How to Break from the Crowds During Salem Haunted Happenings

While this October may be different with virtual events and a bit more planning before your visit (and physical distancing during it), many people are still planning to spend the Halloween season exploring Salem. If you’re hoping for a break from the crowds, we always recommend planning your visit midweek if you can, and visiting us earlier in October. Whenever you plan to visit this October, consider this list of quieter spots within walking distance of downtown when you’re ready to break from the crowds:

Salem Common

Spend time on Salem Common this October and break from the crowds on one of Salem’s largest greenspaces. Pick up takeout from your favorite restaurant and enjoy a quieter picnic lunch or bring the kids to the Common’s playground to work off some energy away from the hustle and bustle of Essex Street. While on Salem Common, stop to take in the sights of a couple of Halloween movies filmed in Salem- The high school featured in Hocus Pocus and orange string lights in Hubie Halloween are both on Salem Common.

Greenlawn Cemetery

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Iconic monument in Greenlawn

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Did you know Greenlawn Cemetery is now an arboretum? One of Salem’s historic cemeteries (est. 1807) Greenlawn is a local’s favorite for birdwatching and spotting beautiful plant species all in walking distance of downtown. Take a stroll through the cemetery next time you need a break from the crowds, and be sure to our tips for exploring a historic New England cemetery included in this post. (Please note, that Old Burying Point/Charter Street Cemetery is closed for conservation work this October. The adjacent Salem Witch Trials Memorial is open.)

Peabody Essex Museum

Take a break from the crowds along the Pedestrian Mall and pop into the Peabody Essex Museum, which features art from New England and around the world. Last year’s expansion gave the museum an additional 15,000 square feet of gallery space, so you’ll have plenty of space to get away and take in some art. Wander the museum’s galleries or check out the current exhibitions, which include Salem Stories and The Salem Witch Trials 1692. Advanced reservations are required, visit pem.org for details.

The Landing

The Landing is a favorite for locals looking to grab drinks by the water. Located on the Salem Ferry Dock, The Landing offers waterside views and a seasonal drink menu. It’s a short walk from The House of the Seven Gables, making it a perfect stop before your visit to the museum’s gardens. (Please note, the Salem Ferry is not operating this October, and under the current state reopening guidelines bars remained closed- Drinks may be ordered while seated and must be accompanied by a food order.)

Punto Urban Art Museum

Punto Urban Art Museum features over 85 large scale murals by Salem and north shore locals alongside 40 world renowned artists. It’s a short walk from downtown and offers a way to escape the crowd while taking in art and exploring a side of Salem you may not have seen before. For a grab and go lunch nearby, order takeout from Po Boys and Pies, a New Orleans inspired sandwich shop right here in Salem.

Coffee Time Bake Shop

Avoid the crowds and satisfy your sweet tooth with a walk up Bridge Street to Coffee Time Bake Shop. Famous for their real cream bismarks, fresh egg eclairs, strawberry shortcake, and more, Coffee Time is also home to fall treats like pumpkin pie and cheesecake and pumpkin spice lattes. For a physically distanced picnic, bring your pastries back downtown and sit out on Salem Common.

Your Hotel Room

If you’re looking to get away this October, pick up some takeout from your favorite Salem restaurant and maybe a crafting kit from The Witchery and spend some time in your hotel. With so many of this year’s events going virtual, you can always spent an evening at your hotel and shop the Haunted Happenings Marketplace or take in the Salem Haunted Magic Show virtually. All of Salem’s accommodations are in walking distance to downtown, making it easy to take a quick break before heading out to explore the rest of the city.

Salem Willows & Winter Island

Go for a walk along the trails and beaches at Winter Island or the Salem Willows this October when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The beaches at both sites are free to visit. Note that the arcade at Salem Willows is not open at this time, and the restaurants are seasonal and may not be open through Halloween.