Salem brings to mind the infamous witch trials I learned about in grade school. But don’t think that this affinity for the supernatural exists only in the history textbooks. The witching hour lives on in Salem, the locals have a distinct interest in spirituality and mysticism. Now of course there are no witch trials or hangings anymore, so it’s an interesting (and safe!) place to visit. Salem is a short ride from Boston, making it the perfect day trip! Here’s what you need to know for your day trip to Salem:
Day Trip to Salem
How To Get There
Salem is accessible from Boston on the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line. Catch the train from North Station and buy a ticket on the mTicket app ($7.50 each way). The ride is about 45 minutes and you’re dropped off just minutes from the downtown historical district of Salem. Get the MBTA train schedule here. Alternatively you could enjoy a more scenic boat ride to get to Salem. Boston Harbor Cruises operates a ferry between Boston and Salem. Buy your ticket online ($25 one way, $45 RT) and then meet at Long Wharf for your departure. The ferry drops off a few blocks away from downtown Salem. Get the ferry schedule here. You can also drive to Salem, there is plenty of parking available in town.
What To See
There is plenty of witch trial history on display around town. A walk around the historic district will take you by the Witch Trials Memorial and the old hanging blocks. You can also see an interesting outdoor Stickwork art installation that’s part of the Peabody Essex Museum. And if you’re lucky you might catch the Still Small Theatre doing a popup Shakespeare performance on the streets, or a clown-like bicycle gang riding through town, or a casual concert for passersby. The people of Salem are what give it a unique and lasting charm, and just walking around town will offer you the opportunity to see their creativity in action.
Where to Eat
As a seaside town, Salem has plenty of tasty seafood restaurants available to you. The local star is The Lobster Shanty, which made an appearance on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and lives up to its reputation with a fun engaging staff and arguably the best clam chowder I’ve ever tried. If you want something a bit more refined, check out the Naumkeag Ordinary, an American gastropub with a patio. And to get a feel for the local vibes, try the hippie paradise at Life Alive, a veggie/vegan restaurant with an impressive menu of tasty organic options ranging from coffee and smoothies to salads and soups.
What To Do
If you want someone to really show you all the historic spots around town, I would recommend a walking tour. The historic part of town is small enough to lend itself well to a walking tour. You can also use the Zagster bike share to rent a bike quickly and easily for use around town! The Salem Witch Museum and The Witch House are great options for those interested in learning more about the history and lore of Salem’s witching past. And if you want to make your day trip to Salem really special, consider taking a lesson at Boston Woodturning on Artist’s Row (or at least watching them in action!).
Salem is a great little town with a spooky history that lives on today, and a day trip to Salem is the perfect getaway from Boston!