20 Things To Do In Winston Salem

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Winston-Salem in North Carolina has a rich and unique history that spans nearly three centuries. This history has created an eclectic city that values art and beauty and works to preserve it in the face of modernity. So don’t be surprised to find a good range of things to do in Winston Salem.

Winston-Salem’s heritage and culture have shaped this city into a welcoming and tolerant place where people can collaborate to create unique experiences and opportunities. In addition, universities such as Wake Forest and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts draw many students looking for an excellent education. As a result, Winston-Salem has a lot to offer its visitors and residents.

Winston Salem, North Carolina

20 Things To Do In Winston Salem

winston salem city aerial view from a distance
Looking for things to do in Winston Salem today? Check out our list of the top 20.

1- Visit The Old Salem Museums and Gardens

The Old Salem Museum and Gardens is a Winston-Salem historic district with historical buildings, museums and art galleries.

This living museum teaches visitors the history of the people who once settled in this area, especially the Moravian, Black and Indigenous peoples.

Interpreters fill roles as tinsmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters and bakers who populate the town, demonstrating how life here once looked.

Galleries and museums such as the Frank L. Horton Museum Center and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts contain artifacts in their collections that help to tell the stories of these early peoples.

This National Historic Landmark is open Wednesday through Saturday all year except January.

Old Salem Museum and Gardens is at 900 Old Salem Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

2- Go For A Stroll At Salem Lake Park

things to do in winston salem nc today
Enjoying the city’s parks is one of the relaxing things to do in Winston Salem NC today.

Near the downtown area of Winston-Salem, this 365-acre (148 ha) lake provides urban recreation where visitors can hike or jog around a seven-mile (11 km) trail.

This unpaved trail offers beautiful views of the lake on a shaded path.

Hikers can also access the Salem Lake Greenway from this trail, which eventually reaches a local mall.

Anglers in possession of a state fishing license can fish from the pier or launch a boat to catch sportfish such as Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, and Channel Catfish.

Bank fishing is not permitted.

Amenities include picnic shelters, grills, restrooms, a concession stand, and a play area for children.

Salem Lake Park is at 815 Salem Lake Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

3- Enjoy The Views At The Quarry

The Quarry at Grant Park is a scenic, 200-acre (81-hectare) body of water in downtown Winston-Salem.

The quarry’s waters are crystal clear and bordered by high cliffs on one side.

Visitors can see the quarry from several overlook points along the trail at the park.

The Observation Pier provides people with a fantastic view of the Winston-Salem skyline while looking out over the quarry from above.

The park’s trail starts in the parking lot.

From there, hikers and bikers can connect to two different greenways that run into the city.

Amenities at this park include a playground, restrooms, parking, and handicapped parking.

The Quarry at Grant Park is at 1790 Quarry Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

4- Step Back Into History At Bethabara Park

The Historic Bethabara Park is a living history museum where interpreters dress in period costumes to reenact the original Moravian settlement founded in 1753.

This settlement was the earliest European settlement in this region of North Carolina.

The 183-acre (74-hectare) park is dog-friendly and contains several trails for hiking and birding.

Bethabara has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a Local Historic District.

Many of the original buildings in the village have been preserved and restored for visitors.

The foundations of other buildings and structures are scattered throughout the park.

People can also see the 1788 Gemeinhaus Church, a cemetery, distillery, reconstructed medicinal and community gardens, a log house and more.

Guided tours through the buildings are available at the Visitor’s Center.

The Historic Bethabara Park is at 2147 Bethabara Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106.

5- Take The Kids To Kaleideum

things to do in winston salem downtown
Exploring the downtown area is one of the things to do in Winston Salem.

Kaleideum is a large children’s museum in Winston-Salem.

Two locations of Kaleideum, one on the north side and one downtown, offer hours of fun for kids of all ages.

Exhibits at both locations use creative, interactive activities to educate kids about STEM topics.

The downtown location offers children a place to climb, read, imagine, and build in The Prop Shop, The Enchanted Forest, Amazing Airways, and The Studio.

At the north location, kids can visit the Planetarium and exhibits like the Foucault Pendulum, Hurricane Simulator, HealthWorks, and Molecules.

Both Kaleideum locations offer many displays that engage, entertain, and educate kids for hours.

Kaleideum North is at 400 West Hanes Mill Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27105. The Kaleideum Downtown location is at 390 S Liberty Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

6- Go On A Carolina History and Haunts Historical Ghost Tour

winston salem at night skyline
One of the fun thigns to do in Winston Salem at night is to go on a ghost tour.

The Carolina History and Haunts Historical Ghost Tour is a walking tour of the historic parts of Winston-Salem.

A knowledgeable tour guide holding a large lantern takes people on a 90-minute walking tour after dark.

On this tour, visitors learn about the history of Winston-Salem, including the darker and more tragic stories about the city’s former residents.

Be prepared to walk and stand extensively by wearing comfortable shoes and bringing an umbrella and water.

Tours take place year-round, and you can make reservations online.

The Carolina History and Haunts Historical Ghost Tour starts at 848 West Fifth Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

The Moravians were a German-speaking, devoutly-religious group of people from Eastern Europe who emigrated to North Carolina.

They brought their culture and traditions that helped shape Winston-Salem into the city it is today.

One of those traditions is the Moravian Cookie, and the Moravian Cookie Trail is a celebration of this sweet cookie recipe that has been passed down through generations of Moravians.

Several bakeries produce Moravian cookies and treats, all with slight variations.

The 200-year-old Winkler Bakery in Old Salem is a great place to start the tour. After that, visit Dewey’s Bakery, Mrs Hanes’ Moravian Cookies and the Wilkerson Moravian Bakery.

Visitors to Winston-Salem can better understand Moravian culture and history by eating a piece of that history in cookie form.

8- Explore Reynolda House Museum of American Art

The Reynolds Family, founders of the Reynolds Tobacco Company, built and moved into a mansion located in Winston-Salem in the early 1900s.

Two generations of the family resided in this home at the centre of a 1,000-acre (405-hectare) estate.

This estate contained a mansion, a village, and extensive gardens.

Approximately 50 years after the mansion was built, it became a public art museum with one of the best American paintings and sculpture collections.

Reynolda House is a unique museum complex where for $18 a person, you can wander through the restored home and see works from artists such as Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keefe, Frederic Church and Mary Cassatt.

In addition, most of the original buildings in the Reynolda Village remain intact and now house boutiques and restaurants.

The original Reynolda Gardens were also restored, and the lake was converted into a wetland.

Admission to the Village and Gardens is free. The Reynolda Museum of American Art is at 2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106.

9- Visit Winston-Salem’s Landmarks – Shell Station And Coffee Pot

things to do in winston salem nc colourful sign
You won’t be stuck for fun things to do in Winston Salem, whether you’re visiting with kids, as a couple or solo.

Winston-Salem is known for two quirky historical landmarks.

One of these landmarks is the Shell Service Station, constructed in 1930.

This station was built in the shape of a scallop shell and painted bright yellow with red trim.

The adjacent car wash and service trellis were also restored.

Although eight were built in the city, this station is the only one remaining.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The other historic landmark is the Coffee Pot.

Mickey’s Coffee Pot was built by the Mickey brothers, who were tinsmiths struggling to make their shop visible.

The brothers built a seven-foot-tall coffee pot constructed from tin to attract customers in 1858.

Plenty of urban lore and historical accounts surround this structure, and it has become an important symbol of the city.

The Shell Service Station is at 1111 E Sprague St, Winston-Salem, NC 27107. The Coffee Pot is at 401 Old Salem Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

10- Drink Cocktails At Broad Branch Distillery

The Broad Branch Distillery has a long history of traditional Blue Ridge Mountain distilling practices passed down from one generation to the next.

This heritage distillery has its roots in the immigrant and outlaw communities that once populated the nearby mountains.

The small-batch artisanal spirits produced at this distillery have a unique aroma and taste enjoyed by many visitors.

This distillery offers daily tours and a tasting room seven days a week.

In addition, a cocktail bar every Saturday is available where people can enjoy cocktails created by the in-house mixologist.

Visitors to Winston-Salem can find the Broad Branch Distillery at 756 Trade St NW, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

11- Go On The North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail

North Carolina’s famous pork barbecue comes in two distinctive styles – eastern and western.

The eastern-style barbecue is a thin sauce with a slightly spicy, peppery flavour, usually made with apple cider vinegar and spicy pepper.

The western-style barbecue, often referred to as Lexington-style, is a thicker sauce with a sweeter flavour, often made with butter, ketchup and sugar.

The North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail only contains restaurants where barbecue pork is prepared using the old-fashioned method of cooking the pig over a fire pit using wood or charcoal.

The restaurants on the trail also make their own signature sauces for their barbecue.

All the restaurants have been open for more than 15 years, but some have been making barbecue for more than 50 years.

The Barbecue Trail meanders all across the state.

Visitors to Winston-Salem can easily visit several restaurants on this historic trail without having to drive far.

12- Go On A Winery Tour Through Yadkin Valley

things to do in winston salem north carolina Yadkin Valley
Visiting wineries and vineyards in the Yadkin Valley is one of the things to do in Winston Salem North Carolina.

North Carolina claims that it is where grapes were first cultivated in the New World and currently contains around 200 wineries within the state.

The state’s climate is perfect for viticulture and provides the right growing conditions for most of the world’s major types of grapes.

Northwest of Winston-Salem, wine lovers can explore Yadkin Valley in Surry County, North Carolina.

This beautiful, scenic area contains over 40 vineyards and wineries.

The Surry County Wine Trail map provides visitors with an easy way to find many of these wineries.

This map also provides information about annual wine events and wineries that offer overnight accommodations.

13- Admire Körner’s Folly

Körner’s Folly is a historic house built in 1880 by Jule Körner, who made his fortune as an advertiser, interior designer and decorator.

This eccentric mansion, once a home for the Körner Family, is now a museum with 22 rooms, original furniture and artwork, carved woodwork, plaster and tiles.

Restoration at Körner’s Folly is designed to return the house to how it looked from 1890 to 1915.

This house deserves its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors can take self-guided tours Tuesday through Saturday or privately-guided tours Monday through Friday.

Körner’s Folly is at 413 South Main St., Kernersville, NC 27284.

14- Visit A Brewery

things to do in winston salem this weekend mug of beer
Tasting local craft beer is one of the fun things to do in Winston Salem NC for adults.

Winston-Salem has several breweries in the city, many of which are downtown.

The Craft Draft Crawl is a fun activity where people can walk to nine different breweries within a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) radius.

This artisanal beer crawl guides you through some historic parts of the city to breweries that offer their own specially-made, handcrafted brews.

Some also create ciders and even seltzers.

Many local breweries do not have a kitchen, but you can often find food trucks parked nearby in the evenings and live music on the weekends.

15- Shop On Trade Street

Downtown Winston-Salem is home to a wide variety of local shops and boutiques.

Craft chocolate shops, clothing stores, art galleries, bookstores, and specialty groceries are located along Trade Street or within a block.

Coffee shops, yoga studios and bakeries that sell Moravian cookies along Trade Street are especially popular places for visitors.

The Mast General Store is one of Trade Street’s most iconic and well-known shops.

You can find various items and memorabilia in this large, old department store.

However, the most popular part of this store is the large barrels of old-time candies sold by the pound.

Mast General Store is at 516 Trade St NW, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

16- Be Dazzles By Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights

Tanglewood Park is in Clemmons, a suburb of Winston-Salem, where from mid-November through 31 December, the park displays an extensive collection of lights for the holiday season.

The road through the park winds around through the countryside, and visitors can expect to see more than 80 lighted displays on their journey.

Families that want a different experience can catch a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or go on a hayride to see the lights instead of driving themselves.

These experiences must be reserved in advance and tours may last around four hours on the busiest nights, typically Saturdays.

After the tour, you can purchase a s’mores kit and roast marshmallows over a fire or shop for artisanal gifts and specialty foods in the gift shop.

The Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights is at 4061 Clemmons Road, Clemmons, NC 27012.

17- Visit Mount Airy

Mount Airy is a 40-minute drive from Winston-Salem and is northwest of the city, close to the Virginia-North Carolina border.

Mount Airy is famous for being the birthplace of Andy Griffith and the likely inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry (starring in the Andy Griffith Show).

Mount Airy draws tens of thousands of people each September for its annual Mayberry Days celebration.

Immerse yourself in the world of Mayberry by riding in a Mayberry police squad car, visiting Walker’s Soda Fountain, and stopping by Floyd’s Barber Shoppe.

Check out the Andy Griffith Museum, which is full of memorabilia from the show, including costumes worn by the actors and props donated by some of the actors from the show.

The Andy Griffith Museum is at 218 Rockford St, Mt Airy, NC 27030.

18- Explore Pilot Mountain State Park

pilot mountain at dusk
Visiting Pilot Mountain is one of the best things to do near Winston Salem for nature lovers.

Pilot Mountain State Park is in Surry and Yadkin Counties, northwest of Winston-Salem.

This park is famous for its iconic stone knob that juts above the mountain’s rest.

Many activities are available to visitors within the park, including horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, fishing and camping.

Yadkin River flows through the park, and primitive campsites are available for paddlers.

Amenities at the park include restrooms, picnic shelters, a visitor centre, and limited parking. A shuttle is available to take visitors close to the summit when the parking lot is full.

The park is open year-round except during state holidays.

Pilot Mountain State Park is at 1792 Pilot Knob Park Rd, Pinnacle, NC 27043.

19- Go Paddling In Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock State Park is a 30-minute drive north of Winston-Salem.

This park offers visitors various activities, including horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, fishing, and rock climbing.

Dan River meanders through the park, providing paddlers with a place to launch while those passing through can stop and stay overnight in the campground.

Amenities at Hanging Rock are extensive and include picnic areas, restrooms, boat rentals, a concession stand, a bathhouse, campsites, cabins, an auditorium and classroom, a visitor centre, and an amphitheatre.

Hanging Rock State Park is at 1790 Hanging Rock Park Rd, Danbury, NC 27016.

20- Walk the Art Trail

winston salem map with blue pin
There are plenty of fun things to do in Winston-Salem for a family vacation.

Winston-Salem is home to an incredible art community supported by the public and the city.

The ‘Walk the Art Trail’ is an activity created to increase the public’s engagement with the arts and the visibility of the city’s artists.

Visitors can either take a self-guided tour through downtown Winston-Salem and Old Salem or hire a tour guide to help them explore.

The city’s artwork comes in various forms, including murals, sculptures, graffiti, galleries, signs and pop art.

All the city’s outdoor art can be viewed free of charge on self-guided tours.

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Angie Grier is a spicy señora living in central Mexico with a penchant for freelance writing. Having spent most of her adult life writing as a scientist and then as a teacher, she now contributes articles on a wide variety of topics for print and online media. Originally from the US, she has lived in several different states on the US West and East coasts, the Gulf Coast, and the Upper Midwest. These days, when she’s not camping in the woods in a US national park or shopping in Tonalá or eating chilaquiles, she writes a travel blog detailing her life and adventures in Mexico at www.onaroadleadingsomewhere.com.