Logo   Salem, Massachusetts Guide
Think of Salem, think of witches. Although the fame of the Salem witch trials has spread around the world, Salem's real renown comes from its ships, mariners and authors. Actually, there never were any witches in Salem!

Seagull in Salem, Massachusetts
Common sight in Salem...


Founded in 1626, by the late 1700s Salem MA, 17 miles (27 km) northeast of Boston (map), had grown and prospered. Its ships sailed around the world, many dealing in trade from the Orient, especially spices, silks, and other luxury goods.

The wealth of the Indies brought great prosperity to this New England port town, which enabled its citizens to build and decorate fine mansions and impressive museums.

Salem's history is really that of its rich maritime commerce, and there are lots of things to see in this regard.


As for witches, there never were any in Salem! The witch-hunt took place in only one year (1692), and the score of people executed met that fate because they would not admit to being witches. Many of the less courageous "admitted" being witches so that they wouldn't be executed.

A memorial park commemorates the suffering and martyrdom of the innocents who were falsely accused and murdered through superstition and abuse of power. More...

The whole witch-calling affair fizzled out when people in power began to be accused. Salem would like to forget it all, no doubt, but the rest of the world enjoys remembering this bizarre episode.

Nevertheless, revelers throng Salem each Halloween for weird fun and frolic. More...

The witch business is thriving, however. In this city that had no real witches there are at least a dozen witch attractions, plus several dozen "dark-arts" paraphernalia shops, bookshops, clothing and costume stores. You'll probably see would-be witches, warlocks and hangers-on wander Salem's pretty streets on any day, and they fill the hotels, inns and pensions every Halloween. More...

Roger Conant at the Salem Witch Museum, Salem MA
The statue of Roger Conant, The Puritan, seems to stride by a Gothic window in the Salem Witch Museum.

Historic Salem

The historic heart of Salem around Salem Common (map) is pretty, with a spacious town common and many of its old houses (dating back to the 1600s) and 19th-century mansions intact and in good repair. Several fine mansions have become inns, and Salem has a nice historic hotel.

Part of the historic center has been restored and closed to traffic as the fine pedestrians-only Essex Street Mall (map).

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

The Custom House and other buildings in the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, have displays of Salem's (and America's) maritime history. More...

Peabody Essex Museum

Among the top reasons to visit Salem is to spend time in the wonderful Peabody Essex Museum, a must-see for any visitor interested in art, culture and history. Besides its rich collection of art and artifacts brought back by Salem's world-ranging 19th-century sea captains, The P.E.M. is one of New England's top fine arts museums. More...

Salem Transportation

You can travel to Salem from Boston by fast ferryboat, MBTA Commuter Rail train or bus, or car, in 30 to 45 minutes. If by car, you'll want to study the options for parking. More...

Salem Hotels

Salem has at least a dozen hotels, inns and B&Bs. Click here for a handy hotel map showing where they are and how much they cost. More...

—by Tom Brosnahan

What to See & Do in Salem

Salem Witch Trials

Salem Hotels

Salem Transportation

Halloween in Salem

Tourist Information


Cape Ann

North Shore

Around Boston

About Boston

About Massachusetts

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The Friendship, 19th-century clipper ship at Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Salem MA

The Friendship, a square-rigged clipper ship that brought the wealth of the world to Salem, creating America's first millionaires. In the distance on th right is the Custom House.

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