To make the most of your summertime day-trip to Salem, plan to arrive early to park and make your way to your first destination. Information on parking and directions to Salem is available here.
Upon arrival in Salem, visit Waite and Peirce at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site to learn how to become a Junior Ranger. The National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program allows kids to learn about their National Parks while completing fun activities.
Once the kids are officially Junior Rangers, walk down Derby Street until you reach the House of the Seven Gables on your right. Most known for its connections to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his novel named after the mansion, the House of the Seven Gables also has an expansive maritime history. The whole family can learn about the Gables’ fascinating stories by participating in the Family Navigation Game and by visiting Kids’ Cove at the Counting House.
Continue walking down Derby Street in the same direction, until you see Blaney Street on your right. Follow the sidewalk to the Salem Ferry landing, and take a tour aboard Sea Shuttle’s catamaran Endeavor. Sea Shuttle features a water tour and an onboard touch-tank, allowing you to interact with live sea creatures during your trip around the harbor.
Following your cruise, pick up the Salem Trolley, and take it back up to the Salem Regional Visitor Center. (The Salem Trolley features a one-hour tour, and you can hop on and off throughout the day). From the Visitor Center, walk down the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall on your way to lunch. Cross Washington Street and walk past the statue of Samantha from Bewitched (or stop to take a selfie with Samantha!). Stop for lunch at Flying Saucer Pizza Company, which features fresh and locally grown ingredients and offers a variety of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, as well as craft beers for the grown-ups in the family.
After lunch, cross the street returning to the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall in time for a performance of Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop. This live performance begins on Essex Street with the arrest of Bridget Bishop, followed by a reenactment of her trial, where the audience is able to interact with the actors and determine their own outcome for the case. Once you’ve played your part in history, continue back down Essex Street towards the Visitor Center to pick up the trolley.
Hop off the trolley at the Salem Willows, and enjoy spending time in the arcade, kiddie land rides and carousel, or on one of the two beaches. (Be sure to keep track of the time, as the last trolley pickup will be at 4:25 pm).
Return to the Salem Regional Visitor Center via the trolley and do some last minute shopping along Essex Street. Pick up hats, t-shirts, and other souvenirs for the whole family (and maybe the pets you have waiting at home), at Witch Tee’s, Trolley Depot, or Coon’s Card & Gift Shop/Penelope’s Pet Boutique. No summer day-trip is complete without ice cream, so grab a cup or a cone from Maria’s Sweet Somethings before heading back to the car.