Salem on a Budget

This itinerary is part of our Tuesday series of suggested ways to explore Salem. These itineraries are not available as a package, and are only suggested ways to explore Salem. Please contact listed sites for hours, rates, and schedules.  Previous itineraries include: Two-Night Itinerary for a Family, Food, Fish, and History, a Salem Daytrip from Boston, An All-American Trip to Salem, and the Land of Witches and Pirates.

We are in the height of summer, which means we are at our busiest season for family travel. Not every family is looking to spend a king’s ransom on their vacation, and it is certainly possible to see Salem on a budget.  Start out by checking out our list of Ten Free Things to Do, and then consider these attractions, restaurants, and accommodations options. Bring comfortable shoes and get ready to have fun exploring Salem!

DO

Salem Maritime National Historic Site
160 Derby Street, Salem
(978) 741-1650 | nps.gov/sama
Tours of the wharves, buildings, and tall ship Friendship are free at your National Park! You can opt for a self-guided experience, or make a reservation for a timed, guided tour. Stop at the Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Street to see the free film, Where Past is Present, and learn about the history of Salem and the region.

Salem Museum
Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
(978) 744-0007 | TheSalemMuseum.org
Learn the hidden stories about the amazing lives that have contributed to the establishment and growth of Salem, Massachusetts.  From Roger Conant’s arrival in 1626 through the Witch Trials, the Maritime Era, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Great Salem Fire, Parker Brothers, and more. You are sure to be surprised by the history here in Salem.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Liberty Street between Derby and Charter Streets
SalemAward.org
Symbolically located behind the Old Burying Point, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial serves as a somber place of remembrance for visitors and descendants of those condemned in 1692.

DINE

Boston Hot Dog
60 Washington Street
(978) 744-4168 | BostonHotDog.co
This locally owned gourmet hot dog stand has new ownership in 2014. We like the California Dog and the Slaw Dog, and the kids can’t go wrong with the Kid’s Dog Meal, which includes a small drink and chips.

Essex NY Pizza & Deli
One Museum Place Mall
(978) 741-1383 | EssexNYPizza.com
Serving New York style hand-tossed pizza, Essex’s also has salads, sandwiches, and dinners.

STAY

Winter Island Maritime Park
50 Winter Island Road
(978) 745-9430 | Salem.com
RV and tent camping May 20-November 1. Walking paths of Winter Island, camp and gift store, public beach, historic fort, and Pickedring Lighthouse.

Clipper Ship Inn
40 Bridge Street
(978) 745-8022 | ClipperShipInn.com
Rooms and suites at budget-friendly rates, ample parking, located just outside the historic downtown district.

Be social! Share your Salem with us by tagging #SalemMA or #DestSalem on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We may share your favorite shots!

Elephant on Board

The ElephantI suppose every town has unique and quirky history, but Salem sure seems to have more than its fair share.  Salemites have been involved in so many aspects of American history, including legal process, navigation, trade, literature, education, and abolition.  And then there are the quirky stories that catch our attention – streakers, souvenir spoons, lead pencils, American flags, and elephants.

It is said that the first elephant in America came through Salem in 1796.  She was purchased in Calcutta by Captain Jacob Crowninshield, who was a member of the hugely successful Crowninshield & Sons of Salem shipping company.

The elephant came to America aboard the ship, America.  She was 2 years old and they called her Old Bet. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s father, Nathaniel Hathorne, was apparently an officer on board, and he is credited with writing, “Elephant on Board” in the ship log.

As the story goes, the crew of the America realized quickly after setting sail with this elephant that she was drinking all of the water on board. They quickly switched her diet to beer, and when she arrived stateside she was, well, drunk.  That did not diminish Old Bet’s popularity, though. She was eventually sold to Bailey (of Barnum & Bailey) and taken on tour with the circus. She was exhibited in Salem, Beverly, Marblehead, Boston, and New York.

The promotional poster from Boston has a few gems in its copy: “He eats 130 weight a day, and drinks all kinds of spiritous liquors; some days he has drank 30 bottles of porter, drawing the corks with his trunk,” and “The elephant having destroyed many papers of consequence, it is recommended to visitors not to come near him with such papers.”

Admission to see the elephant cost one quarter of a dollar (children, nine pence).

You can purchase a copy of the Boston Poster at the House of the Seven Gables.  It is a great piece of the whimsical side of Salem history.

An All-American Trip to Salem

This is the fourth in a series of suggested ways to explore Salem. Destination Salem will feature a new itinerary each Tuesday (#traveltuesday!). These itineraries are not available as a package, and are only suggested ways to explore Salem. Please contact listed sites for hours, rates, and schedules.

Previous itineraries include: Two-Night Itinerary for a Family, Food, Fish, and History, and a Salem Daytrip from Boston

American Trip to Salem

In honor of Independence Day on July 4th, this week we are featuring an all-American itinerary to inspire your exploration of Salem. Native son Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on the Fourth of July, and to celebrate his birth, we recommend a visit to The House of the Seven Gables and a stop at the National Park in Salem, where you can see where Hawthorne worked as a port surveyor in the Custom House.

You may want to start your visit to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site at the visitor center, where you can see the free film; Where Past is Present.  The film presents the history of Salem and all of Essex County, which is designated the Essex National Heritage Area.  The film is shown at 9:45 AM, 10:15 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 4:00 PM.

Sold around the world, Harbor Sweets chocolates call Salem home. Celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, we think a tour of the Harbor Sweets factory is an all-American experience. Nothing here is out-sourced, in fact, the chocolate is still made with wooden paddles in a non-automated factory in a brick building on Leavitt Street.

Make an overnight of your stay at the Hawthorne Hotel, a Historic Hotel of America, on Salem Common.  Dine in Nathaniel’s in the hotel – named for our favorite author – and grab breakfast or lunch at Red’s Sandwich Shop, in the location of the London Coffee House, where Revolutionaries met in the 18th century.

American Trip to Salem

DO

The House of the Seven Gables, 115 Derby Street, Salem
(978) 745-0991 | 7Gables.org
Discover the secrets of the House of the Seven Gables, which inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel. Admission also includes access to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace, spectacular seaside gardens, and a unique Museum Store.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site, 160 Derby Street, Salem
(978) 740-1650 | nps.gov/sama
Wander this National Park which preserves one of America’s most influential ports and discover the history behind the buildings, wharves, and the reconstructed vessel Friendship, all of which played a large role in establishing trade between the young American nation and the Far East.

Salem Regional Visitor Center, 2 New Liberty Street, Salem
(978) 740-1650 | nps.gov/sama
This National Park preserves one of America’s most influential ports. Salem Maritime National Historic Site is a National Park in an urban setting, and its historic buildings, wharves, and the vessel Friendship describe the traders and sailors who brought the riches of the Far East to America.  While the visitor center is located on Liberty Street, most of the park is on the Salem Waterfront at Derby Street.

Harbor Sweets Factory Tour, 85 Leavitt Street, Salem
(978) 745-7648 | HarborSweets.com
Harbor Sweets has been making handmade, distinctive New England gift chocolates since 1973. The shop offers a glorious array of gifts and treats, including their signature “Sweet Sloops.”  Tours are given most Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 AM. Please call ahead to confirm availability.

STAY

Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square West, Salem
(978) 744-4080 | HawthorneHotel.com
The Hawthorne has been an icon on the North Shore since 1925. The historic and elegant Hotel is located in the heart of Salem and has hosted well-known personalities such as President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, Walter Cronkite, and Bette Davis. It boasts 93 rooms including a four-room antique house as well as two dining areas: the cozy, fireplaced Tavern and award-winning Nathaniel’s.

DINE

Red’s Sandwich Shop, 15 Central Street, Salem
(978) 745-3257 | RedsSandwichShop.com
If you’re looking for the real Salem, try Red’s Sandwich Shop for breakfast or lunch. John and Lisa and the friendly staff of Red’s welcome you to Salem’s most popular landmark for over 50 years. The hearty food has won many awards over the years-most notably for the North Shore’s best breakfast, best luncheon, best coffee and best bagels. Red’s also won the Heritage Days’ Chowderfest and has been praised on the Boston Globe’s “Cheap Eats” and on the Phantom Gourmet’s “Hidden Jewel”.

Nathaniel’s in the Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square, Salem
(978) 825-4311 | HawthorneHotel.com
Located in the iconic Hawthorne Hotel, Nathaniel’s menu offers dishes ranging from historic items of a bygone era to contemporary, eclectic fare. Nathaniel’s also offers demi-portions of its most popular items including their signature dish, Scallops Sophia.

Salem.org