Open daily 10 A.M. – 5 P.M.

Discover Open Spaces for All

Sometimes the simple pleasures are the best ones. Salem’s parks, gardens and nature preserves are colorful gems set alongside glittering blue seas. Choose from museum gardens, an historic cemetery, a town common where the National Guard got its start and even an island. Begin your journey with a stroll around The Gables’ historic oceanside lawns and gardens. Enjoy — alone or with loved ones.

The Lawn at The House of the Seven Gables
Photo courtesy of Cristo Tsiaras.

Waterfront Lawn and Gardens at The House of the Seven Gables

Those visiting The Gables have excellent choices. They may head directly to the Museum Shop, for which no admission is charged. Or guests may purchase either a house tour ticket or a grounds pass. The grounds pass is a newer option for visitors who want to relax on a bench in the garden, on the expansive green lawn, at a table under the wisteria or on the harbor’s edge. Bring a snack or picnic lunch. Writers, bring your laptops and follow in the Hawthorne tradition. It so happens that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace is open to those with a grounds pass. Readers may want to simply sit and read at one of the most exquisite harbor-front sites in all of Salem. The Gables is a National Historic Landmark site located on 2.5 acres. The beautiful lawn is also where museum members can gather on the Fourth of July. And the lawn is where, on very happy occasions, new American citizens take their official oath of citizenship.

House of the Seven Gables
115 Derby St.

Custom House Garden
Courtesy the National Park Service

Secret Gem: Colonial Revival Garden

Across from Salem Harbor and behind the Custom House where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked as Surveyor of the Port between 1846 and 1849, you’ll find a true hidden gem. This authentic Colonial Revival Garden, though created in 1990, is historic all the same. It is modeled after early European formal gardens and contains a set of divided beds, exactly as they were constructed in the late 18th century. Susanne Gentiluomo, a historic gardens expert, designed this garden. Visitors can expect to see more than 150 varieties of heirloom plantings documented back to 1798 or earlier. Several have been imported. Those who nurtured such formal gardens were enthusiastic plant collectors, according to the National Park Service that oversees this special place. Come have lunch on a bench and enjoy the beautiful solitude.

Across Derby Street from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and adjacent to The Custom House

The 5-minute walk is .2 miles from The House of the Seven Gables.

Derby Wharf
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Derby Wharf

Visit Derby Wharf for some of the best views of Salem Harbor. The wharf, part of The Salem Maritime National Historic Site, was once part of a bustling fishing port and global trade center. As you approach the wharf, you’ll see the historic Custom House where duties were tallied on shipments. Look for the homes of Benjamin Hawkes, a prominent shipbuilder, and Elias Hasket Derby, one of Salem’s wealthiest sea merchants. The wharf’s waterfront lawn that faces the harbor is an ideal spot for a picnic lunch or sunbathing. The adjacent small beach is a popular spot for playful kids. You can stretch your legs on a walk along the wharf, passing by the Friendship of Salem, a replica of a tall ship, and Derby Light, the wharf’s oldest surviving structure. Interpretive tours and information are available through the National Park Service.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site
160 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
Salem Maritime National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)

The 5-minute walk is .2 miles from The House of the Seven Gables.

Baker’s Island
Photo courtesy of Essex Heritage.

Bakers Island Light Station on Bakers Island

Those looking for a really special adventure may consider a half-hour cruise to Bakers Island Light Station off the coast of Salem. Lighthouses on this beautiful and secluded site have served the North Shore for more than 250 years. Those visiting have three options: (1) Sail to Bakers Island on the Naumkeag landing craft and enjoy 1 ½ hours walking on the trails, relaxing, picnicking and learning about the history of the Light Station. Views of the North Shore’s coastline are spectacular and will re-orient those who are land-based. The entire trip lasts 2 ½ hours. (2) Spend a minimum of two nights at the assistant lightkeeper’s house. There’s a working kitchen, running water, WiFi and solar power for some electricity. (3) Camp for a minimum of two nights at one of three campsites. The Light Station occupies 10 of the island’s 60 acres. The rest of the island is private, while the Light Station is operated by Essex Heritage. Check the website for fees.

10 Blaney St. (dock in Salem)
Operated by Essex National Heritage Commission

The 10-minute walk to the 10 Blaney St. dock from The Gables is .3 miles.

Peabody Essex Museum Garden
Photo courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum.

PEM Garden

Tucked within the newly renovated wing of the Peabody Essex Museum is a delightful 5,000-square-foot garden space with a unique Zenlike feel. Designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the garden is a perfect place to take a break while visiting the museum and its vast collections of art and culture from around the world. The centerpiece of the garden is a mesmerizing 11-foot cascading water feature that is surrounded by a carefully composed array of shrubs, trees and flowers. Find a bench and just sit and relax as you take in the sights, sounds and smells around you. Access to the garden is included in museum admission.

Peabody Essex Museum
East India Square
161 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970

The 13 minute-walk is about .6 miles from The House of the Seven Gables.

Salem Commons
Courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables

Salem Common

Salem Common is a beautiful park in the heart of Salem. There’s a playground, lots of benches under a spreading canopy of oaks and maples, large swaths of green grass, a half-mile path around the perimeter for walkers and runners, and a handsome bandstand where concerts are held. Among its many distinctions is the fact that Salem Common is the official birthplace of our country’s National Guard. Beginning in 1637, militia from regional communities gathered at the common to train. Residents used to call the common “the pen” as cows and goats grazed there. Eventually the five swampy ponds were filled in, trees planted and the common became a place where people gathered not just to train and shoot guns but to have picnics, weddings and exercise. In 1914 Salem suffered a devastating fire. Some of those who lost their homes set up tents here. Both the wrought-iron fence and the common itself are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Washington Square (north, south, east and west)

The 15-minute walk is .6 miles from The House of the Seven Gables.

The Ropes Mansion Garden
Photo courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum.

The Ropes Mansion (PEM)

For a quiet respite, stop by the Ropes Mansion garden at 318 Essex St. Just a 25-minute walk from the Gables, this beautiful, hidden gem comes to life in vivid color in the spring and summer. A favorite of locals, the garden offers a peaceful setting to relax, explore or simply enjoy a bagged lunch. Designed by Salem botanist and horticulturalist John Robinson (1912) in the Colonial Revivalist style, the garden sits behind the Ropes Mansion, which was owned by three generations of the Ropes family, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The garden is maintained based on Robinson’s original notes and has an onsite greenhouse to support gardening activities. It is open year-round, dawn to dusk. House tours are also available seasonally.

The Ropes Mansion
318 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970

The 25-minute walk is about 1 mile from The House of the Seven Gables.

Photo courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables.

Salem Willows Park

The Salem Willows, just a mile’s drive from The House of the Seven Gables, is a picturesque 35-acre waterfront park. Named after the graceful willow trees planted on the property in 1801, the park has served as a popular respite for North Shore residents and visitors since the mid-19th century. Find a shady tree to relax under or a bench along the waterfront to watch the boats pass by. For those interested in more active pursuits, look for the tennis and basketball courts, as well as three beaches, picnic areas and gazebos. Feeling hungry? Grab some seafood, pizza or snacks from one of the eateries or play a game or two at the arcades.

Salem Willows Park
167 Fort Avenue
Salem, MA 01970
Salem Willows – Salem, MA

The 4-minute drive is about 1.3 miles from The House of the Seven Gables.

Winter Island Maritime Park & Campgrounds

Originally a fort used for strategic coastal defense, then later a U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue base, this city-owned maritime park offers plenty for visitors to explore from both land and sea. Just a short drive from The House of the Seven Gables, the park is a favorite among locals, and provides a quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life. Spend the day fishing, boating or relaxing at the public beach. Or explore the ruins of Historic Fort Pickering, named after Col. Timothy Pickering, secretary of state and war in George Washington’s cabinet. Be sure to check out the Fort Pickering Lighthouse (also known as the Winter Island Lighthouse). Seasonal tent and RV camping is available, but spaces are limited and must be reserved well in advance.

Winter Island Maritime Park + Campgrounds
50 Winter Island Road
Salem, MA 01970
Winter Island Park

The 5-minute drive is 1.4 miles from The House of the Seven Gables.

Harmony Grove Cemetery
Courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables

Harmony Grove Cemetery

Although Harmony Grove Cemetery is private, it is open to visitors who want to stroll through the gentle hills, lanes and paths. Its serenity, seclusion and naturalistic setting appeal to many seeking quiet and solace. The gravestones and monuments draw visitors to the very many notable people at rest here including Caroline Emmerton, founder of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association. Harmony Grove is the eighth rural cemetery to be built in the United States. It is constructed in the style of Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Both were designed by landscape architect Alexander Wadsworth, though Salem merchant and cofounder of the Essex Institute, Francis Peabody, organized and supervised construction. Rural cemeteries are known for their nature-like settings that have been artfully constructed to accommodate trees and plantings that draw not just walkers and visitors seeking respite as they remember loved ones, but birds and other small creatures. The Blake Memorial Chapel, onsite, has beautiful stained- and leaded-glass windows. The property is 100 acres with more than 21,000 monuments and burial markers.

30 Grove St., Salem, MA

The 2.5-mile drive from The Gables takes about 10 minutes.