Even in the heart of downtown, there's something not entirely modern about Winston-Salem. And that's a good thing. The second-largest city in the Triad blends the past and the present nicely, creating a pleasant and low-key place for both history-minded tourists and people who work in the area. Historic skyscrapers like the R.J. Reynold's building (the architectural father of the Empire State Building) remind you that this small city once swung well above its weight, thanks to its history as the home of Camel cigarettes. And in the town that Big Tobacco built, it's now much easier to find an organic cold-pressed juice than a pack of smokes.
Two historical areas—Old Salem and Bethabara—celebrate the hardworking members of the Moravian Church, a Protestant sect that arose in what's now the Czech Republic in the 15th century. For nearly a hundred years, starting in the mid-18th century, the Winston-Salem region was almost entirely populated by Moravian settlers. With its Colonial Williamsburg–like period reconstruction (and delicious cookies), Old Salem in particular shouldn't be missed, even if you have only an afternoon to spend here.
For a taste of present-day Winston-Salem, check out the Downtown Arts District, centered on the intersection of 6th and Trade Streets. Once known for its bustling tobacco market, this area is now a sea of happening galleries and cafés.
With two impressive art museums, a symphony orchestra, a burgeoning brewery scene, and the internationally respected North Carolina School of the Arts, there's plenty to do within the city limits.