10 Free Things
Free to explore Salem? The following activities, destinations and diversions are open to the public and are completely free of charge.
10. Explore your National Park
The first National Historic Site established in the US, tours of the buildings, wharves, and Tall Ship Friendship (currently undergoing restoration in drydock) at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site are free. Learn stories of the sailors, Revolutionary War privateers and merchants who brought the riches of the world to America through the port of Salem. Spend a half hour learning regional history from the wonderful, free film, “Where Past is Present” at the Visitor Center. 2 New Liberty Street and 193 Derby Street.
9. Tour the historic Hawthorne Hotel
Visit the Hawthorne Hotel weekdays at 4:00 pm for a complimentary guided tour and learn about the history and design of this 1925 Historic Hotel of America. Call 978-744-4080 for more information.
8. Stroll along Chestnut Street
Take the time to wander down beautiful Chestnut Street, which was the first planned street in America. Read all of the house plaques to learn the about the people who built and lived in the exquisite Federal-style mansions. The self-guided McIntire Trail Brochure is available online and at the Salem Regional Visitor Center.
7. Relax at the Ropes Mansion
Just a block from historic Chestnut Street, at 318 Essex Street, you will find the historic Ropes Mansion Garden. This stunning Colonial Revival garden, created in 1912, is a popular place for relaxing, reading, photography, and admiring the flowers. Part of the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum, the garden is open to the public, and throughout the growing season, offers a splendid sampling of local horticulture.
6. Play and Picnic in Salem Common
Originally used as a grazing area for Salem residents’ livestock and a training area for the Salem militia, today Salem Common is a favorite spot for jogging, reading, concerts and wedding ceremonies. The playground and basketball court provide a place for families to unwind and enjoy some fresh air.
5. Walk through History
Brochures for the African American History Trail, the Nathaniel Bowditch Trail: A Walking Tour of the Great Age of Sail and the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Salem are available at nps.gov/sama as well as at the Salem Regional Visitor Center. Each walking trail takes about one hour and will show you hidden points of historical interest and fascination in Salem.
4. Step Through Cemeteries
Salem has wonderful, historic cemeteries, including the Old Burying Point Cemetery on Charter Street, Howard Street Cemetery and the Broad Street Cemetery. The Charter Street Burying Point is one of the oldest cemeteries in Massachusetts. In it you can see the graves of a Witch Trials judge, a Mayflower passenger, and architect Samuel McIntire. Cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk.
3. Wander around the Willows
In addition to the restaurants and arcades (which will lighten your quarter stash), Salem Willows Park has two free beaches, walking trails and a free summer concert series. Good weather brings families from near and far with their picnics to savor the sun, sand and salt water. And, for less than $2 you can feast on one of Salem Low’s famous chop suey sandwiches.
2. Remember the Victims of 1692
Dedicated in 1992, by Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel, to commemorate the tercentenary of the Salem Witch Trials, the Witch Trials Memorial was restored in 2012 and remains a solemn place to honor and remember the brave people who maintained their innocence in 1692.
1. Connect it all along the Salem Heritage Trail
Connect all of Salem’s sites by walking the Salem Heritage Trail. A red line painted on the sidewalk, the Heritage Trail will help you navigate your way through Salem and American history. The Heritage Trail is printed on the map in the centerfold of The Salem Guide.