Cruising to Salem, Massachusetts

When you think of Salem, Massachusetts, you probably think of one thing: witches.

While Salem is certainly famous for its witchy past, and today it has plenty of shops devoted to witchcraft and the psychic arts, there’s a lot more to Salem. It’s also a historic seaport with a lively waterfront, lots of interesting attractions and many diverse, high-quality restaurants, all of which help make Salem a delightful cruising destination.

When cruising to Salem, most boaters navigate toward the large power plant on its waterfront. The surrounding waters have rocks and ledges boaters should be mindful of. Several marked channels lead into Salem Harbor, but Salem Channel is the most straightforward approach.

In Salem, boaters can dock or grab a mooring at Pickering Wharf Marina (978-744-2727), located at a wharf that has shops and restaurants. Also nearby is the Brewer Hawthorne Cove Marine (978-740-9890), a full service marina near the House of the Seven Gables. No fuel is available in Salem Harbor, but boaters can get gas and diesel in nearby Beverly and Marblehead Harbors.

Among the attractions boaters will enjoy in Salem is Winter Island, which boaters will see to starboard when entering Salem Harbor. The former military installation is a marine recreational park and features camping, picnic areas and is home to historic Fort Pickering and Fort Pickering Lighthouse. In Salem is the Peabody Essex Museum (800-745-4054), the nation’s oldest continuously operated museum. Its collection includes maritime arts and history, plus a wide array of Asian, African, Native American and American arts. The National Park Service’s Salem Maritime Historic Site (978-740-1660) has tours of historic buildings, a visit to a tall ship and a film about Salem’s history. You can also tour the Salem Custom House, where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked as a surveyor from 1846 to 1849.

Salem also has many great restaurants to choose from. Finz Seafood (978-744-8485) offers waterfront dining, a raw bar, and innovative seasonal menus. Victoria Station & Vic’s Boathouse (978-745-3400) also offers waterfront dining, an exceptional menu and live entertainment. And the Sea Level Oyster Bar (978-741-0555) on Pickering Wharf has an indoor/outdoor bar, incredible views and fresh seafood.

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