5 Green Spaces to Explore in Salem, Massachusetts
Get outside at one of the many green spaces around downtown Salem. Pack a picnic lunch, go for a walk or run along the waterfront, or explore one of our historic cemeteries, and check the events calendar to see what’s happening outside in Salem all year long. Remember that in response to COVID-19, masks or face coverings are required in public areas in Massachusetts where social distancing of 6 ft or more cannot be maintained. Learn more here.
Salem Common is an eight-acre public park right in the center of downtown Salem. During the warmer months, it’s an excellent choice for picnicking in Salem, and it makes for picturesque photos during the foliage season and into the winter months. It’s also a popular spot for Salem weddings.
It has served as a location for public events since the 17th century, including the First Muster of National Guard in 1637, which is reenacted annually in April. Salem Common is also home to a war memorial for Salem residents who gave their lives during wars in the 20th century, located near the entrance by the Hawthorne Hotel.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Did you know the first National Historic Park in the United States is located right here in Salem? Established in 1938, Salem Maritime National Historic Site was the first of its kind. The site includes the Friendship of Salem, historic homes (the Derby House and Narbonne House), Pedricks Store House, West India Goods Store, Derby Light Station and the Custom House, which is celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2019!
The park features gardens on the lawns of some of the historic homes, and a scenic half mile walk out to Derby Light Station that overlooks Salem Harbor. Another part of the site is the Salem Regional Visitor Center at Armory Park which has its own green space.
Charter Street Cemetery & Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Founded in 1637, Charter Street Cemetery (or the Old Burying Point) is Salem’s oldest cemetery. Please note, Charter Street Cemetery is scheduled to close in 2020 for restoration work. Visit PreservingSalem.com for the latest updates.
This cemetery is the final resting place for many notable Salem residents some with connections to the Salem Witch Trials. Two witchcraft trial judges, Bartholomew and John Hathorne (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great grandfather) are buried in Charter Street Cemetery, along with Mary Corey second wife of Giles Corey who was the only victim of the Witch Trials to be executed by pressing. (Mary Corey is not to be confused with Martha Corey, Giles’ third wife who was hanged during the Witch Trials.)
What about the Witches? The victims of the Salem Witch Trials were not witches, rather they were innocent victims who were accused of witchcraft during the height of Puritanism. As such they did not receive Christian burials and their bodies were left in an unmarked grave by the gallows. It is believed that some family members of the victims may have secretly retrieved their bodies to give them unmarked graves at their homes.
We recommend a stop to reflect on the events of 1692 at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, which is located adjacent to the Charter Street Cemetery. The Memorial is made up of a series of benches, one for each of the 20 victims, inscribed with their names and execution dates.
Their protests of innocence may be found on the stones on the ground by the entrance to the Memorial, and these words are cut off by granite walls to symbolize their society’s indifference. Also at the Memorial are six locust trees, the last to flower and the first to lose their leaves, which serve as a representation of the injustice of the Trials.
Pioneer Village & Forest River Park
Located about one mile from downtown Salem, Pioneer Village and Forest River Park both offer unique green spaces. Pioneer Village, America’s first living history museum, represents Salem in the year 1630. With three acres to explore, Pioneer Village features a variety of colonial architecture including dugouts, wigwams, thatched roof cottages and the Governor’s Faire House along with culinary and medicinal gardens and 17th century blacksmith shop.
Pioneer Village is located within Forest River Park, which also includes bike baths, picnic areas, two beaches, a baseball field, playgound, and a concrete slide (use cardboard when you slide down!). Please note, Pioneer Village is currently closed however Forest River park is still accessible. Check this page for updates on reopening dates for Salem attractions.
Charlotte Forten Park
Charlotte Forten Park is Salem’s newest green space! This waterfront park brings exciting opportunities for event programming and another place to get outside during a visit to Salem. Located at 289 Derby Street, this park brings opportunities to relax outside and its namesake is the result of a vote by Salem residents who opted to honor one of Salem’s most prominent abolitionists, Charlotte Forten.