Things to Do in Salem
Also known as the Charter Street Cemetery, the Old Burying Point of Salem is the second oldest burying ground in the United States. It is estimated to date back to 1637. Victims of the infamous Salem With Trials were convicted nearby to the site. Jonathan Corwin and Jonathan Hawthorne, who were both Salem witch trial judges, are also buried here. As Salem was once a major shipping port for “the New World,” this cemetery is particularly historic. A Mayflower pilgrim, one of the first to enter the United States, was claimed to be put to rest here. The grave of former governor Samuel Bradstreet can also be found. The old tombstones remain in tact and uniquely carved from the 1600s, presenting a bit of history that has been preserved since that time. A visit is an opportunity to learn about colonial era history, including burial practices and the lives of some of the important figures laid to rest here.
One of thirteen custom homes built in Salem in early America, the Custom House is known for its appearance in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlett Letter. As Salem was an important seaport for the United States at this time, custom houses were built to collect taxes on incoming cargo. At first collected for the British Government during the colonial era, the American Government began collecting the funds in 1789. The importance of the structure to the federal government is evident in its elegant design and impressive attention to detail, with its wide staircase, high ceilings, and exquisite wood carvings.
This was the last Custom House built to hold these offices. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne did in fact work in the house as a surveyor, and his time there inspired his masterpiece novel. Today visitors can have a look at his former office, as well as learn about the history of the customs process through various exhibits.
A quaint waterfront area of Salem, Pickering Wharf is home to a variety of small shops, restaurants, and boutiques lining the harbor. Salem was one of America’s primary seaports, and the marina full of docked boats continues the tradition. Well-marked signs share some of the neighborhood’s history, while the shops feature unique arts and crafts, botanicals, antiques, and souvenirs — many with a boutique feel. Area restaurants feature fresh seafood from the local waters, some with views of the sea from their dining tables.
You can take a relaxing seaside stroll down to the local lighthouse, or see some of the historic ships docked in Salem Bay. The historic schooner ‘Friendship of Salem’ is often open for exploration. Or, as the locals do and pick up a fishing pole and perhaps catch your own dinner! Seasonal special events as well as a First Friday shopping night occur frequently.