Day Trip to Salem, Mass.

A few weekends ago John and I took a day trip to Salem, Massachusetts with friends who have recently moved to the area. Salem was on their list of places to check out and has been on ours for years. Typically people visit Salem around Halloween to enjoy the birthplace of witchcraft (made popular by the 1692 Salem Witch Trials). However, there was an exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in the heart of Salem that we wanted to check out so we went in August instead!

The first thing we did when we arrived in Salem was hopped on their trolley tour. We thought it would be a good way to orient ourselves to the area and scope out some places we may want to spend some more time at in the afternoon. The trolley was great – the tour was really informative, they covered a huge area of the city, and the trolley was hop-on-hop-off so our passes were good all day.


The scenery in Salem was so lovely. Quaint, peaceful, very New England.




Salem reminded me of everything I love about New England – one part of town was near the water, a laid back vibe permeating the movement of the water, the people, even the seabirds, boats drift lazily just off the shore; downtown was another the hub at the center of all the activity, foot traffic and people watching hot spots, full of kitschy shops you just have to browse through; and the last part of town was the neighborhoods, brick homes and stone studded sidewalks, an old world feel, a still pride for the rich history. Some of my favorite places in the world are right here in New England, and are exactly the same – Portland, Maine, Newport, Rhode Island, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Burlington, Vermont, to name a few.


Maybe my favorite picture from the day:


The downtown was small but packed with things to do – shops, restaurants, all kinds of witch-themed tourist traps.



We didn’t go in either but I was intrigued by the Salem Witch Museum and the Salem Witch Dungeon. Maybe we’ll stop in there on our next trip!


After walking around downtown we got lunch and then headed over to the Peabody Essex Museum. As I mentioned, my friend Claire and I are huge photography fans and were very excited to see the special Ansel Adams exhibit, At The Water’s Edge.


Photos weren’t allowed in the Ansel Adams exhibit but I can tell you that it was magnificent. Each of the pieces in the exhibit were water-themed and in Adam’s signature black and white style. One of my favorite things I learned from the exhibit was that Adams and a few friends created Group f/64, a group of 20th century photographers pioneering a new style of photographic modernism. In the 20’s/30’s when the group was formed there was a shift in Western photography towards hope, redemption, realism in an otherwise bleak era in history. Photographers like Ansel Adams and Willard Van Dyke led the movement and showed the world a focused view, literally and figuratively, of itself that had never been seen before.

I was only about to take a few shots in the Maritime Art and History room.


This may have been my favorite collection in the museum – the figureheads were amazing and I love maritime paintings.


Since we only spent one day in Salem I’m very eager to go back and continue exploring. There is something for everyone in Salem and I really liked that you didn’t have to do all of the tourist witch-themed things to fill up a day there. I’m also very excited to check out other exhibits that come to the Peabody Essex Museum.

Have you ever been to Salem? Is there a local touristy equivalent that surprised you when you finally visited?

Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

11 thoughts

  1. Thank you for posting this! We are going to a wedding in Salem at the end of September and I have now found the perfect thing to do the morning after. I love Ansel Adams displays.

    I love Salem in the fall. It’s still the typical New England seaport but even the month or so leading up to Halloween and the few weeks afterwards before winter sets in… there is just such a buzz. You can feel the excitement in the air.

    1. Awesome, it’s absolutely worth the trip. The thought of going there in the Fall gives me a little bit of anxiety but the vibe you’re talking about is intriguing!

  2. I lived for several years right on the Salem/Peabody line. I have many friends that live in Salem. I love it there. Sounds like you covered a lot of ground on your one day there. Salem Willows has the best popcorn.

  3. Salem is such a great, funky little getaway. So many spots to get good coffee! And PEM did an outstanding job with the museum expansion — their shows are always so beautifully presented. Just don’t go to Salem in October! (unless you’re a Halloween weirdo, I mean, er, fan). The traffic on 128/114 is murder!

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