Summer vacation season is here. We’re lucky to live nearly equal distance from the mountains and the coast, with so many interesting sites to visit when you feel like exploring the spaces between. This year, I’m planning a series of day trips to visit NC cities and attractions just an hour or two from the Triangle by car. So come along for a day’s road trip around NC this summer. This week I head west on interstate 40 to Winston-Salem, a city where tradition and innovation converge, resulting in delightful experiences for those with diverse interests.
Once upon a time, two neighborly cities joined in civil matrimony managing to retain their distinct personalities while creating an attractive union that continually draws people to the eclectic region one hundred years later. To get your bearings in Winston-Salem, I recommend your first stop be to Visit Winston-Salem, the convention and visitors bureau located in a historic textile mill complex and conveniently near popular dining destinations Meridian and Ollie’s Bakery. From there, one of the distinctive parts that make the whole of Winston-Salem happens to be a very short walk along a greenway aptly named The Strollway.
A visit to Old Salem Museums and Gardens reveals the history and culture of the Moravians, Protestant missionaries from eastern Europe who settled the area in the mid 18th century, as well as a popular farmers market during the Summer season.
Each Saturday, mid May through Thanksgiving, the Cobblestone Farmers Market settles under shady trees in a terraced area near the Single Brothers’ Garden in Old Salem. The producers-only market supplies fresh, seasonal produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, baked goods and even pour-over coffee from local roaster Krankies Coffee. The impressive selection available from market vendors becomes more so when you learn vendors use sustainable, naturally grown and humane practices.
If you’re able to turn your attention away from the farmers market bounty, you’ll find intriguing structures filled with exhibits you’ll want to explore, beautiful gardens, demonstrations by skilled craftsmen and many venues through which you can glimpse into the Moravian life.
You can peek into an old fire engine house, learn about medicines dispensed at an apothecary, walk the creaky floors of a tavern and peer into residential homes and gardens. Some building exhibits are ticketed, while others are not. A visit to the Old Salem Visitor Center provides an introduction to the town of Salem and an overview of the historical exhibits to help you decide where to start and which ticket(s) to purchase.
The Winkler Bakery shop requires no ticket, only an appreciation for the craft of baking. Through one doorway, you watch the baker knead dough. In the next, the dome bake oven fire warms the room where dough balls rest. In the shop, you can purchase goods like those thin, crisp Moravian cookies of many flavors.
As you walk brick and stone sidewalks of Old Salem, observing the architecture and textures of this older part of town, you appreciate the heritage restored and carefully maintained.
You could while away an entire day strolling Old Salem, but there’s another tale in this city, at the other end of the tree-shaded Strollway leading under the interstate and up a hill, to iconic buildings in downtown Winston-Salem worthy of further exploration… in part two. 🙂