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Salem Weekend Itinerary from Rockport, Massachusetts

Sunset in Salem Harbor in Salem, Massachusetts

Explore the North of Boston region with a stay in Rockport, Massachusetts paired with time spent exploring Salem’s historic downtown and waterfront. Rockport is located 30 minutes north of Salem on the edge of the Cape Ann peninsula. This quaint coastal community offers an easy alternative to staying in downtown Salem with a full selection of historic inns and B&Bs just a short drive or train ride away.

Where to Stay

Rockport, Massachusetts
Rockport, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Beth Cheney, Inns of Rockport.

Rockport has no shortage of unique accommodations, offering something for everyone with a variety of inns and B&Bs. We think Inns of Rockport has a great list of accommodations to suit every interest and budget throughout the town, and would recommend using their website, innsofrockport.com as a starting point in your planning.

Many of Rockport’s inns are conveniently located within walking distance of both the Commuter Rail station and Front Beach, one of the town’s most picturesque beaches, along with numerous local shops and restaurants.

Getting to Salem

MBTA Commuter Rail to Salem

Salem is easily accessible from Rockport via the MBTA Commuter Rail. Start at the Rockport station on the Newburyport/Rockport line, and take the train inbound toward Boston. Fare information is available at mbta.com, though weekend visitors should take advantage of MBTA’s $10 weekend pass, that allows for unlimited weekend travel through all zones for just $10. Download the mTicket app to pay your fare, or bring cash onboard.

Once in Salem, you’ll find the train station is centrally located on Bridge Street in close walking distance to downtown museums and attractions, shops, and restaurants. You won’t need a car while you’re here since most everything you’ll want to see is just steps away, and if you decide you need a lift, the Salem Skipper and Bluebikes are available to help you around town. If you do decide to drive, plan to park in one of the City’s lots or garages, and leave the car parked until you are ready to return to Rockport at the end of the day.

Day 1

Salem Trolley

Many of Rockport’s downtown inns include full spreads for breakfast. If you are planning on having breakfast in Rockport, we recommend getting to the train station in time to board the 9:50 am train, which will get you to Salem by 10:41 am.

If you are arriving earlier and looking for breakfast in Salem, you could take the 7:50 am train from Rockport to arrive in Salem at 8:41 am and stop for a bite at one of these restaurants:

After breakfast, pick up the Salem Trolley for an hour-long tour around town to get your bearings. You can purchase tickets in person at the booth on the corner of Essex and New Liberty Streets. Learn more at salemtrolley.com.

Peabody Essex Museum

Following your trolley tour, cross Essex Street and take in the latest exhibitions at the Peabody Essex Museum. One of the oldest and largest art museums in the country, the Peabody Essex Museum’s collections feature examples of art and culture from around the world in addition to the 200-year-old Chinese house, Yin Yu Tang, and a historic house collection located throughout Salem. Visit pem.org ahead of your visit to view current exhibitions and admissions policies.

Don’t miss the museum shop on your way out of the museum- It’s stocked with art, books, and accessories related to current exhibits as well as a selection of fashion pieces, children’s books and toys, books on Salem’s history, jewelry and more.

As you leave the museum, continue down Essex Street to your right, making another right at Axelrod Walkway. Cross the street at the end of the walkway and turn right to head toward the Samuel Pickman House, a PEM historic house now home to the welcome center for Salem’s Charter Street Cemetery.

Charter Street Cemetery Welcome Center in the Samuel Pickman House

The Charter Street Cemetery Welcome Center houses exhibits on the history of the cemetery and the people buried there as well as the rest of the Charter Street historic district. Browse the exhibits, and visit the shop to purchase a cemetery map before heading out to explore the burial ground and Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

Walk along the path of the Witch Trials Memorial before entering the cemetery, and note the Memorial’s design with a bench marked with the name of each victim of the Salem Witch Trials. The front of the Memorial features stone engraved with the pleas of innocence spoken by the victims. Learn more about the Memorial’s design and find guidelines for visiting at voicesofinjustice.org.

Upon passing the bench for Bridget Bishop, you’ll find the entrance to the cemetery. While visiting the cemetery, remember to stay on the paths and exit through the Charter Street gate. Within Charter Street Cemetery, you’ll see the graves of many notable Salem residents along with examples of New England tombstone art.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial

When you leave the cemetery, turn left onto Charter Street. From there, stop for lunch nearby at…

After lunch, spend some time exploring Salem’s downtown shops. All of the above restaurants are just steps away from the following shops (and more!)

Salem Witch Museum

Before ending your day in Salem, head toward Salem Common for a visit to the Salem Witch Museum. The museum is open until 5 pm most of the year, 7 pm during July and August, and further extended hours in October. The museum features a presentation on the history of the Salem Witch Trials told through a narration based on original Trials documents and life-sized sets, followed by an exhibition covering the changing perceptions of witchcraft over time.

Currently the museum requires advanced ticket purchases, made online the day of your visit. Learn more about visiting the museum and book online at the time slot of your choice during your visit at salemwitchmuseum.com.

At this point, head back to the train station (about a 10-minute walk or less from the museum), or opt to stay in Salem later with an evening walking tour or dinner downtown. Use this guide to find a walking tour that best fits your interests, including historical tours, ghost tours, and walks led by a modern Witch, and review a full list of Salem restaurants here.

Day 2

Rockport, Massachusetts
Rockport, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Beth Cheney, Inns of Rockport.

Spend the morning exploring downtown Rockport before heading into Salem in the afternoon. While in town, consider walking the trails at Halibut Point, visiting Motif #1, and maybe grabbing an early lunch before getting the train to Salem. Check with your accommodations to see how they recommend spending the morning or visit northofboston.org for more information on visiting Rockport and the entire region.

Plan to arrive in Salem by about 2:00 pm. From the train station, walk or take the Salem Skipper to The House of the Seven Gables for either a guided tour of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion or an audio tour of the Colonial Seaside Gardens. Learn about the setting of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel and the history of the mansion, while experiencing the home’s secret staircase, the Nathanial Hawthorne birthplace, and a unique museum store. Advanced tickets are currently required to tour the mansion. Plan your visit at 7gables.org.

From The House of the Seven Gables, walk down Derby Street toward Salem Maritime National Historic Site, stopping at Salem Arts Association on the way. Salem Arts Association features locally created arts, crafts, photography and more, and is open weekends 12-6 pm giving you plenty of time to add it on to your afternoon visit to Salem. The galleries also include changing exhibitions with works by local artists. Visit salemarts.org to see which exhibits are on view during your visit.

The House of the Seven Gables

At Salem Maritime National Historic Site, you can see the Friendship, Custom House, Derby House, Narbonne House, and more. Currently programming and tours are on hold at the site, however the grounds are accessible, so we recommend taking the half-mile walk out to Derby Light and visiting the Derby House gardens as you walk through the site. For the latest updates from the National Park Service in Salem, visit nps.gov/sama.

Continuing down Derby Street on your left, visit Pickering Wharf to stop at unique stores like…

Longboards

While on Pickering Wharf, plan for an early dinner at…

Either before or after dinner, visit The Witchery right in the center of Pickering Wharf to craft your very own broom or journal. The Witchery offers workshops right onsite to create your own work of art, and learn the skill of bookbinding to create spell books, dream journals, and more. Reservations are recommended at thewitcherysalem.com.

From Pickering Wharf, you can either head back to the Commuter Rail station to return to Rockport, or extend your visit with a stop at Notch Brewing, Salem’s waterfront biergarten home to a variety of session beers on draft or the new Marina Beer Garden at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites.

While in Salem, be sure to share your adventures by tagging @destsalem and #DestSalem, and for more information on planning your stay in Rockport, visit innsofrockport.com and northofboston.org.

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