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Spend Labor Day Weekend in Salem, Massachusetts

Fall may be just around the corner but there is still time to catch up on our favorite summertime activities this Labor Day weekend in Salem, Massachusetts! Take in some late summer fun with outdoor activities around town, check out the latest art exhibitions, dine on a local restaurant patio, and more.

Arriving in Salem

Salem Ferry, Salem, MA, Kate Fox
Salem Ferry

The Salem Ferry runs through October 31! If you are planning a Labor Day weekend trip out of Boston, you can hop aboard the Salem Ferry from Long Wharf and arrive at the Salem Ferry dock on Blaney Street in Salem in just under an hour. Find schedules and ticket information at salemferry.com.

When you arrive at Blaney Street, you can reach downtown by walking down Derby Street (by Salem Maritime National Historic Site or The House of the Seven Gables). You can also arrive downtown from the Salem Ferry dock (or from anywhere within the city) by taking the Salem Skipper. This ride share program can get you anywhere in Salem for just $2. Download the app to get started at salemskipper.com.

Salem Skipper
Salem Skipper

From Boston or points north of Salem, you can also arrive downtown via the MBTA Commuter Rail on the Newburyport/Rockport line. Find train schedules and fare information at mbta.com, and consider taking advantage of the T’s $10 weekend Commuter Rail passes, valid for unlimited travel through all zones Saturday-Sunday.

Once in Salem, you’ll find most everything you’ll want to see or do is in walking distance. If you are driving, you can leave the car parked for the day. Find directions and parking info here.

Things to Do

Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum

Art Exhibitions

Visit the Peabody Essex Museum to view their current exhibition, In American Waters. In this exhibition, visitors can view the ways artists have captured American sea life, and the role oceans play as an artistic reflection of American culture ultimately answering the question of what it means to be “in American waters.”

The show features art by contemporary and historical artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Amy Sherald, Kay WalkingStick, Norman Rockwell, Hale Woodruff, Paul Cadmus, Thomas Hart Benton, Jacob Lawrence, and more. In American Waters is on view through October 3, 2021 and more information is available at pem.org.

Salem Arts Association
Salem Arts Association

Artoberfest, the annual fall arts exhibition from Salem Arts Association opens on Saturday, September 4 and runs through November 6, 2021. The exhibition features work by local artists who used their creativity to explore Salem’s history with witchcraft, religion. The galleries and shop at Salem Arts Association are open weekends, 12-6 pm, and a full exhibition schedule is available on salemarts.org.

Cevin Soling: We’ve Become What We Parody is on view at the Satanic Temple through September 19. The works in the exhibition serve as critiques of both ourselves and our culture designed to prompt unsettling questions on our values and the world we have created. Learn more and find a full list of exhibitions at salemartgallery.com.

Live Performances

As You Like It
As You Like It

The City of Salem’s Summer Live Performance Series continues Labor Day Weekend with As You Like It at Salem Willows and The Ridiculous Project: “Dream, Love, Escape” at Derby Square. Presented by Third Citizen Theatre, As You Like It caps off this season of Shakespeare at the Willows with the classic Shakespearean comedy accompanied by original live music. The performance is free, with a $20 suggested donation toward the theatre company for access to premium seating. Learn more at thirdcitizentheatre.org.

The Ridiculous Project: “Dream, Love, Escape” brings the story of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to life through a new and original retelling that speaks directly to the communal process of emerging from the period of isolation experienced over the past year. Performances take place select dates at Derby Square, with free admission and additional info available here.

Harbor Tours

Mahi Cruises
Mahi Cruises

Spend time on the water this Labor Day weekend by cruising local coastlines with Mahi Cruises or raising the sails with Schooner FAME. Mahi Cruises offers daily cruises plus scenic sunset cruises throughout the weekend, with a full bar and fresh eats available onboard. (If your Labor Day weekend trip starts a little early, they also have a live music cruise running on Thursday nights!) View the full schedule for Mahi Cruises and purchase tickets at mahicruises.com.

Schooner FAME sets sail out of Pickering Wharf with multiple daytime sails Labor Day weekend plus sunset sails. Learn about Salem’s role in the war of 1812 aboard this replica of the privateering vessel FAME, and join in the fun by raising the sails or relax onboard with a cocktail made with locally produced rum from Deacon Giles Distillery. Find tickets in advance at schoonerfame.com.

Dine

Finz Seafood
Finz Seafood & Grill

What better way to send off summer than with a picnic? Pick up something quick from Essex’s NY Pizza or order a full spread of takeout from one of many downtown restaurants, then find a spot to have lunch in one of Salem’s downtown parks. Bring a blanket to Salem Common, walk down to Derby Wharf, or ride the Salem Trolley and hop off at Winter Island for a scenic picnic spot.

Many of Salem’s restaurants have expanded outdoor patios that will remain open as weather permits through the fall. Dine by the waterfront at Finz or Sea Level, on the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall at Village Tavern, or along Washington Street with Koto or Rockafellas. Find a full list of restaurants with outdoor dining in Salem here.

Shop

Modern Millie Vintage
Modern Millie Vintage

Visit Central Street to shop for homemade treats for furry friends at New England Dog Biscuit Company or to pick up new vintage-inspired fashion pieces for fall at Modern Millie. Stroll through Artists’ Row to shop for items by Salem artists and pick up locally made beeswax candles, pollen, lotions and more from Beverly Bees, or head to Essex Street for Salem gifts and souvenirs at Coon’s Card & Gift Shop and Trolley Depot, uniquely Salem prints and tees at District Trading Company, and fair trade gifts and decor from Moody’s Home & Gifts.

By the waterfront, Pickering Wharf is home to Coven Beauty, which offers a modern twist on Salem’s style with makeup, accessories, apparel, and ritual tools, plus the Marble Faun Books & Gifts which has everything for the literary lover from antique books to accessories inspired by Poe, Austen, and more.

Forget to pick something up while in Salem? Many downtown shops have online stores. Use the guide linked here to shop Salem online and find a full list of places to shop downtown here.

Stay

Hawthorne Hotel
Hawthorne Hotel

With so much to see and do, you may need to change your day in Salem to an overnight stay! All of the accommodations listed here are in walking distance to downtown events and activities.

Stay in a full service hotel complete with bars and restaurants by booking at the historic Hawthorne Hotel by Salem Common, the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites (and check out their new Marina Beer Garden!) or The Hotel Salem, with Salem’s only rooftop bar.

Find modern accommodations at the Hampton Inn Salem, or consider a historic bed and breakfast like the Daniels House B&B (the oldest B&B in the country), or book a family suite at the Salem Inn.

Want even more to do this Labor Day weekend? Check out our events calendar or download the Destination Salem app to find everything happening during your visit.

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