Old Salem in Winston-Salem (9 Things We Love About this Historic Site)

Last Updated on July 19, 2021

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.

Old Salem is a popular historic district in Winston-Salem and serves as an educational museum and showcase for those who want to come and learn about Moravians in North Carolina, who established the Central North Carolina community in the late 18th century.

One can easily spend a day or more visiting the various shops, historic buildings, gardens, and everything else that makes up the place. Since there’s so much to take in, we want to share with you eight things to do in Old Salem and how to get the most out of your time there.

This post is a big part of our series covering things to do in Winston-Salem. It also featured in our guide to North Carolina’s museums and our year-round collection of Unique Things to Do in North Carolina.

Old Salem in Winston-Salem (9 Things We Love About It!)

Opportunities that Come with Tickets

Historic Winston-Salem NC Pottery Images

Without a ticket, you’re not able to learn as much as we did. During open hours (updated info here), you’ll get access to people who know just about everything about Salem and its background.

After buying a ticket at the Visitor Center, you get access to the Shultz Shoemaker Shop, the African Moravian Log Church, and more buildings filled with history and kind people who want to share it with you. Of course, you don’t have to jam it all into one day.

The ALL-IN-ONE ticket grants you entry for two consecutive days. This is great if you live in the area or don’t want to do it all in one day.

There’s so much history to explore at Old Salem. If you’re interested in learning more before visiting, Moravians in North Carolina shares a pictorial history of the town, as well as other similar settlements in the Tar Heel State. 

Dig Even Deeper into Old Salem’s Background

Old Salem NC Hidden Town Image

It’s just as important to learn about African-American contributions to Old Salem as it is to eat Moravian Cookies (see below).

Their contributions to the community formed the backbone and beyond, as many Black Moravians were skilled potters, carpenters, and even translators for the bilingual community. Recent efforts are working to expand upon what’s presented to visitors at Old Salem.

Note: Initiatives like Slave Dwelling Project and Hidden Town Project are working to better inform young people and folks in general about the legacy of Moravians, regardless of skin color.

If there’s something more happening to bring light to African-American history in and around Old Salem, we’d love to know about it.

Scope Out the Old Architecture

Old Salem NC Buildings Winston-Salem NC Images

Intertwined with all the history that you’ll learn while visiting Old Salem is the architecture. There are some cool buildings with varying influences. You’ll encounter Central European influences, mixed with Greek Revival, and other remnants of early American styles.

Even though there are cars on the street while you walk around, it’s lovely to walk around Main Street’s cobblestone sidewalks and soak in Old Salem’s architecture.

Visit an Important Black History Landmark (St Phillips Moravian Church)

St Phillips Moravian Church is a unique place to visit at Old Salem. You can still join the congregation on Sundays in Historic Brick Church.

Just as importantly, you can learn some crucial Black history in North Carolina by visiting. While it has long been a part of Old Salem, many of the Moravians who worshipped here between 1823 and 1861 were enslaved.

It was the only congregation historically made up of African-American Moravians in the US.

Admire the Gardens

Old Winston-Salem Tours Image

Old Salem’s historic and sustainable gardens are admirable, not because they are flashy and full of beautiful flowers.

Instead, these individual plots are functional, sustainable and have been a part of the community since their inception in 1766. If the season is right, you’ll find spots like the Miksch Garden filled with various fruits, vegetables, grains, and more.

Landscape lovers and history nerds (like me) will enjoy The Gardens of Salem by Darrell Spencer and photographer Virginia Weiler!

Buy Moravian Souvenirs

Winston-Salem North Carolina Old Salem Heritage Bridge Images

I’m a sucker for souvenirs (magnets!) and was happy to grab one from the Old Salem Visitor Center. If you’re into shopping, Old Salem has some cool places to buy something.

Other than the Visitor Center, you can grab fun stuff at the Moravian Book & Gift Shop, the T. Bagge Merchant & Garden Shop, and the A. Butner Hat Shop.

Just keep in mind that hours vary, so plan accordingly.

Eat Like a Moravian

One of the most fun things to do in Winston-Salem is to eat at Old Salem. Winkler Bakery is the way to go for some delicious Moravian cookies, bread, or both.

You can also grab delicious English-style tea and small bites at The Flour Box Tea Room & Cafe.

The Flour Box fills up on weekends and especially holidays, so plan accordingly.

North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery takes you through cooking and eating like a Moravian if you’d like to study beforehand. 

Find the Coffee Pot

Old Salem NC Coffee Pot Images

We’re nerds for landmarks like the famed Salem Coffee Pot. Found at the junction of South Main Street, Old Salem Road, and Brookstown Avenue, this 7-foot-tall tin pot is great for photos.

There’s also a cool backstory behind it. According to one source, the pot separated Salem from Winston, as the latter was viewed as a threat to young ladies’ virtue.

Get Interactive with an Old Salem Tour

Old Salem NC Home Moravian Church Winston-Salem NC Image

Old Salem invites a variety of groups to come and visit, too. Schools love to come here, but many adults flock in unison as well.

Another way to get in on the interactive fun is via the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) that you’ll see immediately after crossing the Heritage Bridge from the Visitor Center.

They offer various tours and ticket packages for visitors, with an emphasis on getting behind the scenes at the museum.

You Can Stay Nearby

We have stayed in Winston-Salem a few times, even at the Brookstown Inn Hotel that’s very close to Old Salem. Its backstory, amazing service, and delicious breakfast are just a few of the reasons you should check out this hotel.

Brookstown Inn Hotel is one of a few historic hotels in Winston-Salem, all ready to serve your visit!

Ready to Explore Old Salem Now?

We love Old Salem and think it’s one of the best things to do in Winston-Salem. There are fun special events happening throughout the year (check here) and there’s even a Cobblestone Farmers Market open Saturday mornings between April and November.

Have you ever been to Old Salem? What did you think of it? If you’ve never been, what’s the first thing you want to do there? We’d love to keep talking about it in the comments section below.

More Things to Do in Winston-Salem

9 thoughts on “Old Salem in Winston-Salem (9 Things We Love About this Historic Site)”

    • That was some cream and made it taste like the most epic cream pie I’ve ever had. Thanks for stopping by, Charles! Hope you can check out Old Salem sometime!

    • Awesome! Hope you can make it to Old Salem someday soon, Julie. The giant Coffee Pot awaits! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  1. The coffee pot, originally an advertisement for the tinsmith, has had several locations over the years. At one point, the coffee pot was as far north as Salem College girls could venture without signing out.

  2. My daughter currently attends Salem College, and I absolutely love strolling around Old Salem whenever I come for a visit. The Moravian chicken pie at the Tavern in Old Salem is fantastic, as well as the sugar cake at Winkler’s Bakery. Old Salem is especially beautiful during the holiday season, and I highly recommend taking one of the holiday candlelight walking tours. The decorations are so beautiful, and the tours are very interactive with the craftspeople and historic interpretors. And you have to take a peek at the Heritage Bridge lit up with Moravian stars.

    • Thank you so much, Karen. We’ll definitely have to check out Old Salem during the holidays. Appreciate you stopping by and letting us know about it!

  3. Home Moravian Church, founded in 1771, is open (the sanctuary) to visitors during the week free of charge (1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday from March through mid-December). Home Church members welcome visitors and speak informally about the Moravian Church past and present while describing architectural features of the building. A trip to Old Salem should definitely include a stop at Home!


Leave a Comment