Things to Do in Winston-Salem

As a Pennsylvania-native who knew almost nothing about North Carolina, I was surprised to find out that I wouldn’t be studying on the beach every day. I did learn, however, that Winston-Salem has a lot to offer. After a year of studying at Wake Forest University and getting to know the city, I came up with a list of places to go and things to do with my good friend from undergrad, my boyfriend, and my family while they visited. I wanted to share this list with anyone who may be visiting or moving to the area.

Visit the Reynolda House, Gardens, and Village

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If you are a college student and have your student ID, getting into the Reynolda House Museum is free. You can step back in time as you walk through each room in the restored Reynolds’ house. If you are into art, they also have different American art exhibitions that you can check out while you’re there. I would also recommend checking out the gardens near the house. They are free to the public and are absolutely beautiful around fall and springtime.

In my quest to take pictures of all my favorite places, I totally forgot to take a picture of Reynolda Village, and I could kick myself for it! I have a not-so-secret love for Hallmark movies and Reynolda Village reminded me of a small town that would be in one of them. According to the official website, it was modeled after an English village and now houses stores, restaurants, and offices. I liked to walk through the village just to admire the atmosphere. There is a new cafe and creperie called Penny Path that will be opening in Reynolda Village. I’ve been following their Facebook page for a while, but they still haven’t opened yet. There is another location in High Point, NC and I’ve read nothing but great reviews of the place. That being said, even though I won’t have the chance to go there, I would still recommend going.

 

Visit Old Salem and Salem College

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If you like history then you should visit Old Salem. Salem was a small town, founded by a religious group called the Moravians. Most of the attractions here require a ticket, which you can purchase either online or in person. There are some small shops that you can get into for free though, such as the bakery and bookstore. You’ll also be sure to see people dressed up in clothes from when the Moravians first settled. The town itself is pretty with its older architecture and it’s worth at least walking through.

In addition, the Salem College campus is right within the area. Salem Academy and College is the country’s oldest private institution for women and girls. The campus is pretty to walk through and you never know where you may end up as you let your feet guide you. One of my friends and I walked the campus after going to the weekly Cobblestone Farmers Market and we ended up right at the place pictured above.

 

Visit Krispy Kreme

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Did you know that Krispy Kreme originated in Winston-Salem? You can visit the original location on S. Stratford Rd. and watch the doughnuts being made. Also, if you see the “Hot Now” sign illuminated, be sure to stop in to get warm, fresh doughnuts!

Bonus: According to one of my friends, they were giving out a free doughnut to customers on National Doughnut Day. I have no clue if this is a yearly thing or not, but it’s worth checking out!

 

Have a shake at Burger Batch

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A picture similar to this one caught my attention many months ago when I was looking for things to do in Winston-Salem. I couldn’t believe that there was a place with fancy shakes, like the one pictured above, and no one had told me about them! As soon as I found out about Burger Batch’s existence, I had to go right away. The shakes were pretty loaded and overwhelming, so my friend and I ended up splitting one, which I would recommend. However, I did try another one on my own and regretted it for the rest of the day. Even so, I would recommend going for their shakes. Honestly, I haven’t tried anything else at Burger Batch, but my friends have said that their burgers are good as well.

 

Get a free cake square at Dewey’s

 

Some say that the best things in life are free. As a low-budget grad school student, you better believe that I took advantage of all the free food events on our school’s campus. I was even happier to find out that I didn’t need to limit my free food scavenging to campus. It was thanks to my local friends that I found out about Dewey’s, a local bakery. Every Monday, they give out free cake squares; you just have to ask! The best part is that you get to choose which flavor you’d like. I’ve only had pink lemonade and red velvet, but I can tell you that you would probably be happy with any flavor. I would also suggest trying their ice cream. They put pieces of their cake in some of the flavors! It’s delicious!

 

Walk the Wake Forest University campus

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Whether there’s a little bit of snow on the ground or it’s sunny and 80 degrees, you should definitely check out the Wake Forest University Reynolda Campus. The upper quad, pictured above, is especially beautiful when it’s decorated with lights around Christmastime. Sometimes, you may even come across streamers of toilet paper that cover the trees, after a major athletic victory. While in the upper quad, you could grab some pizza and play pool in Zick’s, check out the WFU clothes store, or get some coffee at student-run coffee shop, Campus Grounds. Although Hearn Plaza might draw most of your attention, you should also explore the rest of the campus. You never know what cool things you may come across.

Whether you are vacationing or moving somewhere new, I would suggest doing research before you go, as well as making friends with locals. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have known about some of these places and others. It’s always a good idea to get recommendations from other people because you may end up missing out on something great, if you don’t ask.

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6 Places to Study in Winston-Salem

Whether it is finals week or just an average week, it can be hard to find a spot to study on campus. The library is filled with stressed out students, every classroom is occupied, and you just can’t bring yourself to study in your room. Sometimes you just need to get out and experience a change of atmosphere, but where do you go?

Before moving to Winston-Salem, I knew nothing about the area, with the exception that it is the home of Krispy Kreme donuts! However, no matter how much research I did, I couldn’t find a blog post that specifically talked about different coffee shops or places in general where I could study outside of Wake Forest University’s campus. I had to take matters into my own hands, just like when I was in Nantes. However, my local friends were kind enough to write out a whole list of recommendations for where to get food, including some coffee shops.

If you are a student in Winston-Salem that isn’t originally from the area, here are some places where you could get some work done:

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Camino Bakery: downtown location

Camino Bakery was by far one of my favorite places to study. This was one of the places that I was able to find out about online before coming to Winston-Salem. It was also highly recommended by locals. There are a few locations, but I have only studied in the downtown location. This place is popular, so you may find yourself struggling to look for a seat if you get there later in the morning or even in the evening.

If you like to people watch, there are bar-type seats that face the window, however, if you prefer to have a bigger table to yourself, there is that option. If you don’t need to work on a laptop or just want to enjoy the nice weather, Camino has outside seating at the picnic tables pictured above. I’ve enjoyed some of Camino’s fall season drinks here with my friends, as well as a delicious nutella scone.

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Twin City Hive

Twin City Hive was another coffee shop that was recommended by some of my local friends. It’s located on Brookstown Avenue, not far from Old Salem. Like Camino, there is both indoor and outdoor seating. This coffee lounge can get filled pretty quickly, depending on what time you go. My friends and I had classes in the Brookstown area, so after class, some of them would come here to grab a snack or study some more. One of the things they and the friends that recommended this place raved about were their unique popsicle flavors including: cookies ‘n cream, Thai iced tea, sweet tea ‘n lemonade, chocolate sea salt, and more!

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Atelier Bakery on Trade Street

Atelier Bakery is a French bakery in the downtown area. Unfortunately, due to its hours and my crazy work schedule, I was only able to make it there one time. Even so, I was impressed with what it had to offer. The interior was nicely-decorated, with bigger tables to study at and their pastries were good. When I went with my friend, we split a French churro, which was a croissant that had the consistency of a churro, and a pain au chocolat, something that I haven’t eaten since my time in France. Sadly, the hours of the bakery have changed since I’ve last been there. They are now only open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until they sell out. Though it may be inconvenient, if you are looking to try something new in the Winston-Salem area and are disciplined enough to get up early in the morning to study, I would recommend checking this place out.

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Tart Sweets, located in the historic Rosenbacher home

I was sad that I didn’t get to experience Tart Sweets until my last semester at Wake Forest University because it was, by far, my favorite place, which was recommended by a good friend that came to study here frequently. It’s a locally owned bakery on Fifth Street that has such a beautiful and quaint atmosphere. I also thought the name was cute, considering the owner’s last name is Tart.

I’m not sure if this is because of what day I visited, the location, or the time of the year in general, but this place was a lot less crowded than Camino and Twin City Hive, and it was much quieter. There are two different areas where you can get work done, although I must admit that I spent a fair amount of time staring at the decor in awe. The pastries are a bit pricier here, but I would say that whether you try their assortment of macarons, a cheesecake cookie bar, or their edible cookie dough, it’s totally worth it. If you’re looking to study somewhere until later in the night, I would recommend going to Camino or Twin City Hive, as Tart Sweets is only open until 6 p.m. on weekdays.

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Rena Marie’s

Recently, I have really been into bubble tea. I had heard about it years ago online but never really knew what it was. I had only heard that it was really good. Thanks to its rising popularity in the U.S., I finally had the chance to try it two years ago when I was on vacation. Unfortunately, I did not know of any bubble tea places in my area, but I was happy to find out that there was one in Winston-Salem called Rena Marie’s.

The nice thing about this place is that there is also some space to study. The truth is, by the time I got around to visiting Rena Marie’s, I was already out of school, so I never got the opportunity to study here, but I would have liked to. There isn’t as much room as some of the other places that I had mentioned before, but you can enjoy some coffee or bubble tea while doing your work, whether you want to sit at one of the tables in the picture above, or sit by the window and admire the city.

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Forsyth County Public Library, located on West Fifth Street

I have a confession to make… I don’t like coffee at all. Despite this, that has never stopped me from going to cute coffee shops and ordering other drinks and snacks while studying, since I love the atmosphere. However, you may not like that kind of environment for getting work done. Maybe you prefer to study at the library, but your school’s library is always packed. The Forsyth County Public Library is a great alternative.

One of my close friends, who will be studying Library Science, visited me in Winston-Salem in October of last year. Because of her love of libraries, we found out about this one by talking to one of my school’s librarians. It had just been renovated and re-opened in August, so we got to see its new features right away. We explored the entire library, which had a nice, modern look to it. There was plenty of space to get work done and I can guarantee that no one would bother you there. Aside from that, they had a large selection of books that expanded multiple floors. Whether you need a break from studying and enjoy reading or you just want to find something new to read, I would strongly recommend visiting.

A little over a week ago, I returned to Pennsylvania. I was sad to leave Winston-Salem and North Carolina in general, but I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a year there. It may look like I ate a lot during my time away, but all of this was spread out over the course of a year. I also wanted to add that most of these places did have wifi; I am only unsure about Atelier, Rena Marie’s, and the library, since I did not use my laptop at those places.

If you still aren’t convinced about studying or getting work done at these places, you can find more pictures below. Just click on them to make them bigger:

4 Things to Do in the Fall in/near Winston-Salem

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on travel! I used to write them more often when I studied in Europe, but I haven’t done a whole lot of traveling since then. I’ve been in North Carolina for a few months now and have really been wanting to write about my experience here. Before moving, I looked up things to do in Winston-Salem and put together a list of places to visit and events to go to. However, there were some events I discovered that were not mentioned online. Even some of my friends from the area did not know about these events! If you are planning on visiting Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the fall, be sure to check out these events!

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Apple Fest

Apple Fest takes place at Historic Bethabara Park in September. It’s free to the public and very family friendly! If you’re into shopping, there are cute little shops set up where you can get homemade goods, whether it be soap, clothing, or food. Of course, you can find a variety of caramel apples, funnel cake, and fresh apples to take home with you! Be sure to check out the little petting area with goats and other animals!

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Representing my Spanish and Panamanian heritage

FIESTA is an annual street festival in downtown Winston-Salem that took place the weekend after Apple Fest. Like Apple Fest, you can find cool shops with crafts and clothing, plenty of food, and various musical (and dance) performances. It’s a really fun cultural experience and is the biggest fundraiser for the Hispanic League. I recommend checking it out as it only happens once a year.

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Dixie Classic Fair

The Dixie Classic Fair was one of the annual events that I did find out about online before moving to North Carolina. It takes place around the end of September to the beginning of October. Since I didn’t go to fairs often as a kid, I really enjoyed visiting this one. From gum (yes, gum) to candy bars, you can find a lot of fried foods. If you’re not into that, then you can try the different flavors of cobbler and caramel apples. While walking around, you will see many animals, fair games that are almost impossible to win (at least that was my experience), and rides! I personally didn’t ride anything, as I get sick and have heard too many stories about ride accidents, but you can still have lots of fun whether you ride anything or just walk around and see some racing pigs.

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The Tanglewood Festival of Lights is not in Winston-Salem, but is only a 20-30 minute drive away and is totally worth seeing. The festivities start in late November and end January 1st. Both this event and the Dixie Classic Fair are not free, but highly recommended. You get to spend an hour driving through beautiful light displays and end up at the Gift Shop at the Red Barn, where you will find even more cool, homemade things, including some holiday products from Dewey’s, which is a delicious bakery!

Before moving to Winston-Salem, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was the home of Krispy Kreme, and that it was a city, but that was about it. I didn’t know how big of a city it was, where all the best hangouts were, or much of what there was to do. Whether you are studying here or just visiting, check these events out, as well as more photos below!

 

The Joy in “Ordinary”

Recently, I’ve been asked my favorite childhood memory. It took me a while; I’m terrible at choosing favorites. However, every idea that came to mind was not an extraordinary moment, but rather some sort of repeating action: playing video games with my dad, watching Spanish shows with my mom, going to the park, sneakily trying to play with dolls at night with my sister, talking on the phone all day until all the phones in our house were dead… I can go on. It wasn’t one defining moment that brought me joy or shaped my childhood. Instead, it was the ordinary, daily activities with my loved ones that I ended up holding the closest to my heart. Even now, ordinary moments easily get overlooked, but still end up being my most cherished memories later on. Don’t wait until years later to enjoy what is happening now. Enjoy the moment!

Happy 2018!

An Exercise in Gratitude and Intimacy

The new year is almost here! While it is important to be thankful in all circumstances, all year round, it can be so easy to lose sight of the good in our lives because of how busy we are, especially during the holiday season. One one hand, holidays like Thanksgiving can be a great reminder to be thankful, but other times, we get wrapped up in preparing meals or hosting parties. It’s times like these where we need to be deliberate about our gratitude.

Almost a year ago, my boyfriend told me that he wanted to share with me more. This resulted in a daily activity that we have been faithfully doing together. He suggested that at the end of every day, we tell each other one thing that made us happy. It could be something as small as having nice weather, or something as big as celebrating a milestone. To further the impact of the tradition, I suggested that we write down what made each other happy each day, and at the end of the year, we would read them to each other.

The nice thing about this activity is that it can be done both alone or with someone else, whether it be a significant other, friend, family member, or whoever you want. If you choose to do this activity with someone else, it will surely get you talking, and by the end of the year, you’ll learn more about what brings them the most joy in their life and what is truly important to them. This is a great way to both draw closer to somebody and make you more aware about what makes you happy personally. Sometimes, life gets so busy that we forget to do things we love and look at the positives. Try this out and see if it helps you be a little more grateful and happier in the midst of wherever you may be.

 

Photo Credit

Spend a Day in Boone

One thing I love to do at the end of a long semester is mellow out to cheesy rom-coms on the Hallmark channel. After watching just a few, I got hooked. Eventually, I started to wonder if cute, little towns like the ones on TV existed. I come from a small town, but I would definitely not compare it to what I have seen in the movies.

I am currently going to school in North Carolina and have not seen much of the state. Fall break was coming up and one of my friends told me that her co-worker recommended visiting a small town called Boone and a place called Blowing Rock. I was open to doing anything and was excited to hear that we would be going to a small town in the middle of the fall season. As soon as we pulled up to Boone, I could already tell from all the little shops and beautiful architecture that I would love this place.

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There are several cute, little shops that I would recommend visiting such as Boone Belles, Lucky Penny, and my favorite, Mast General Store (which I later found out is also in Winston-Salem). Some places even carry local products, which I thought was very cool.

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My friend found a restaurant on Yelp called “Proper” with great reviews. It was a little bit hidden, but still had a great view and nice atmosphere.

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The food was delicious! I tried southern fried chicken for the first time and would highly recommend it, as well as the restaurant’s special homefries. They gave a decent amount of food for the price, at least compared to the North. The best part was that everything we ate was homemade and not frozen!

While digesting, we took a walk around Appalachian State University. It will definitely give you a workout if you decide to roam the entire campus. At the time, students were on their fall break as well, so we didn’t see many people. However, taking a walk and seeing the colorful autumn scenery was spectacular. There was a lot of school spirit in this town as every store I went to had ASU merchandise.

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The last stop we made was to the Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock. I like to look up things to do before going to a place, so that I know what to see, and some other blogs had recommended going to an ice cream shop called Kilwin’s. They sell a variety of chocolate-covered desserts, ice cream flavors, and fudge. As soon as you open the door and the smells seep out, you know you’re making a good choice. I ordered cake batter and chocolate caramel cashew ice cream, no regrets! Although I wanted to eat everything there, I knew that I couldn’t. There is good news though: there is a Kilwin’s in Winston-Salem, so I will be back!

Some people prefer bigger cities because they feel that there is more to do. Even so, if you are looking for a day trip, try these small, charming places. I know you will not be disappointed!

Embrace You

Autumn is here! From colorful leaves, to bonfires, to pumpkin patches and corn mazes, how could you not fall in love with fall? It’s a beautiful season that marks the beginning of many celebrations until late December, including an unofficial but enthusiastic celebration of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Even though it has been around for years, I had never tried one. I don’t usually like pumpkin flavor and I cannot drink coffee without feeling sick for the rest of the day. For the longest time, I had been wanting to know what the hype around this popular drink was. Would it live up to that hype? I recently tried a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. The worker who took my order at Starbucks was kind enough to make me one without coffee. Despite the fact that I’ll never get the full Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino experience, due to the fact that I can’t have coffee, I at least got a taste of what most Americans really enjoy.

However, I’ve noticed that as pumpkin spice becomes more popular (there are cheerios and other cereals, oatmeal, and even more products), it has become more controversial. Every time I hear the drink mentioned, or even the flavor, it is usually tied to a stereotype, namely the adjective “basic.” Some people that I know won’t try pumpkin spice because they’re “not that basic”, others drink it because that’s what people do around this time of the year. I’ve come to wonder how many people order the drink because they actually like it and how many people won’t order it out of fear of being labeled. Pumpkin spice is not the only trend that people will shy away from or embrace because others are into whatever the latest cool thing is. I have seen it with coffee in general, different fashions, different hobbies, and more.

Why can’t we just be ourselves? Why do we have to try so hard to be different from others for the sake of being different or avoiding a label (which makes you like many others who try to be different)? Why do we try so hard to fit in? I say, if you like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, then order one! If you don’t, then don’t, but don’t give people a hard time that do. If you are into mainstream music, great! If you are into a genre no one has ever heard of, that’s also great! Don’t force yourself to be into something you don’t like just because other people are into it or you want to be viewed as different.

Embrace you!