Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Salisbury, MD

  • Published 2023/02/10

Salisbury may have a distinct small-town vibe, but it’s the largest city on Maryland’s historic Eastern Shore.

This coastal city is the county seat of Wicomico County, Maryland, and the commercial and cultural hub of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Salisbury was incorporated in 1854, with a rich history dating back to 1732 and over 33,000 population based on the 2020 U.S. census.

Tourists can see incredible animals, view fascinating public art, visit historical sites, relax in natural parks, enjoy waterfront views, and participate in festivals.

The city is the perfect getaway from some of the larger metropolitan areas surrounding it, and it offers several free attractions and activities.

Here are some free things to do in Salisbury, Maryland:

Delve into History at Poplar Hill Mansion

Exterior of Poplar Hill Mansion

Morazan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poplar Hill Mansion, Salisbury’s oldest documented home, was built as a manor house in the 18th century and has slowly evolved since 1732.

The historic house is an excellent example of Federal-style architecture and a great way to discover the story of the Federal Period in American history.

After extensive renovations, Poplar Hill Mansion now serves as a museum and an event venue.

You can find fascinating exhibits about its architecture, furnishings, the life of the enslaved people, farming in the early 1800s, and the city’s history.

Its award-winning Dr. Huston’s Surgery Room exhibit features Salisbury’s first and prominent surgeon, who used the manor for medical practices in the early 1800s.

History buffs shouldn’t miss the well-preserved mansion museum’s free admission and tours.

Poplar Hill Mansion is on Elizabeth Street.

Bask in the World of Contemporary Art at the Salisbury University Art Galleries

For travelers who want to see world-class contemporary art, the Salisbury University Art Galleries is a must-visit.

It comprises three galleries: two on campus, The University Gallery and The Electronic Gallery, and one downtown, the SU Art Galleries | Downtown.

The University Gallery features the works of well-known national and international artists, along with regular faculty and student exhibitions.

The Electronic Gallery is dedicated to new media art emphasizing technology and new aesthetic forms.

Meanwhile, the one downtown on West Main Street brings art to the community.

The Salisbury University Art Galleries also preserves the University Art Collection with over 1,400 objects, including photographs, paintings, sculptures, and folk art.

Check Out Baseball Exhibits at the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum

For baseball fans, the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum is a must-visit.

Opened in 1997, the museum preserves and showcases the history of amateur, semi-pro, and professional baseball on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Its exhibits feature hundreds of photographs, bats, balls, uniforms, gloves, trophies, letters, tickets, and other baseball memorabilia.

You can also see a lengthy list of hall of fame inductees at the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum.

The museum is located within the Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, home to Delmarva Shorebirds, the Low-A East affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Free to enter, it’s open prior to every Delmarva Shorebirds home game but is also available for appointment-only tours during the off-season.

Enjoy a Day of Fun at the Wicomico County Fair

Wicomico County’s close-knitted farming community has always been celebrated with a fair that dates back eight decades.

Started in 2015, the Wicomico County Fair continues and combines the features of the Wicomico Farm & Home Show and the Delmarva Chicken Festival.

Activities include livestock exhibits, competitions, auctions, home arts, demonstrations, many local vendors, carnival rides, live music, and fireworks.

Check out the five-foot fry pan, which has been around for years, and other quirky attractions.

Admission and parking are free at the fair, attracting a massive crowd on the third weekend of August at WinterPlace Park.

Because it’s full of fun and excitement, the Wicomico County Fair guarantees a fun-filled day with loved ones.

Celebrate Art and Enjoy a Dose of Entertainment on the 3rd Friday

There’s never a dull moment in Salisbury as many events take place in the city, such as the 3rd Friday.

It’s a free monthly event launched in 2009, highlighting art and entertainment, perfect for people of all ages.

Expect to see many artists, crafters, musicians, non-profit organizations, civic and community groups, food vendors, and more during the event.

3rd Friday also features different creative monthly themes, making it more exciting and fun.

This festivity is held on the third Friday of each month along Main Street in Downtown Salisbury.

April to November events are hosted outdoors, while December to March events are held indoors.

From gallery exhibitions and live entertainment to special and lively activities, there’s something to enjoy on the 3rd Friday.

Celebrate the Salisbury Riverfest

Salisbury Riverfest celebrates the charming Wicomico River that flows through the heart of Downtown Salisbury.

This festival’s fun activities and entertainment will make your summer more exhilarating.

It features fun activities, including rubber duck races and kids’ games.

It also offers food, drinks, music, art, and a Wacky Wiver Wace kayak obstacle course.

Bring your whole family and invite your friends out for a day of fun in the summer!

Held in July, the Salisbury Riverfest is the perfect time to experience the beautiful Wicomico River.

Celebrate Cultural and Ethnic Diversity at the Maryland Folk Festival

Salisbury has taken the opportunity to establish the legacy of the National Folk Festival, which it has hosted for five years.

Similar to the national festival, the Maryland Folk Festival celebrates American culture’s roots, richness, and variety through dance, music, food, and crafts.

Many musicians, performers, storytellers, craftspeople, and more grace this large-scale, multi-day outdoor event.

The Maryland Folk Festival features outstanding performances, demonstrations, exhibits, hands-on crafts, games, and narrative presentations.

Flock to Downtown Salisbury in September with family and friends and discover how this event takes the city’s arts, culture, and community to the next level.

Get Up Close and Personal with Different Animals at the Salisbury Zoo

A wolf at Salisbury Zoo

Mint0ri, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you have kids or a soft spot for animals, there’s no other perfect place in the city than the Salisbury Zoo or the Salisbury Zoological Park.

The zoo was founded in 1954 when the city brought some animals on permanent display in the City Park where it’s located.

Improvements made in the 1970s led to the zoological park’s current state, providing more naturalistic enclosures for the animals.

Housed in the zoo are various species endemic to North, Central, and South America, which you can also learn about while traversing the grounds.

Some interesting animals include capybaras, cotton-top tamarins, spotted whistling ducks, North American river otters, ocelots, ball pythons, and more.

In addition, the paved pathways and raised boardwalks make it easier to access the small but beautiful zoo.

With its free admission, Salisbury Zoo guarantees a fun-filled day for everyone in the family!

Explore the Public Art Walking Tour in Downtown Salisbury

Downtown Salisbury is dotted with lots of impressive pieces of artwork from talented artists, which you can discover through a public art walking tour.

You can find steel sculptures, murals, and painted electrical boxes.

Make sure to download the Public Art Walking Tour brochure and map to locate the artwork easier.

It includes details about the artist’s name, art title, and the date it was produced.

One example is Blaine Steiner’s Bloom, a three-part steel sculpture with lighted cast glass elements, which can be found along the bank of the Wicomico River.

Besides the public art, you may also spot some beautiful late 19th and early 20th-century buildings downtown.

Join the Festivities at the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop is one of the biggest annual events in Downtown Salisbury.

The Salisbury Art & Entertainment District produces this fun event.

Since it’s free and family-friendly and perfect for all ages, it attracts a massive crowd.

Everyone can enjoy a night filled with live music and entertainment, plus the big ball drop at midnight with thousands of LED lights and confetti, which is the highlight of the event.

There are also food trucks, local retailers, and free parking available.

Have a blast with your family, friends, and the community at the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, rain or shine!

Watch Out for Friday Night Live

While in Salisbury in the summer, you can take advantage of free concerts at Friday Night Live.

It’s a summer concert series featuring local and regional bands in various genres.

Friday Night Live is an event by the Salisbury Arts & Entertainment District.

It’s held downtown each Friday, except the 3rd Friday.

Take a Tour of the Parsons Cemetery

The Parsons Cemetery is a historic urban cemetery, an outdoor museum, and a green space with various purposes, making it a must-visit.

It spans 18 acres and is divided into several sections.

Located on North Division Street, this place is great for walking, strolling, enjoying quiet time alone, and admiring the striking nature views.

It’s also home to beautiful gardens, shrubs, trees, and green spaces, as well as birds and wildlife.

You can also learn about the cemetery’s history intertwined with the history of Salisbury.

The original cemetery, established in 1873, can be found in the southeastern section, which includes the family lot of the cemetery founder Benjamin Parsons and many of the city’s important historical families.

Many of Salisbury’s World War I and World War II veterans are buried at Parsons Cemetery.

While touring, expect to see kiosks with historical information about renowned people interred within the cemetery.

Watch the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

Enjoy the holiday cheer in Salisbury by heading downtown to witness the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting with your loved ones.

Watch as the giant tree light up during this festive event kicking off the holiday season.

Let your kids strike a pose with Santa and photograph the wonderful moment!

Besides the beautiful and colorful lights, enjoy live music, performances, and shopping for arts and crafts at the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting event.

Relax at the Schumaker Pond Park

Nestled on Schumaker Pond’s waterline, the Schumaker Pond Park is an 11-acre beautiful woodland area.

There are picnic tables and benches spread throughout the shaded park, offering lots of areas for relaxation.

The pavilion on the hill overlooking the water can accommodate large family gatherings or quiet, casual outings.

A large barbecue and shelter next to the pavilion make it easier to barbecue.

Explore the trails within the Schumaker Pond Park and let your kids frolic in the playground with slides, swings, riding toys, and a play set.

Check out the 18-hole disc golf course, called “the Schu” by regular players, ideal for golfers of all skill levels.

You can also find a narrow beach along the pond and a long dock for fishing downhill from the wooded area.

Stroll along the Trails at Pemberton Historical Park

Pemberton hall at Pemberton Historical Park

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 262-acre Pemberton Historical Park is the perfect destination for lovers of history and nature.

Visitors can hike 4.5 miles of Maryland trails, admire nature’s beauty, and participate in environmental education, historical interpretation, or special event activities.

The park has a building near the parking lot where you can pick informational brochures with trail guides, event lists, and details about diverse habitats, flora, and fauna, particularly on the Eastern Shore.

It also has a few places on the Eastern Shore where you can study tidal and freshwater wetlands, ponds, hardwood forests, meadows, and upland pines, all within the same spot.

Its unique feature, combined with its historical importance, makes it enticing for study and leisure.

You can find Pemberton Historical Park on Pemberton Drive on the west section of Salisbury, right off Route 50.

Final Thoughts

There’s never a dull moment and shortage of things to do in Salisbury, Maryland.

With its lovely parks, historical sites, fascinating exhibits, art scene, family-friendly outdoor events, and vibrant downtown, you’ll enjoy your vacation here.

Try these free things to do in Salisbury, Maryland, to make the most of your trip!

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