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SUMMER IN SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS – DAY TRIP ITINERARY

We may be known for our Halloween festivities, but summer is an excellent time to visit Salem, Massachusetts! The weather is perfect for harbor tours and outdoor dining, and you’ll find plenty of things to do around town with Salem’s museums and historic sites, unique shopswalking tours, and more!

Getting Here

Salem Ferry, Salem, MA, Kate Fox
Salem Ferry

Getting to Salem for a summer day trip is easy! If you are driving downtown, you can find directions and parking information here. Once downtown, you’ll find most everything you want to see or do is in walking distance (and you could always take the Salem Skipper if you needed a quick ride, too).

Salem is also accessible via the Newburyport/Rockport lines of the MBTA Commuter Rail. A ride on the train is just 30 minutes from Boston’s North Station and a quick ride from points north of Salem.

And another way to get to Salem from Boston is to cruise aboard the Salem Ferry. The ferry leaves from Boston’s Long Wharf, and can get you to Salem in just under an hour.

Where to Start

Salem Trolley

After arriving in Salem, walk or take the Salem Skipper to the Salem Regional Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Street or the Destination Salem Visitor Information Center at 245 Derby Street. (If you drive downtown and park your car here, the garage above the Witch City Mall will be right across the street, as well as the South Harbor Garage located above the Destination Salem Visitor Information Center.) The Regional Visitor Center is currently open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 am-4 pm, and can be a great place to start with maps, information, restrooms, and an introductory film on the Salem Witch Trials. The Destination Salem Visitor Information Center is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. The staff can provide visitors with maps of Salem, MA as well as information on Salem for your visit. The public restrooms are located to the right of the Visitor Center, and are open 9am – 8pm.

To help get your bearings and introduce yourself to Salem’s historic downtown, we recommend taking a tour aboard the Salem Trolley. Tickets are available first come, first served, in person right outside the visitor center.

Trolley tours are one hour long, and cover a loop around downtown featuring notable locations from the McIntire Historic District to the Salem Willows and Winter Island with lots to see in between. The first trolley tour departs at 10 am daily throughout the summer, and to make the most of your day trip we’d hop aboard one of the earlier tours available.

Witch Trials History and More

Salem Witch Museum

After your trolley tour, spend some time learning the history of the Salem Witch Trials. There are two museums and attractions nearby that can fill you in on the Witch Trials history. From the trolley stop, you can head toward Salem Common to visit the Salem Witch Museum or continue down Essex Street toward the Witch History Museum.

The Salem Witch Museum features a presentation with 13 sets and a narration based on original documents from the trials. Following the presentation, guests can explore a tour of the museum’s Evolving Perceptions exhibit, which covers the changing perceptions of witchcraft over time.

Witch History Museum

Tickets to the Salem Witch Museum are available online for purchase the day of your visit. (If you are hoping to time your visit to the museum to follow your tour aboard the Salem Trolley, we’d recommend planning ahead and selecting tickets for over an hour after your trolley tour in the morning, as presentations may sell out.)

On the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, the Witch History Museum presents the history of the Salem Witch Trials through a guided tour of a recreated Salem Village. Tickets for the Witch History Museum are available in person, and can be combined with the Witch Dungeon and New England Pirate Museums if you are planning to visit all three sites during your visit.

If you being your trip at the Destination Salem Visitor Information Center you can take a quick walk over Real Pirates Salem, immerse yourself in one of the most harrowing stories from the Golden Age of piracy as you see and touch the world’s only fully authenticated pirate treasure ever discovered – including pieces of eight, jewelry, and weapons – recovered from the Whydah Gally by underwater explorer Barry Clifford. Or take a short ten minute walk down Derby Street to The House of the Seven Gables which is open daily from 10am to 5pm. There you will embark on an unforgettable tour of the famous home. Admission also includes Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace, waterfront views, and a unique museum store.

Art & Shopping

Peabody Essex Museum

Across from where you’ll have picked up the Salem Trolley is the Peabody Essex Museum, one of the country’s fastest growing art museums. The museum is home to art from Salem and around the world, as well as the 200-year-old Chinese house, Yin Yu Tang which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary on July 15th.

Special exhibitions on view this summer include As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic, which explore Black identity through a compelling compilation of photographs from African diasporic culture. Drawn from Dr. Kenneth Montague’s Wedge Collection in Toronto, a Black-owned collection dedicated to artists of African descent, As We Rise looks at the myriad experiences of Black life through the lenses of community, identity and power.

Since the museum’s expansion in 2019, an expanded garden space is also a beautiful spot to sit and take in the views between galleries. The exhibition space was also expanded, with new galleries showcasing PEM’s fashion and design collections, and galleries devoted exclusively to Salem history.

For this itinerary, we would spend a couple of hours in the museum. Seeing everything in the Peabody Essex Museum however, could easily fill up most of a day. If you’re inspired to add an overnight stay to your day trip, you can find a list of places to stay downtown here.

Moody’s Home & Gifts

As you exit the museum, consider doing some shopping around Essex Street. Nearby, you’ll find Moody’s Home & Gifts, which stocks local handmade and global fair trade gifts.

Down Essex Street is Crow Haven Corner, Salem’s oldest witch shop offering an array of crystals, candles, books, Tarot cards, and more (plus psychic readings). Nearby is District Trading Co., home to unique Salem designs printed on tees, hoodies, cards, and hats with 5% of sales supporting local arts education programs.

And from Essex Street onto Central Street you’ll find Pamplemousse for gourmet gifts and accessories, and Modern Millie, Salem’s local vintage boutique. (You could continue down Essex Street and toward Front Street to find more local shops if time allows. Find a list of all of Salem’s shops here.)

If you are beginning from the Destination Salem Visitor Information Center you may want to stop by Pickering Wharf, which has a plethora of shopping options including art, clothing, and jewelry stores just to name a few which can be found here.

Stop for Lunch

Rockafellas

Summer in Salem means dining outside, so our perfect day trip would include a stop for lunch on an outdoor patio. Rockafellas‘ patio overlooks Washington and Essex Street and their menu features something for everyone with seafood, salads, flatbreads, and specialty cocktails.

For sushi lovers, Koto on Washington Street has a small but beautifully decorated outdoor seating area (and don’t forget to stop into the newly opened Annie’s Asian Mart next door!)

Turner’s Seafood

And around the corner on Church Street, Turner’s Seafood has opened up a patio behind their restaurant where you can enjoy the outdoors while ordering up their fan-favorite Asian Nachos, raw bar selections, and classic New England seafood dishes.

If you got a little sidetracked, or want to move this itinerary around a bit in favor of a waterfront dinner, Sea Level Oyster Bar who’s hours can by viewed by clicking their name.

Walk Around Town

Ropes Mansion Gardens

Walk off lunch with a stroll through downtown Salem. Spend about an hour and take in more downtown shops, spot film locations from Hocus Pocus, or embark on a historical walking tour.

Salem’s walking tours range from the historical to the paranormal, with something for the whole family in between. Get a glimpse of history that would engage the youngest members of your family with Salem Kids Tours, join Salem Historical Tours for a tour focused on the Salem Witch Trials, or pick up the Salem Witch Walk from Crow Haven Corner to learn about Salem with a practicing Witch as your guide. If you are looking for a more spooky option join Spellbound Tours for a frightening and factual experience.

Derby Light at Salem Maritime National Historic Site

If you are not limited to the train or ferry schedules when you depart Salem, you can also extend your day trip by booking a ghost tour later in the evening, as some tours depart as late as 8:00 or 9:00 pm throughout the summer.

To see more of Salem on your own, we recommend one of the following:

The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

Continue your walk to The House of the Seven Gables on Derby Street (or if you find yourself on the other side of town, consider taking the Salem Skipper or a Blue Bike.)

The House of the Seven Gables is offering two ways to take in the history of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work and the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion this summer. Book a semi-private guided tour of the mansion and head inside the historic home, or plan a Gardens and Grounds Experience and visit the museum’s Colonial Seaside Gardens with an audio tour at your own pace. Find tickets and booking information here.

Sunset on the Water

Mahi Cruises

From The House of the Seven Gables, walk down Derby Street toward Pickering Wharf. Here you’ll find more shops and restaurants, including Timeless Life Treasure if you’re looking for a special keep sake, and The Witchery, which offers broom making and bookbinding crafting sessions.

Ahead of your visit to Salem book either a sunset cruise with Mahi Cruises, Schooner FAME, or a sail aboard the When and If or a cruise with Essex Heritage, all of which can be found here.

Schooner Fame

Depending on the date of your visit, you may find live music cruises available with Mahi, and whenever you plan your cruise you’ll find a way to spend time on the water with Mahi’s friendly crew, full bar, and fresh eats from their onboard grill.

For a glimpse into Salem history on the water, book a sunset sail with Schooner FAME. While onboard, join in raising the sails, learn a bit of Salem’s history, and experience the FAME’s cannon as the sun sets over Salem harbor.

Dinner Near Pickering Wharf


Finz Seafood & Grill

After your sail and a packed day of exploring Salem, plan for dinner by Pickering Wharf. Adjacent to Pickering Wharf Marina, you’ll find Finz Seafood & Grill, with a variety of seafood specials and seasonal cocktails.

Further along Pickering Wharf, Longboards serves up a menu of flatbreads, lobster rolls, and more, plus unique drinks including their famous scorpion shots (you get a t-shirt for finishing it!)

And just outside of Pickering Wharf, the Regatta Pub at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites has a lovely patio perfect for relaxing with drinks and appetizers.

Late Nights in Salem

Notch Brewing

If you aren’t ready for your day trip to come to an end, we have a couple of recommendations to end your visit to Salem:

On weekends, Notch Brewing is open until 12 am (and 10 pm on Fridays), so during summer nights you can visit their outdoor biergarten and enjoy a beer and a pretzel by the water.

Select Salem ghost tours begin at 8:00 or 9:00 pm, extending your visit to Salem by an hour to 90 minutes, and showcasing some of the historically significant and haunted locations around town you may have missed earlier in the day.

Live music and trivia nights are returning to Salem, so for more late-night fun we’d check out the calendar or download the Destination Salem app to see what may be happening during your visit.

Need More Time in Salem?

This itinerary comes with a backed day to Salem, but there is still so much to see and do! With another day or two in Salem, you could…

  • Embark on a Salem Food Tour and take in local history while tasting your way around local restaurants
  • Experience a psychic reading at a local shop like Hex or Pentagram
  • Join Omen for one of their weekend seances
  • Take an evening Tales & Tombstones tour with the Salem Trolley (available July, August, and October)
  • Pick up something sweet and see chocolates in the making at Harbor Sweets
  • Grab an omelet for breakfast at Fountain Place, or pancakes bigger than the plate at Red’s
  • …and so much more!

Find historic and full service hotels, B&Bs, and regional accommodations to extend your day trip into an overnight stay here. And be sure to tag @destsalem and use #SummerInSalemMA during your visit so we can follow along! ❤️

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