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Things to do in Salem

If you're looking for things to do in Salem, you've come to the right place. Located in the heart of Salem Massachusetts' central pedestrian mall, our Salem hotel's front door opens wide to the sites and sounds of this historic North Shore city. Next door, you can explore America's oldest continually operating museum. At the harbor, you can stroll the decks of a reconstructed 1797 merchant ship. And, of course, you can learn about the witch history of this spookiest of New England cities.

1. Essex Street Pedestrian Mall

Exit our lobby and enter a world of unique small shops, museums, and galleries as you meander down this pedestrian-only walkway right on Essex Street. Kitchy souvenir shops aside, this stroll is a great way to take in a little slice of Salem’s lively culture while indulging in some retail therapy.

2. Peabody Essex Museum

Founded in 1799, this jewel of a Salem museum houses both contemporary and historic international art collections that provide an unrivaled view into New England’s diverse heritage. You can easily spend an afternoon taking in the diverse exhibits, with a stop for a snack or lunch in the light-filled Atrium Cafe or Garden Restaurant.

3. House of the Seven Gables

Built in 1668, this beautiful and mysterious historical home is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England. Take a guided tour of the 2.5 acre estate, including the spectacular seaside gardens, that inspired famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his legendary novel of the same name.

4. Witch Museum

For many, the best things to do in Salem all have to do with witches. The name Salem is synonymous with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, a tragic but important part of the town’s - and our country’s - history. Visitors to the Salem Witch Museum can experience the drama and intrigue of that dark time by walking through exhibits, life-size stage sets, and trial reenactments. Learn the details of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 at the Salem Witch Museum, the Wax Museum of Witches & Seafarers, The Witch House and the Witch History Museum. You can become a part of recreations of the trials at the Witch Dungeon or Cry Innocent.

5. Salem Common

The epitome of a New England town green, Salem Common is a lush green space surrounded by stately Federal-style homes, many of which date from the 1700s. If you have an eye for historic architecture, continue your stroll through the adjacent McIntire District for more well preserved examples.

6. Harbor Cruise

See the sights of Salem from the water on a boat tour with Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises. Departing from the calm, protected waters of Salem Sound, you’ll glide past the historic lighthouses and luxurious estates that dot the shorelines of Salem, Marblehead, and the secluded Misery Islands. The onboard grill serves up burgers and dogs complemented by a full cocktail bar. Private tours with customizable routes are also available. 

7. Salem Maritime National Historic Site

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is open for exploration year round and taking one of the free tours is one of the best ways to learn all about the city's maritime history. Tour the Custom House and a special ship trade exhibit, which is hidden just behind the Custom House. During the spring months, we suggest taking a walk on the wooden walkway to see the gardens behind Salem's first wealthy merchant's houses, the Derby House (which you can tour while you're there).

8. Salem State University Center for Creative and Performing Arts

Nearby Salem State University Center for Creative and Performing Arts stages more than 100 high quality music, dance, arts, and theater events each year featuring students and world class artists.

9. CinemaSalem

CinemaSalem is more than a film-lover’s movie theater; it’s also a café, art gallery, live music venue, and home to one of America’s largest all-documentary film festivals (held in February).

10. Fort Pickering

Winter Island Lighthouse, established in 1871, is the main attraction at Fort Pickering - unless you count the unparalleled Atlantic views. The lighthouse was refurbished and now serves as a private navigation aid, and the Winter Island Park is open to the public year round.

11. Beaches

The North Shore of Massachusetts is blessed with some beautiful beaches, many of which are an easy drive from Salem. Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, named for the squeaky sound the dry sand makes underfoot, has a bathhouse and snack bar that make it a popular warm weather destination.

12. Boston

If you've already run through all the best things to do in Salem, and you’d like to experience the bustle of the big city without having to actually stay in the midst of it, Boston is easily accessible by train or ferry. Pop in for an afternoon or full day, and make it back in time to dine at one of Salem’s many top notch restaurants.

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