10 Things to Know About Salem, Massachusetts

With a festival or celebration every month of the year, a robust local theater scene, active nightlife, and ever-changing museum programming, you will always find something to do and explore in Salem. To start your adventure, here are 10 things to know about Salem, Massachusetts:

10. Salem is a small city

Chestnut Street Car Meet, Heritage Days


With a population of about 42,000 people, Salem is a small city located just 16 miles north of Boston. In Salem, you’ll find a bustling downtown area full of museums and attractions, shops, and restaurants, along with historic districts, a neighborhood that features murals painted by local artists, and 18.5 miles of tidal shoreline that include 7 public beaches.

9. Our busiest season is October during the Haunted Happenings Festival

Things to Know About Salem

Salem Haunted Happenings, photo by John Andrews


Salem Haunted Happenings is a month-long celebration, encompassing everything from family-friendly magic shows, to costume balls, psychic readings, haunted harbor cruises, ghost tours, and more. Whether you come to Salem seeking history, spooks, shopping, or even a vibrant food and “spirits” scene, you are sure to find your own adventure each October.

8. Salem hosts dozens of festivals throughout the year

Salem’s So Sweet, photo by John Andrews


Haunted Happenings may be the biggest, but it’s just one of dozens of festivals during the year in Salem. Salem’s So Sweet in February, Salem Film Fest in March, Salem Arts Festival in June, Heritage Days in August, and Holiday Happenings in December are just a few others! We’re also home to regional events that take place annually including ArtWeek in April/May, the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in May, the North Shore Pride Parade & Festival in June!

7. Salem is a walkable city


Wear comfortable shoes because Salem is a very walkable city and we encourage you to park your car for the day to explore our historic streets and waterfront on foot. Downtown Salem is only about a mile wide (from the Phillips House on Chestnut Street to the Salem Ferry on Blaney Street). You can learn about Salem’s history by walking the Salem Heritage Trail, or by taking a guided tour on any topic ranging from food tours with tastings, to ghost tours, and modern witch walks.

6. The National Park Service offers self-guided walking tours


There are several self-guided walking tours available through the National Park Service. Grab a brochure and explore The McIntire Historic District, Architecture in Salem, African American Heritage Sites in Salem, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Salem, or Bowditch’s Salem. Prefer an audio tour? You can download the (free) Salem Black Heritage Audio Tour right to your smartphone by searching for “UniGuide” in your app store and selecting the tour.

5. Parking costs between $.75/hour and $20/day


The cost of parking in Salem varies depending on the space, garage, lot, or season. During October weekends, City garages and lots along with most private lots cost $20 (cash on entry) to park for the day. You can find long-term parking in one of the City garages, or by downloading the Passport Parking App to feed your meter from your phone.

4. ”Pop-ups” and special events happen all the time!

Finz Seafood & Grill, Photo by Jared Charney


Be sure to allow time for the unexpected since there is always something happening in Salem! You may find a cookie “speakeasy” down an alley, an artisan market at a brewery, or the Farmers’ Market in Derby Square! You can always check out events happening during your visit on our events calendar.

3. Salem is a dog-friendly destination


We have lots of dog-friendly restaurants that allow you to dine on their outdoor patios for you and your pet, with some locations even offering special ‘doggy menus.’ Salem is even home to a number of pet-friendly accommodations, walking tours, and shopping experiences. We even celebrate Halloween with furry friends during the annual Howl-o-ween Pet Parade each October!

2. Combination tickets are available for select attractions

Witch Dungeon Museum, Photo by Jared Charney


Visit The Land of Witches & Pirates with a combo ticket to the Witch Dungeon Museum, Witch History Museum, and New England Pirate Museum. The Salem Hysteria Pass includes the Salem Wax Museum and Salem Witch Village. The Visit 1692 Pass includes the Salem Witch Museum, Witch House and the Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers, and includes discounts at The Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel, Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie and Goodies Ice Cream (Danvers).

1. You can start planning your Salem adventure today!


Request your FREE Visitor Guide or join our list to start planning your visit to Salem today! Love the cover of the 2018 Salem Guide as much as we do? You can enter to win your very own signed limited edition print of the cover art featuring an original design of The House of the Seven Gables by local artist, Elissa Von Letkemann of Windows of Salem. We’ll be randomly selecting one winner each month during 2018!

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