Salem is a very walkable city. In fact, we delight in our walkability. Many people choose to live here because so many fantastic neighborhoods are within walking distance of the downtown shopping, dining, cultural sites, Farmers' Market, Salem Ferry to Boston, and MBTA Commuter Rail.
Salem is so walkable, walkBoston - a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving walking conditions in cities and towns across Massachusetts - created a Salem Walking Routes map. The map highlights Salem Downtown, The Point Neighborhood, and Historic District / Derby Waterfront. They provide a basic history of Salem, focusing on the maritime story, and recommend looking for slate roofs, pineapples, two-story wooden buildings, brick buildings, date stones, stucco, and the wonderful scenic vistas of Salem harbor (I don't want to give away the store here, so you're going to have to look at their map to find out why they highlight these things!)
Click here for the printable PDF of walkBoston's Salem walking routes.
There are several other walking tours in Salem, including the Red Line, or Heritage Trail, which is painted on city sidewalks to connect historic sites and points of interest. The Red Line route is on the Visitor Guide map, and you can read about traveling on the Heritage Trail in past blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2).
Visit the Salem Maritime National Historic Site online for the McIntire Architecture Walking Trail, Bowditch's Salem: A Walking Tour of the Great Age of Sail, Architecture in Salem walking tour, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Salem: A Walking Tour of Literary Salem. These are each great tools to inform your independent exploration of this very walkable, very historic city.
You may have noticed, as I did, that the Salem Witch Trials are absent from these walking trails and routes, which focus on the maritime and architectural history of Salem. If you want to explore the Witch Trials via a self-guided walk around Salem, a blog post I did for the Carrier Family Reunion and author (The Heretic's Daughter, The Wolves of Andover) Kathleen Kent's visit to Salem last year connects some of the sites that are significant to the Witch Trial history.
Walking tours are a great way to explore Salem. Lace up your sneakers and get out there!