A beloved annual tradition, Santa Claus will arrive at the top of the Hawthorne Hotel at 18 Washington Square – with assistance from the Salem Fire Department, of course! Santa’s arrival will be followed by a procession down the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall for the annual lighting of Salem’s Holiday Tree at Lappin Park (next to the Bewitched Statue at the intersection of Essex Street and Washington Street).
No car, no problem, we’ve got you covered! Salem is a very walkable city with plenty of ways to get around without using a car. Keep reading to learn our favorite ways to get to and around Salem, MA.
Getting to Salem
MBTA Commuter Rail
Coming from Boston, Salem is a short ride away from North Station via the Commuter Rail. Additionally, the Commuter Rail connects Salem to excellent cities north of Boston, like Rockport and Gloucester. Fares and schedules vary according to the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority), and the most up to date schedules may be found on the MBTA website, MBTA.com/Schedules.
Commuter Rail tickets may be purchased with cash onboard or with the mTicket mobile app for your smartphone. Once in Salem, the Commuter Rail Station is located right downtown, within walking distance to many shops, restaurants, accommodations, and attractions.
Another way to reach Salem from Boston is to hop aboard the Salem Ferry. In just under an hour, the ferry can take passengers between Salem and Boston, while offering scenic views of both cities. The ferry, Nathaniel Bowditch is equipped with enclosed and open-air seating, tables, and restrooms, making the trip a quick and comfortable one.
The ferry departs from Long Wharf in Boston, and docks in Salem at Blaney Street, both of which are within walking distance to many local attractions. The ferry runs seasonally and rates vary so be sure to check out the Salem Ferry website before planning a trip.
Driving to Salem?
If you are planning on driving into Salem, we recommend leaving the car parked for most of your visit. As such a walkable city, it will be easier to leave the car parked and walk or take the Salem Trolley to your destinations throughout your trip. Directions to Salem and parking locations and costs are available here. Note that parking costs typically increase during weekends in October.
Getting Around Salem
Salem Harbor Shuttle
While in Salem, you can take to the water to reach different areas around town with the Salem Harbor Shuttle. The shuttle runs seasonally and stops near the Salem Ferry landing on Blaney Street, right downtown at Congress Street, and at Winter Island and the Salem Willows.
Tickets ($7 for adults and $4 for kids) may be purchased onboard and special rates are available with transfers from the ferry. Visit the Salem Harbor Shuttle website to learn more.
Once in Salem, you’ll be pleased to find that most everything you’d want to do is within walking distance. Many Salem attractions are located within about a 20-minute walk from each other at their farthest points. You can view a map of downtown Salem here or in the Salem Visitor Guide.
Zagster-Salem Bike Share
Another great way to see Salem is with Zagster-Salem Bike Share. Zagster stations can be found throughout downtown Salem. To use Zagster, simply download the mobile app to unlock the bike at your current station and enjoy the ride! Learn more about Zagster here.
The Salem Trolley runs daily from April 1 to November 1 from 10:00 am-5:00 pm (last full tour beginning at 4:00 pm). You can stay on the trolley for an informative hour-long tour about Salem’s past and present, or you can use your ticket to hop on and off throughout the day to get around town. If you take the Salem Ferry into town consider purchasing the combination ticket that includes the Salem Trolley!
To get the most out of your walk around Salem, plan on taking a walking tour. There are tours to cover a variety of topics including historical tours, ghost tours, and even food tours. Check out which tours are available here or learn more about walking Salem’s Heritage Trail here.
The 14th Annual Wild Turkey 5 Mile Run will take place on Thanksgiving Day, November 23 in Salem, Mass. Proceeds from the 14th Annual Wild Turkey 5 Mile Run on Thanksgiving morning benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem. This is the largest race on the North Shore, with 2,000 anticipated participants. First 1600 participants get long sleeved Brooks tech shirts.
Registration information is available here. For further information, please email email@example.com.
Celebrate the “last dying gasp of the sailing season,” with Downrig or Die!, an annual program presented by the Salem Maritime National Historic Site in partnership with Schooner Fame and Essex Heritage.
On November 5, 2016, take to the water on a discounted sail aboard a traditional schooner. Both the Schooner Fame and the Schooner Ardelle are offering discounted public sails as part of the Downrig or Die! Each sail departs from Pickering Wharf or Central Wharf and lasts for 90 minutes. The Schooner Fame will be setting sail at 1:00 pm, and the Schooner Ardelle at 2:00 pm. Discounted rates for the sails are $15 for adults, and $10 for seniors, military, and children ages between the ages of 2 and 12. Visit Schooner Fame’s website to purchase tickets in advance, and say farewell to the season from an authentic replica schooner!
Following the sails, visit the Salem Maritime National Historic Site to learn about Salem’s maritime history and maritime archaeology. During Shipwrecks and Salem Maritime! Maritime Archaeologist, Calvin Mires, and Park Ranger, Tom Landers will share their knowledge of Salem’s maritime history along with marine archaeology through a family-friendly program. Shipwrecks and Salem Maritime! will be taking place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Derby Wharf.
From 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, visit St. Joseph’s Hall for a series of educational talks about the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. During these sessions, receive updates on the FriendShip from Captain Jeremy Bumagin and First Mate/Rigger John Newman of the National Park Service. Additionally, Annie Harris, Executive Director of Essex Heritage will present information on the Bakers Island Light Station. After the Shipwrecks and Salem Maritime! program, Calvin Hires will be on hand to conclude the speaker series with a discussion of maritime archaeology.
In the evening, visit Victoria Station for a sail away party of sorts featuring raffles, local rum, appetizers, live music and more! The party lasts from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and is sure to be filled with good times and “schooner wisdom,” as the 2016 sailing season comes to a close.
Celebrate the New Year with us on a First Day Hike!
Join Salem Historian Jim McAllister and National Park Service Rangers and volunteers for a hike to Salem’s waterfront. Beginning at Salem Common, the hike will continue across Essex and Derby Streets, along Derby Wharf, all the way out to the Derby Wharf Light Station. Park Rangers will open the door of the lighthouse and invite First Day Hikers inside to get an up-close look at the magnificent fresnel lens. After the lighthouse visit, we invite all intrepid First Day Hikers to the 2nd floor of St. Joseph Hall to enjoy cookies and hot chocolate.
Meet at the Salem Common playground at 2:00 PM. Wear comfortable and stable walking shoes; bring your family and friends for a hike on the first day of 2018! Furry friends on a leash are welcome, too!
America’s State Parks started First Day Hikes to encourage people to get outdoors. The National Park Service is following their lead. If you do not live near Salem Maritime, find a First Day Hike near you in one of America’s State Parks online.
Program is free. No reservation required. For more information call 978-740-1650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bridgin G.A.P.S.’ festival is an entertaining and educational platform for the local community to gather and celebrate the arts and the work of local organizations that are making an impact in the community.
Performances range from local and non local recording artists, live bands, visual artists, dance groups, poets and other performance styles along with guest speakers from various non profit and charitable organizations to highlight the work they do and inform people how they can get involved or support their organization.
Is staying fit part of your New Year’s resolution? A true walking city filled with fresh local food and a variety of ways to get moving, Salem is a great place to stay fit in the new year:
Cycling at any speed. You’ll find lycra-clad cyclists racing around Salem Common reaching speeds of 35-45 mph at the Witches Cup Criterium Race each August. During the rest of the year, however, we take a slightly slower pace. A bike-friendly community, “sharrows” are painted on many Salem streets to encourage the sharing of roads by automobile and cycle traffic.
Eat local. Pick up locally grown produce, local eggs, and fresh baked goods at the Salem Farmers’ Market, Thursday afternoons June through October and Salem’s Winter Market on select dates in November and December. During the warmer months you’ll find the Salem Farmers’ Market in Derby Square, and during the Winter Market events you’ll need to head indoors to the Museum Place Mall. Milk and Honey Green Grocer, located on Church Street, is another great place to shop for locally sourced foods to keep you healthy all year long. Looking for more local options? Consider visiting even more shops and restaurants (while also learning about Salem’s spice trade history) with Salem Food Tours.
Run it out. In 2012, the Road Runners Club of America, the oldest and largest distance running organization in the United States, designated Salem as a Runner-Friendly Community. This designation means that Salem is an environment in which organizations and businesses work together to promote running as healthy exercise and sport. Salem hosts a number of races annually. Check out the Wicked Frosty Four, a four mile race that takes place annually on New Year’s Day and benefits scholarship funds for local high school students. In October, Salem hosts the Devil’s Chase 6.66 Miler event which brings out thousands of pitchfork carrying runners each year.
S-T-R-E-T-C-H out your muscles doing yoga, which during the warmer months is offered outdoors in the garden by the Ropes Mansion, or get in a work out at the Salem YMCA. The YMCA is also close to opening an all-new yoga studio, perfect for getting in some exercise, stress relief, and relaxation after a busy day around town. Day passes and drop-in rates are available through the YMCA to keep you moving all year regardless of the weather.
Take a walk. Salem prides itself on being a walkable city. Not quite sure where to walk? Go for a stroll down Derby Wharf. This scenic walk winds past the Friendship of Salem, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and the Derby Wharf Light Station. For a shorter walk, wander through the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and Artists’ Row, which offers free public workshops from Memorial Day Weekend to Halloween. You’ll also pass by Old Town Hall, which houses Cry Innocent and the Spirit of Salem Film, and Derby Square which is home to the seasonal Farmers’ Market. Whether you find yourself speed-walking around Salem Common, strolling Chestnut Street, or walking the trails of Salem Woods, we hope you will get out there and explore. (And if you need help getting started, check out this Salem guide from WalkBoston.org!)
Celebrate Independence Day with live music and family programming at Salem Maritime National Historic Site and a fireworks extravaganza!
Festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. with a musical act performing on the main stage. Opening ceremonies begin at 7:15 p.m, and are followed by a two-hour ‘POPS’ concert by the Hillyer Festival Orchestra, a forty-piece ensemble with vocal soloists performing opera to Broadway favorites. At 9:15 p.m. a magnificent fireworks display is launched from Derby Wharf accompanied by live music from the orchestra.
For more information, log onto www.salem.com or contact Salem City Hall at 978-619-5676.
Planning a visit to Salem, MA with your entire family (pets included)? There are plenty of ways to experience Salem with your pet, from pet-friendly hotel rooms to outdoor dining opportunities. Click here for a complete list of pet-friendly locations around Salem.
Many of Salem’s hotels and inns welcome guests traveling with pets. Please note that fees vary by each location, and pet friendly rooms are based on availability.
The Hawthorne Hotel offers pet friendly rooms on the building’s 6th floor. A stay includes complimentary toys for guests’ dogs, and a specially crafted Doggy Room Service menu designed by the Hawthorne Hotel’s executive chef.
Guests planning to camp in Salem can bring pets to Winter Island Park which is open from May 20 to November 1.
Attractions & Tours
Well-behaved pets are able to join their humans on some of Salem’s walking tours included Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours and Spellbound Tours. Dogs can also learn about Salem’s history and get around town aboard the Salem Trolley and Mahi Cruises.
Coon’s Cards & Gifts is home to Penelope’s Pet Boutique, which stocks collars, toys, tags, and treats for their furry friends. Pets may also visit New England Dog Biscuit Company, which bakes natural dog biscuits right in the shop and carries other natural treats and food, toys, collars/leashes, and more for both cats and dogs.
Pets are also welcome in some shops around town, like RJ Coins and Jewelry where guests with friendly pets may browse products like the Dog Fever and Cat Fever hug rings. Other local businesses may place water bowls outside their entrances to keep pets hydrated while they enjoy Salem with their families.
Local restaurants with outdoor dining spaces may allow pets to join their guests on patios. Flying Saucer Pizza Company, Gulu-Gulu Café, and Village Tavern, all welcome pets in their patio dining areas. Village Tavern can also provide a puppy friendly menu and beef infused water.
Some favorite dog walking spots in Salem include: Derby Wharf, Forest River Park, Salem Common, Salem Willows, and Winter Island Park. Remember to obey local leash laws and pick up after your pet while going for walks. Be sure to bring your pet’s proper identification and proof of Rabies vaccination while traveling, and follow posted regulations when walking along beaches.
The 22nd Annual Haunted Happenings Grand Parade will feature the theme “Movie Monsters”. This time honored kick-off of the Halloween season is full of color, pageantry, music and the enthusiasm of thousands of Salem’s students from kindergarten to college and our local business owners.
About the theme: The choice of costumes for this year’s parade is endless, based on all the classic and beloved monster themed movies parents and kids love. The parade audience will see a lot of characters from Monsters Inc., Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter, and The Adams Family, to name a few. Thriller might make a comeback and one or two horror movie characters might join the Salem Chamber Haunted Happenings Parade as well!
The parade will be starting from Shetland properties on congress street turning left onto Derby Street, right onto Central Street, left onto Front Street, right onto Washington Street, right onto the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and finishing in the Salem common.
Click here to find out more or to enter as a parade participant.
With the sailing season is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start planning a maritime fan’s visit to Salem, Massachusetts. Most known for the tragic events of 1692, Salem’s maritime trade has also greatly impacted the region we know today. During the summer months, maritime fans can even start experiencing Salem by water before arriving in town via the Salem Ferry from Boston.
The Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites is located adjacent to the Pickering Wharf Marina, which houses both sail boats and power boats up to 55 feet in length. With amenities like a swimming pool, fitness center, and full service restaurant, this hotel is a wonderful option for maritime fans looking for a contemporary Salem getaway.
A short (and scenic) walk from both Pickering Wharf and the Salem Ferry is Morning Glory Bed & Breakfast. This historic Georgian Federal style building was built in 1808 and today features amenities like complimentary transportation between the Salem Ferry and MBTA Commuter Rail, breakfast, and a roof-top deck with beautiful ocean views.
To RV or tent-camp by the water, consider staying at Winter Island Park. Open seasonally from May 20 to November 1, Winter Island features a public beach, lighthouse, and a historic fort.
The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is home to historic homes, lighthouses, and a ship that represent the site’s mission to preserve Salem’s maritime history. Visit the site to learn about the merchant vessels that helped grow Salem’s economy, take a tour of the Derby or Narbonne House, or explore the Derby Wharf Lighthouse. The site is also home to the Friendship of Salem, a replica of the original tall ship launched in 1797. Currently in drydock, the Friendship will be open for tours on a seasonal basis when she returns to Salem later this year.
Nearby the Salem Maritime National Historic Site is Pickering Wharf Marina, which includes docks for Schooner FAME and Mahi Cruises. Schooner FAME is a replica of the 1812 privateer Fame that is open for public sails during the season (beginning May 13). Mahi Cruises features a variety of excursions from sunset cruises, to Sunday brunches and even a live music series in the summer. Also open seasonally, Mahi Cruises kicks off the 2017 sailing season with a sunset cruise on May 12.
To get even closer to the ocean and the creatures that live there, walk down Blaney Street and sail with Sea Shuttle aboard the Catamaran Endeavor. While out on the water, touch live sea creatures and learn about their habitats in Sea Shuttle’s onboard aquarium. Additionally Sea Shuttle offers optional pickups and drop-offs at Misery Island, and runs on a seasonal basis beginning May 13.
Maritime fans may also access Bakers Island through a boat tour with Essex Heritage run seasonally beginning in June. While there guests may view the exterior of Bakers Island Lighthouse, which is an 1820 reconstruction built in place of the original 1791 light station. Essex Heritage also offers exclusive overnight stays at the lighthouse for members only. For more information on overnights and other member events visit EssexHeritage.org.
More inland from many of Salem’s maritime attractions is the Peabody Essex Museum, which was founded by sea captains in 1799. Today, the museum is the oldest continually operated museum in the country, and features pieces of art brought to Salem by merchants who have travelled all over the world. Additionally, the Museum’s latest exhibition Ocean Liners: Glamour, Speed, and Style will be open from May 20 to October 9.
To learn more about Salem’s maritime history, take to the water with Mahi Cruises for a narrated sightseeing tour. Consider coming back during leaf peeping season and embark on Mahi’s lighthouse and foliage cruise in the fall. For a taste of Salem’s past on land, learn about the spice trade during a Salem Food Tour, which includes information on maritime history and tastings at local shops and restaurants.
Dine by the water in Pickering Wharf, with restaurants that are sure to please the tastes of any maritime fan. Take in views of the harbor at Sea Level Oyster Bar & Kitchen, Finz Seafood & Grill, or Victoria Station & Vic’s Boathouse. For a casual dining experience just a few more steps from the harbor, kick back at Brodie’s Seaport, Longboards Restaurant & Bar, and the Regatta Pub at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites.
For the ultimate maritime shopping experience, don’t miss some of the most nautical shops in Pickering Wharf. Joe’s Fresh Fish Prints includes handmade Gyotaku fish prints created with locally caught fish, and the shop even hosts classes for guests to create their own unique prints.
A different kind of maritime shop may be found at Ocean Chic Boutique, which features a refreshing waterbar and popular beachy clothing brands like Vineyard Vines and unique local favorites. Ocean Chic has also recently introduced a men’s collection available both in-store and online.
While in Pickering Wharf, guests may purchase scrimshaw gifts from RJ Coins and Jewelry for unique scrimshaw gifts along with fashion jewelry, rare coins, and more.
Back at the Salem National Maritime Site, plan on visiting Waite and Peirce to shop authentic and exotic goods specially crafted based on Salem’s spice trade history. The shop is home to reproduction historical goods, and locally made maritime themed goods like Waite and Peirce’s exclusive clothing line and tote bags from Sea Bags of Maine constructed out of recycled sails.
Dusk transforms the city of Salem. As the city of renown seafarers and distinguished architecture fades into the shadows, a new Salem of the occult and paranormal emerges. Visit scenes of grisly murders and ghastly executions, hear tales of ghosts, both mischievous and malevolent, of Salem’s haunted hotels and restaurants of long forgotten underground passageways, ancient curses and legends of ghost ships and haunted islands. You will experience all of this and more as you ride the Salem Trolley’s Tales & Tombstones Tour and explore Salem of the Shadows. Tour is approximately 1 hour. Tour departs from our 8 Central Street office.
Tales & Tombstones runs in July, August, and October
Reservations are required – Tickets are available online as of June 1st