Last Updated on December 15, 2021
Last Updated on December 15, 2021
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 Old Salem. Here are some of our tips for visiting Old Salem as well as background information and spots not to miss!
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.
Visiting Old Salem in Winston-Salem
Tips for Old Salem
Old Salem is free to walk around, but if you are wanting to take part in some of the extra interactive exhibits then you will need a ticket. Tickets can only be purchased on-site at the Visitors Center, the Horton Center, and the Moravian Book & Gift.
Tickets provide you access to all of the open buildings including the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.
Ticket Prices: $18 per adult, $10 per student, and free for children under 3 years old
Holiday Ticket Rates (November 10-December 31st): $20 per adult, $12 per student, and free entry for children 0-3 years old
Opportunities that Come with Tickets
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.
Scope Out the Old Architecture
Intertwined with all the history that you’ll learn while visiting Old Salem is 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.
Read more: Outdoor things to do in Winston-Salem
Dig Even Deeper into Old Salem’s Background
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.
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.
Read more: Black History locations in North Carolina
Admire the Gardens
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!
Read more: Day Trips from Winston-Salem
Shopping in Old Salem
Shopping in Old Salem is one of our favorite things to do in Winston-Salem! Specifically, we pick up some Moravian Cookies from Dewey’s Bakery because it truly makes for the best North Carolina gift!
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, sugarcake, or both.
North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery takes you through cooking and eating like a Moravian if you’d like to study beforehand.
Read more: Where to eat in Winston-Salem NC
Find the Coffee Pot in Old Salem
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 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.
Read more: Winston-Salem Breweries
Digital Interactive Tour of Old Salem
Another great way to experience Old Salem is through Salem Pathways, an interactive guide on your mobile device! Using QR codes throughout Old Salem, history lovers choose a character and head out on an adventure. No app is required as Salem Pathways is a choose-your-adventure using your phone’s internet browser.
You Can Stay Nearby Old Salem
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.