The Amazing 8 Winston-Salem Metro Area Travel Spots
People who visit Winston-Salem are often surprised to know that the city even exists. They are also astonished to learn that Winston-Salem is also known as “The Camel City,” due to RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company’s longtime best sellers, Camel, putting the city on the map. The city’s history is so rich even George Washington enjoyed a meal here.
Winston-Salem is also referred to as “The Dash.” Everyone from locals to the internet have addressed their disdain for the confusion the hyphen in the city’s name. Despite these random quirks, Winston-Salem is the premiere city for arts & innovation in North Carolina. Here are ten places locals enjoy:
Note – This list is not an ordered ranking
Reynolda House, Village & Gardens
This is the former residence and grounds of RJ Reynolds, who built a tobacco empire in Winston-Salem. Reynolds amassed great wealth and had a love for arts and culture. Today, his former residence is a museum that is open to visitors with rotating art exhibits. The gardens on the estate are an attraction of the own and are a joy to stroll through. The smaller buildings on the estate have been converted into shops, galleries, and restaurants for visitors’ enjoyment. If you want to continue your scenic journey, you can hike over a bridge to the immaculate campus of Wake Forest University.
This ancient North Carolina site was settled by the east in 1753. Historic Bethabara Park is a National Historic Landmark. This is the site of the first Moravian settlement in the Carolinas and the birthplace of Forsyth County. Historic Bethabara Park features archaeological ruins throughout the grounds. They have a reconstructed Colonial village, community and a medicinal garden. There you can see a French Native War fort, and a newly restored church originally built in 1788. They offer many exhibits and tours with costumed guides that really impress kids.
Wide Greenways and small paths are found on the 183-acre preserve and wetlands for outdoor activates that are open year round from sunrise to sunset. Although you can find extensive remains of Moravian settlements all over Forsyth County, Bethabara was one of the first. Archaeological discoveries date back to the late 18th century. You can see the foundations of buildings and homes that have been discovered, while it’s the reconstructed buildings that turn your trip to this park into a walk through living history. The park plays host to Apple Fest, Highland Games, and numerous special events.
This eye catching orange-yellow structure, located on a corner among small businesses and private residences. It boasts two tall globe gasoline pumps and the white building on the side was once the station’s car wash. This little old station has become an eclectic symbol of the days when gas guzzling big cars filled America’s roadways. This shell shaped service station is the last of its kind, the Quality Oil Company constructed eight in the late 1930s and they began to fade away as consumers started to care about fuel consumption. This station on Sprague Street actually survived through the 1970s and ’80s as a lawn mower repair business, but after it began to fall into tough times without care and it wasn’t looking good for the little station’s future until Preservation North Carolina, swooped in and restored the almost lost one of it’s kind. The Shell station is a terrific photo stop for all and it is not too far off I-40 for even passing tourists to enjoy.
Winston-Salem is nicknamed the city of Arts & Innovation. The innovation is clear with RJR, Hanes Brands, Banks, Krispy Kreme, Texas Pete and others. However, many visitors can tell the city has a thriving artistic vibe. The powerhouse behind this artistic movement is definitely the North Carolina School of the Arts. They offer world class and world ranked programs in dance, design production, drama, filmmaking and music. The roots of the school go back to 1962, and in 1972 they became part of the University of North Carolina system. They host awesome performances and the River Run film festival. They have too many notable and famous alumni artists to list, so I will list probably the most currently notable actor and writer, Danny R. McBride. Search for yourself and you will see they produce quality artists historically.
The Moravians were the protestant reformation before Martin Luther. In 1415, John Hus of Bohemia was burned at the stake for heresy after protesting several Roman Catholic Church practices. After his death his followers eventually became the same Moravians that settled on a 100,000-acre tract of land in Forsyth County in 1753. The first settlements were Bethabara and Bethania, but Salem was to be the heart and the administrative center of their settlement. They first broke ground in 1776 to create Salem, which was nicknamed as a trades town. Its citizens worked to create delicious food, assorted types of tools, a variety of furniture, ceramics and metals. As this settlement prospered, buildings were added to meet the needs of its devoutly religious pacifist citizens. They had a tavern, firehouse, bakery, doctor’s office, shoemaker’s shop, printing shop, bank and homes for merchants.
Home Moravian Church was built in 1800. Today, this is a beautifully restored historic district that is a living history museum. Visitors can learn about the Moravians and see how they lived with guided tours and period-costumed staff performers to tell you some of their stories.
Old Salem today is still very much alive in 2016. It is home to Salem College and Prep School, a terrific restaurant, a museum, and shopping. Residents live in some of the historic homes, it is home to farmers markets, and special events of all types. Trick or treat in Old Salem is amazing for the kids. There are about 20 buildings (plus the gardens) open for visitors with a paid admission. It’s worth a visit at least to hear the clomp of the horse drawn carriage on the streets where George Washington once visited and wounded warriors from both the South and North could be treated during the civil war.
4th Street to Trade St – Downtown
Growing up in Winston-Salem was nice. Great people and a thriving community surrounded me. However, what looked like a nice downtown area from a distance suffered from neglect, bad planning, crime, and worse flat out boredom. What was a nice Skyline driving by, was upon closer inspection of downtown a place evacuated of it’s potential by most. It was basically used for large corporate business workers during the day and a few run down bars and businesses at night. The crime was known to be high and sadly many avoided what they saw as wasted potential. Except for occasional visits to the glorious Stevens Center for performances, or underground rock shows. I was just like everybody else in town.
I moved away when I was 18 and didn’t look back. Around 2006, I came home for a visit and was delighted to hear about new investments in Downtown Winston-Salem. I headed out to Rec Billiards, which is the staple of 4th Street even since back when I was in high school. Today, today they have company with three blocks of bars, restaurants, an independent movie theater, a brewery, and various shops. Krankies coffee is at the end of 4th Street and is the best in town.
Trade street intersects 4th Street and it is host to the arts district, art park and art counsel. They have over 20 art galleries and crafty shops which are best visited in the day or on a first Friday night where they host a gallery hop with drinks and art. There is Paz Yoga Studio for working out, the Garage for live music, Singles Brothers bar for interesting creative cocktails, or the classic Silver Moon for a Tecate. I have to apologize to all of DTWS for any establishment I didn’t specifically mention. I did my best to write about my favorites, but honestly there are lots of fun options to visit. Meet me where Trade meets 4th to grab a drink?
Dinosaur Park for Kids
Winston-Salem residents were mourning one recent night when a large meteor struck the playground in Washington Park. They reported witnessing an explosion of light that was followed by a cloud of dust that loomed over of their once simple little playground. As the cloud slowly began to settle dawn was breaking outside. What the people feared was absolute devastation quickly turned into enthusiasm as dinosaurs emerged to tear up that simple playground. They created a unique, prehistoric one-of-a-kind play experience overnight that is now only a mysterious joy to children. The dinosaurs liked it so much they stuck around frozen for all time to play and watch. Check out the heaving ground around where the 14 ft. Meteorite climber “crashed” and the custom Strato Rock climber with a slide.
Winston-Salem Dash Baseball
Carolina League Baseball is showcased at its peak in the beautiful new stadium that was eventually completed in downtown Winston-Salem. There was some initial drama surrounding this big investment, but I think it is a major benefit to the city. So far, the investment has paid off for anybody living in or around Winston-Salem. The state of the art stadium is a treat for all. They have great food, drinks from Foothills Brewery, a bar in outfield, a grass hill cheap seat option and a play land area with a carousel for kids. The Dash team is very competitive and they are an affiliate for the Chicago White Sox. They have been host to a variety of different baseball championships and their all star game. They often have a fireworks show after the game and I even watched “The Lorax” on the jumbo screen from our blanket in the field. This is a most welcome addition to Winston-Salem’s skyline. BB&T Ballpark and the planned development around the stadium is a blessing for the residents of historic Ardmore, West End, and West Salem which are getting a lot of new things near by that are very positive for their future growth. New residences and shops will only add more excitement and fun to this area. Check out a Dash game!
Vital Transport, LLC
Updated: October 12, 2016