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If you ever find yourself traveling through North Carolina there is a gem north of Charlotte and west of Greensboro known as Winston-Salem. Winston-Salem offers art, innovation, diversity, and the perfect balance of country/city living. Before I moved to Winston-Salem to follow a job opportunity I have never heard of it, after living here for a couple months I am shocked that this quaint but busy little city is not well-known. Winston-Salem offers history, nature trails, diverse food, lush scenery, and a dynamic downtown.
Some things to do that should not be overlooked when visiting Winston-Salem are Reynolda House, and the Hanging Rock. The Reynolda House built in 1917 by Katherine Smith Reynold and R.J Reynolds who was founder of R. J Reynolds tobacco company which was extremely successful that you can tell when visiting this astonishing mansion. The mansion occupied 1,067 acres which the Reynolds used to build a small town within their land with barns, farms, gardens, a church, and of course the Reynolds mansion. The mansion is now a museum of American art from colonial period to present times. This museum is incredible when you begin the walk through you are hit by the massive history of the Reynolds and how this family built a community which to this day is the center of Winston-Salem's development. Walking distance is a gorgeous garden and green house and the original buildings that were homes, a barn, and an incredible church. The homes are now stores or businesses, while the barn is a banquet hall that is used for many weddings.
Hanging Rock State Park with two different trails one that leads to two beautiful waterfalls and another that leads to the main attraction hanging rock. This state park offers bike trails and climbing challenges (you need proper permit to climb) so it has a little outdoorsy fun for everyone. This State Park is about 45 minutes north of Winston-Salem the drive is beautiful to see the small towns on the outskirts of Winston, but once you get to the park it is breathtaking experience. The trails are not for the faint of heart be prepared with water and snacks, but once you hit the main landmarks the vast amount of trees you can see as far as your eye will let you is astonishing and gorgeous waterfalls that you can climb right under the waterfall and feel the fresh water. Warning the water is cold but refreshing on hot days especially after accomplishing the amount of stairs it takes to make it to the waterfalls.
Diverse & Delicious Dining
Winston-Salem food is incredible and unexpected with a wide variety that is all delicious. For brunch I would recommend Willow's Bistro a small restaurant with a rustic but fancy feel and focuses on farm to table fresh food. The scallops as an appetizer is to die for perfectly cooked and the chef changes the plate regularly so every time you go it will be a different dish. They have specials that also change weekly although they have a set menu they always have something new and different to try. One of my favorite drinks is called the Purple Haze which is a fruity alcoholic drink, but the difference is they use Dr. Stoner's Herb Vodka which is a fun twist and is worth the try.
If you love Mexican food I recommend The Porch and Cantina it is a couple minutes out of downtown, but is a wonderful hidden restaurant. The menu changes depending on the day, but anything you order is going to be delicious, they have amazing margaritas as well in unusual flavors like Lavender or Basil. You can sit inside or outside both are great atmospheres while enjoying the food, very creative and you can see the love and passion behind the restaurant and the food. Outside they offer games to play, so if you just want a place to hangout it can be that spot for you too. Walking distance from The Porch you can fulfill your sweet tooth at Brasstown where they make craft chocolate. While you are buying a bar of chocolate or taste testing what they offer you can see behind the counter how they make the chocolate. It is a different, but a quaint experience I recommend the Peruvian Ucayali chocolate which is an amazing blend that has floral, mocha, fruit, and chocolate notes, but if you want to stick with what you know their milk chocolate is decadent.
What I did not expect moving to Winston-Salem is delicious sushi! The place I recommend is Mizu located in a shopping center (where I am from is risky location to eat, but we tried it anyways, and glad we did!) which offers an amazing variety of delicious sushi. Their sushi tastes fresh and they have no many options you can choose from the common California roll to the foxy lady roll. I recommend the dynamite roll if you like spicy and don't mind eating sushi with some of the meat on top rather than inside the roll it is absolutely amazing it is hard for me to share when I take family or friends to try out Mizu.
Beer lover's check out Foothills Brewery.
If you love craft beer then Foothills Brewery is a stop you must make. This brewery has such a great atmosphere with nostalgic music always playing, plus the names and images that represent their beer is modern and creative, but makes you interested in trying every beer they have. They also serve great food and they offer a set menu, but have a specials menu that changes regularly I order from that menu since its based on the chef's creations and he has not let me down yet. Their chef knows incredible flavor combinations! Back to the beer, they have a lot of options for those who like certain beers like amber ales or porters and most of their beer is award winning that are offered all year. What I love though is there seasonal beer like Oktoberfest or frostbite their winter beer such a great and delicious variety of beer especially for the craft beer lovers out there. I like light beers and Foothills has one of my favorites the Thousand Smiles golden ale so smooth and crisp, but if that is not your style they will have a beer for whatever your taste in beer may be.
Winston-Salem Wrapped Up
Winston-Salem although small has everything you may be looking for with Appalachian Mountains nearby, green scenery, historic sights, great restaurants, and incredible artsy downtown. Whether it is a restaurant or store you will find something you enjoy in Winston-Salem. Plus the people are very welcoming with their southern charm, and so many local small businesses that you must check out. One of my favorite stores located right next to Foothills Brewery is Design Archives Vintage and Handmade Emporium which sell all handmade and local items from clothes, home decor, and a great place to get yourself a Winston-Salem souvenir. There is so much to discover in this small city so don't bypass it when driving through or visiting North Carolina you won't be disappointed in what Winston-Salem has to offer.