BY ANNE GLENN
Old Salem isn’t just for school groups anymore. This vibrant area of Winston-Salem continues to evolve and expand its offerings, making it a great spot for townies and visitors alike. You don’t have to buy a ticket or take a tour to enjoy its beauty and peace. Use this itinerary for inspiration on how to make the most of a day in Old Salem.
If you plan to visit on a Saturday, then make your first stop at the Cobblestone Farmers Market. While the year round market is no longer held directly within Old Salem, it now sets up only a stone’s throw away. Park in the Old Salem Visitor Center lot (which is free), and make your way to the market on Marshall Street. Fuel up with a pastry and cup of coffee from Camino Bakery’s stall while you wander, and be sure to stop and smell the local flowers. Some of our favorite spots are Goat Lady Dairy for cheese, Chad’s Chai for tea, NOMAD farms for meat, and Harmony Ridge for produce.
For those wanting to dive into the history of Old Salem, now is your chance to hit the Visitor Center. Currently Old Salem’s buildings are only open for inside tours Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm, so be aware of your timing. Even if you prefer to skip the history lesson, make sure to walk past the Visitor Center in order to access the famous Heritage Bridge (no ticket required). If you’ve been around Winston-Salem for a bit, this wooden bridge is one of the most photographed spots in town – especially at Christmas when it’s filled with Moravian stars.
Once you cross the bridge, you have officially entered Old Salem. Even though it’s been beautifully preserved and feels like a time capsule, Old Salem is actually a neighborhood where many people still live. Walk up Main Street or explore the side streets, and don’t rush. Old Salem is a place to take your time. If you’d like to learn more of the history, look for one of the Salem Pathways signs that are sprinkled throughout the main area. Using your phone, you can access a wealth of information and be led on a “tour” by a historic figure, all for free.
As you walk up Main Street, turn into the Moravian Book & Gift shop to purchase your own Moravian star or other unique items. This charming store also houses a small coffee shop, E. A. Vogler Coffee & Confections, with limited indoor seating when you need a break. Farther up the road, Winkler Bakery is the sweetest destination in Old Salem, where baked goods are regularly churned out of their wood-fired oven. Don’t miss the Moravian cookies, or buy a Moravian sugar cake mix as a souvenir.
When you’re hungry for a meal, Muddy Creek Cafe serves the perfect lunch menu. With satisfying sandwiches and a handful of other offerings, it’s a great spot to rest, especially if you snag a seat in their quaint courtyard. Muddy Creek is also slowly bringing back live music, so be sure to follow them on social media to know when their next concerts and open mics are happening.
After lunch, head up Main Street towards downtown Winston-Salem to complete a loop around Old Salem. Before the end of the historic district, veer off to the right to God’s Acre, the Moravian graveyard. This serene spot offers some of the prettiest views in town for quiet meditation. Continue back to Main Street to exit the main part of Old Salem, where you will find the large Mickey Coffee Pot Marker – another photography-worthy icon.
Taking the lovely shaded Salem Strollway, make your way back to the Visitor Center for your car. Should you wish to explore more, other nearby locations worth checking out are ByGood Coffee, Wood & Thread Boutique, and Meridian Restaurant, all wonderful and located on Brookstown Road bordering Old Salem. Whether you’re a history buff or not, consider this your sign to visit Old Salem soon.