21 Best Places and Things To Do in Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, Massachusetts, is a city rich in history and culture, famously known for its witch trials of 1692. Today, Salem is a popular tourist destination that offers a blend of historical landmarks, fascinating museums, scenic views, and a vibrant atmosphere. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Salem.

1. The Salem Witch Museum

Salem Witch Museum

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Start your exploration of Salem with a visit to the Salem Witch Museum. This renowned museum provides an immersive experience that delves into the infamous witch trials through life-sized stage sets, narrations, and exhibits. It offers an insightful look into the history and events that took place during this dark period.

2. The House of the Seven Gables

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Discover the rich literary history of Salem by exploring The House of the Seven Gables. This historic mansion, made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name, showcases beautiful architecture, picturesque gardens, and stunning waterfront views. Take a guided tour to learn about the house’s fascinating history and its connection to Hawthorne’s work.

3. Peabody Essex Museum

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For art and culture enthusiasts, the Peabody Essex Museum is a must-visit. This renowned museum houses an extensive collection of artwork, including American and Asian art, maritime artifacts, and historical exhibits. It regularly hosts captivating exhibitions that showcase diverse cultures and artistic expressions.

4. Salem Willows Park

File:Salem Willows Path.jpg

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_Willows

If you’re looking for a leisurely afternoon, head to Salem Willows Park. This waterfront park offers scenic views, a relaxing atmosphere, and various recreational activities. Enjoy a picnic, take a leisurely walk, or try your hand at arcade games and classic amusement park rides.

5. The Salem Witch Trials Memorial

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Pay your respects to the victims of the witch trials at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This contemplative memorial features stone benches etched with the names of those who were wrongly accused and executed. It serves as a reminder of the importance of justice and tolerance.

6. The Witch House

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Visit the only remaining structure directly associated with the witch trials, the Witch House. Also known as the Jonathan Corwin House, it is a preserved 17th-century home that offers a glimpse into the daily life and beliefs of the time. Take a guided tour to learn about the witch trials and the house’s historical significance.

7. Derby Wharf

Long, narrow strip of land that extends into Salem Harbor with the Derby Light Station at the end

Image Source: https://www.nps.gov/places/derby-wharf.htm

Enjoy a scenic walk along Derby Wharf, a historic pier that extends into Salem Harbor. Take in the picturesque views of the harbor, observe sailboats passing by, and marvel at the lighthouse at the end of the wharf. It’s a great spot for a leisurely stroll or to simply sit back and enjoy the maritime atmosphere.

8. Gallows Hill

Gallows Hill Park, Salem, Mass, circa 2010. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks

Image Source: https://historyofmassachusetts.org/where-is-the-real-gallows-hill/

For those interested in the darker side of Salem’s history, a visit to Gallows Hill is a must. This is the reputed location where the accused witches were hanged during the witch trials. Today, Gallows Hill Park offers a tranquil space to reflect on the events of the past and pay homage to the victims.

9. Salem Wax Museum

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Step into the world of wax figures at the Salem Wax Museum. This quirky attraction brings history and legend to life through its lifelike wax statues. Explore various themed exhibits, including scenes from the witch trials, pirate legends, and Salem’s maritime history.

10. Salem Common

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Take a break from sightseeing and unwind at Salem Common, a picturesque park in the heart of the city. This public green space offers a peaceful retreat with shaded areas, walking paths, and a playground. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic or to simply relax and soak up the atmosphere.

11. Forest River Park

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Escape the city bustle and enjoy nature at Forest River Park. This expansive park offers walking trails, a beach, picnic areas, and a playground. Take a leisurely stroll, have a family picnic, or simply relax by the water’s edge while taking in the serene surroundings.

12. The Witch Dungeon Museum

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Experience an interactive reenactment of the witch trials at the Witch Dungeon Museum. This unique attraction provides a dramatic portrayal of the trials and allows you to step into the past. Guided tours take you through the museum’s dungeon setting, offering an engaging and immersive experience.

13. Salem Heritage Trail

Salem Lighthouse

Image Source: https://salemheritagetrail.org/

Follow the Salem Heritage Trail, a red line that winds through the city and highlights significant historical sites. This self-guided walking tour takes you to important landmarks, including the Witch House, the Custom House, the Witch Trials Memorial, and other notable points of interest. It’s a great way to explore the city at your own pace while immersing yourself in its fascinating history.

14. Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery

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Horror movie enthusiasts will delight in a visit to Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. This unique museum showcases an extensive collection of life-sized wax figures depicting iconic characters from horror films. From classic monsters to modern-day villains, you’ll encounter famous faces that have haunted the silver screen.

15. Ropes Mansion

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Step into the elegant world of the Ropes Mansion, a beautifully preserved Georgian-style home dating back to the 18th century. Explore the stunning architecture, period furnishings, and lush gardens surrounding the mansion. This historic gem provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of Salem’s prosperous past.

16. Salem Willows Arcade

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Relive the nostalgia of classic arcade games at the Salem Willows Arcade. This family-friendly attraction offers a wide selection of arcade games, from pinball machines to vintage video games. Challenge your friends or family members to a friendly competition and enjoy an afternoon of gaming fun.

17. Phillips House

Phillips House in Salem, Massachusetts

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Step into the refined world of the Phillips House, a historic home that once belonged to the Phillips family, one of Salem’s prominent merchant families. Take a guided tour of this elegant mansion and marvel at its exquisite architectural details and well-preserved interiors, showcasing the opulence of the Victorian era.

18. Forest River Conservation Area


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Nature lovers will appreciate the tranquility of the Forest River Conservation Area. This serene nature reserve offers walking trails that wind through forests and wetlands, providing opportunities for birdwatching, wildlife spotting, and peaceful nature walks. Take a break from the city and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Salem.

19. Winter Island Park

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Winter Island Park is a scenic coastal park located in Salem, Massachusetts. This picturesque destination offers a variety of activities and attractions that make it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, especially during the summer months.

20. New England Pirate Museum

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The New England Pirate Museum, located in Salem, Massachusetts, is a fascinating attraction that takes visitors on a journey into the exciting and mysterious world of pirates.

21. Misery Islands

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Misery Islands, consisting of Great Misery Island and Little Misery Island, is a picturesque pair of islands located off the coast of Salem, Massachusetts. Despite their name, these islands offer a tranquil escape with stunning natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

From delving into Salem’s witch trial history to exploring its maritime heritage, indulging in delicious cuisine, or simply enjoying the city’s charming atmosphere, Salem, Massachusetts, offers a wide range of experiences that cater to all interests. With its rich history and captivating attractions, Salem is a destination that leaves a lasting impression.