15 Best Things to Do in Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, NC
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Moravian German-speaking protestants found their home on the fertile lands of Winston-Salem back in the 1700s, which is now the county seat of Forsyth County in North Carolina.

These Moravian settlers also established the famous Salem college in 1772, which is now the United States' oldest college for women.

From a tourist's perspective, you already know what awaits you in Winston-Salem.

This city is an exciting destination for history buffs and, of course, for everyone.

Aside from its rich history and heritage, Winston-Salem also boasts natural beauty nestled between the famous Blue Ridge Mountains.

Moreover, Winston-Salem's streets are filled with charming boutiques, local businesses, museums, and art galleries, making it an excellent destination for leisure activities.

Winston-Salem is a beautiful travel destination many have not discovered.

So, seize the chance to visit this North Carolina city and discover its hidden gems.

For your reference, check out the 15 best things to do in Winston-Salem, NC.

Discover History at Old Salem

The main street of Old Salem
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Old Salem served as the main settlement for the Moravians in the area in the 1800s.

It is where they built Winston-Salem into what it is today.

Thus, it holds many significant histories, which is fascinating, especially if you're a history buff.

Old Salem's covered bridge decorated for the holidays
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Today, Old Salem is a famous tourist attraction.

Visitors are treated to an educational guided tour through museums and historical sites, detailing how the Moravians spent their days in the past.

In addition, you can head to various shops to buy exciting souvenir items. At the same time, it has a beautiful garden that you can visit.

You can visit Old Salem for free or perhaps buy a ticket that gives you access to its exciting workshops.

Fall scene at Old Salem
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Step Back in Time at the Old Salem Museum and Garden

Visitor center of Old Salem Museum and Garden
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This charming historical attraction in Winston-Salem is pretty much run by the community, making it a special place to visit.

The Old Salem Museum and Garden underwent restoration through the efforts of local volunteers in the 1950s.

It became a tradition for many of Winston-Salem's locals through the years to preserve their historic gardens and buildings for the future generation to see and appreciate their beauty.

Exterior of buildings at Old Salem Museum and Garden
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Today, these historical structures are still standing firm with their original furnishings, design, and details intact for visitors to see.

Aside from the historical buildings and gardens in the Old Salem, you'll also enjoy yourself shopping, dining, and strolling through this attraction.

The Old Salem Museum and Garden is situated along S. Main Street.

Old Salem Museum and Garden's plaza
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Bite Your Way Through the North Carolina BBQ Trail

The North Carolina BBQ Trail is one of the most exciting activities you'll enjoy in Winston-Salem.

North Carolina is a famous destination for its cuisine, notably Southern barbeque, served by dozens of restaurants across the state.

Meanwhile, numerous restaurants in Winston-Salem serve classic Southern barbecue-style dishes.

You can grab a map through its website for those who want to fully experience the North Carolina BBQ Trail.

On the other hand, more than 20 barbeque pits are listed on the North Carolina BBQ Trail itinerary, including Winston-Salem's own famous pits.

In and nearby Winston-Salem, these pits are Real Q, Hill's Lexington BBQ, Honkey Tonk Smokehouse, Camel City BBQ Factory, Country BBQ, and Clark's BBQ.

Stroll through Winston-Salem's West End Historic District

Street sign of West End Historic District
Carolinalove28, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Can't get enough of Salem's rich history?

In that case, head straight to the West End Historic District.

This area in Winston-Salem is filled with historical architectural gems dating back to the early 19th century.

You'll be mesmerized by the well-preserved Queen Anne, Classic Revival, and Colonial Revival architectures while strolling through this historic district.

More than 500 structures that have historical significance to Winston-Salem are found in the West End Historic District, making this place a worthwhile attraction.

One of the favorite buildings in the district is the brick-laden Zevely House which now serves as an inn and a restaurant.

In addition, the H.D. Poindexter House is known for its beautiful Queen Anne-style architecture.

Spending your day in this famous historic district in Winston-Salem is a fascinating experience you shouldn't miss, especially if you're an avid history enthusiast.

Step Inside the Reynolda House of Museum of American Art

Exterior of Reynolda House Museum
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The Reynolda House Museum is another historical attraction in Winston-Salem with a touch of art.

Situated along Reynolda Road, this museum features some of the most beautiful American art in North Carolina.

This museum has more than a hundred artworks from its rotating and static exhibits.

Reynolda House is also considered a masterpiece.

This famous historic house in Winston-Salem is known for its beautiful period mansion design, situated on a 20-acre lush landscape.

Historically, Reynolda House was Richard Joshua Reynolds' home.

Reynolda was a prominent figure in North Carolina for being the owner of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Inc.

In 1980, Reynolda House finally got its well-deserved recognition after being listed on the National Register of Historic Places through the efforts of Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University.

Shop Your Way through Trade Street

Night scene at Trade Street
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Suppose you're yearning for retail therapy during your visit to Winston-Salem, head to Trade Street, where you'll find a vast collection of boutiques and mainstream brands.

This street in Winston-Salem is packed with specialty storefronts, local shops, souvenir outlets, and more.

Suppose you're getting hungry while shopping; there are tons of restaurants available in the area, from fine-dining to hole-in-the-wall diners.

Trade Street is considered Winston-Salem's heart and soul, making this spot in the city extra special for locals.

It's where most locals spend their leisure time while tourists can also enjoy themselves with its offering.

Don't forget to include shopping and dining in your itinerary while touring through Winston-Salem because there's a place in the city that offers the best experience.

Wander through the Historic Bethabara Park

Exterior of Historic Bethabara Park's church
David Bjorgen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Suppose you're fascinated by the Moravian protestants who first settled in Winston-Salem in the 1700s; you should visit the Historic Bethabara Park along Bethabara Road.

This historical attraction in Winston-Salem served as one of the first settlements of the Moravian protestants before they transferred to Old Salem.

This area encompasses 183 acres, serving as a historical attraction and a wildlife preserve.

This place is truly fascinating, especially for history buffs and wildlife enthusiasts.

Trail covered with foliage at Historic Bethabara Park
Tkopp1201, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As you wander through the Historic Bethabara Park, you'll encounter various restored old buildings, including the Moravian Church.

In addition, you'll also see the local flora and fauna of this region in North Carolina.

Most people who visit this place intend to learn its history and for a top-notch bird watching experience.

Moreover, its guided tours let visitors learn the rich history of the Moravian settlers.

A log cabin at Historic Bethabara Park
Travis K. Witt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Browse through the Mast General Store

Another exciting activity you'll enjoy in Winston-Salem is browsing through the Mast General Store.

This local gem, a 19th-century general merchandise establishment, holds a lot of history and fascinating things, making your visit there genuinely worthwhile.

While browsing through this general store, you'll appreciate its old charm and genuine Southern spirit.

Since it's a traditional store, expect lots of local products from handcrafted creams, lotions, and gourmet grits, to outdoor gear.

In addition, Mast General Store is also famous for its wide selection of candies which will surely bring out the child in you.

Historically, Mast General Store was established in the late 1800s through a partnership between four local businessmen in Winston-Salem.

It opened to answer the growing trade demand in the area.

Today, it's more than Winston-Salem's most trusted store; but also serves as the city's icon.

Follow the Winston-Salem Art Trail

A mural at Winston-Salem
Breawycker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Salem is not just known for its rich history and heritage; it also boasts a vibrant and renowned local arts community.

To experience how its local community brought colors to this city's streets, you should follow the Winston-Salem Art Trail.

This one-of-a-kind experience is an incredible activity you and your travel buddies shouldn't miss when in Winston-Salem.

Because of its vibrant local arts community, Winston-Salem is also known as a "City of Arts and Innovation."

This iconic attraction in Winston-Salem features a collection of outdoor arts for everyone to explore throughout the city.

You will come across various murals, vintage signs, graffiti, free expression murals, commissioned public works, and pop art through Winston-Salem's streets.

To complete your experience, you need to book a ticket to its guided tour.

While visiting these artworks, you can visit various local cafes, restaurants, and shops to add more excitement to your experience.

Watch College Football at BB&T Field

Exterior of BB&T Field
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Wake Forest University Deacon Demons college football team is a famous sports team in Winston-Salem.

To see them play college football, head to the BB&T football field at Wake Forest University.

People at BB&T Field
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This massive sports venue can fit more than 30,000 people, making it a spectacular place to visit in Winston-Salem.

You have more reasons to watch football at this famous stadium since it has undergone numerous upgrades through the years.

Today, the BB&T football field has a multi-story press box and a massive video board installed at the field's south end zone.

Take a Tour Inside Lam Museum of Anthropology

Lam Museum of Anthropology is an excellent place to visit if you plan to add an educational tour to your itinerary in Winston-Salem.

This museum at Wake Forest University features and celebrates different histories and cultures of the world.

It curates immersive exhibits that display modern and ancient artifacts for the past 80 years.

The museum has a mixture of static and rotating exhibits that visitors can enjoy through educational tours or self-guided tours.

Spending an hour or two at the Lam Museum of Anthropology is genuinely worthwhile, especially if you're keen to learn about new and fascinating things.

Pose at the Famous Clam-Shaped Shell Station

The bright-colored Shell Oil Clamshell
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One of Winston-Salem's most famous tourist attractions is the Shell Oil Clamshell, situated on East Sprague and Peachtree Streets.

This 1930s structure has become one of the most visited places in Winston-Salem, where people stop by to snap photos as their souvenirs.

The City of Winston-Salem intentionally preserved this piece as an added attraction to the city.

They didn't fail because most tourists who visit the city always take time to drop by and pose at the giant yellow clamshell.

In addition, they can gas up their cars while enjoying the experience.

Check Out Winston-Salem's Giant Coffee Pot

Daytime view of the Giant Coffee Pot
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The Giant Coffee Pot in Winston-Salem is a beloved attraction you shouldn't miss visiting.

This unique attraction was constructed in 1858, making it the oldest tourist icon in the city.

The Giant Coffee Pot stands at seven feet tall, but until today, many remains baffled about its existence.

Plants surrounding the Giant Coffee Pot
Warren LeMay from Cullowhee, NC, United States, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

According to history, tinsmiths Samuel and Julius Mickey constructed the coffee pot to promote their business.

However, numerous urban legends surround the purpose of the coffee pot, making it more fascinating to see up to this day.

The Winston-Salem giant coffee pot is situated along Old Salem Road.

Learn Acting the at the Peppercorn Theatre at Kaleideum Downtown

The Peppercorn Theatre is a well-known non-profit theater in Winston-Salem, a vibrant place for those who have a passion for the arts.

This theater aims to feature the talents in performing arts in Winston-Salem.

This theater regularly holds productions that mainly cater to children who want to expand their talent and creativity in acting.

Suppose you want yourself or your kid to learn something or uncover talent in acting; this is the best place to go in Winston-Salem.

Suppose you only want to watch a quality theater show.

In that case, Peppercorn Theatre is known as a top-notch attraction in Winston-Salem for stage plays.

There are many exciting activities at this community theater situated along South Liberty Street.

Have One for the Road at the Foothills Brewing

Exterior of Foothills Brewing
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Before you return home from your Winston-Salem travel adventure, why not enjoy a bottle of beer at Foothills Brewing?

Foothills Brewing features a wide array of signature craft beer flavors.

Touring through Winston-Salem's tourist attractions can be a tiresome activity, and there's no other relaxing way to end it but by drinking a beer or two.

Thus, head to Foothills Brewing and try its New England IPA, Vienna Amber Lager, Milkshake, or Honey Blonde Ale.

Of course, more craft beers are waiting for you at Foothills Brewing, so don't forget to drop by at this local brewery situated along Kimwell Drive.

Final Thoughts

Winston-Salem is an all-in-one destination for relaxation, arts, history, and leisure.

There are more reasons for everyone to visit this North Carolina city because many hidden gems are still awaiting discovery.

Winston-Salem is not just a quick vacation destination; you can spend a couple of days exploring every fascinating place you'll find in this city.

Lastly, to have an unforgettable experience touring through Winston-Salem, bookmark this post as your handy itinerary.