Salem, with its infamous Witch Trials and shipping trade, has a rich history of macabre executions, pirates, and wealthy sea captains. But learning this history can at times be lost in the haunted houses and outlandish costumes. Fortunately, Salem has a great self-guided Salem history tour, where you can learn the basics of this North Shore town. After you've had your fill, you can still scare yourself silly with a ghost tour. But you'll be able to tell fact from lore after an afternoon spent following the Salem Heritage Trail, Salem's walking history tour.
The Salem Heritage Trail is easy to find while you're walking in downtown Salem—just look down. A thick red line is painted on the sidewalk, guiding you to some of Salem's most meaningful sites. From the Salem Maritime National Historical Site to the House of the Seven Gables, you can follow the Heritage Trail and learn all about Salem's rich history of witches, spice trade, and even world-class art.
Start at the Salem Maritime National Historical Site on Derby Street and explore the economic boom times of Salem in the 19th century. The waterfront was once a busy shipping port, and today you can explore that history by touring the Salem Custom House, a replica of the tall ship Friendship, and The West India Goods Store. Follow the red line down Derby Street, past the New England Pirate Museum, the Witch Trials Memorial, and the city's historic cemetery, Old Burying Point.
Up on Essex Street, the Salem Heritage Trail takes you by many must-see spots: Salem Commons, a beautiful old park; the statue of Roger Conant, Salem's founder; and the Peabody Essex Museum with its incredible collection of art from all over the world. Other Salem Heritage Spots worth seeking out include The House of the Seven Gables, the Samuel McIntire Architectural District, The Witch House, and the Ropes Mansion.
Of course, there's many great things to be explored off of Salem's Heritage Trail. But an afternoon spent following it will take you past many of Salem's best historic and educational sites. After a rich day of exploring Salem’s history, you'll be happy to return to one of our two boutique Salem hotels.