Just 30 minutes from Boston is the famous (or infamous depending on how you look at it) Salem Ma. When people often think of Salem, Massachusetts, the first thing that comes to mind is this are witches. After all, Salem is nicknamed the “town of witches”. Although the witch trials of 1692 played an important role in Salem’s history, the town has much more to offer visitors of all ages. Within a few miles, there’s a ton of things to do in Salem, Ma. Families can enjoy an exciting mix of maritime activities, outdoor adventures, and historical experiences.
Many area attractions cater to families or have programs suitable for young children. While there are certainly plenty of terrifying attractions to explore, there are plenty that are much more family-friendly. There’s so much going on in Salem that kids from toddlers to teens will always find something to discover.
Salem is a small town that packs a punch but is very manageable and easy to navigate. Check out our list of (not so scary) things to do with kids in Salem below!
THE REAL PIRATES – ONE OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SALEM, MA WITH KIDS
A visit to Salem’s newest attraction will have you talking like a pirate for the rest of the day. At The Real Pirates exhibit, visitors learn the true stories of the crew of the ship, Whydah, who was captured by pirates in 1717. The museum also offers a unique opportunity to see real pirate treasures and experiences practical for children. discover life aboard a pirate ship.
THE GOOD WITCH OF SALEM
Not all witches are scary and evil. The Good Witch of Salem organizes a calendar full of events for the littlest tourists. Fantasy enthusiasts can learn how to mix potions and explore the art of magic through classes and workshops. Other offerings include painting lessons, manicures, and sensory activities.
YE OLDE PEPPER COMPANY/HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES LAND
A trip to Salem isn’t complete without a visit to Ye Olde Pepper Company, America’s oldest confectionary company. Step into this quaint shop and step back in time as you indulge your sweet tooth. Some of the delicious old-fashioned treats include fudge, salt water taffy and the store’s famous gibralters. Cross the street and hang out at the House of Seven Gables. The museum offers a special pass that includes access to the beautiful gardens and an interactive children’s exhibit.
SALEM WILLOW ARCADE
Step back in time and have fun and play Salem Willows Arcade. This retro attraction has been a staple of the city for generations. The arcade combines modern video games with classics such as skeeball and pinball. An old-fashioned merry-go-round and kiddie rides are just down the strip and there’s a plethora of food offerings. Local favorites include ice cream and popcorn from Hobbs Popcorn.
CHILDREN TOURS IN SALEM
Salem Kids Tours are a wonderful way for children and families to learn about the city’s rich history. Visitors can choose between the historic children’s tour or the slightly spookier tour. Both walking tours last an hour and take visitors to several historic sites. Along the way, tour guides entertain guests with true stories about the city’s history through fun, kid-friendly narration.
GOOD NIGHT GRAS / HELLO CHUBBY
There’s no better way to end a day of travel than with a delicious cookie from Goodnight Fatty. Every weekend, the bakers offer three choices of extravagant fatty cookies that can also be accompanied by a bowl full of soft serve ice cream or a glass of cold milk. On Sundays, the shop turns into Good Morning Chubby and offers a variety of big breakfasts (chubbies). During the colder months, customers can enjoy their treats while eating in a heated outdoor igloo. When the weather is warm, families can participate in outdoor lawn games in the yard.
PADDLE COAST TO COAST
Feeling adventurous or want to see the city from a different perspective? Coast to Coast Paddle, located in Salem Willows, will provide you with everything you need for a successful day on the water. Kayaks and stand up paddles can be rented by the hour or by the day. The company also offers group and private lessons. The sunset paddle board tour offers guests stunning views of the harbor.
Put on your sea legs and board the schooner Fame. A harbor cruise on this life-size replica of an 1812 privateer is a great way for families to learn about maritime history while enjoying sweeping views of the harbor and outlying islands. Sit back and enjoy the view or help the crew hoist the sails.
CARRIAGE TOURS OF SALEM
What better way to see the city than on an old-fashioned tram? Salem Trolley Tours are offered several times throughout the day and take riders on an eight-mile loop through the city. Passengers can stop and hop off at any or all of the 14 sightseeing stops, explore the attractions, and then continue the tour. Along the way, knowledgeable guides offer travelers historical tales and comedic stories.
PRETTY TEA COMPANY
Treat yourself and enjoy a tea with your little ones. Jolie Tea Company offers several hours of tea per day. There is a huge selection of teas to choose from, and they pair perfectly with delicious tea sandwiches and decadent sweets. On Friday afternoons, Jolie also offers a special afternoon tea for children under twelve.
PEABODY MUSEUM ESSEX
Visitors of all ages will enjoy this world-class museum located in the heart of downtown. Young explorers will be particularly drawn to the museum’s Art and Nature Center where they can engage in hands-on exploration and learning. The Peabody Essex Museum also regularly hosts a variety of ever-changing family events and exhibits. Children under 16 enjoy free entry to the museum.
WINTER ISLAND PARK
Located on a peninsula in Salem Neck, Winter Island Park is the place to go for outdoor fun. Visitors can swim or sunbathe on the beach, climb and slide on the playground or explore the old fort, Coast Guard buildings and lighthouse. There is also a nice walking path around the island. Camping sites are also available for motorhomes or tents.
The Witchery offers customers a magical opportunity to try their hand at making brooms. Children aged 11 and up can take part in a workshop where they create a unique broom from scratch and young wizards (ages 3-10) can take part in a broom decorating class. The Witchery also offers a bookbinding workshop for teenagers and adults.
CASTLE CREEK ADVENTURE GROUND
A round of mini golf with the family is a great way to have fun while on vacation. You can’t go wrong spending the afternoon or evening at Castle Creek Adventure Land. Play eighteen-hole golf around waterfalls and fountains, then take a spin on the go-kart course. There is also a driving range and a snack bar on site. Do not leave without having tasted delicious ice cream.
Pay a visit to the Witch Pixs photo studio and take home a unique souvenir from Salem. There are over 300 costumes to choose from and several realistic witch-themed backgrounds. The studio offers many photo package options.
WHERE TO STAY – THE SALEM WATERFRONT HOTEL
The Salem Waterfront Hotel is located in the heart of Salem, within walking distance of dozens of restaurants, shops and attractions. The hotel offers spacious rooms and suites, making it a perfect choice for families traveling with children. There is also a heated indoor swimming pool and a pub on site.
Pro tip: Although some of the biggest museums and attractions are open year-round, the tourist season runs from April to November. The Halloween period attracts the biggest crowds. The best time to visit with little ones is late spring and summer, when crowds are fewer and lines are shorter.
Pro tip: As the locals say, “Everyday is Halloween in Salem,” which means just about anything goes. It’s not uncommon at any time of the year to see people walking down the street wearing witch hats, capes, or full costume. Don’t be afraid to add a little flair to your visit.
Map of things to do with kids in Salem
Frequently Asked Questions About Things To Do With Kids In Salem
What is there to do for free in Salem, MA?
Salem Maritime Historic Site
Commons of Salem
Essex Street Shops
Salem Willows Park and Beach
Salem Visitor Center Exhibits
Charter Street Cemetery
Salem Woods Hike
Cordes Manor Gardens
Is Salem, MA good for families?
families all year round. There are plenty of amazing attractions, fantastic restaurants, and whimsical shops to explore. Salem also offers many festivals and family events throughout the year.
What to do in Salem with children at night?
Witch Town Hibachi
Castle Creek Adventure Land
Good fat night
Hocus Pocus Tours
Salem Willows Game Room
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