Britney's endorsement of Old Salem - and of Winkler Bakery in particular - were enough to convince me to add Winston-Salem to my road trip itinerary, and I'm so very glad that I did. Bee knows me well enough to know how much a visit there would appeal to my inner history nerd.
Old Salem is a living history museum dedicated to preserving the history and way of life of the Moravian village of Salem from the 18th century. You can wander up and down the streets of the old town, stopping in as you wish to experience life as it was lived over 200 years ago.
In the blacksmith's shop you meet two brothers who explain the process of making guns in 18th century North Carolina. Likewise the shoemaker will walk you through how to make shoes of the era [fun fact: there were no designated "left" and "right" shoes].
You can also visit some of the houses and learn about famous occupants through stories told by "Brothers and Sisters" of the village. You can tour the doctor's house and visit his apothecary. You can enter the "Single Brothers" home and learn about how young men lived until the time they were married and settled into a home of their own. And you can visit the aforementioned Winkler Bakery and sample ginger cookies made in the same fashion they would have been back in the 1700s.
There are also numerous gardens to wander through and no shortage of people excited to show you around and tell you the history of the village along with its role in the growth of Salem in the 18th century. And to top it all off there are gift shops and bookstores where you can purchase memorabilia, snacks from the bakery [that sugar cake is to die for], and random little knick-knacks. I lucked out in that I visited during "Christmas in July", so I scored an ornament and a few Christmas books for the kiddos for 40% off. Well done, I say.
The people of Old Salem were by no means perfect - they owned slaves and didn't necessarily support equal rights for women - but a visit to this living history exhibit is well worth your time and money. It's fascinating to learn about the lives of the residents and to see how directly their lives have influenced our own today.
Good things to know:
|[the bridge from the visitor center into old salem. i may have let out a squeal of delight when i saw this]|
|[loved loved loved this bridge]|
|[barn in the village square]|
|[looking down through the village square]|
|[the apothecary in the doctor's house; he would have made and maintained all of these remedies himself!]|
|[the add-on to the single brothers' house]|
|[exterior of the single brothers' house]|
|[tool shop in the single brothers' house]|
|[still an active tool shop today]|
|[textile room in the single brothers' house; these papers will be used to make notebooks for the staff]|
|[dyed cloth drying in the textile room]|
- Visitor Center is located at 900 Old Salem Road, Winston-Salem, NC -- best place to purchase your ticket and get a map to orient yourself
- Adult All-in-One admission is $23. you get a $3 discount if you purchase your ticket online ahead of time, and you also get $3 off with a valid AAA or AARP membership card. active military members and triad college students enjoy free admission
- You'll need the better part of a day if you want to visit all the attractions and get the most out of your visit. I was probably there for between 5-6 hours, including my stop in the Village Tavern for lunch
- Anyone can visit the village and the gift shops, but to tour the attractions or visit the homes you need to show your ticket
- A number of the houses are still private residences and so are closed to the public. be sure to respect the privacy of the residents during your visit
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Old Salem - thanks, Bee! - and would highly recommend stopping by if you're in the area.