Winston-Salem On a BudgetWinston-Salem is a moderately sized city in Forsyth Country, North Carolina. The city has a population of about 360,000 and is located in the central part of the state in the Piedmont Triad. Winston-Salem goes by several nicknames including the "Twin City", the "City of Arts and Innovation" and "Camel City", a reference to the city's history in the tobacco industry. Like several towns in central North Carolina, the city's economy was also once influenced by the furniture industry, although this sector continues to shrink.
Winston-Salem has a humid subtropical climate with cool or cold winters and hot and humid summers. There are occasional snowstorms as well as ice and sleet during the winter months. Thunderstorms are common during summer evenings.
SightsMany people come to Winston-Salem specifically to wander around Old Salem. This is a restored Moravian settlement that dates back to 1766. About 70% of the buildings are original and many now house museums or shops. The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) is also found in Old Salem. This gallery has 18th and early 19th century furniture, ceramics, and textiles on display. It's free to wander around Old Salem on your own, but many of the museums and exhibits require that you purchase a pass.
Bethabara Historic district is the original site where Moravians from Pennsylvania first settled in North Carolina. The sight covers about 195 acres and has a museum, a Moravian church, hiking trails, and birdwatching opportunities.
It's also worth visiting Reynolda Gardens, which is a 4 acre formal garden that is surrounded by forest. The gardens were originally part of the R.J. Reynolds country estate.
Other sights in the city include SciWorks, a kids museum, New Winston Museum, and the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem.
NeighborhoodsLike many towns in the United States southeast, Winston-Salem's downtown has been the focus of revitalization efforts in recent years. The West End Historic District is between W. Fourth St. and Brookstown Avenue. The area is one of the more pedestrian friendly parts of town with many shops and restaurants. This neighborhood was originally a regional spa resort that catered specifically to wealthy tobacco and textile families. It grew up around the one of the first electric streetcar lines and was known as "Millionaires' Row" because both the Reynolds and Hanes families had homes in the area.
Winston-Salem's Downtown Arts District is along Sixth and Trade Streets. This area has become trendy and now has a large number of working studios, galleries, shops, and restaurants. The neighborhood is just a block from the Benton Convention Center and is a nice place to explore.
Old Salem is a tourist destination in and of itself. There are quaint cobblestone streets, shops, and museums in the area. It's also near Salem College, which has a beautiful campus. Across town, Wake Forest University also offers a beautiful campus that is worth visiting.
ActivitiesMany people enjoy wandering around both Old Salem and the Historic Bethabara Park. The area's are quite quaint and attractive and you can pass several hours soaking up the historic character. The cobblestone streets, interesting shops, and history museums can make for a pleasant afternoon. It's particularly nice to visit the area during the Christmas season when the town is decorated for the holidays.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is located in downtown Winston-Salem. There is usually some performance or production happening at this university. If you happen to be in town in August, the week long National Black Theater Festival takes place with more than 100 performances. If you want to get outside of town, there are several good wineries in the area as well.
Food and DiningWinston-Salem has some good local eateries that offer everything from traditional southern food to ethnic cuisine. Barbecue, pizza, steakhouses, cafes, and diners are all found throughout the town. There is also a restaurant found within Old Salem. It maintains the area's historic vibe with staff dressed in traditional clothes. Meals include sandwiches, salads, and traditional southern cuisine. Prices are reasonable.
TransportationWinston-Salem is located at the intersection of several large interstates and highways. I-85, I-77, I-40, Highway 52 and Business 40 all pass through the city. The closest airport is the Piedmont Triad International Airport which is just 25 minutes away from downtown Winston-Salem. There are six major airlines that serve the airport and an average of 59 non-stop flights.
The closest Amtrak station to Winston-Salem is in Greensboro. They do offer a shuttle service to downtown Winston-Salem.
Most people arrive in Winston-Salem by car. Although the Winston-Salem Transit Authority operates a public bus service, it is of limited use to most visitors. Like most cities in the US Southeast, you really must have access to a car to navigate the city.