Winston-Salem has such an incredibly rich history, that any family who loves learning about the past will be right in their element! The city also happens to be incredibly family friendly, with soe many fun things to do with kids, that it really is one of Family Days Out favorites!
From the days in 1753 when the German-speaking Moravians settled in the area, to present day, so many fun things to do with families have been created, so we can't wait to share with you our favorite things to do with kids in Winston-Salem, including our "Top 9 Family Attractions" that you can enjoy on your next family day out!
There are so many fun things to do with kids in Winston-Salem, so make sure you keep reading this Winston-Salem City Guide to see what you might like to include when you next visit one of the most fascinating cities in the USA!
Image Credit: J. Sinclair Photography / Visit Winston-Salem
In this Winston-Salem City Guide, we'll be sharing with you our favorite museums that can be found within the city, as well as kid-friendly attractions to really immerse yourslves in the history. We'll share not-to-be-missed experiences that really let you deep dive into this North Carolina gem, along with some fun surprises too! We know families often have to keep budgets to a minimum, so also in this Winston-Salem City Guide we've noted some fun FREE things to do with kids! We'll also share the best ways to get around the city by public transport, as well as let you in on some super fun facts you can share with your friends!
If you want to get out the city for a day, this Winston-Salem City Guide also shares our favorite day trip. We also check out some famous faces who were born in Winston-Salem, AND have made sure you have a great jump start when planning your family trip!
So whether this is your first trip to Winson-Salem, or maybe you've lived in the city for years but just never really explored it as much as you would have liked, and you think "I wonder what is there is to do near me in Winston-Salem?", then keep reading, because we have the top 9 things to do in Winston-Salem with kids, just for you...and more!
Image Credit: Visit Winston-Salem
The city of Winston-Salem has a fascinating, rich history, with it's origins as actually two cities that merged! So, we know from earlier that the city was born back in 1753 thanks to the Moravians, but what happened? Well, the Moravians were a religious group from Eastern Europe that travelled to the shores of the USA, and chose North Carolina as their favored location due to it's fertile soil and "American Dream" possibilities. In 1766, the town of Salem was established and the Moravians developed a reputation for their innovations, their art, and their culture.
In 1849, some of the city's land was sold, and this became the town of Winston, named as such after the Revolutionary War hero - Joseph Winston. The railroad connected the two towns in the late 1800s, and were unofficially connected thanks to the US Post Office who began referring to the area as Winston-Salem in 1899. However, it wasn't until 1913 when they were officially joined, and Winston-Salem was official!
After the introduction of the railroad, it was the tobacco companies that were in competition, with Richard Joshua Reynolds setting up the headquarters of his tobacco company, R J Reynolds, in the city. It was the Reynold's family and their tobacco business that established much of the city, helping springboard it into what we know today.
In 1920, Winston-Salem was the largest city in North Carolina (today, it's the fifth), and the city's reputation for innovation, industry, arts and culture still holds, especially with the city going to incredible lengths to preserve this important and fascinating past.
Image Credit: Visit Winston-Salem
Winston-Salem really has some really amazing things to do with kids and with family. There are those historic attractions that really are important to visit, in order to obtain the true character of the city such as the Reynolda House Museum of Art, and Old Salem Museum and Gardens, as well as taking a stroll through the buildings of the Historic West End.
Then you have the always-popular-with-kids attractions such as Kaleidium Downtown where kids imaginations can run wild, Adventure Landing where classic kids fun awaits, and the very strange and fun Korner's Folly - where the realities as you know them seem to disappear!
Winston-Salem is a really wonderful city to visit, with so many kid-friendly attractions to see and do, so why not head out and enjoy it for yourself on your next family day out - and don't forget to let us know what you discover too!
If you don't have a car, a great way to get around Winston-Salem is using WSTA - the Winston-Salem Transit Authority - with bus fares at only $1, and 31 different routes servicing most areas of the city!
What's also great about WSTA, is their Bike and Ride service. This ensures that if you want to use your bike to get around the city, WSTA’s bike racks means you can bike part of the way and then connect with a specific bus route, so you can cycle to the sites, and enjoy a bus ride home! You pay a fare, but your bike rides free!
They also offer a Half Price Program for Medicare recipients, as well as senior citizens over 60 years, and disabled persons. To qualify for the Half Price Program, you either need a valid Medicare card or Senior Citizen's ID Card to show when you ride, or you can apply for the reduced fare card online.
Source and Image Credit: More information here: WSTransit
One of the things North Carolina is MOST famous for is it's delicious BBQ, and any visit to the Tar Heel State really must include a pit stop (pun intended!) to one of their incredible BBQ joints, that all specialize in roasting pig the old-fashioned way – slowly, over pits of wood or charcoal. Winston-Salem also happens to be on the North Carolina Historic BBQ Trail - so there's no excuse!
Specifically, on the BBQ Trail, it's Real-Q BBQ that is most talked about (but there are some pretty impressive other condendors for the top spot too!). The trail lists 20 historic BBQ pits across the state of North Carolina, so if Winston-Salem gets those taste buds wanting more, there is a whole adventure you can enjoy!
Image Credit & Website: North Carolina BBQ Society
Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Winston-Salem
1Old Salem Museums and Gardens
Originally settled by the Morovian community in 1766, Old Salem is a fascinating look into what life was like in Winston-Salem centuries ago, and the Old Salem Museums and Gardens is one of the most comprehensive historic attractions in the USA.
Within the complex you'll find the museums, along with the Historic Town of Salem which is an archaelogical gem, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA). Add in the award-winning heirloom gardens, and you have yourself a memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South!
Image Credit: Old Salem Museums and Gardens
Formerly the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem, Kaleideum Downtown is a super fun space where kids can feel safe, experiment, let their imaginations run wild, learn, explore, and have a great time!
The interactive exhibits allow kids to discover the magic in the Enchanted Forest, or discovers the wonders of science. They can stop by a grocery store and get creative with food, challenge themselves in the fun and adventurous climbing structure, and even stop to enjoy some quiet reading time. A museum MADE for kids!
Image Credit: Kaleideum Downtown
15 minutes from Downton Winston-Salem you'll find the archtectural wonder of Korner's Folly! This 22-room Victorian house museum was built in 1880, and the imagination that went into the building of this historical icon has led to it also being dubbed "the strangest home in America" thanks to the winding maze of staircases that lead you through the three story (yet seven levelled) marvel.
The self-guided tours that take you through the property can be done in your own time, and it's not just the uniqueness of the property that makes it so special. You're also walking through a piece of history! Where will your imagination take you on your visit? Time to find out!
Image Credit: Korner's Folly
Bumper Boats, Adventure Golf and and Arcade is all there waiting for you at Adventure Landing! The Bumper Boats are a great way to take on family and friends, with in-built spray guns to make the experience that must more exciting! Bump, dodge and splash your way around the pool, and just see who comes out victorious!
Then, you have the THREE uniquely themed 18-hole Adventure Golf courses, where you can navigate your way around lush landscapes, tunnels, waterfalls and mountains to try and get that hole in one. Then, challenge yourself in the super fun arcade with redemption center to win very cool prizes for all ages!
Image Credit: Adventure Landing
So much history awaits you at Historic Bethabara Park - really the birthplace of Winston-Salem! Today a National Historic Landmark, Bethabara is actually the site of the very first European settlement in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, when the German-speaking Moravians arrived in 1753.
Today, you can enjoy guided tours around the restored 1788 Gemeinhaus, that will take you through this historic building that was once a meeting point, town hall, school, church, and ministers residence! Whilst the tours do have a charge, the grounds, gardens and trails are free of charge to explore!
Image Credit: Historic Bethabara Park
Built in 1917, Reynolda House Museum of American Art was originally the home of Katharine Smith and R.J. Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and today you can enjoy tours through the 34,000 sq ft historic building, set on over 1,000 acres of estate.
There are over 6,000 historic objects within the museum, and works of American Art spanning across 250 years. Also in the Reynolda complex are the free admission Reynolda Gardens, and historic feeling Reynolda Shops & Dining. A great
Image Credit: Reynolda
Those active kids love Rockin' Jump Trampoline Park, with a host of jumping activities and then some! It's classic wall-to-wall trampoline park for kids who love to jump, but they also offer Dodgeball, Air Court for basketball fans, Parkour Boxes, After Dark glow-in-the-dark bouncing and even an X-Beam!
If that wasn't enough, kids can scale to new heights on the Rock Wall, enjoy the two-storey Climbing Structure, a super fun arcade, and even those little ones can enjoy tiny tot bounce time with Rockin' Tot sessions for the Under 6s. A popular activity for those kids with too much energy!
Image Credit: Rockin' Jump Trampoline Park
Segways, paddleboarding, electric-bikes and trolley tours - all amazing ways to see the sights of Winston-Salem all in an eco-friendly way! Triad ECO Adventures & Triad Trolleys offer tours of the city on various means of travel, as well as lessons on activities such as the paddleboard, so you can really find a tour that suits the family.
You'll be in safe hands whatever activity you choose, as the experienced team will ensure you have all the correct training and necessary equipment / gear, and they can answer any questions before you enjoy your eco-friendly Winston-Salem adventure!
Image Credit: Triad ECO Adventures
You have Kaleideum Downtown, but don't miss out on a visit to Kaleideum North! Formerly SciWorks, this fun museum for kids is all about encouraging them to learn about nature and science through their interactive exhibits that allow kids to touch, experiment, learn, discover, and use those imaginations!
Subjects like biology, sound, space, the environment and the human body are all covered, and there is even a planetarium where kids can discover all the wonders of planets, the sun, space and beyond. It's life-long learning for kids where they might just be begging to learn more!
Image Credit: Kaleideum North
Famous Folk From Winston-Salem!
Pam Grier is a successful American actress, who shot to stardom in the 1970s when she starred in a number of action and women-focused movies, including the classic Foxy Brown in 1974.
Image Copyright: Canadian Film Centre
Ben Folds is an American singer-songwriter, composer, musician and producer, and famously the frontman for alternative rock band Ben Folds Five from 1993 to 2000, and again in the 2010s.
Image Copyright: Free Art Licence
5 Fun Winston-Salem Facts
Impress your friends with your amazing Winston-Salem knowledge!
- Salem was founded in 1766 (with settlers arriving in 1753) and incorporated in 1856, and Winston was founded in 1849 - and they officially merged in 1913!
- The city is known as the "Twin City", thanks to it's double barrel, but it's also sometimes referred to as "Camel Town" thanks to it's ties with the tobacco industry!
- The post office merged to two towns before they were officially merged! In the 1880s, the US Post Office began referring to the two towns as Winston-Salem, then in 1899 the official Winston-Salem post office was established.
- Those delicious Krispy Kreme doughnuts were invented in Winton-Salem and in 1937, the first Krispy Kreme shop was opened!
- In the 1940s, 60% of all workers in Winston-Salem either worked in the tobacco or textiles industries!
Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Winston-Salem
Find Adventure in Tanglewood Park
Whilst some of the activities within the park might have a cost to them, Tanglewood Park itself is free admission and is one of the most popular attractions for families in Winston-Salem! Take a picnic, and make a day of it!
Some of the activities that can be enjoyed within Tanglewood Park are fishing, tennis, pedal boats, golf, plenty of trails to be enjoyed either on foot or by bike, and you can also head to the Arboretum and Garden at Tanglewood where you can see amazing plants from all around the world!
Image Credit: VisitNC
Be Inspired with Art for Art's Sake!
It's all about ART with Art for Art's Sake! The free admission Red Dog Gallery is where you can check out exciting and fresh works and exhibits from local artists (and you can purchase art there too, if you want to!). This not for project organization is all about sharing local art, and inspiring the community.
In addition to the Red Dog Gallery, the AFAS Center includes “ARTivity On The Green,” an art-themed park located on Liberty Street in the heart of the Downtown Winston-Salem Arts District and they can also share with you the other places in the city where you can explore the various sculptures, artworks and murals dotted around!
Image Credit: AFAS Group
Enjoy nature in Hanging Rock State Park
Not far from the hustle and bustle of Winston-Salem is the breathtaking beauty of Hanging Rock State Park! Since it's creation in the 1930s, Hanging Rock State Park has giving families an incredible day out filled with adventure - and there is even camping if you want to extend your time there!
Activities and facilities within Hanging Rock include picnic grounds, a popular stocked lake for swimming and canoe rentals, and for those wanting to stick to land - over 20 miles of hiking trails that lead into spectacular views, and take you alongside clear streams and waterfalls. There is also access on the Dan River for paddling, 8.4 miles of mountain biking trails and rock climbing opportunities (with a permit)
Image Credit: NCParks
Go back in time in the Historic West End
Only a few blocks from downtown Winston-Salem you'll find the Historic West End. A stroll round this part of the city will take you back in time, as well as offer you a host of amazing shops and dining too!
What's great about this area is you really feel it's a community spirit, with local businesses a-plenty. One of the highlights in the Historic West End are the historic homes, themselves worth a visit for the photo opportunities. As we know, Winston-Salem has a fascinating history, so why not make the most of it and explore as much history as you can!
Image Credit: West End Winston Salem
Join a service at Home Moravian Church
Home Moravian Church was built in 1771 in what was then just Salem, so even if you don't make your way inside, the building itself is a beauty to look at, and a great photo opportunity. However, the Home Moravian Church is the place of worship to the largest Moravian community in the world, so to join a sermon here is an incredible experience.
This welcoming congregation host services Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, that you everyone is welcome to take part in. The Moravian Church had its origin in ancient Bohemia and Moravia, in present-day Czechoslovakia, and you can really feel such a deep and rich history.
Image Credit: Public Domain
A Locals Guide to Winston-Salem!
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina, so it definitely deserves a mention for any day trip from Winson-Salem list! Known as the "City of Oaks" for the numerous oak trees that line the steets, it's one of the fastest growing cities in the country!
The city itself is actually a great example of an early planned city within the USA. After the American Revolutionary War, and the US gained its independence, Raleigh was chosen as the North Carolina state capital in 1788, and incorporated in 1792.
Raleigh is also known for some pretty notable events and achievements! Andrew Johnson, the future 17th President of the USA, was born at Casso's Inn in the city. In 1853, the very first state fair was held in Raleigh, and in 1865, classes began in Shaw University, which was the very first African American college in the south!
Today, Raleigh has really embraced an incredible arts and museum scene, with a number of fascinating art, science and children's museums, plus numerous events throughout the city - including a number of summer concerts, theatre in the park and outdoor movies - so an incredibly family friendly city!
So take a day trip, weekend trip, or even longer to really make the most out of this incredible city! It's a gem of North Carolina - one of many!
Image Credit: Visit Raleigh
Here’s our top 4 Raleigh things to do:
- Pullen Park
- Historic Yates Mill County Park
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
- Marbles Kids Museum
We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!
Let's get the family adventure started!