October is one of the best times to visit Salem, Massachusetts, the “witch town” known for its sinister past and spooky aura.
For the entire month of October, Haunted Happenings takes over Salem to celebrate Halloween and fall in the area.
Haunted Happenings features a calendar full of events, special programs, and live shows that complement the attractions, museums, and tours that Salem offers year round.
If you’re looking for things to do in Salem on Halloween and October 2018 and nearby Boston, check out our list of the best local activities and attractions.
Save on Admission to Fun Seasonal Activities
Regular admission to a few of these Salem attractions are included on the Go Boston® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
Please note, the special events taking place at these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Boston Card.
When to Visit Salem, MA
Salem is the busiest on weekends when it fills up with tourists, but it’s also arguably its most festive when thronged with people.
However, if you’re in search of a less hectic experience, you can head to Salem any weekday in October or during one of the first weekends in the month—you’ll still find plenty of seasonal things to do.
Dedicate at least one full day to see the sites in Salem and consider an overnight stay to join in on some of the spooky nighttime walking tours and ghost tours offered.
The closer to Halloween it is, the more difficult it will be to get to Salem in the heavy traffic and to find reasonably-priced parking. If you’re coming from the Boston area, we recommend you take either the commuter rail (Newburyport/Rockport Line) or a bus to avoid the hassle of parking.
That said, there’s nothing quite like spending Halloween weekend in Salem as it is always jam packed with fun and spooky things to do.
Salem Witch Museum
Do you believe in witchcraft? At the Salem Witch Museum, get insight into the complex and evolving perception of witches, “from midwives and healers to witch hunts and Wiccans.”
Salem’s most visited museum presents the witch hysteria of 1692 in a way that is educational, thought-provoking, and a bit spooky. You’ll learn all about the infamous witch trials, events leading up to them, and what life was like in Salem at the time.
They also offer a fun and eclectic gift shop that sells everything from artisan wares to the most inspired Halloween costumes you’ll ever see. It’s a nice place to pick a unique fall souvenir.
Getting In: Salem Witch Museum tickets are included with the Go Boston® Card.
House of the Seven GablesThe House of Seven Gables is New England’s oldest wooden mansion built in 1668 and made famous through the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter. It’s a must-visit attraction for book lovers and American Lit fans.
In October, add to the experience with either of two theatrical performances which will run at the House on select days throughout the month – a fantastically exciting way to get in the Halloween spirit.
In Legacy of the Hanging Judge, relive the events of the witch trials as you encounter both the accused and the accusers.
Or, step into the pages of Hawthorne’s Spirits of the Gables, a tale of guilt, greed, and revenge with the characters from The House of the Seven Gables.
Getting In: General Admission House of Seven Gables tickets are included with the Go Boston® Card. Particular performances may incur additional charges.
Peabody Essex Museum
Home to a collection of one million artifacts and natural treasures dating back to 1799, when sea captains would bring home treasures from their travels overseas, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) offers Salem visitors a unique examination of world history.
See fascinating exhibitions of African, American, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, and Indian art, including photographs from 1840 (the year photography was invented!).
This Fall, 2018, be sure to check out the PEM’s featured exhibit, Empresses of China’s Forbidden City and take a deep dive into how empresses shaped the politics, art, and religion of China’s final dynasty, the Qing Dynasty from 1644 to 1912.
Getting In: Peabody Essex Museum tickets are included with the Go Boston® Card.
Lighthouse & Foliage Cruise
Select days in October 2018
A cruise around the storied waters of Salem is a fun and different way to get in some prime leaf peeping during peak season and take in the history of the area.
The 2-hour narrated Lighthouse & Foliage tour goes on a 14-mile loop of the scenic Salem Sound while the Haunted Happenings Harbor Cruise features a 90-minute entertainment cruise, complete with face painting, fortune telling, spooky photo ops, scary stories, and more. A full bar and grill are available on every cruise.
Getting In: Mahi Cruises options are separately ticketed and are not included with the Go Boston® Card. For more information about these cruises and to purchase tickets, please visit the attraction website.
Salem Haunted Happenings 2018
There’s no shortage of things to do in Salem Massachusetts. Just check out the Haunted Happenings events calendar for the complete lineup of activities and fun things to do in Salem during this popular time of year.
There’s everything from face painting and farmers markets to cruises and hayrides to haunted houses and witch hunts. Some of our popular picks include:
Salem Time Machine 4-D Walk-Thru Adventure into Salem’s Past
131 Essex Street
Go back to centuries past and explore Salem’s spooky history in this 4-D Time Machine for a spooky experience you won’t to forget.
A combination of live actors, 4-D sets, and black lights makes it impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not—until it’s too late.
Getting In: Admission to Salem Time Machine attractions is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Boston® Card. Tickets are only available at the door. For more information and to purchase admission, please visit the attraction website.
Cry Innocent: The People Versus Bridget Bishop
Weekends in September & October 2018
Old Town Hall
Head back to 1692 when Bridget Bishop was accused of witchcraft and is up for trial. At Cry Innocent, you’ll be immersed in the experience by serving on the Puritan jury.
You’ll hear her testimony, cross-examine the witnesses, and decide the verdict in this critically-acclaimed, interactive theatrical performance.
Getting In: Admission to the Cry Innocent performance is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Boston® Card. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the attraction website.
October 13 – October 22, 2018
Get in some classic, traveling carnival fun at the annual Haunted Happenings Carnival, presented by Fiesta Shows, located on Derby Street.
This is a great family-friendly activity with tons of rides and games for the kids to enjoy.
Getting In: Admission to the Haunted Happenings Carnival is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Boston® Card. For more information about this event, please visit the attraction website.
Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour
The Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour is one of Salem’s most haunting attractions. Experience Salem’s longest running ghostly tour with the city’s ‘spirited’ tour leader!
The knowledgeable and charismatic licensed ghostly guides combine captivating storytelling, macabre humor and stellar presentation to cleverly convey Salem’s authentic haunted history.
Delve into the Witch City’s intriguing and often sordid past on their highly recommended 90-minute nightly strolls as their costumed narrators recount by lantern light true tales of documented paranormal activity, chilling cemeteries, Colonial witchcraft, Victorian murder and share their own personal encounters with Salem’s dearly departed!
This tour is leisurely paced and tour distance covered is approximately one-half mile.
Getting In: Admission to the Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Boston® Card. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the attraction website.
Guided Tour of Salem and Marblehead
Join on a full-day guided tour to historic Salem and Marblehead.
This tour covers lots of North Shore highlights, including Marblehead, Abbott Hall, Salem Harbor, and more.
Getting In: Tours of Salem & Marblehead are separately ticketed and are not included with the Go Boston® Card. For more information about these tours and to purchase tickets, please visit the attraction website.
Add Boston to Your Itinerary
Fall is one of the best times to visit the Boston area; the air is crisp and cool and vibrant orange and yellow leaves provide the perfect backdrop.
Want some more fun? Skip almost 100 years in time from the era of witch hysteria to the era of the American Revolution and explore such historic attractions such as…
- the Paul Revere House
- the Freedom Trail
- the Old State House
- and more!