Old Salem in Winston-Salem


Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

With third-grader in tow I head to North Carolina’s fifth largest city, Winston-Salem, to find a favorite field trip destination known as Old Salem.  If you’ve never been to Old Salem, think of Colonial Williamsburg but on a slightly smaller scale.

Visitor-Center-Old-SalemStart your tour at the Old Salem Visitor Center

Old Salem is a step back in time. The Moravian Village dating back to the late 18th century does an outstanding job of recreating the atmosphere and preserving the heritage of the settlers who came to North Carolina in pursuit of religious freedom.

The Moravians, a denomination of Christians originally from what is today the Czech Republic, migrated to North Carolina from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1753 and developed the 100,000- acres of land first known as “Wachovia.” These settlers brought with them their faith and way of life which played a significant role in North Carolina’s history.

Bridge-into-Old-SalemCross over the Heritage Bridge into the village.

We begin our visit in the Old Salem Visitor Center.  There’s a brief film recounting the story of the settlers and the village.  From here we advance with map in hand across Heritage Bridge – transporting  us back in time into the historic village.

Corner-of-Race-and-MainThere are still many private homes and gardens in Old Salem

The old buildings, cobble stone sidewalks and interpreters wearing traditional Moravian clothing welcome us as we begin our self-guided tour.

 Gunsmith-Old-SalemTimothy Vogler Gunsmith Shop

There are several interesting stops to make along the way such as the gunsmith’s shop, the shoe maker’s house, the Single Brother’s House, and the apothecary.  There are multiple gardens to stroll as well.

In-Character-in-Old-SalemGuides in Moravian costume from the late 18th century welcome visitors.

Today our favorite stop is made at the site of the oldest standing African American church in North Carolina.  Our tour guide is exceptional and we’re fascinated as she takes us along – telling the tales of the church, its congregation, the graves and of the site of an archaeological dig.

log-church-Old-SalemAfrican Moravian Log Church

Old Salem is also full of tasty treats.

The Old Salem Tavern dates back to 1816 and offers a selection of traditional and modern fare for lunch and dinner.  There’s also a sandwich shop located at the Winkler Bakery.

Old-Salem-TavernThe Tavern in Old Salem is open for lunch and dinner.

Speaking of the Winkler Bakery –  Old Salem is the nexus of the Moravian Cookie Trail.

Bakery-in-Old-SalemBuilt in 1800, visitors may observe demonstrations and purchase fresh-baked goods at the Winkler Bakery.

Moravian cookies are still baked in the 200-year old, wood-fired oven at the Winkler Bakery.  If you’ve never tried a Moravian cookie, you simply must.  Moravian cookies are delicious, whisper-thin and like no others you’ll find.

Moravian-Cookies-from-Old-SAuthentic Moravian cookies are a must-try when visiting Old Salem.

A visit to Old Salem can be tailored to suit your schedule and interests. The beauty of this tour is you can spend as much or as little time as you like, it’s up to you.

There are a couple of different ticket prices procuring various levels of access.  You can even save a little money by purchasing your tickets in advance on line.

I’ve already decided we should return later this year. The holidays are especially beautiful in Old Salem and there are many holiday-themed activities and programs.

It’s always a good idea to consult the Old Salem website before visiting to learn of special events.

apothacary-Old-SalemA visit to the apothecary is always educational.

As is the case with most of our “mommy and me” trips, I would have enjoyed staying a little longer at a few of the buildings in the village but it was a fun time nonetheless.  This is a family-friendly tourist attraction providing flexibility to travelers, enabling them to customize a visit to fit their travel style.

That’s always a good thing.

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As always, Happy Travels!

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