Sure, Halloween is definitely one of the most popular times of year to visit Salem, Massachusetts. Street vendors and psychics line every corner selling you trinkets and fortunes. Costumed visitors parade up and down the streets cackling at small children as they walk by. And while this is a very exciting and unique time of year to visit, the large crowds and wait times can put a damper on your stay.
This guest post was written by Kimberly Allen of Amethyst & Herbs. If you have a U.S. road trip story you’d like to share, contact me here. This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. You can read more about that here.
My first time visiting was during Halloween weekend a couple years ago and while I had fun I definitely wanted to return during a quieter time of year to really see the town and all it has to offer. Witch (;-)) is a lot.
Finding accommodations in Salem, Massachusetts
There are several accommodation choices in Salem itself and planning your stay in the off season (read: anytime other than October) shouldn’t be a problem.
I got a great Groupon rate in May for the Hawthorne Hotel which is located right in the heart of town within walking distance of everything. We parked my car in their lot and didn’t have to drive it for the four days we were there (saved money on gas, score!). The hotel itself was very quaint and the rooms were clean.
While I had read reviews beforehand that the rooms were small, you have to keep in mind the building opened in 1925. You’re staying in a historic site, get over the room size and actually go out and enjoy the city!
And for those of you who enjoy the paranormal (if you’re planning a trip to Salem I’m pretty sure you do) this hotel does have a history of hauntings.
The third floor has had reports of a baby crying and on the sixth floor people have reported seeing a woman in white roaming the halls. Our room did happen to be on the sixth floor but sadly we did not encounter the woman roaming the halls. Aside from a strange incident where the elevator opened back up before going up and feeling chills when the doors closed again, nothing paranormal happened to us while staying there.
Fortunately or unfortunately, however you look at it.
Tacos, anyone? Salem food!
The first priority upon getting to town was food.
After six straight hours of driving we definitely needed to eat! Fortunately there are many a tasty option in Salem. We opted for the Howling Wolf Taqueria on Lafayette St for some absolutely delicious Mexican food (avocados on tacos? sign me up!) and a bar.
Although we vowed to return before we left because the food was so good, with so many other options we never actually made it back. (Just means we have to make another trip!)
For a breakfast bite there is The Ugly Mug, if you love having so many options it is hard to choose just one, or the Red Line Cafe with delicious crepes and counter style service for a quick bite, just to name a couple. And if you’re looking for something a bit more in the “spirit” of Salem try Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall, the location of a Syfy Ghost Hunter’s episode and reportedly haunted by the ghost of Brigid Bishop.
Tour options in Salem
Speaking of the supernatural, ghost tours are available day and night all year round. Yet another reason to check out Salem in the warmer weather, if you’re walking around for a nighttime ghost tour like we did you won’t freeze your butt off!
While some of the stories they tell are local legend, more often than not there is a chilling truth behind them. Especially if they take you through the cemetery where many infamous people that are associated with the Salem Witch Trials are buried.
Definitely bring a camera or whatever other ghost hunting equipment you might have and maybe you’ll get lucky and capture a ghostly apparition like we did! We (and by “we” I mean I insisted) slept with the lights on that night for sure. And with a piece of black tourmaline in front of the door, just in case anything followed us back.
There are many different options for tours so do a little research. I suggest the first day you get there, to see which one is right for you. Not all the tours focus on hauntings either.
For some less spooky options, there are historical tours that focus on the actual history of the town or tours that walk you through the filming locations of the movie Hocus Pocus. Just don’t forget to tip your tour guide!
While October does offer the Psychic Fair in Salem there is still plenty of shopping, both for physical and not so physical things. Omen and Hex both have Psychics available on a daily basis for fortune telling, tarot readings, palmistry, and more.
Or take a swing by Salem’s oldest witch shop, Crow Haven Corner, and get a reading with Lorelie!
Even if you’re experienced in these things yourself it is always fun to hear what someone else sees for you!
And if you want to take home a little magick with you check out my absolute favorite shop The Coven’s Cottage. If only I could decorate my house like the inside of their shop!
There are also souvenir shops, antique and jewelry stores, tattoo stores, a wax museum, and even a place you can dress up as a witch and get your picture taken! Throw in all the historical sites and museums you can visit, there is plenty to keep you occupied for your stay!
Whether it is in the off-season or during Halloween, Salem is a great little town with rich history and great energy and definitely worth a trip (or two or three!) to check out.