By Emma Sánchez

If you’ve always wanted to go to Salem but you’re worried there’s nothing to do right now, you are seriously mistaken. Visiting Salem during its off-season is probably your best bet this year. Here are my recommendations for places to go to in Salem, and tips for staying safe while traveling during the pandemic.

Make sure you don’t go on a Saturday — just because it isn’t October doesn’t mean people from out of state won’t want to visit Salem, too. Schedule your activities ahead of time and pre-purchase tickets to avoid as many lines and human contact as possible. Don’t be afraid to call places and ask about their COVID-19 protocols.

Do your research and make sure the places you plan on visiting have good reviews. This is especially important for a touristy place like Salem — you want to make sure your money is well spent. Research also applies to looking for restaurants because many are now either reservation only or takeout only. You’ll either have to reserve a table or find a spacious place outdoors.

If you do go on a busy day, make sure you find a “sanctuary” away from the crowded streets. A sanctuary is what I like to call a warm place with food, a restroom and an outlet to charge any electronics. 

Your sanctuary can be a sit-down restaurant, or my personal favorite, the Peabody Essex Museum, where my friend and I visited the weekend before Halloween. If you are unable to book a certain exhibit, ask the front desk if there are any cancellations — they may sneak you into the exhibit of your choice.

Salem at night is where the party starts, but also where health protocols fly out the window, so I suggest you try not to stay out too late. Also don’t visit any graveyards at night unless you want to be sacrificed in a blood ritual … just kidding.

But most importantly, have fun. Salem is all about keeping the Halloween spirit alive year-round. Commemorate your trip with tons of photos, and bundle up if it’s supposed to be a chilly day.

Here are my recommendations for places to visit:

  • The Witch House: This is one of the only houses left standing from the Salem witch trials.
  • Pioneer Village: Constructed in 1930, it was featured in the 1993 movie “Hocus Pocus.”
  • The Peabody Essex Museum: You can literally spend the whole day in this museum.
  • Jodi Bee Bakes: This is my favorite vegan bakery, and I’m not even vegan.
  • Maria’s Sweet Somethings: Their “small” ice cream cup is a literal pint of ice cream.
  • Ledger: This restaurant has an amazing Sunday brunch menu.
  • Spellbound Tours: Learn about Salem witches and vampires from tour guides who unironically walk around wearing a top hat, a walking stick and a skull ring, so if that’s your kind of thing, then by all means go.
  • Neighboring towns: Visit the scenic shores of Winter Island, the historic town of Marblehead and the many amazing restaurants in Swampscott.