in Boston, we are lucky to be within a short drive of so many places for day trips! One of our favorite places things to do around Halloween is spend one day in Salem, MA. Because of its historical background as a place where there were witch trials and executions, it’s a spookily wonderful place to visit around Halloween.
Salem is also an easy day trip from many New England locations, and has a blossoming food and hospitality scene, notable arts and culture, and several options to get around. If you time the day right, you can also add a second fun activity, like apple picking, to your day.
But without further ado, here’s how to spend one day in Salem!
Having a serious convo with this dude at Witch City Consignment
You have several different ways of getting to Salem. Around Halloween, the game is going to be completely changed, since the city attracts thousands of visitors per day.
Drive: If you have a car, you can drive into Salem, although the nearby roads and parking lots will be as insane as some of the costumes you’ll see around Halloween! On a normal day, it takes about 45-minutes to an hour to get from the Boston area to Salem and find parking. However, in October, you should budget about 60-75 minutes for the same trip. You can find a number of parking lots on the map provided by Haunted Happenings.
Ferry or Train: If you’re coming from Boston, you can take the ferry or commuter rail directly into Salem. The ferry takes about an hour, and the commuter rail train takes about 30-35 minutes. The train from North Station leaves on the Newburyport/Rockport line and leaves about every hour on the weekends. You can check out that schedule here.
The Ferry leaves from Boston Harbor and is operated by the reputable company Boston Harbor Cruises. Through October, the ferry runs five times per day on the weekends and costs between $31-$45 per person. View the full schedule and rates online here.
Once you’re in Salem, now the fun can start! There are so many unique options, and you can spend a whole day right in downtown Salem.
Walk Down Essex Street: When you arrive, spend some time walking down Essex Street, which is where you will see people wearing costumes, pets in adorable getups, shop in adorably quirky stores, and pick up some street food snacks. You can find any sort of haunted shop on Essex Street. But it might be most fun to grab a coffee, find a spot to hang out, and people watch!
Take a Walking Tour: Salem has a number of excellent walking tours. One of the most fun and reputable tours is Bewitched Historical Tours. You’ll learn about Salem’s Colonial history, witchcraft, and the witch trials in the 1600s. Their popular tours regularly sell out, so book early!
Salem Witch Museum: Visit the Salem Witch Museum for an immersive presentation of the Witch Trials. Visitors will experience a live interpretation based on actual documents from the day. Allow an hour or more for your visit to the Museum. Admission is $9-$12 dollars based on age.
The House of the Seven Gables: According to the House of the Seven Gables website, “In 1668, merchant and ship-owner John Turner built a house on Salem Harbor that was…designated a National Historic Landmark District in 2007. The House of the Seven Gables is best known today as the setting of world-renowned American author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel.”
Essex Street in Salem
With just one day in Salem, you’re going to have to choose just a few places out of a long list of excellent eateries!
BREAKFAST: Coffee Time Bakery: Stop by Coffee Time Bakery when you arrive in Salem for some sweet treats and coffee. A muffin and coffee will set you on the right foot for all the walking and people watching you’ll have in store!
Photo by Coffee Time Bakery
LUNCH: Flying Saucer Pizza: With a motto like “Live Long and Pizza,” Flying Saucer Pizza is a haven for casual foodies. Winner of the Best Pizza on the North Shore, Flying Saucer offers creative mouthwatering combos like the “Mars Attacks” with cheese, meatballs, burrata, and red sauce on top. With the addition of craft beer and desserts like the “Groot” (Gluten-free brownie, vanilla gelato with whipped cream, caramel & chocolate sauces), how can you go wrong?!
DRINKS & DINNER:
Casual option: Bit Bar: Honing in on fun and games, Bit Bar is located in a former Salem jail. You can play arcade games from the 80s and 90s before chowing down on casual eats like Buffalo Mac and Cheese, Elk Burgers, or Fried Chicken BLTs (omg, what?! One of each, stat!). Wash it down with creative cocktails named after fictional characters like the PICARD (Bourbon and Earl Grey Tea) or New England made drafts and cans.
Upscale option: Finz Seafood and Grill offers a more upscale dinner option that overlooks the Salem Wharf. The menu is largely focused on seafood like oysters, clams, lobsters, and fish, but offers other mouthwatering options like burgers and steaks. Their dessert menu looks like [insert gif of my hand kissing my lips, Italian-style]. WARM CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE PIE? Yas, plz. Their full bar offers creative cocktails and dozens of wines and beer options. In the warmer months you can enjoy their sweet outdoor deck and crystal-blue fireplace.
Photo by Finz Seafood & Grill
Ok, so this is supposed to be a one day guide, BUT, if you want to make a weekend of it, I would recommend a few different places. First off, I am a Marriott-type of person, and have greatly enjoyed their rewards credit card! For that reason alone, the Boston Peabody Marriott tops my list. It’s a short drive to downtown Salem, and the guests rave about the on-site Starbucks, comfy beds, and outstanding hospitality.
If you’re looking for a more historic experience, the Hawthorne Hotel is a popular option close to the heart of Salem. Established in 1925, Architectural Digest declared it as one of the most haunted hotels in America, saying it “allegedly is a hotbed of unearthly activity, with guests reporting flickering lights, faucets turning on and off on their own, and human-shaped apparitions.” CREEPY.
Photo by Boston Peabody Marriott
Please drop me a comment below or on Instagram with your own one day in Salem recommendations or questions!