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Planning to Visit Salem Before Halloween? You Should Probably Reconsider

By Witch City Weirdo

People wanting to live their best spooky-girl-fall lives may want to wait to visit Salem, Mass., until after Halloween. The witch city is likely going to set another visitor attendance record this year during its peak Halloween tourist season.

Witch city has already been plagued for weeks by road closures, full parking garages, and long lines just to get into shops and restaurants, even on weekdays. In 2022, nearly a million people visited Salem during the month of October, up from around 600 thousand visitors just five years earlier. That number is expected to be ever higher this year.

As a result of Salem’s over-tourism, many popular walking tours, costume parties or events, and museum attractions may be fully booked or have limited remaining availability during October. If you haven’t already made reservations in advance, you might miss out on some of the experiences you were hoping for.

If you’re a fan of Halloween and enjoy the festive atmosphere, visiting Salem can be a unique and excitingly spooky experience… the eleven other months of the year!

But if there’s a spell on you and the only way to break it is an October visit, then here is what one Salem resident recommends: arrive in the morning and park in one of the shuttle lots rather than trying to park downtown. Grab a pumpkin-spiced something from any of our wonderful coffee shops (Front Street, Lulu, Odd Meter, Brew Box, and more). Then focus your visit on the outdoor stuff: check out the exterior of the Witch House, walk to the Derby wharf area (the witch shops there tend to be less busy), respectfully stroll the old cemeteries, and shop the Haunted Happenings marketplace in the Salem Common. For food, you could venture to the edges of downtown and check out Spitfire Tacos, Witch City Hibachi, Chez Casa for great sandwiches. These tend to be overlooked by most tourists, and they’re all delicious. The Satanic Temple/Salem Art Gallery is a great place for taking your spooky Instagram photos. The newly opened Salem Museum of Torture is a bit off the beaten path and a lot of people don’t seem to know about it yet. Cinema Salem is also worth checking out to watch a universal monster movie or Hocus Pocus, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Whether you brave the October crowds or visit during a chiller time, remember that Salem is a small city, not a theme park, and you should have a spooktackular time.

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