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After 380 years, most of the land in Salem has been built upon and yards are measured in square feet rather than fractions of acres; Salem is a fairly dense and compact city. That is not to say that there isn't any open space. The Salem Common near downtown, a cow pasture in the 17th century, is surrounded by trees and stately homes. The large open green is popular for a quiet stroll with your dog (make sure to keep them leashed and pick up waste) or without and serves as a location for a variety of warm weather events.
Forest River Park, adjacent to the now-closed Pioneer Village (who knows if or when it will re-open), has excellent playground areas for children and is a fine picnic spot for families. Leslie's Retreat (mentioned in another 'Inside' page) Park, along Bridge St. but accessed from Commercial, is largely occupied by Salem's first "dog park". Within its fenced boundaries, dogs are required to be off-lead and owners must be in voice control of their pets; it's a nice break, though, from leash laws for canine companions. Hidden away just over the North River at Mason and Tremont Streets is McKay Park with its ball field and views from one of the highest points in Salem.
The Salem Willows, which DOES have willow trees and a large park area, offers access to (the not-aptly named as there isn't one) Dead Horse Beach and a nice view of Beverly Harbor along with a food/amusements arcade. Another possibility is Winter Island Park, located off to the right just before the Willows, home to the city's only camping area near the abandoned Coast Guard barracks and seaplane hangar as well as Fort Pickering which dates from the 18th century. The public is not allowed inside the old fort, but the earthen walls offer a panoramic view of Salem Harbor. Whimsically-named Waikiki Beach is also nearby attraction.
Overseen by the U.S. Park Service, there are narrow green expanses along Pickering and Derby Wharves where long-ago demolished warehouses and rigging shops used to serve mariners and merchants. Many count the stroll out to a small lighthouse on Derby Wharf as a regular after dinner activity. In additon to the private Kernwood Country Club, there is a public golf course near the new high school and a driving range off Swampscott Road. There are several other smaller neighborhood parks: Collins Cove, Gallows Hill (yes, those gallows- but they too are long gone) and one off North St. the name of which escapes the writer (it looks like someone's backyard). For a city where homes and business are mostly packed tightly together, Historic Salem does have its share of open space.