Winston-Salem Travel Guide

Overview

Located 95 mi/155 km west of Raleigh in the Piedmont Triad, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a medium-sized city known for its historic and cultural attractions, the arts, higher education, and as the birthplace of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

Winston-Salem is the site of the first North Carolina settlement founded by Moravians, a small religious community that came from Pennsylvania in 1753.

The Moravians started a small town called Bethabara (House of Passages), then, in 1776, started a larger town, Salem, a few miles/kilometers away. The restored houses of Old Salem are now among the top tourist attractions in North Carolina.

The city is also the birthplace and headquarters of the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts company. The original doughnut-making machine was sent to the Smithsonian in 1997 on the 60th anniversary of the company's 1937 founding. The tasty treats are now found throughout the world.

Known as a world-class research center, Winston-Salem also boasts a number of colleges and universities: Wake Forest University, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem State University, Salem Academy and College, Piedmont Baptist College and Forsyth Technical Community College.

Geography

Winston-Salem is in the northern part of North Carolina on the Piedmont Plateau, the state's central section between the Atlantic Ocean and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is the largest city in and county seat of Forsyth County and one of three cities of the so-called Piedmont Triad, along with Greensboro and High Point.

The soil in the region is loam, with a clay subsoil that gives it a distinctive red color. The climate is pleasant, with long spring and autumn seasons, a short and often rainy winter, and a short and sometimes hot summer. Although summer humidity can be high, it is tempered by an elevation of nearly 1,000 ft/305 m above sea level. The area has many parks and trees, and there's almost always a breeze.

The city is not quite equidistant from Raleigh to the east (95 mi/155 km) and Asheville to the west (133 mi/214 km) via Interstate 40, which runs through the southern part of the city. The in-town bypass Business 40 bisects the center city. Interstate 77 is about 40 mi/65 km west of Winston-Salem, connecting to Charlotte and Atlanta.

Sightseeing

St. Philips Moravian Church, the oldest African-American church in North Carolina, was restored and opened in 2003. Nearby is the first log building that served as a place of worship for the slaves in the Moravian community.

Winston-Salem has much to do with tobacco (as you might expect, given that the town has inspired two namesake cigarette brands). Visitors can see a display of historical memorabilia (and a gift shop) at the R.J. Reynolds Manufacturing Center, though tours of the factory are no longer offered.

For a look at the wealth tobacco can generate, visit Tanglewood, a park the Reynolds family donated to the city, and Reynolda House, a 1917 estate built by R.J. Reynolds that is now a museum of American art. Nearby is the campus of Wake Forest University, which is worth a look for its chapel and neo-Georgian architecture.

Nightlife

At first glance, visitors to Winston-Salem may think there's not much to do in the city after dark. The streets often look empty and quiet. But there's plenty of activity—if you just know where to find it. Most weekends, the bars and restaurants are filled with people well into the night.

Trade and Fourth streets are the areas downtown where you'll find nightlife. Fourth Street is the more upscale of the two, but Trade Street is the livelier. The streets are connected and walkable, and although generally safe, use common sense if you are walking at night. Stay in the more populated areas.

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