In the early 1900’s Winston-Salem humbly started as an industrial center—which boomed with companies like R.J. Reynolds and Hanes—but also became the foundation that many other successful businesses built their businesses on. Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation, T.W. Garner Food Company (makers of Texas Pete hot sauce) and Goody’s headache powders all reign from the fifth largest city in North Carolina. Now fast forward to the city whose current tagline is “Your Southern Wake-Up Call” and has a vision of being the premiere destination offering vibrant arts and cultural experiences in an innovative business environment. Slowly but surely, times are changing in Winston-Salem.
With every cute coffee shop, arts and culture outing and delectable dining experience, Winston-Salem is emerging as more than a tobacco town. And being about an hour and half from Charlotte makes it a great weekend getaway. Let’s explore where you stay, eat and play while in Winston-Salem…
Where to Stay
The Cardinal Hotel
The first Kimpton property in North Carolina, which includes 174 guest rooms including 15 suites, resides in the historic R.J. Reynolds building and features an art deco décor with a southern twist that is awe-worthy.
The building which is the prototype of the Empire State Building and named after the state’s official bird, The Cardinal opened earlier this year and is the city’s first boutique hotel. From the lobby, to the rooms, media space (which includes a bowling alley) and even their meeting rooms no detail is missed. The hotel features 174 guest rooms including 15 suites.
Where to Eat
Breakfast: If you do not visit Mary’s Gourmet Diner for breakfast you are doing yourself a disservice. On the morning that I visited the restaurant, Mary was bringing in fresh mint from her on-site garden forthe infused water of the day (that day was it was blueberry mint). You will be drawn to so many items on the menu—from their build your own omelets, breakfast burritos to buttermilk pancakes—that it is nearly impossible to choose just one…so don’t get a smorgasbord of food. The prices allow it and the food is homemade.
Tip: Their signature Apple Baby Sandwich which includes scrambled eggs, smoked sausage, and their housemade apple butter is a must try!
Lunch: Tucked inside Reynolda Village, Silo Bistro & Bar has a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a pop-in as you shop the cute boutiques in the area. You can expect to find small plates with creative items like smoked trout crostini and prosciutto fig wraps. Plus, their paninis, craft cocktails and beers are popular.
Tip: Initially the roasted turkey panini may sound boring but when notice the ingredients include maple-pepper bacon and gruyere you’ll change your mind.
Dinner: Tim Grandinetti is the co-owner and chef at Quanto Basta Italian Eatery and Wine Bar, a spacious spot that “reveals the rich, comforting flavors of cucina Italiana.” The restaurant is a nod to his great-grandfather who built Bucci’s restaurant in New York City in 1922 and you’ll even find an original Bucci’s sign in Quanto Basta. Grandinetti’s dishes are unique combination—part memory and part innovation based on his Italian heritage and cultivated chef skills. The atmosphere in the restaurant is one of “sit, eat and stay awhile” and with over 50 wines by the glass, light fare (antipasti, salads and appetizers) and heartier items (a variety of pastas, handcrafted pizzettes and short ribs, etc.) it’s easy to do. When I visited, I literally closed the place out.
Tip: Quanto Basta offers winemaker dinners at various times throughout the year and they are a must! The last one, The Italian “Gathering” in celebration of Salute Wine Festival included Raffaldini Vineyards wines paired with a five-course meal of delectable dishes including shrimp tartare with almonds and citrus, spaghetti with jumbo lump crab, sea urchin and toasted bread crumbs and roasted vanilla panna cotta with a lemon basil sorbet with walnut spuma and much more.
What to do
A visit to Winston-Salem is not complete without going to the Reynolda House Museum of American Art and Reynolda Gardens. There is beauty at every turn on this 1,067 acre estate that includes formal gardens, shops and restaurants.
Take a butler tour of the Historic Graylyn Estate, a historic home which was once the residence of the Bowman Gray family, son of Wachovia co-founder James Alexander Gray. During the tour, you will notice the range of European architectural styles The estate is now used as an executive conference center and includes 86 private guest rooms and 15 meeting rooms. It has hosted the late Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Presidents of the United States.
Enjoy an afternoon at Old Salem Museum & Gardens where you will experience one of America’s most authentic and well-documented Colonial sites. During the visit you will tour original structures and interact with costumed interpreters who show you what life was like for those that lived and worked in the early South in the 18th century.
Explore Winston-Salem’s Downtown Arts District (DADA) where you will find a variety of artist’s studios, galleries, shops, retail businesses, restaurants, bars and residences located between 5th, 7th and Trade Streets.
Tip: Check out their DADA 1st Friday Gallery Hop where they shut down the streets and people hop around to all the shops and eateries who are opened late for patrons. Local art (and artists) is showcased, live performances take place and attendees enjoy the creative side of Winston-Salem.
Take a 15 minute drive to Childress Vineyards, the largest vineyard in the Yadkin Valley for a day of delectable wines and delicious food. The property includes tours, tastings and special events like Paint and Sip and Murder Mystery Dinners. The vineyards span 72 acres and produce more than 30 wines for every palate.
Tip: The Bistro menu changes seasonally to ensure the best ingredients are used but one staple—the Bistro burger should be considered. Yes, the burger believe it or not is delicious! Also, if in season try their flavored, homemade sangrias made with their own wines.
Extra time in Winston-Salem? Try…
A sweet treat at Tarts Sweets
A cup of Joe at Camino’s Bakery
A salad at Local Bar & Grill
An Indie movie at Aperture Cinema
A tattoo at Tattoo Revival
Fast Facts about Winston-Salem
- Winston-Salem was named one of the top 25 places to retire by Forbes.com.
- As home to the first Arts Council in the United States, Winston-Salem paved the way for public-private support of the Arts, and created the model for Arts Councils nationwide.
- The city of Salem was the first city in the United States where classical music was composed.
- Winston-Salem is the site of the first state-supported arts conservatory in the country, the internationally regarded University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
- Winston-Salem is home to Salem College, the longest, continuously running women’s college in the U.S. as well as the prestigious Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University.
Thinking of a weekend in Winston-Salem? Get more information at www.visitwinstonsalem.com.