10 Free Things to Do in Salem

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

New in 2013, tours of the buildings, wharves, and Tall Ship Friendship 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. Indulge your sweet tooth

Visit Harbor Sweets on Leavitt Street and experience handcrafted chocolates first hand. Harbor Sweets has been creating their world-famous Sweet Sloops for nearly thirty years. Tours are given on most Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 AM. Call 800-234-4860 for 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 McInitre Trail Brochure is available online and at the Salem Regional Visitor Center.

Ropes Mansion Garden

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 was created in 1912, and today it 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, it offers a splendid sampling of local horticulture. 

Salem Common Gazebo

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.

Howard Street Cemetery

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, among others, a Witch Trials judge, a Mayflower passenger, and architect Samuel McIntire. Cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk.

Salem Willows Sunset

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 to commemorate the tercentenary of the Salem Witch Trials, the Memorial was restored in 2012 and remains a solemn place to honor and remember the brave people who maintained their innocence in 1692. Learn more at SalemAward.org.

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.