25 FUN Things to Do in Winston Salem, NC

Winston Salem was founded by a group of German Moravians, Winston and Salem were two separate towns that merged to form the cultural hub of Camel City. This nickname stems from its past as an industry titan for textiles and tobacco. Since then, it’s progressed into a mecca for arts, nature, cuisines, museums, and more.

Winston-Salem is the best of both worlds, with the charm of a quaint Southern hamlet and the amenities and activities of a more significant bustling metropolis. It’s one of the best cities in North Carolina to visit, and you could easily spend a few days here seeing all the attractions. Here are the top things to do in Winston Salem. 


Best Things to do in Winston Salem


Old Salem Museums and Gardens 

 Fun Things To Do In Winston Salem, NC

Experience the life of a Moravian community in the 1800s with an immersive visit to Old Salem. There are 20 historic buildings to explore, along with interpreters engaging in the daily life activities of that time. Visiting here is easily one of the best things to do in Winston Salem.

In the living museum, you can watch cobblers crafting shoes and potters shaping clay. The gardens are gorgeous for a wander around the greenery. Old Salem Bakery is an especially delightful stop with freshly baked loaves of bread being made and sold. 

17 Old Salem Attractions You Shouldn’t Miss!

walk around the West End Historic District

West End Historic District

Thie West End area of town is chock full of architectural gems. Styles range from Classic Revival to Queen Anne to Colonial Revival to American Craftsman. It dates back to the 19th century. There are about 500 historically significant structures in this one part of Winston-Salem.

The Zevely House is a favorite of architecture aficionados and once belonged to a founder of the city. See if you can spot which one it is. 


North Carolina BBQ Trail

 Fun Things To Do In Winston Salem, NC

It’s a North Carolina fact that one of the best things to do in North Carolina is to eat BBQ. As a state, North Carolina is known for its top-notch cooking of classic Southern barbecue. Smoked in the traditional techniques passed down for hundreds of years, this succulent pork and beef melt in your mouth and melt your heart.

The North Carolina BBQ trail boasts the best of the best, with strict criteria for cooking methods, flavor profiles, and serving styles. Real Q is the stuff of local pit roasting legends.

Other delicious BBQ spots to check out are:

  • Honkey Tonk Smokehouse
  • Camel City BBQ Factory
  • Little Richard’s Bar-B-Que
  • Clark’s Barbecue
  • Country BBQ
30 Best BBQ Joints in North Carolina

Reynolda House

Reynolda House -  Fun Things To Do In Winston Salem, NC

Reynolda House is a unique Museum of American Art. It offers the chance to explore an expansive glamorous estate that reflects the cultural lifestyle of the wealthy in the 1920s. It was initially owned and inhabited by tobacco bigwig R.J Reynolds who helped to found the town. It’s 1,067 acres and boasts the foremost art collection from American eras over 300 years.

Rooms throughout the grandiose home feature dazzling decor featuring a bowling alley, an indoor pool, and a life-sized dollhouse. There are elaborate and ornate gardens, perfectly manicured for an idyllic mosey. 


shop on Trade Street

trade street / winston salem
Photo courtesy of Susan Smith via Flickr

The dream street in Winston-Salem to shop until you drop. Chock full of charming boutiques and specialty storefronts. Several cafes and snack shops are great for a quick refuel, such as Lavender and Honey’s delightful destination.

It’s the downtown heart and soul of the city. After you finish there, pop into The Snob Shop (Burke Street) and Kindred Spirits (Trade Street(=) for artisan and vintage gems.


Historic Bethabara Park

Bethabara Park / things to do in winston salem
The Gemeinhaus, Historic Bethabara Park, Winston-Salem

Bethabara Park is a Moravian settlement that started in 1753 before the community ultimately moved over to Old Salem. It’s 183 acres and is a modern-day wildlife preserve.

Restored buildings, such as the Bethabara Moravian Church, live up to their former glory and charm. It is also a hotspot for bird watching, so keep your eyes peeled for beautiful native species. The trails that traverse the grounds make for a lovely day of wandering. 


step into the past at Mast General Store

mast general store in winston salem

Another fantastic thing to do in Winston Salem that doesn’t take too long is to visit this gem. This 19th-century general store is a one-of-a-kind attraction in Camel City. It maintains its original charm and is a must-visit for that good old Southern spirit. As is traditional, they still sell just a little bit of everything, from outdoor gear to local gourmet grits to handcrafted creams and lotions.

It’s famous for its diverse selection of old-time candy choices, sure to bring a childlike joy to your heart and mouth. Get your fill of local flavor at Mast General Store. 


relax at Quarry Park

Quarry Park
Photo courtesy of Seth Youngblood via Flickr

A nature-filled respite from the city, this park offers some of the best panoramas overlooking the skyline. The old quarry after its name is now a rocky pool full of sparkling clear blue waters. It was functional from the 1920s to the 1970s.

You can walk out on the pier, extending above it for a spectacular view and serene experience. There are plenty of well-kept paths for a relaxing, scenic walk as well. 


walk the Art Trail

Winston-Salem is home to the most kitschy and fabulous art-based inventions called the Art-o-mat. It uses old cigarette machines and turns them into art vending machines. The art is priced accessibly and is always a fun surprise for local talent. There are only 100 machines globally, and there are several to discover around town.

Check out Artivity on the Green in the downtown Arts District for fun and modern outdoor sculptural works. There are masterful and whimsical murals adorning many of the walls in the area, creating a bright and vibrant city landscape. Find as many as you can and choose your favorite. 


snap a photo of the Shell Station

shell station in winston salem

It is the last standing Shell Oil Clamshell in the country. It is a quirky relic from the 1930s, and it serves as a monument to its era filled with fun and funky memorabilia. There were seven around town as part of an art deco advertisement attempt.

It’s a phenomenally preserved piece of Camel City culture and the perfect Insta-worthy photo op for your feed. The Shell Oil Clamshell is one of the best secret things to do in Winston-Salem.  


check out The Coffee Pot

The Coffee Pot in winston salem

A beloved landmark in Winston-Salem, no trip is complete without stopping at the Coffee Pot. Built in 1858, it’s one of the oldest sights to see in the city. It’s over seven feet tall, making it hard to miss and very mysterious. It’s become a recognizable symbol of the area.

It was an attention-grabbing campaign for a local tin shop. It can hold up to 740 gallons of heavenly java. It’s been the subject of many local folklore and legends. Ask around to hear all the current cult classic theories. After, make sure to crave your thirst at one of the best Winston Salem coffee shops.


Hit Up the Many Breweries

 Fun Things To Do In Winston Salem, NC

One of the best things to do in Winston Salem is to enjoy a beer a two! There are a plethora of microbreweries in the city. Foothills Brewing is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike and is considered one of the best breweries in North Carolina. They’ve made a name for themselves in the Carolinas by making high-quality craft beverages fermented and brewed to perfection.

They produce large volumes in their primary facility, including their flagship Hoppyum IPA. Incendiary Brewing is a unique industrial haven set in an old power plant. They have a variety of drafts for every desire, from Vienna Amber Lager to Milkshake New England IPA to Honey Blonde Ale. 

8 Best Breweries in Winston Salem, NC for a craft beer

Enjoy All the Delicious Restaurants

Things To Do In Winston Salem, NC

Sweet Potatoes is a soul food sanctuary that is a staple of the culinary scene in the city. A stop into this quaint country space is a highly recommended meal. Start with the Fried Green Tomato and Okra Basket and chow down on the Slap Yo Mama Ribs.

Mozelle’s offers a more upscale take on similar Southern comforts. They put up refined plates such as Gourmet Meatloaf and Tomato Pie in a bright and airy setting.

If you’re in the mood for a sweet make sure to check out Bobby Boy Bakeshop, it’s one of the best breakfast and backshops in Winston Salem.

The Best Winston Salem Restaurants

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art
Garrett Garms

The SECCA gallery features multimedia works from all over the world. They are constantly rotating in the newest and most exciting pieces with no permanent collections for your enjoyment. An immersive surprise always awaits at SECCA.

SECCA features dance, music, visuals, and education for a diverse set of perspectives. They operate as the community’s cultural hub and connect the area with cutting-edge contemporary works. 


hike in Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock State Park is one of the best state parks in North Carolina! There are 9,000 acres of natural wonderland near the city full of diverse terrains. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Winston Salem (though it’s a 40-minute drive from the city).

There are 20 miles of trails traversing steep climbs to stunning views, flowing streams and waterfalls, Dan River for paddling, and a sparkling lake for swimming and canoeing. There are opportunities to rock climb or mountain bike within the grounds. It is one of the best things to do in Winston-Salem for outdoor activity enthusiasts. 

7 Best State Parks in North Carolina to Visit

Black Mountain Chocolate Factory Tour

As close to a trip to Willy Wonka’s as you might ever get, this chocolate factory tour at Black Mountain Chocolate is sweet as can be. It’s open to the public for a self-guided tour that tastes as good as it smells. If you take a guided tour, you are sure to learn a lot about chocolate and the intensive process behind creating it.

You can buy all the treats you want to try at the end, and they have everything from hot chocolate to gelato to pastries. They even offer classes where you can learn to make cocktails or pair chocolates with wines. 


have a drink at Broad Branch Distillery

Broad Branch Distillery in winston salem

Set in a former tobacco warehouse in the Arts District, a visit to Broad Branch is a fun and indulgent experience. The distillery is grain to glass, focusing on old-world artisanal techniques of the area. You can sneak a peek at their technical and thoughtful process behind the scenes and treat yourself to a tasting as well.

They create a variety of delicious whiskeys and rums using fresh and local ingredients. The Sungazer Tropical Transcendence Rum is a revelation, along with the Smashing Violet NC Infusion Whiskey. 


enjoy a getaway at Graylyn Estate

Graylyn Estate

Graylyn is one of the largest private homes in the whole state. Visitors can enjoy a romantic weekend in North Carolina in this private estate. Mr. and Mrs. Bowman Gray built it in the 1930s. It’s currently an opulent hotel offering the most refined luxury in town. They host many events, including a tour of the estate and tastings of their house wines.

It’s in a Norman Revival style on 85 acres of vast and verdant grounds. Each room is extraordinary, with its unique decor for the ultimate individualized experience. 


drink wine at Yadkin Valley Wineries

Yadkin Valley Wineries
Photos by Brittany Butterworth Photography

This fantastic NC winery just west of Winston-Salem serves many varietals. There are over 40 verdant vineyards within this rich million-acre land area. Yadkin Wineries is an idyllic day trip from the city as they are very close.

The wineries serve everything from the classic Carolina muscadine wines to the traditional European vitis vinifera. There are small batch producers and expansive enterprises with charming country tasting rooms and sweeping views overlooking the fields of vineyards. 


Day Trip to Mount Airy

Mount Airy

Mount Airy has all of the Southern small-town charm and hospitality imaginable. Known as the home of Andy Griffith, it inspired the fictional town of Mayberry on his hit 1960s TV series.

It feels like a step back in time and a step into the show in many ways, celebrating their claim to fame through museums, tours, and storefronts. It’s a kitschy experience that is one-of-a-kind. 

16 Best Things to Do in Mount Airy

Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

heritage bridge in old salem
Crossing the Heritage Bridge on my way to the Museum

MESDA, known more formally as the Frank L. Horton Museum Center, this space celebrates and educates on the decorative arts of the area. The building was once a grocery store and renovated to house its exciting exhibits and collections.

It’s home to one of the foremost research centers on the subject. It focuses on the preservation and interpretation of materials across cultures within the heritage of the American South, spanning seven states and four centuries. 


Relax on Salem Lake

Salem Lake

Often called the hidden diamond of Winston-Salem, you’d never know this oasis was tucked away right in the heart of the city. Salem Lake Trail circumnavigates the sparkling body of water for a delightful seven-mile hike with a constant view.

It is a fantastic lake in North Carolina to visit. Pier fishing is a popular pastime here; try your hand at angling or watch for the catch of the day. The paths are easy to walk, and there are plenty of boating opportunities out on the water as well. 


Take the kids to Kaleideum

Kaleideum winston salem
Courtesy of Kaleideum

The Kaleideum is a family-friendly place with plenty of fun for everyone. The downtown branch was previously the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem, and the north branch was previously SciWorks.

They both host many interactive STEM-based exhibits perfect for science enthusiasts and explorers of any age. Enjoy the planetarium or the famous Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory. 


explore Korner’s Folly

Korner’s Folly
Korners Folly

Korner’s Folly is an impressive 22-room brick mansion open to the public for tours. The inside is vastly more exciting than the outside. An interior designer built it to showcase home decor options to his clients.

The result is a kooky and unexpected array of features such as 15 different fireplaces, eight kinds of brick, trap doors, decorative murals, and ceiling heights which vary considerably. They also host events such as scavenger hunts around the home. 


pick up a book at Bookmarks

Winston Salem

This literary art nonprofit is a unique community purveyor more than just a bookstore. Bookmarks believe in books with a purpose, actively engaging patrons in reading to educate, challenge, and inspire.

Find any book you can think of here, and feel great about supporting a worthy cause. Bookmark holds many events that spotlight authors in different formats, such as Moveable Feast or Parapalooza. They also host the most significant annual book fair in the Carolinas. 


Fun Things to Do in Winston Salem Map


Where to Stay in Winston Salem?

20 Best Hotels in Winston-Salem

Best Restaurants in Winston Salem

best restaurants in winston salem
  • Ryan’s Restaurant: For fine dining and fantastic meat cuts and seafood.
  • Cugino Forno: Wood fired pizza that is hard to beat!
  • The Porch Kitchen and Cantina: Tex Mex Restaurant that is perfect for lunch!

TRAVEL MORE OF NORTH CAROLINA

We hope this guide of the best things to do in Winston Salem helped you find the perfect place to stay. For more of our travel guides around North Carolina check out the articles below.

About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and six continents. After, six years of international travel they settled down and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

8 thoughts on “25 FUN Things to Do in Winston Salem, NC”

  1. Kudos to you. These are all great. Also…The coolest new place is Incendiary Brewery
    near downtown and part of Innovation Quarter. Lived in WS almost 30 years and it’s the one place you will not think you are in WS. WS is much cooler now. Weekend fun.

    Reply
  2. What a wonderful, informative article about all the culture, history and joys to experience in and around Winston-Salem. Thank you for so perfectly describing it all!

    Reply
  3. How about the Creek Festival? Usually considered Forsyth Counties number attraction year after year and it donates a huge percentage to charities.

    Reply

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