Winston-Salem is a city with vibrant murals, a world-class medical facility, intriguing history, and loads of fun things to do. The beer scene is impressive, gardens incredible, and luxury accommodations and eateries that will make your jaw drop. To say we had a good time here would be an understatement, as a girlfriend and I explored the city by car, on foot, and by Segway. Here are the best things to do in Winston Salem that I encountered on my travels.
Casual and Delicious Eats
Oh my, Winston Salem is a tasty city. In the short time I was there, I was smitten with the restaurants and singing their praises ever since.
Village Tavern offers two Winston-Salem locations featuring scratch-made food, sensational appetizers, fresh salads, pizza, and more. The Pimento Deviled Eggs and Pimento Cheese Dip with assorted veggies appetizers are great starters, and the Spring Rolls and Southern Shrimp & Grits are excellent lunch (or dinner) choices.
For the ultimate sweet tooth, Bobby Boy Bakeshop has mind-blowing Instagram-worthy pastries, bread, and desserts that could easily compete with European master bakers. Who would have thought that Winston-Salem had a bakery that would transport you to France or Germany?
You can also get delicious coffee and tea drinks at Bobby Boy, and the sandwich-of-the-day is all the rage. If you need suggestions, try the Pear Danish, Cinnamon Roll, or Savory Bread Pudding, but I’m sure everything there is fantastic
If you are more a fan of coffee and donuts, Dough-Joe’s is sensational at Reynolda Village. They have a cute patio and coffee shop with socially distanced tables. Ooey gooey vanilla cake doughnuts are dipped and decorated from a variety of flavors and toppings to order.
Also at Reynolda Village is Penny Path Cafe & Crepe Shop, offering gourmet sweet and savory crepes, such as fruit, Crepe Suzette, Nutella, and “The Kitchen Sink.”
A hip dinner choice in Winston-Salem is The Katharine Brasserie & Bar in the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel. The Katharine serves a French menu with extensive wine and local craft beer choices. The sophisticated setting includes an impressive bar and both indoor and outdoor seating.
Lastly, have a tour and tasting of the famous Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies a few minutes away in Clemmons, a Winston-Salem suburb. There are six varieties available of these cookies that even Oprah approves of. The ginger and butterscotch crisps are my favorites.
The Moravians settled in Old Salem in the 1760s and brought their savvy business skills along with them. Today, the historic buildings hold the key to the 250-year history told through living history museums’ signage, costumed interpreters, and soon, a smart-phone app via Salem Pathways. Stroll the vintage home and tree-lined streets featuring around 90 buildings. You will walk in the footsteps of an essential part of Southern history, restored to its former glory in 1964, and interpret the Moravian community.
Explore fascinating free gardens (a donation is suggested) at Reynolda Gardens, with 129-acres of stunning color-themed gardens, the original 1913 greenhouse, attractive blooms, and even a vegetable garden. There are places to picnic and walk around the gardens, and even groups of friends taking lawn chairs to visit with one another. Check out the black cotton plants—they are amazing!
See Winston-Salem and get some exercise at the same time while riding a Segway or E-Bike from Triad Eco Adventures. Segways are so much fun, and you can cover several miles without getting exhausted on your guided tour. E-Bikes are another great way to explore, and you can exert as much or as little effort as you want while riding one. They are super easy to ride, so if you haven’t been on a bike in quite some time, you will have no problem staying on it.
Relax and Unwind
I think finding a great brewery goes under the relax and unwind category. There are quite a few choices to do so in Winston Salem, including Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Company, Foothills Brewery, Indendiary Brewing (in the Bailey Power Plant), and Small Batch Beer Co. It’s fall, so seasonal craft beers are at their prime with tasty pumpkin, Christmas, and spiced flavors.
Stay in a dreamy estate home on your Winston Salem travels at the Graylyn Estate. This historical residence was built in 1874 for the Bowman Gray family, the former president and chairman of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. It’s bewildering driving down the tree-lined path to arrive at the massive stone mansion, an 85-room boutique hotel and conference center filled with beautiful antiques but updated with necessary modern conveniences.
While Graylyn Estates doesn’t have a formal restaurant, they still serve food, delicious food, at your request and reservation. I had breakfast two mornings, included in some packages, with perfect Eggs Benedict, French Toast, and breakfast meats. My friend and I enjoyed a beautifully-plated salmon meal with a tasty sauce and creamy risotto for dinner.
The Graylyn Estates will provide a place where rest and relaxation are easy to find, as you are free to explore and roam around the antique-filled property, with room after room of personal family artifacts and quintessential Southern charms. Rooms are beautiful and offer high-end bedding, comfortable furniture, gorgeous textured and fine wallpapers and linens, and unlimited ice cream bars from the shared ice cream room. You can choose to stay in the main (manor) house, the Mews, nearby cottages, or the Bungalows.
Graylyn Estate is a proud member of the elite Historic Hotels of America group.
Murals are abundant in Winston Salem, and I found some great ones. The biggest number of them seems to be around Trade and Liberty Streets. You’ll also find some cultural shops there selling goods from around the world.
Step inside Flour Box Tea Room to sip a spot of tea, enjoy finger sandwiches and sweets, or have a traditional lunch; it’s your call. This beautiful restaurant is inside the Henry F. Shaffner House bed and breakfast, offering seven tastefully-decorated guest rooms. You’ll get an overload of delicious eats, tasty tea, and a cultural experience when you come for afternoon tea.
The ambiance at Flour Box Tea Room, from the friendly staff, Victorian furnishings, fresh flowers, and fancy china, will immediately impress you. One bite of the finger sandwiches, Palmier, or savory scone with clotted cream and jam, and you will be in love. The quiche is quite fabulous, too.
Reynolda Village is a fun place to go for a coffee, lunch, snack, or shop for all your needs at this one-stop-shop. You’ll find exciting items at Monkee’s, The Barn, All Through the House—all in century-old buildings.
Mast General is a 100+-year-old chain department store found around the South. Here, you’ll find retro goods and toys, upscale outerwear, t-shirts, and fun cards and trinkets. My favorite parts of the nostalgic store are the old-fashioned candies, such as Zotz, Goo Goo Clusters, and old-fashioned sugar stick candy.
Other fun offerings in Winston Salem, North Carolina, include the following, but unfortunately time didn’t permit to experience them all.
- Artistic murals
- Silvermoon Saloon
- Bailey Park
- Trade Street
- Old Tobacco Warehouses
- Winston Cup Museum
- RJ Reynolds Headquarters
- Reynolda House Museum
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