Things to do

20 Fun Things To Do In Salem, Massachusetts

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Salem, Massachusetts is renowned for its rich history, witch trials lore, and maritime heritage. It offers an array of engaging activities and attractions that appeal to visitors from near and far.

Whether you're captivated by tales of witchcraft and the supernatural, fascinated by colonial history, or simply seeking a charming coastal town experience, Salem has something for everyone.

This article has 20 fun things to do in Salem and highlights the city's diverse offerings, from exploring historic landmarks and museums to enjoying scenic harbor views and indulging in local cuisine.

1. Visit The House Of The Seven Gables

This is one of the captivating experiences that combines history, literature, and architectural beauty. This historic site, made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name, offers guided tours of the 17th-century mansion, where visitors can explore its gabled roofline, secret staircase, and period furnishings.

The scenic waterfront gardens provide a picturesque setting for a stroll, and the adjacent Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace offers additional insights into the life and works of the renowned author. With its rich historical significance and literary connections, The House of the Seven Gables is one of the Salem Massachusetts tourist attractions.

2. Embark On A Maritime Adventure With Salem Ferry

The Salem Ferry offers a scenic and comfortable journey across the waters to Boston which provides stunning views of the coastline and the open sea. As you cruise, you can relax on the spacious decks, enjoy refreshments, and take in the fresh sea breeze.

The ferry ride not only offers a convenient mode of transportation but also serves as a unique way to experience the maritime heritage of the region. Whether you're a local looking for a fun day trip or a visitor eager to explore both Salem and Boston, the Salem Ferry provides an unforgettable maritime adventure that combines relaxation, beautiful views, and the thrill of being on the open water.

3. Explore Salem Witch Museum

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Salem Witch Museum offers an immersive experience of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692 through captivating exhibits and life-size stage sets. Here, visitors are transported back in time as they learn about the historical context, the dramatic events of the trials, and the profound impact on the community.

The museum also explores the evolving perception of witchcraft over the centuries, providing a broader cultural and historical perspective. With its blend of education and storytelling, the Salem Witch Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in this fascinating chapter of American history.

4. Enjoy At Salem Willows Park

This historic waterfront park, established in 1858, offers a delightful mix of family-friendly activities and scenic beauty. Visitors can indulge in classic amusement rides, play arcade games, and savor traditional seaside treats like saltwater taffy and popcorn.

The park's beautiful willow trees provide a picturesque setting for picnicking and relaxation, while the scenic views of Salem Harbor offer a perfect backdrop for a stroll or a peaceful boat ride. With its blend of nostalgia and natural charm, Salem Willows Park is a must-visit destination for a fun and memorable day out.

5. Step Into History At The Salem Witch Trials Memorial

The Salem Witch Trials Memorial in Salem, Massachusetts, is a poignant and educational site that offers visitors a meaningful way to engage with the town's infamous history. Situated near the Charter Street Historic District, the memorial features twenty inscribed stone benches, each representing one of the 20 individuals executed during the witch trials of 1692.

As you walk through the memorial, you can reflect on the powerful quotes from the accused, which are etched into the stones, providing a somber reminder of the hysteria and injustice that occurred.

The serene and contemplative atmosphere of the memorial invites visitors to remember and honor those who suffered, making it a significant and reflective stop while exploring the historic and cultural attractions of Salem.

6. Immerse Yourself In Art And Culture At The Peabody Essex Museum

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Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts is one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States. This world-class institution offers an extensive collection of art and cultural artifacts from around the globe, including stunning maritime art, Asian export art, and contemporary works.

Here, people can explore immersive and interactive exhibits that bring history and culture to life, from ancient artifacts to cutting-edge installations. The museum's beautiful architecture, including the striking glass atrium, provides a perfect setting for its diverse and dynamic exhibitions.

Moreover, special programs, workshops, and events offer engaging opportunities for visitors of all ages to connect with the arts and explore their creativity.

7. Delve Into History At The Old Burying Point Cemetery

The Old Burying Point Cemetery, also known as Charter Street Cemetery, is one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States, dating back to 1637. Located in the heart of Salem, Massachusetts, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the town's storied past, including its infamous witch trials.

People can wander among the historic graves and tombstones, many of which belong to notable figures from the 17th and 18th centuries, including judges from the Salem Witch Trials. The cemetery's serene and haunting atmosphere, combined with its rich historical significance, makes it a compelling and educational stop for anyone exploring Salem.

8. Discover Bewitched Statue Of Elizabeth Montgomery

Located in the heart of downtown, this bronze statue commemorates the beloved actress who played Samantha Stephens in the classic TV show "Bewitched." Fans of the show and pop culture enthusiasts alike will enjoy taking photos with the statue, which captures Montgomery in a charming pose, sitting on a crescent moon.

The statue not only pays homage to a piece of television history but also ties into Salem's unique blend of witchcraft lore and modern entertainment. Visiting this statue offers a delightful and whimsical experience and is also a unique things to do in Salem MA as you explore the historic and cultural attractions.

9. Explore The Pickering Wharf

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Explore the Pickering Wharf in Salem, Massachusetts, for a delightful blend of history, shopping, and dining. Located on the picturesque waterfront, Pickering Wharf offers a unique experience with its charming shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Visitors can stroll along the boardwalk, enjoy fresh seafood at waterfront eateries, and browse through boutiques for unique gifts and souvenirs. The area is also steeped in maritime history, featuring attractions like the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and the Friendship of Salem, a replica of a 1797 merchant ship.

10. Step Into History At The Ropes Mansion And Garden

The Ropes Mansion and Garden in Salem, Massachusetts, is a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and garden lovers. This historic Georgian Colonial mansion, built in the early 18th century, is famously associated with the prominent Ropes family.

Further, people can explore the well-preserved interior, which shows period furnishings and artifacts that offer a glimpse into colonial life and the rich history of Salem. The beautifully maintained garden, located behind the mansion, is a serene oasis featuring a variety of flowers, plants, and a charming layout that invites strolls and relaxation. 

Therefore, a visit to the Ropes Mansion and Garden provides a delightful blend of historical exploration and outdoor enjoyment, making it the best things to do Salem Massachusetts.

11. Delve Into Salem Maritime National Historic Site

This site, America's first National Historic Site, preserves and interprets the rich maritime heritage of Salem. Visitors can explore historic buildings such as the Custom House, Derby House, and Narbonne House, each offering a glimpse into Salem's bustling 18th and 19th-century maritime trade.

The site also features engaging exhibits, guided tours, and educational programs that bring the stories of sailors, merchants, and privateers to life. With its combination of historical exploration and scenic beauty, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site provides a fun and informative experience for all.

12. Visit National Park Service Visitor Center

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Visiting the National Park Service Visitor Center in Salem, Massachusetts, is one of the fun things to do while exploring this historic city. Located in the heart of downtown Salem, the Visitor Center serves as a gateway to understanding the rich history and cultural heritage of the area.

Here, visitors can immerse themselves in interactive exhibits that delve into Salem's maritime history, the witch trials of 1692, and the city's role in the American Revolution. Knowledgeable park rangers are on hand to provide insights and information, making it a great starting point for exploring Salem's historic sites, including the nearby Salem Maritime National Historic Site and the House of the Seven Gables.

13. Immerse Yourself In The Nostalgia Of The Salem Willows Arcade

The Salem Willows Arcade in Salem, Massachusetts, is a nostalgic gem that offers a delightful blend of vintage and modern fun. Nestled within the scenic Salem Willows Park, this classic arcade takes visitors on a trip down memory lane with its assortment of old-school pinball machines, retro video games, and beloved carnival-style attractions.

The charm of the arcade lies in its timeless appeal, where families can enjoy traditional favorites like Skee-Ball, air hockey, and claw machines alongside contemporary gaming options. The surrounding park adds to the experience with its picturesque views, picnic spots, and waterfront breezes which makes it a perfect spot for a fun-filled day of games, laughter, and nostalgia in Salem.

Located in the heart of the historic downtown area, this gallery shows a diverse collection of contemporary and traditional artworks that reflect the rich cultural tapestry of Salem. As you explore the gallery, you'll encounter vibrant paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations created by local and regional artists.

The gallery's welcoming atmosphere and knowledgeable staff enhance the experience, making it an enriching and engaging stop for art enthusiasts and visitors alike. Whether you're admiring a thought-provoking exhibit or browsing for a unique souvenir, the Salem Art Gallery promises a memorable cultural experience.

15. Step Into The Heart Of Salem's History At Salem Common

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One of the best Salem tourist attractions is to visit Salem Common where visitors can enjoy strolling through its well-maintained paths lined with towering trees. The park's open green spaces provide ample room for outdoor games, frisbee throwing, or simply lounging on a sunny day.

Salem Common also hosts community events and festivals throughout the year, such as art fairs, music concerts, and seasonal celebrations which makes it a vibrant hub of local culture and entertainment. Its central location near other Salem attractions, including historic sites and museums, makes Salem Common a delightful starting point or a serene retreat amidst the bustling cityscape.

16. Discover Salem Old Town Hall

The Salem Old Town Hall stands as a historic gem and a must-visit attraction for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. Built in 1816, this Federal-style building exudes charm with its elegant facade and imposing clock tower.

Visitors can explore its rich history through guided tours or simply admire its picturesque exterior, which reflects Salem’s maritime heritage and colonial past. Inside, the hall hosts various cultural events, art exhibitions, and community gatherings, adding a vibrant touch to its historical significance.

17. Tour At The Salem Museum

The Salem Museum offers exhibits that delve into Salem's storied past, including its maritime heritage, the infamous Salem Witch Trials, and its pivotal role in the spice trade. Interactive displays and engaging narratives bring to life the tales of the town's early settlers, notorious trials, and the economic boom of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Visitors can view artifacts, documents, and multimedia presentations that provide a deep understanding of how Salem evolved over the centuries. The museum’s knowledgeable guides add an enriching layer to the experience, making the Salem Museum a fascinating and educational stop.

18. Enjoy Quality Time At Cinema Salem

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This charming independent movie theater offers a unique cinematic experience with a mix of mainstream, indie, and documentary films. The cozy, intimate setting provides a welcoming atmosphere which makes it perfect for a relaxed date night or a family outing.

Beyond just movies, Cinema Salem often hosts special events, such as film festivals, Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and themed screenings which add an extra layer of excitement to your visit. Hence, with its friendly staff, affordable prices, and concession stand featuring local treats, Cinema Salem is one of the beloved community hubs.

19. Visit The Salem Toy Museum

Stroll along The Salem Toy Museum offers a delightful and nostalgic journey through the whimsical world of toys. Located in the heart of historic Salem, this museum is a treasure trove for visitors of all ages.

As you wander through its charming exhibits, you'll encounter a diverse collection of vintage and contemporary toys, each with its own story to tell. From classic dolls and action figures to intricate model trains and interactive displays, the museum brings childhood memories to life while also showing the evolution of playthings over generations.

Whether you're a toy enthusiast, a family looking for a fun outing, or simply curious about the cultural significance of toys, the Salem Toy Museum provides an engaging and memorable experience.

20. Embrace The Beauty Of Misery Islands

Misery Islands, located off the coast of Salem, Massachusetts, offer a unique and adventurous experience for visitors. Accessible by boat, these islands are a haven for nature enthusiasts and history buffs.

Hiking trails wind through pristine landscapes, providing stunning views of the coastline and opportunities for birdwatching. History comes alive with the remnants of past settlements and a lighthouse that dates back to the early 19th century, adding a sense of intrigue to the islands' charm.

Hence, whether exploring the rugged terrain, relaxing on secluded beaches, or delving into the islands' historical significance, Misery Islands offer a memorable day trip full of exploration and discovery.