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When people think of Salem, MA, most immediately think of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. There is so much more to Salem! I have gone there on a number of occasions and, although I do enjoy the Salem witch trial history, I enjoy the other parts of Salem’s history as well.

Over the years, I have visited a number of times and have found ways to enjoy the city without spending a penny.

Here are a few ways to enjoy Salem, at no charge!

Self-Guided Walking Tours

This historic city is ideal for exploring on foot. Many historic sites can be seen on self-guided walking tours (with a little help from a brochure or two).

  • The McIntire Historic District Walking Trail: Salem is also known for its historic architecture. This self-guided tour takes visitors around one of the most spectacular areas of the city, The McIntire Historic District. This area represents the combination of two former districts and includes the country’s largest concentration of residential homes that date back to pre-1900.
  • Architecture in Salem: This tour highlights the four centuries of architecture found in Salem. Learn more about Salem’s design history and see examples from each century on the tour of Architecture in Salem.
  • African American Heritage Sites in Salem: In as early as 1638, Africans were brought to Salem and forced into a life of slavery. This tour teaches visitors about Salem’s African-American history, focusing on seven places in the city that were significant to 19th Century African-Americans in Salem.
  • Bowditch’s Salem: Walk through Salem and learn about the life of the famous navigator Nathaniel Bowditch and the significant role he played in the scientific community.

Visit Historic Cemeteries

All cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk, and visitors are encouraged to explore these monuments to the city’s past:

  • Old Burying Point Cemetery (located on Charter Street) is the oldest cemetery in Salem, and one of the oldest in America. In it, you can see the graves of a Salem witch trials judge, a Mayflower passenger, and architect Samuel McIntire.
  • Howard Street Cemetery: The land on which this cemetery sits has direct ties to the Salem witch trials. Giles Corey refused to make a plea of “guilty” or “innocent” when he was accused of witchcraft (in order to protect his land). Without a plea, they could not put him up for trial. He was punished for refusing to make a plea by being crushed to death; one rock at a time placed on top of a board that was placed on his body. This was done in what is now the location of  the Howard Street Cemetery.
  • Broad Street Cemetery: This historic cemetery, located at 5 Broad Street, is one of the oldest in America. It is also known as Pickering Hill Burial Ground.

Must-See City Sites

Don’t leave Salem without checking out these additional historic sites. They are best explored by foot, so don’t forget those walking shoes!

  • Chestnut Street was the first planned street in America. Take a walk down the street and read all of the house plaques to learn about the people who built and lived in the mansions.
  • Derby Wharf extends 1/2 mile into Salem Harbor. At the end of Derby Wharf sits the historic Derby Light Station, which has been a working navigational tool since 1871.
  • Salem Willows Park, which was the home of America’s first ice cream cone, is a retreat with two beaches, a fishing pier, food stands, kiddie-land rides and two arcades. A stroll around the park and the many free concerts held throughout the year won’t cost you a penny, but you may want to have a little cash on hand for some yummy food and fun games.

There is so much to do in Salem that it is hard to not find something affordable that you can enjoy. I recommend visiting this city, if you haven’t already. Even if you have, it is worth a second (or third) trip!

 This has been a guest post by Candi from Pittsburgh, PA
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!


Tour Salem, Mass. for Free!