The Maritime Fan’s Guide to Salem, MA
With the sailing season is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start planning a maritime fan’s visit to Salem, Massachusetts. Most known for the tragic events of 1692, Salem’s maritime trade has also greatly impacted the region we know today. During the summer months, maritime fans can even start experiencing Salem by water before arriving in town via the Salem Ferry from Boston.
The Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites is located adjacent to the Pickering Wharf Marina, which houses both sail boats and power boats up to 55 feet in length. With amenities like a swimming pool, fitness center, and full service restaurant, this hotel is a wonderful option for maritime fans looking for a contemporary Salem getaway.
A short (and scenic) walk from both Pickering Wharf and the Salem Ferry is Morning Glory Bed & Breakfast. This historic Georgian Federal style building was built in 1808 and today features amenities like complimentary transportation between the Salem Ferry and MBTA Commuter Rail, breakfast, and a roof-top deck with beautiful ocean views.
To RV or tent-camp by the water, consider staying at Winter Island Park. Open seasonally from May 20 to November 1, Winter Island features a public beach, lighthouse, and a historic fort.
The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is home to historic homes, lighthouses, and a ship that represent the site’s mission to preserve Salem’s maritime history. Visit the site to learn about the merchant vessels that helped grow Salem’s economy, take a tour of the Derby or Narbonne House, or explore the Derby Wharf Lighthouse. The site is also home to the Friendship of Salem, a replica of the original tall ship launched in 1797. Currently in drydock, the Friendship will be open for tours on a seasonal basis when she returns to Salem later this year.
Nearby the Salem Maritime National Historic Site is Pickering Wharf Marina, which includes docks for Schooner FAME, Mahi Cruises, and Sunset Sail Salem. Schooner FAME is a replica of the 1812 privateer Fame that is open for public sails during the season (beginning May 12). Mahi Cruises features a variety of excursions from sunset cruises, to Sunday brunches and even a live music series in the summer. Also open seasonally, Mahi Cruises kicks off the 2018 sailing season with a sunset cruise on May 11. Sunset Sail Salem offers private charters on Friendship Sloop Wenonah as well as public sails on General Patton’s historic When and If beginning May 11.
To get even closer to the ocean and the creatures that live there, walk down Blaney Street and sail with Sea Shuttle aboard the Catamaran Endeavor. While out on the water, touch live sea creatures and learn about their habitats in Sea Shuttle’s onboard aquarium. Additionally Sea Shuttle offers optional pickups and drop-offs at Misery Island, and runs on a seasonal basis beginning May 13.
Maritime fans may also access Bakers Island through a boat tour with Essex Heritage run seasonally beginning in June. While there guests may view the exterior of Bakers Island Lighthouse, which is an 1820 reconstruction built in place of the original 1791 light station. Essex Heritage also offers exclusive overnight stays at the lighthouse for members only. For more information on overnights and other member events visit EssexHeritage.org.
More inland from many of Salem’s maritime attractions is the Peabody Essex Museum, which was founded by sea captains in 1799. Today, the museum is the oldest continually operated museum in the country, and features pieces of art brought to Salem by merchants who have travelled all over the world.
To learn more about Salem’s maritime history, take to the water with Mahi Cruises for a narrated sightseeing tour. Consider coming back during leaf peeping season and embark on Mahi’s lighthouse and foliage cruise in the fall. For a taste of Salem’s past on land, learn about the spice trade during a Salem Food Tour, which includes information on maritime history and tastings at local shops and restaurants.
Dine by the water in Pickering Wharf, with restaurants that are sure to please the tastes of any maritime fan. Take in views of the harbor at Sea Level Oyster Bar & Kitchen or Finz Seafood & Grill. For a casual dining experience just a few more steps from the harbor, kick back at Brodie’s Seaport, Longboards Restaurant & Bar, and the Regatta Pub at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites.
For the ultimate maritime shopping experience, don’t miss some of the most nautical shops in Pickering Wharf. Joe’s Fresh Fish Prints includes handmade Gyotaku fish prints created with locally caught fish, and the shop even hosts classes for guests to create their own unique prints.
A different kind of maritime shop may be found at Ocean Chic Boutique, which features a refreshing waterbar and popular beachy clothing brands like Vineyard Vines and unique local favorites. Ocean Chic has also recently introduced a men’s collection available both in-store and online.
While in Pickering Wharf, guests may purchase scrimshaw gifts from RJ Coins and Jewelry for unique scrimshaw gifts along with fashion jewelry, rare coins, and more.
Back at the Salem National Maritime Site, plan on visiting Waite and Peirce to shop authentic and exotic goods specially crafted based on Salem’s spice trade history. The shop is home to reproduction historical goods, and locally made maritime themed goods like Waite and Peirce’s exclusive clothing line and tote bags from Sea Bags of Maine constructed out of recycled sails.