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Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • Salem College is the oldest women’s college in the nation (1772).
  • Salem Band, America’s oldest continually active brass band, began performing in 1778.
  • Richard Joshua Reynolds, 25, launched R.J. Reynolds as a chewing-tobacco maker in 1875.
  • The muscadine, used in Yadkin Valley wines, was the first native American grape to be cultivated.
  • Winston-Salem’s Reynolds Building, with the same architects, was the prototype for the Empire State Building.

Two cities in one

Winston-Salem is a medium-sized city located in North Carolina’s Piedmont, or plateau, an area between the Atlantic Ocean and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Originally two towns, Winston and Salem merged in 1913 and, eventually, each gave its name to a cigarette brand produced by the local R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

The city’s 18th century founders were German-speaking Moravian Protestants. These settlers left their mark in several districts — Bethabara Park, Bethania and Old Salem. The latter is considered one of America’s best collections of preserved buildings and ranks highly, as well, for its living history demonstrations.

Visitors find other districts of interest, too, including the late-19th century streetcar suburbs (so named because they were linked to downtown by streetcar routes) and the Downtown Arts District, with its engaging clusters of shops, galleries, studios, restaurants and bars. Further, the historic Reynolda House, built by R.J. Reynolds himself, is now a museum.

The city is known for its cultural offerings, encompassing the museums, galleries and performing arts. A committed supporter of the arts, Winston-Salem created the nation’s first arts council (1949), which became a model for public-private support for the arts elsewhere. In addition, it’s a college town, with the sports and cultural events that the schools sponsor or attract.

The city also hosts a number of special events with tourist appeal, such as wine festivals, an international film fest, a biennial black theater event, a crafts fair and, not least, the International Home Furnishings Market in neighboring High Point, a good place to buy furniture. Wine tasting tours to the nearby Yadkin Valley wine country nicely complement the annual in-town wine festivals.

Winston-Salem enjoys a generally pleasant climate, with long spring and autumn seasons. It gives access in the city and beyond to lakes and rivers for outdoor pursuits. Winston-Salem boasts of 75 recreational parks in the city and across Forsyth County where it is the county seat, plus four historic and/or award-winning gardens.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Stretch your legs hiking around Pilot Mountain in Pilot Mountain State Park. Alternatively or in addition, take a canoe trip on the Yadkin River, which winds its way through the park.
  • Look for the nightlife among the collections of bars and restaurants on the walkable Fourth and Trade streets. Trade Street is the livelier choice.
  • Camp in Hanging Rock State Park, 30 miles north of the city. Make appropriate use of its 18 miles of hiking trails. There are climbing opportunities, too.
  • Winston-Salem stages two wine festivals, both in the spring. Attend at least one.
  • Near Winston-Salem, paddle your way along the scenic Dan River. This can be light whitewater rafting.
  • Attend the weeklong National Black Theatre Festival. Offering more than 100 performances to choose from, it occurs every other year in August. Alternatively, Twin City Stage performances are available at other times.

 Things to do for Centrics

  • Sample wines made with a native American grape, the muscadine, during a wine tour in the Yadkin Valley.
  • Come to the spring or fall International Home Furnishings Market in nearby High Point and buy furniture.
  • Winston-Salem has several historic landmarks or districts. Plan your sightseeing to focus on the city’s history, especially the Moravian settlement era. Some places to include are the Historic Bethabara Park, Historic Bethania (town) and Old Salem Museums and Gardens.
  • Walk into the more recent past in the Washington Park and West End historic districts. Dating from the 1890s, they were called streetcar suburbs and reveal the look of the earliest commuter neighborhoods, characterized by many large houses in a mixture of architectural styles.
  • Sign on for an enlightening food tour, combining area history with samplings of locally grown foods.
  • Jog or cycle the seven-mile trail around Salem Lake. Or get that fishing license and go for bass, catfish and other species. Fish from a pier or from a boat.

Things to do for Authentics

  • See the Reynolda House, a 1917 estate built by R.J. Reynolds, founder of the eponymous tobacco company, that is now a museum of American art. In addition, see and shop in Reynolda Village, originally built to support the R.J. Reynolds estate and modeled on an English country village.
  • Attend a Wake Forest University football game. There are other college sports alternatives, too.
  • Time your visit to coincide with the Piedmont Craftsmen’s Fair, where more than 130 artisans exhibit, in late fall. See demonstrations of craft techniques, and buy fine pieces for home.
  • Soak up atmosphere while studying the art by joining one of the monthly first-Friday Gallery Hops in the city’s Downtown Art District. Gallery entry is free during the Gallery Hop evenings, when gallery hours are extended to 10 p.m.
  • Play golf. The city has a dozen or so courses.
  • Find a restaurant that serves the savory North Carolina style barbecue. And look for bakeries selling Moravian cookies, which include cloves, dark molasses and ginger in their recipe.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Visit Winston-Salem at