Many visitors to Winston-Salem don’t realize that this part of the United States dates back to the 1700s when Moravians, Protestants who spoke German, founded the city. Winston-Salem is also famous for Salem College which the Moravians also founded in 1772, and is actually the oldest college for women in the whole of the country. With all of this in mind, it is fair to say that this is a historically and culturally significant part of the country.
Aside from its proud history, Winston-Salem is also famous for its beauty, being located in between the smoky Blue Ridge Mountains and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. The city has a little under 400,000 residents, but it is still packed full of parks, museums, breweries, restaurants, and art galleries, so if you choose to visit you will not be short of activities to enjoy in this picturesque corner of the United States.
Lets explore the best things to do in Winston-Salem:
1. West End Historic District
The West End Historic District in Winston-Salem is the place to come for anyone who wants to learn about the historical and cultural significance of this part of the United States. The area is full of buildings that date back as far as the 1800s, and have been preserved for all to see in the modern day.
There are over 500 buildings here for you to visit, including houses belonging to several of the founders of Winston-Salem such as the Poindexter House and the Zevely House. This part of the city stretches over 230 acres, but you can wander around selected areas on foot and take in the gorgeous period architecture that includes the Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Classic Revival style.
2. Black Mountain Chocolate Factory
If you have ever wanted to visit a real life chocolate factory then you need to come to the Black Mountain Chocolate Factory which is conveniently located in the downtown area of Winston-Salem.
The factory is open to the public who can enjoy a self-guided tour here, or you can also join a tour with a friendly guide who will explain to you how the factory came to be, as well as taking you through the process of making the chocolate.
You can also buy a range of the factory’s products onsite so this is perfect for anyone who has a serious sweet tooth.
3. Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art
Also known as SECCA, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art is the best place to come to get a glimpse of the emerging art scene in Winston-Salem.
The center showcases the work of a variety of local artists as there are rotating exhibits throughout the year, and there are also displays by national and international artists as well. A
s well as actual artwork, there are also film nights held here as part of the Film @ SECCA program, and the center also periodically teams up with the Metropolitan Opera to deliver musical evenings throughout the year.
4. Old Salem Museums and Gardens
Very much a community-run project, the Old Salem Museums and Garden were first restored by local volunteers starting way back in the 1950s. This tradition has endured over the years and a variety of historic buildings and gardens have been preserved so that visitors can continue to enjoy them to this day.
The museums and gardens are found within the Historic District and you can tour, eat, and even shop here as you learn all about the cultural significance of Winston-Salem. Depending on the buildings, you can take a guided tour with a friendly docent, or you can choose to stroll around at your leisure and take in the sights on a self-guided walking tour.
5. Reynolda House Museum of American Art
If you are interested in American art then you can’t miss a trip to the Reynolda House Museum.
This powerhouse of American art pieces has over a hundred items on display, and there are both static and rotating exhibits to enjoy here throughout the year.
As well as the art work on show, the museum itself could also be considered a work of art, as it is housed in a period mansion that is nestled on 20 acres of verdant landscape.
6. Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem
For younger visitors to Winston-Salem, consider a trip to the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem where you will find a range of engaging exhibits aimed at young minds.
The displays here are interactive and educational and there is a dedication to developing key skills such as literacy, coordination, and social awareness.
To that end visitors can expect fun galleries with activities such as drawing, building, reading, and painting available, and there are play areas throughout the museum where children can burn off some energy.
7. Historic Bethabara Park
Go back to a different time to see and feel how Winston-Salem would have been back in the days of old. Bethabara Park used to be a religious village that was used by Moravians who came to the region over 250 years ago and much of its historic beauty is still preserved to this day.
The park is known for its gorgeous indigenous species of birds and bird watching is a popular pastime here. As well as admiring the local avian life here, there are flower gardens and hiking trails for visitors to enjoy.
If you want to learn more about the Moravians who first settled here, as well as the history of the park, there is a visitor’s center and some restored buildings that are also open to the public.
8. The New Winston Museum
The New Winston Museum is a relative newcomer to the museum scene in Winston-Salem having been founded at the start of the 2000s by local residents who felt that they wanted a memento of the history of the area.
The museum is dedicated to educating visitors about the historical significance of this city, and you can learn all about the founding of this area as well as its progression from small town to the city that it is today.
To complete its aim, the museum is filled with historical photographs as well as other written historical documents such as letters that tell the story of the people that made this city such a success story.
9. BB&T Field
BB&T Field is housed at the Wake Forest University and is capable of holding up to 30,000 spectators at one time, making it something of a powerhouse venue in the region.
The field is home to the Wake Forest Deacon Demons, a local football team, so if you are in town try to catch a game here and enjoy the atmosphere.
Signature touches in the field include a 90 foot video board so that you won’t miss any of the action.
10. The Frank L. Horton Museum Center
The Frank L. Horton Museum Center is named after Frank Horton who was known in the Winston-Salem area as a researcher of the decorative arts.
As such, the center also houses the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, also known as MESDA.
The building used to be a historic grocery store until it was restored and transformed into a museum and there are static and rotating displays and galleries here for visitors to enjoy.
11. Triad ECO Adventures
If you want to get out an explore Winston-Salem in style, then there is no better way to do so than with a fun and exhilarating Segway tour of the city.
The tours provided by Triad ECO Adventures take two hours to cover the city by Segway, or they also offer other exciting ways to take in the local area such as taking to the water and trying your hand at stand-up paddle boarding.
12. Peppercorn Theatre
Part of the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem, the Peppercorn Theatre aims to showcase the best of the local theatrical talent at a series of performances throughout the year.
The theater is dedicated to helping youngsters to unleash their creativity, and to that end you can support the arts here in Winston-Salem by visiting one of the family friendly shows that have been running with great success since the theater opened in 2010.
13. Foothills Brewing
First opened in 2015, Foothills Brewing has made a name for itself thanks to its delicious craft beers that are all fermented, brewed, and bottled on site.
The brewery stretches over 48,000 feet and the beers here are famous all over the North Carolina area.
If you are interested in how beer is produced, then you can head down to the main beer making facility where you can learn all about how the beers actually make it into the bottles.
You can take a brewery tour and you can also visit the tasting room where you can sample some of the latest blends.
There is also another section to the brewery in the form of a pub in the downtown area of Winston-Salem where you can pair the beers with some delicious local bites.
14. Winston Cup Museum and Special Event Center
Established in 2005, this is the place to come for anyone who loves NASCAR racing.
The Winston Cup Museum showcases a range of racing cars as well as memorabilia related to racing, and you can walk through the history of racing in this part of the world.
Aside from the static exhibits here, you can also try some of the interactive displays, such as driving your own racing car using one of the simulation machines on offer here.
To learn all about science head to SciWorks, a science and nature center that aims to teach youngsters all about this fascinating subject.
The center is full of galleries and exhibits that will teach young visitors how to improve their motor skills, literacy, and social interactions, and there are different themed areas to help do this that focus on subjects such as physics, health, biology, and the natural world.
There is even an onsite planetarium here where you can take a trip through space and learn about the solar system.
Outside the center you will also find lush gardens and hiking trails where you can continue explore the environment, and picnic spots are dotted around the landscape so that you can also stop for a bite to eat.