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Things To Do in Salem, Massachusetts: Spooky One Day Itinerary

Roger Conant Statue by Salem Witch Museum | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts
Roger Conant Statue & Salem Witch Museum

The port city of Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials of 1692. The city celebrates its unique history with well-preserved cemeteries, colonial-era buildings, and ancient commons. Many witch themed museums, attractions, and shops add to the city’s color. A day in Salem is educational and entertaining year-round, but in autumn the fun quotient really ramps up!

Hocus Pocus Sweatshirt | Shopping in Salem Massachusetts | Salem Haunted Happenings
Shopping in Salem

The picturesque New England town of Salem is where the movie Hocus Pocus was filmed. In October, the city invites visitors to come in costume to enjoy it’s Haunted Happening events. Our article on things to do in Salem, Massachusetts will give you the low-down on how to spend one spook-tastic day.

Things To Do in Salem Massachusetts: Spooky One Day Itinerary At A Glance
Salem Witch Museum | Salem Heritage Trail | When to Visit Salem Massachusetts
Salem Witch Museum

For more information on traveling to Massachusetts read our articles on:

Witch Mansion Haunted House | Salem Massachusetts in October
Witch Mansion Haunted House


Salem is a coastal city on Massachusetts’ North Shore. The city was once a thriving sea port. It is the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and has several significant historical sites including the world-renowned Peabody Essex Museum. Salem is most famous for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Spellcasting Shop | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts | New England, USA
Spellcasting Shop

During this era, over two-hundred residents of colonial Salem were accused of practicing witchcraft. Nineteen were ultimately hanged after being found guilty. Today, Salem embraces its past in many including displaying its “Witch City” logo on city vehicles and buildings.

Witch City | Salem Witch Trials | Salem Haunted Happenings
Witch City


Salem is home to more than 25 witch-themed museums, attractions, and haunted houses. The city center hosts several witch shops, occult shops, and psychics. Throughout the Downtown, Waterfront, and McIntire Historic Districts, Salem’s Witch Trial past is memorialized in statues and monuments.

Trolley Tour | Salem Massachusetts in October | Halloween in Salem
Trolley Tour

The Salem Heritage Trail is a self-guided route that links historic sites and leads walkers through 400 years of Salem’s history. Following a brick trail, the path takes in the Salem Witch Museum, Witch Dungeon Museum, Salem Commons, and the Charter Street Cemetery.

Carnival on Salem Common | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts in October | New England
Carnival on Salem Common


Salem is a great family trip any day of the year. Most museums, shops, attractions, and restaurants are open year-round. Trips to the Peabody Essex Museum, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables, and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site are always worthwhile.

House of Seven Gables | Nathaniel Hawthorne | A Day in Salem Massachusetts | New England USA
House of Seven Gables

Salem, Massachusetts in October, though, can’t be beat. The city puts on an annual “Salem Haunted Happenings” event that features festivals, parades, parties, and concerts. During this time, visitors are encouraged to attend in costume. During the Halloween season, the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall is alive with witches and goblins of all ages from morning until into the night.

Spooky Salem | Salem Massachusetts One Day Itinerary | Essex Street Pedestrian Mall
Spooky Salem


The majority of Salem’s most-visited sites are packed into a walkable area between the small Waterfront, Downtown, and McIntire Historic districts. There is an MBTA commuter rail station near the Downtown district, but most people arrive by car.

Salem Regional Visitor Center: Located in the downtown district the visitor center is a great place to pick up maps, use the restrooms, and find out about events.

Visitor Center | Witch City | All About Salem Massachusetts
Visitor Center

Parking: There is metered parking in the street (but it is resident only in October!). There are three convenient city parking garages; Museum Place Garage, Church Street West Lot, and South Harbor Garage. We prefer Museum Place as it is across the street from the visitor center. Prices are per hour (up to $30.00 per day on weekends as of this writing).

Psychic Shop | Essex Street Pedestrian Mall | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts
Psychic Shop

Shuttles: Downtown parking lots fill up early on weekends near the end of October. See the Visitor Center website for information on satellite parking sites with shuttles into downtown. This can be a good option for those visiting in the later afternoon/evening.


Google Map: 2 Mile Self-Guide Walking Route

Begin your day at the Salem Regional Visitor Center. Pick up maps and learn about any special scheduled events. Find the Heritage Trail (painted brick path) behind the Visitor Center and walk to the Roger Conant Statue (founder of Salem) at the intersection of Washington, Hawthorne, and Brown Streets.

Halloween in Salem | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts
Halloween in Salem

Visit the Salem Witch Museum and learn about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Through life-size stage sets, figures, and narration, experience the drama of the Salem witch hunt. Then, walk through the “Witches: Evolving Perceptions” exhibit to discover facts about the evolution of the image of the witch over time. Onsite, there is a nice gift shop and restrooms.

Salem Witch Museum | Witch Trials of 1692 | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts, New England
Salem Witch Museum

Before leaving the area stroll Salem Common. The pretty 8-acre public park stays busy with shows, markets, and festivals. Also, a short distance away is the Howard Street Cemetery where accused witch Giles Corey was said to be tortured by being pressed to death because he refused to stand trial.

Pentagram Witchcraft and Magick Shoppe | Shopping in Salem Massachusetts
Pentagram Witchcraft and Magick Shoppe

Make your way down Hawthorne Street, passing the Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue. Turn on to Charter Street. After one block take Liberty Street to the entrance of the Charter Street Cemetery (aka Old Burying Point). Slow a bit, and explore this fascinating area.

Charter Street Cemetery | A Day in Salem | Witch City
Charter Street Cemetery

The Charter Street Cemetery was established in 1637, and is the oldest cemetery in Salem. It is the final resting place of several prominent citizens including Doraty Cromall (oldest marker, died 1637), Mary Corey (whose husband Giles was pressed to death), and John Hawthorne (a judge at the witch trials).

Witch Trials Memorial | Salem Witch Trials of 1692 | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts
Witch Trials Memorial

Adjacent to the cemetery is the lovely and evocative Witch Trials Memorial. The memorial honors the innocent victims of the 1692 witch hysteria; 19 who were hanged, 1 pressed to death, and 5 who died in jail. (The accused are not resting in the cemetery as they did not receive Christian burials.)

Salem Haunted Happenings | Witch City | Halloween in Salem
Salem Haunted Happenings

Also, in this area you will find the New England Pirate Museum, Salem Witch Village, Pentagram Witchcraft and Magick Shoppe, Salem Wax Museum, and many other unusual and interesting shops and attractions to enjoy.

Salem Witch Village | Salem Haunted Happenings | All About Salem Massachusetts
Salem Witch Village

By now you will be ready for some sustenance. Head up Derby Street along the waterfront. Enjoy a meal of fresh seafood by Salem Harbor, and then check out the shops of Wharf Street. Meander along the Central and Derby Wharfs by the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. If you are a fan of Nathaniel Hawthorne, visit the nearby House of Seven Gables.

Dining in Salem, Massachusetts | Salem Massachusetts One Day Itinerary
Dining in Salem, Massachusetts

Next, explore the side streets of Salem until you make your way back to the city center. Spend the rest of your day exploring the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and nearby neighborhoods. The lively area is full of unique shops, museums, restaurants, bars, businesses, and entertainment venues.

Waterfront | Salem Heritage Trail | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts
Waterfront | Salem Heritage Trail

The cobblestone and brick streets of Essex Street are closed to vehicle travel and full of costumed party-goers during autumn. On Essex Street you can find stores selling witches clothing, wands, and spell-casting supplies. Many tours highlighting Salem’s witches, haunted sites, and history leave from this area. Take one before heading home.

Essex Street Pedestrian Mall | Things to do in Salem Massachusetts | New England, USA
Essex Street Pedestrian Mall

Hope you have a witchin’ good time, Laura and Randy

For more information on traveling to Massachusetts read our articles on:


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