Often remembered for its 1692 witch trials, Salem touts the slogan, "Still making history." It's a fitting line for a vibrant city with a unique legacy and diverse culture. If you have yet to experience the story of Salem, start packing. This guide will direct you to the best that the area has to offer.
Start your tour of Salem at the National Parks Service Center, where you'll find maps, exhibits, and helpful employees who will happily provide you with information about the attractions of Salem. Once you're geared up to go, walk around the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, where you'll find historical houses dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. For a glimpse of the sea, stroll along Derby Wharf, where you can view the tall ship Friendship and relax by the Derby Light Station.
You might notice a red line on the ground during your walk. This is the Salem Heritage Trail, a visual route that extends through the city, leading you to the major historical sites throughout the area. With its storied past, Salem is home to many museums and memorials, with sites dating back hundreds of years.
One of those sites is located just a short walk away from the Port of Salem. Though you may know it as the title of Nathaniel's Hawthorne's famous novel, The House of the Seven Gables is very real. This seaside mansion was built in 1668 for Captain John Turner I, and was passed on to his son, who modernized the décor of the home in fine Georgian style. Throughout its history, the house has had several owners, including Susanna Ingersoll, the second cousin of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Inspired by the appearance of the house, Hawthorne used it as the backdrop for his capstone novel.
If you're in town, it's worth your time to learn about the Salem witch trials. The Heritage Trail will guide you to several sites with ties to the event, including the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, a striking monument that serves as a reminder of those who wrongfully lost their lives. You'll also want to visit The Burying Point Cemetery, located right next door, which is the final resting place of two of the judges. End your historical tour with a stop at the Witch House, the only surviving building with direct ties to the witch trials. The 17th century home of Judge Jonathon Corwin has been converted into a museum, allowing visitors to learn more about the history of Salem.
Though Salem is a haven for history buffs, it's also home to a flourishing arts scene. The hub of it all is the Peabody Essex Museum, one of New England's largest museums of art and culture. The ever-changing exhibits range from modern expression to ancient Chinese architecture, including Yin Yu Tang, a 16-bedroom Qing dynasty home that was transported overseas and rebuilt in America. In total, over 1.8 million works are housed within the expansive campus that extends throughout the city to include preserved parks, homes, and gardens.
Take time to explore the shopping of Salem. Pop into Artists' Row, a collection of studios and shops filled with artists and craftspeople. The welcoming community is full of individuals who are happy to chat and guide you through their collections. If you're here for a magical experience, head to a store like Crow Haven Corner that offers everything from candles to palm readings! For a more traditional shopping excursion, browse through the many boutiques and specialty shops that line the streets.
Looking for a quiet place to settle down? Salem is home to incredible parks that provide a perfect spot for picnics, gatherings, or cozying up with a good book. In the heart of downtown Salem is the Salem Common, an 8-acre public park that provides plenty of green space and a beautiful gazebo.
If you're craving the salty, ocean breeze, head to Salem Willows. This scenic public park is true to its namesake, dotted with stately white willow trees that provide excellent shade for laying out a blanket and enjoying the weather. You can also get excitement during your visit, as a portion of the grounds include space for entertainment. Try out the arcades and kiddie rides, or chow down on a traditional Salem chop suey sandwich from one of the many food vendors. No matter how you spend the day, you can end it at one of the park's three stunning beaches.
Chances are good that you'll get hungry during your visit to Salem. That's lucky for you because this city has plenty of cuisine to offer! To get a taste of the local flavor, we recommend Turner's Seafood, a Salem staple that serves seafood with a twist.
Lighter options can be found at Life Alive, an organic restaurant that specializes in vibrant and value-packed vegetarian items like The Goddess, a grain bowl with veggies, tofu, and their signature Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce. For more food with flair, head across the bridge to Beverly, MA, where you'll find Fusion Andina, a Peruvian restaurant that promises an explosion of flavor.
Situated north of Boston, Salem is close to several Sun RV Resorts. Guests of Sun Retreats Old Orchard Beach, Sun Outdoors Saco Old Orchard Beach, and Sun Retreats Wild Acres in Maine can enjoy a short hour and a half drive to Salem. As an added bonus, it's easy visit some of the other towns on the New England coast during your drive!
Down on Cape Cod, guests at Sun Retreats Peter's Pond can take a two-hour trip up the coast to Salem. On the way, stop and check out the historic city of Plymouth, where the Mayflower landed in 1620. You can also take a break in Boston, which is filled with activities on the waterfront. No matter what, you're sure to have a great time during your Salem road trip!
Sun RV Resorts offers amazing locations from coast to coast! For more information please visit us on sunoutdoors.com.