Winter Island, at 50 Winter Island Rd., is my favorite spot in Salem. It is a maritime park, and less than a ten-minute drive from the Inn. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a Blue Bike (these bikes are for rent all over Salem. Soon to come—a blog post about this program that promotes riding bikes rather than driving). The Salem Trolley also makes stops at Winter Island, and you can get on and off all day for the price of a ticket.
The park is on a beautiful peninsula that has everything one could want in a park plus some surprises. We’ll start with beautiful Waikiki Beach, ideal for swimming. The stretch of sand is rarely crowded, and the view of Salem Sound and its islands is unsurpassed. There are also showers for getting all that sand off!
One of the most picturesque spots in the park is Fort Pickering Lighthouse, built in 1869. It still serves to keep boats safe from the rocky shores of Winter Island. Its light flashes every four seconds.
There is camping for tents and RVs; rolling green hills; and the remnants of a US Coast Guard Station. You can still see an airplane hangar, which was in use from 1930-1970. It now houses municipal equipment for the city of Salem. In the past, seaplanes conducted search and rescue missions, law enforcement, and wildfowl counts. During WWII anti-submarine patrols were flown from New York City to the Canadian border. The old radio room is now the Harbormaster’s headquarters, and the deserted barracks are said to be haunted.
Aerial View of the Coast Guard Station During Its Operation
Seaplanes in Front of the Hangar
The Coast Guard Hangar
Coast Guard Barracks
There is also a public boat ramp, and boat docks that are often piled with lobster traps being loaded onto lobster boats.
Last but not least, Fort Pickering, built in 1643 and in use through the US Civil War, is hidden under mounded earthworks. You can still see its entrances. It is also home to Civil War reenactment camps on occasion.
Gated Entrance to Fort Pickering Earthwork Parapet
And…Catching a Sunset View
I can’t stress it enough; don’t miss Winter Island, one of the most idyllic spots in Salem. You won’t be disappointed!