The Salem Insider

Insiders guide to food, entertainment & living in Salem Massachusetts for tourists and residents.

Parking in Salem

By on 14 Comments
Categories: community, tourism, travel

UPDATE: due to some changes in Salem MA parking policy we wrote an update to this post, Parking in Salem – an update.

People visit Salem year round. Obviously October is the busiest month of the year but tourists flock to this historic city from April till November, giving the residents a brief respite during the winter.

If you are thinking of coming to Salem there are a few options on how to get here. You can take the MBTA Commuter Rail and get off at the Salem Depot which is a 3 minute walk to down town. From May to November you can take the Salem Ferry which goes from Central Wharf (New England Aquarium) in Boston to the Blaney Street Dock in Salem. But for most people driving is the way to get here.

Now that it is April 1 (no joke) street cleaning is in effect and parking enforcement is stronger. Last year Salem brought in $1.7 Million in parking fees. This post is your guide to the dos and don’t of parking in the Witch City.

Where can I park in Salem?

Parking lots and garages are you best bet if you are unfamiliar with the area.

  • Museum Place Mall garage
  • South Harbor garage ( on Derby Street)
  • MBTA Commuter Rail parking lot
  • Blaney Street lot
  • Church Street lot
  • Crombie Street lot
  • Sewell Street lot by the YMCA
  • Front Streetl lot behind the Fire Station
  • Riley Plaza lot in front of the Post Office

What about resident parking?

Like other cities Salem has plenty of streets in its historic neighborhoods that offer resident parking. All residents who live in an area that offers resident only parking can go to the Parking Office at 1 New Liberty Street across from the Visitor Center and get a resident parking sticker.

In October, any resident can get a month long resident pass allowing them to park on streets that have temporary resident only parking due to the Halloween season.

Tell me about “on street” parking

If you are coming up for the day or perhaps a short stay at one of our B&B’s you might be interested in on-street parking. In the down town and surrounding areas many streets have metered spots. Parking meters run from 8am to 5 or 6pm after that you can park in the spot for free. Unlike the exorbitantly prices you would pay in Boston (5 minutes per quarter) one quarter will buy you an hour in Salem with most meters having a max time of two hours. Meters take nickels, dimes and quarters so remember to bring change.

Parking Enforcement

Salem parking ticket

Salem meter maids hit the pavement with a vengeance every morning. Don’t expect to be given any slack… ever. Do yourself a favor and remember where and when you parked so you can avoid these Salem witches.

If you do find yourself with an orange greeting card on your windshield you can take care of it any time of day or night. Simple meter expired parking violations only cost $10 which is less than parking a full day in the garages during Halloween season. For your convenience there is a 24 hour drop box in front of City hall where you can pay your ticket.

14 Responses

  1. MajorD says:

    Ah, parking. Here’s the sum total of my additional knowledge on the subject. I got my resident permit in City Hall in Room 5, so I guess Liberty Street isn’t the only option. I had to bring my license, registration, and proof of address (I brought a utility bill). I got charged the ginormous sum of ONE dollar for my permit — which is good for four years (!) or until I ditch the car or — as the nice lady said — get a new windshield. And talk about one-stop shopping, she even registered me to vote while I was there.

  2. admin says:


    Great deal. Oh and for people interested in the October only pass you do need the same “proof of residence” but instead of a window sticker you get a paper placard you put on your dash board for the month.

  3. Chris says:

    Don’t they have those rickshaws/pedicabs to ride on as well?

  4. admin says:

    Sure do. In the good weather you can always hail a pedicab to take you around Salem, the drivers are usually knowledgeable and friendly because tip money is their lifeblood.

  5. Bewitched says:

    I travel to Salem to enjoy some fine dining at Rockafella’s restaurant. I put 2 quarters in the meter, but low & behold, it only counted one; a 1 hour limit (didn’t return the 2nd quarter either). Of course when I came out an hour and 1/2 later, there was a ticket on my windshield. Looking on the web, I see that Salem is renouned for having meter maids that pounce as soon as the meter expires. As a result of this and the fact that it is impossible to eat at a good restaurant in less than 1 hour (I rushed as it was, knowing that the meter would be expired), I will never go to Salem to dine again. Nor will I visit this city for any other reason/event that will take more than an hour.
    Nice going Salem. Does the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Dept. enjoy chasing people away from this town.

  6. Glen Hughes says:


    I’m sure the Chamber of Commerce is about as happy as you are regarding the parking situation in town. Recently due to a few massive money mismanagement debacles the parking stormtroopers are more vigilant than ever.

    The other day I saw one of the meter maids waiting to write a ticket on some guys car. I walked over there and put a quarter in his meter just to piss her off. I then emptied my pockets of the remaining change I had whenever I saw an expired meter. It was a great way to spend $1.25

  7. Cuddy says:

    City Hall was up to Shenanigans – getting 4 mil in debt – an dnow we all have to pay… h, well..

  8. Cuddy says:

    And I got a ticket – in front of my apartment.!!

    Even though I live on on the corner of Bridge and North – moving soon, thank God! – I can’t park on North, as I am not a ‘resident’ of North Street. Puhleeze. So I go to contest this and there is some guy who works, like two hours a week, listens to complaints / grievances and says ‘ No.’ to all of them. He’s got a real nice hack job, though… sitting there for 8 hours a month… waving some power around, makin gpeople pay ridiculous money… are they hiring?!

  9. Lucas says:

    I’ve had my share of parking trouble in the 5 years I’ve lived here.
    most recently my girlfriend who is a student and has out of state car documentation was refused any kind of protection from tickets despite living in Salem. I was at city hall, the parking garage and the police station
    pleading her case and all of them just threw up their hands.
    TOUGH LUCK. I am strongly considering scanning someone else’s orange
    paper permit into my computer and just printing my own. Would any one like
    to lend me theirs for about five minutes?

  10. Appehensive New Resident says:

    Gotta love parking in Salem…the meter maids are a bunch of finely trained ninjas. I’ve gotten into a routine of leaving my office, throwing in 2 quarters every 2 hours, and moving my truck once or twice a day (to avoid “meter-feeding” fines). The other day I Moved my truck as I usually do at about lunch time (12:30 for me)and continued to feed my new meter for the rest of the day. Lo and behold at the end of the day there is a “meter-feeding” ticket on my truck that says it was issued at 12:00… Now tell me how its possible that if I moved my truck at 12:30 to avoid meter-feeding and found no ticket there, magically at the end of the day I had a meter feeding ticket that was issued at 12:00? Absolute bullsh*t.

  11. tayso says:

    Can anyone tell me if Salem offers a “portable” permit pass so one’s vistors can safely park where resident permit are required? This is what is done in Cambridge (applies only to your immediate neighborhood), another town where it is a nigthmare to park! It sounds as if Salem has a visitor pass for October, but I’m also interested in a year-round neighborhood one…

  12. MLA says:

    Since moving to Salem 4 years ago I have paid my fair share of parking tickets. I have never argued one, as I am aware that the meters were expired. However, and with that said, a visitor to my home was given a ticket before the meter expired. The Parking officer, didn’t think that he would make it out of the building and across the street in 2 minutes to refill the meter, and she couldn’t be bothered to come back in a few minutes when the meter was actually expired. This time she was caught. But History is replete with examples of anecdotes of traffic control officers who will never ever admit to being wrong. My guest was then informed that he was ticketed not because the meter was expired but because you can’t park in the same spot for longer than 2 hours. 4 years and I have only ever seen people refill meters not move their car to another spot and feed that meter. Add that into the notion that I paid a good amount for my home, and pay the mandatory yearly parking pass fee for the garages, and Residents are not guaranteed parking in the town. Many have been forced to park in neighboring towns and take the Commuter Rail back to their home because of this. I suggest that anyone thinking about visiting this town, as a tourist, try a place that actually is welcoming of visitors, residents and commuters. We are only here to pay the moronic salary of our overpriced Mayor. And if you don’t know, the Salem mayor makes more in a year than the mayor of Miami FL.

  13. Beverly Resident says:

    > the meter maids are a bunch of finely trained ninjas

    I’m not sure I’d go that far. My family ate at Tavern In The Square and parked across the street (2hr metered spot). We fed 2hrs worth of quarters in the meter, and then had a 1hr 6min lunch. When we got back to the car, there was a ticket on the windshield – with 54min left on the meter!!!

    I was with my kids, so I didn’t express my feelings. My wife and I took pictures of the meter with the ticket + meter + car in the background, as there was no way I was going to let that fly. I scanned the ticket and the car description matched mine, but the parking spot # matched the car next to ours, whose meter had actually expired!!!

    So, we got the ticket for the guy next to us! I hope we can fight this one…



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