Winston-Salem combines the beauty of a small Southern town with the conveniences and activities of a larger booming metropolitan area. It's one of the best cities to visit in North Carolina, and you could easily spend a few days seeing all of the sights. Winston-Salem has something for everyone, from excellent breweries and restaurants to Old Salem. This blog highlights the 20 best things to do in Winston Salem, NC, many of which are within walking distance or a short drive from The Winston-Salem Historic Inns, including historical sites, parks, restaurants, and other exciting activities.
Best Things to Do in Winston-Salem
1. Explore the West End Historic District
Winston-Salem, a charming city in North Carolina, offers a plethora of activities to explore. One of the top recommendations is to take a leisurely walk around the West End Historic District. This district is known for its stunning architecture, featuring beautifully preserved homes and buildings dating back to the 19th century. As you stroll through tree-lined streets, you'll be transported to a bygone era, admiring the intricate details of Victorian and Colonial Revival-style houses. The district also hosts various art galleries, boutiques, and cozy cafes, making it a delightful place to shop, relax, and most visited attractions in Winston-Salem.
2. Walk around at Historic Bethabara Park
This is a city steeped in history and culture that has many activities for visitors and locals. A leisurely stroll around Historic Bethabara Park in Winston-Salem is a remarkable experience. As you explore the park's serene grounds, you'll encounter reconstructed buildings, lush gardens, and historical interpreters dressed in period clothing who bring the past to life. This captivating journey back in time makes Historic Bethabara Park one of the 20 best things to do in Winston-Salem, combining education, recreation, and a profound appreciation for the city's heritage. They offer year-round family-friendly events so be sure to check their calendar before you visit and you may be able to take part in their annual apple festival or celebrate Christmas at the park!
3. Relax at Several Local Breweries
Our rich history and vibrant culture extends beyond colonial-era landmarks and provides a lovely vacation for visitors seeking relaxation and a taste of the local flavor. Visits to the city's many breweries are among the best ways to relax and enjoy its distinctive flavor. Winston-Salem's brewery culture has something for every taste, from classic craft beer places to cutting-edge brewpubs. One can enjoy a variety of expertly brewed beers while taking a stroll through the lovely streets and stopping at various breweries.
4. Treat Yourself at Local Restaurants
Indulge in a culinary journey by exploring the delectable offerings of the diverse restaurants in Winston-Salem. This charming city boasts a rich gastronomic scene that caters to every palate and craving. From cozy family-owned eateries serving Southern comfort food to upscale dining establishments pushing the boundaries of modern cuisine, Winston-Salem's restaurant landscape is a true delight for food enthusiasts.
5. Explore Contemporary Art at SECCA
SECCA (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art) exhibits multimedia art from throughout the world with a focus on regional artists. They continually rotate the newest and most intriguing things, with no permanent collections. At SECCA, you can always expect an immersive surprise. It includes dance, music, visuals, and education to provide various perspectives. They serve as the community's cultural hub, connecting the area to cutting-edge modern works.
6. Unwind at Quarry Park
Quarry Park offers a serene and picturesque escape within the heart of Winston-Salem. Nestled in the city's landscape, this tranquil oasis invites visitors to immerse themselves in nature's beauty and find respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The park's centerpiece is a stunning reclaimed quarry transformed into a shimmering lake, surrounded by lush greenery and walking trails. You’ll also find a recently added playground that kids of any age will love!
7. Visit the Reynolda House: A Historic Home and Art Museum
A distinctive museum of American art is Reynolda House. It provides the opportunity to tour a vast, opulent house that captures the cultural lifestyle of the affluent in the 1920s. The town's founder and tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds first owned and resided there. The lavish home's rooms are lavishly decorated, including a life-size dollhouse, indoor pool, and bowling alley. There are magnificent, extensive gardens that are well-maintained for a dreamy stroll.
8. Old Salem Museums and Gardens
One of the classic things to do in Winston-Salem is to see Old Salem, so make sure you don’t miss it. With an interactive trip to Old Salem, you can experience what it was like to live in a Moravian community in the 1800s. There are about 20 old buildings to tour, and you may see interpreters go about their daily lives. You may observe shoemakers creating shoes and potters sculpting clay in the living museum.
9. Culinary Journey for Barbecue Enthusiasts
There are two stops on the North Carolina BBQ Trail located in Winston-Salem and a few more located within 30 minutes of the city. This is a journey through the rich and flavorful history of North Carolina's barbecue tradition. Known for its unique and diverse styles, the trail showcases the distinct flavors and techniques developed in different state regions. In Winston-Salem, visitors can indulge in Eastern-style and Lexington-style barbecue, each with its signature sauces and cooking methods. From slow-cooked pulled pork to tender ribs, the trail offers a tantalizing array of barbecue delights highlighting the state's deep-rooted culinary heritage.
10. Go on a Shopping Spree at Trade Street
Winston-Salem's Trade Street is a quaint and welcoming shopping area that perfectly captures the spirit of this historic city. It provides a distinctive shopping experience that appeals to various preferences because it is lined with an eclectic mix of boutiques, galleries, cafes, and specialty stores. Visitors can delve into the vibrant cultural environment that Winston-Salem is renowned for while perusing various handcrafted items, vintage discoveries, and modern artworks.
11. Visit the Art Trail for contemporary creations
The Art Trail at Winston-Salem offers a captivating, self-guided journey through the city's rich artistic heritage and contemporary creative scene. This carefully curated trail winds its way through historic neighborhoods, urban landscapes, and scenic pockets, showcasing diverse artworks that reflect the city's cultural vibrancy. From large-scale murals that adorn the sides of buildings to intimate galleries tucked away in charming alleyways, the Art Trail encapsulates the essence of Winston-Salem's artistic identity.
12. Hiking Trails in Hanging Rock State Park
About 40 minutes outside of Winston-Salem, you’ll find Hanging Rock State Park. A beautiful park with an enthralling network of hiking paths that run through its scenic landscapes, providing outdoor enthusiasts with a variety of experiences. This park, nestled among North Carolina's rolling hills and lush forests, is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Hiking trails like the famed Hanging Rock Trail lead trekkers to spectacular vistas with panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and peaks.
13. Take a Ghost Tour
If you like to be a little bit scared, consider going on a ghost tour of Winston-Salem. Whether it is a few nights before Halloween or you want to find a ghost in the middle of June, you’re sure to find a ghost tour of this historic city to be a thrill! A typical ghost tour in Winston-Salem is a 90-minute walking tour that takes you through the historic West End district of the city. Your guide will share stories of ghosts, hauntings, and other paranormal activity that is said to occur in this area. Plus you’ll gain some historical insights that you can share long after your vacation is over.
14. Sip the Flavor of Bold Reds to Clean Whites
Visit the Yadkin Valley Wineries, tucked away in North Carolina's scenic environment, for a leisurely and upscale experience. Yadkin Valley, known for its verdant vineyards and peaceful atmosphere, offers a wine-tasting tour that satisfies both seasoned fans and novices. You'll come across many award-winning wineries as you travel through the picturesque countryside, each offering a distinctive range of varieties and blends.
15. Visit the Broad Branch Distillery
A pleasant experience where taste meets artistry in a picturesque environment. Broad Branch Distillery is recognized for its commitment to expertly producing premium whiskeys and spirits. The distillery, tucked away in a lovely setting in Winston-Salem, provides guided tours that take guests through the complex distillation process and provide insights into the art and science behind their drinks. Following the tour, visitors can indulge in a tasting session where they can try a variety of expertly created alcoholic beverages that highlight the distillery's skill.
16. A Trip to Mount Airy
A day trip to Mount Airy, aka Mayberry and the home of Andy Griffith, offers a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration. Amidst picturesque landscapes, this charming town invites visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Strolling along the quaint streets, you'll discover an array of boutiques, antique shops, and cozy cafes that exude a welcoming atmosphere. A visit to Mount Airy wouldn't be complete without a stop at its local museums, where you can learn about the town's past and the stories that shaped it.
17. A visit to the Fascinating MESDA
A cultural treasure, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts provides an enthralling look into the rich history and creative traditions of the American South. It contains an amazing collection of paintings, sculptures, fabrics, pottery, furniture, and other decorative items that showcase the artistic sensibilities and workmanship of the area from the late 17th to the early 19th century.
18. Relax at Salem Lake
Salem Lake is a serene and picturesque freshwater reservoir nestled amidst the natural beauty of its surroundings. Located in the heart of the city, this tranquil oasis offers a peaceful escape for both residents and visitors. The lake is enveloped by lush greenery and scenic trails, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking hiking, jogging, or walks. Boating and fishing opportunities on the glistening waters add to its recreational charm.
19. Körner's Folly, A Unique and Whimsical Historic Landmark
Built by Jule Gilmer Korner, a designer and decorator, in 1880, this architectural marvel is a testament to his creativity and imagination. What makes Körner's Folly genuinely remarkable is its unconventional design, featuring seven levels and 22 rooms, each showcasing different architectural styles and decorative elements. The house blends various influences from Victorian to Colonial Revival, creating a captivating and eclectic atmosphere.
20. Kaleideum for the kids
Kaleideum is a captivating educational destination explicitly tailored for young minds. This innovative space offers an array of interactive exhibits and activities designed to engage children's curiosity and stimulate their learning. From hands-on science experiments showcasing the wonders of the natural world to imaginative play areas encouraging creative exploration, Kaleideum provides a safe and stimulating environment where children can develop their cognitive and social skills while having fun.
We hope this list will help you find an answer to things to do in Winston-Salem whether you’re visiting the city for business, pleasure, or as a staycation. There are so many places to visit that are within walking distance or just a short drive from The Winston-Salem Historic Inns.
Be sure to take advantage of our great location to explore Winston-Salem's numerous attractions that offer many possibilities for fun and even some learning, regardless of your interests in art, science, food, sports, or outdoor activities. The city's distinctive fusion of tradition and modernity makes it an alluring destination that continues to enthrall locals and tourists.