1st Timer’s Guide to Winston-Salem

Looking for the must-dos in Winston-Salem? Here are our top recommendations for what you should do on your first visit to the best city in NC, Winston-Salem!

Welcome to Winston, we’ know you’re going to love it! Here are the can’t-miss highlights for your 1st trip to Winston-Salem. The focus here is on what to do on your visit, make sure to check out some of our other posts for more food-centric recommendations. And if you’d like to know more about our city, check out this 2 minute history about W-S.

1.) Visit Old Salem

Old Salem is one of Winston’s many treasures. Founded by the Moravians, this section of town is like a step back in history. Take a walk through the cobblestoned streets of Old Salem, and make sure to cross the famous bridge that starts at the Old Salem Visitor Center – especially at Christmas time. For an authentic (and tasty!) experience, hit Winkler Bakery for Moravian baked goods.

Most of Old Salem is free and open to the public, so there’s no excuse to skip it. There is plentiful street parking within Old Salem or at the Visitor’s Center. Plan to spend a minimum of 30 minutes just walking around this charming area, or purchase a ticket that grants you access inside the historic buildings for a longer experience.

2.) Spend Time at Reynolda

When people say they’re doing to “Reynolda” it’s one of three spots: the house, the village, or the gardens. Reynolda House was built by the Reynolds family, whose footprints you can see all over town. It is now a museum of American Art, and the gallery that adjoins the house curates a broad range of collections and offers robust programming. You do have to pay an admission fee to tour the house. If you’re short on time, skip the house and enjoy the gardens instead.

Reynolda Gardens is one of the prettiest places in Winston, so if you’re a nature-lover, it’s a must. It’s free to stroll the formal gardens or walk the wooded trails around the entirety of the Reynolda property, and parking is relatively easy

On the adjacent property is Reynolda Village, an insanely charming collection of shops and restaurants. Park in the village, browse the shops, and grab a treat or meal. You can easily access the gardens from the village, so it’s easy to spend anywhere from 1 hour to a whole day here.

If you have an entire morning, we’d recommend grabbing coffee and a doughnut at Dough Joes, taking the path that circumnavigates Reynolda House and its meadow, walking across the street to Graylyn for an extended trek, and returning to the village for shopping before lunch at the Village Tavern.

3.) Explore Innovation Quarter

Unique and exciting, the Innovation Quarter is the fastest-growing area downtown. Innovation Quarter is repurposing old factory buildings, including the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco factories, for upscale dining, bars, medical research, and more.

Plan an evening exploring the Innovation Quarter. Start in Bailey Park, or for a longer walk with excellent skyline views follow the Long Branch Trail around the back side of the IQ. Make sure to grab a drink (we’d recommend a beer from Incendiary Brewery) or something to eat (try either Cugino Forno‘s pizza or Black Mountain Chocolate‘s desserts) in the Coal Pit area – this is one of our favorite re-habed spots in Winston, you can’t miss it!

4.) Do Something Artsy

Winston-Salem has a thriving arts scene, and the options are endless. As the City of Arts & Innovation, it’s only right that you try something on your first visit!

One of the cultural cornerstones in Winston is a/perture. a/perture is a small art house cinema located downtown on 4th Street, and they offer a carefully curated selection of movies. Showtimes are easy to sync with dinner out, too!

For music buffs, check out our list of where to see live music here or our list of live music options for the weekend here. There are additional performances offered through UNC School of the Arts, the Winston-Salem Symphony, and more.

There is also an increasing number of public art installations throughout downtown Winston. Centered around Trade Street, the heart of the Arts District, are murals, sculptures, and the ARTivity Park.

We hope your first trip to Winston-Salem is a success! Make sure to explore our other posts for more information about what makes our city great. And follow us on Instagram for more ideas!


%d bloggers like this: