Why Women Rule the World in Winston-Salem

by Amelia Old

and why you should visit for a long weekend getaway in NC.

Disclosure: This trip was hosted by Visit Winston-Salem and it’s partners.

I feel like I blinked and the year is already half way over. I have been extremely busy for several months working on a major campaign and so my travels have been limited lately. That’s why it was so nice to get away for the weekend to Winston-Salem. I’ve lived in the Carolinas for over 10 years and love the easy access to the beaches and mountains. It has only been recently I have begun exploring other weekend getaways in NC within a short driving distance from my home in Charlotte.

I was so surprised at how I fell in love with Winston-Salem. There was so much to do and see plus the food was phenomenal. The city is full of kick ass women who run different businesses and it has been that way since the early 1900s when Katharine Smith Reynolds was designing and building the Reynolda House.

My friend Michaela and I had the best weekend getaway in NC. I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much.

We look so crazy but we found an Art-o-Mat at Reynolda!

Day 1

Lunch at The Katharine Brasserie & Bar

The Katharine Brasserie & Bar is located in the former RJ Reynolds building which is now a hotel. The name comes from Katharine Reynolds, wife of the founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Her visions and passions truly shaped Winston-Salem over the years. Executive Chef Adam Barnett serves a French brasserie menu celebrating the best of what’s in season.

Explore Reynolda House Museum of American Art

One of the first activities we did once we arrived to Winston-Salem was to explore the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. The tour we had of the house was led by an incredible volunteer who had fallen in love with the history of the grounds. I have visited many historic homes and museums across the country. This is by far one of the most exquisite and so much of the original decor is still in place. The basement is especially extravagant. That’s where the real party was probably held. In the early 1930s, when Mary Babcock renovated the basement she added bowling, billiards, ping pong, squash, roller skating, swimming, among other things. Photography is not allowed so I highly recommend stopping by. You won’t be disappointed.

Stroll Historic Reynolda Gardens

The Reynolda Gardens once was the center of the Reynolda Estate. This preserve is a learning center for topics related to horticulture, environmental sciences, and landscape history. The original 1913 greenhouse and Conservatory still stand today. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. I noticed many locals enjoying the scenery, walking nearby trails with coffee in hand. After visiting the gardens, walk over to Reynolda Village. These buildings, which are now shops and restaurants, were modeled after an English Village and included dairy barns, a school, post office, etc. You MUST stop at the Penny Path Cafe & Crepe Shop. The crepes are AMAZING! You could easily spend an entire day at the museum, gardens, and village. Perfect girl’s day out!

Reynolda Greenhouse

Check in at the Historic Graylyn Estate & International Conference Center

We giggled about feeling fancy as we approached The Graylyn Estate. After all, Oprah held her best friend Gayle’s birthday party here many years ago. Let’s face it, Oprah is pretty much royalty. So, if she likes a place then it must be phenomenal. Right? The Graylyn officially opened in 1932 and is listed as a member of the Historic Hotels of America. The estate is now managed by Wake Forest University and is dedicated to supporting the university through student scholarship funding.

Checking into the Graylyn Estate

After we settled into our room, we met Herb for a ‘Butler Tour’ of the estate. I highly recommend doing this. There’s so much rich history behind the Graylyn. I was so impressed with Herb and his knowledge of this property.

Butler Tour at the Graylyn Estate
Oh, nothing, just hanging out with my Butler.

The tour was followed by dinner and a meeting with Chef Gregory Rollins. The Barbados native originally had a passion for Architecture/Engineering and Art. However, he discovered his love for cooking while working to save money for school. He has his own herb garden on the Estate, which is part of their sustainability program.

Chef Gregory Rollins

We ended the day by sharing wine in the courtyard. Also, the shop has ice cream available for complimentary any time of the day for those who may fancy a snack.

Wine in the courtyard at the Graylyn Estate

Day 2

Breakfast at Mary’s Gourmet Diner

We started off our second day in Winston-Salem with breakfast at Mary’s Gourmet Diner. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with the founder, Mary Haglund. She is a pioneer in Winston-Salem’s farm-to-table restaurant scene and is extremely supportive of her community. She started her business 19 years ago at the age of 47. Over those nearly 20 years, the restaurant scene in Winston-Salem has really evolved. Everyone supports and promotes each other. Her restaurant is the 2nd in the city to bring local things to the table. She said, “When you are eating at a restaurant, when you think of it, do you see a face or know the person that owns it? That’s how the money stays in the community. If you don’t see a face then you are just supporting a major corporation.” Are you supporting your community?

Me with Mary

Self-Guided Tour of Old Salem Museums & Gardens

After breakfast we visited the Cobblestone Farmers Market and then a self-guided tour of Old Salem Museums & Gardens. The historic district was settled by Moravians in 1766. Visitors can now interact with costumed interpreters and explore the historic buildings. Make sure to stop by the St. Phillips African American Heritage Center to learn about the Hidden Town Project which reveals the history of African enslaved and freedman people who lived in Salem.

This tour is a fantastic activity for all ages. It’s a great hands-on learning experience for the little ones. Hey, even I gave woodworking a try!

Lunch at Sweet Potatoes (well shut my mouth!!)

How can you not love a place with a name like Sweet Potatoes (well shut my mouth!!)? I am a southern girl through and through so I was definitely looking forward to this. Another woman owned restaurant located in the downtown historic arts district, Sweet Potatoes is famous for their “unique, southern inspired uptown, down-home cooking.” I have pretty much been dreaming of their Sweet Potatoes’ Hot Brown and Fried Okra since I left. It was so delicious.

Explore Winston-Salem’s Downtown Arts District

We spent our afternoon walking around downtown. There’s so many fantastic art galleries, a chocolate factory, and the must visit Mast General Store. I also fell in love with Kindred Spirits, the oldest meta physical store in Winston-Salem. So much so, that I visited it twice during my visit. They specialize in holistic healing, herbal medicine, herbalism, spiritual products, shamanic practitioners, gemstone healing, Reiki, chakra healing, and more! And of course it’s also owned by a woman!

Dinner at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar

After a rest in our beautiful room at the Graylyn, we had dinner at the Spring House Restaurant. It was built in 1920 and was originally the home of a Winston-Salem entrepreneur Agnew Bahnson. It is the last remaining mansion on what was “Millionaire’s Row.” The Spring House founder and co-owner is another incredible woman in Winston-Salem. The Executive Chef and co-owner Timothy Grandinetti specializes in taking signature dishes of the South and serving them with a twist. He just released a cookbook called Soulful Harvest. This dynamic duo also are co-owners of Quanto Basta Italian Eatery & Wine Bar.

Day 3

Grab a Coffee at Camino Bakery

I’m not a coffee drinker. I know, shocker! But pretty much everyone in my life is. Camino Bakery was created by an untrained by passionate baker. The bakery is named after an ancient pilgrimage route which comes from all over Europe to converge in the Pyrenees Mountains at the border of Spain and France. I enjoyed a tea and pastry while watching the locals mingle. This was a busy place on an early Sunday morning.

Brunch at Canteen Market & Bistro

After coffee, we walked over to the Canteen Market & Bistro for brunch with owner Claire Calvin. Do you see a theme here? Women rule the world in Winston-Salem and I’m digging it. This is a really cool market that has a selection of goods paired with a dine-in experience. You definitely don’t want to miss their Bloody Mary Bar!

Grab a beer at Foothills Brewpub

Foothills Brewing is the second-largest native North Carolina Brewery and famed for their annual limited release of Sexual Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout, and a North Carolina favorite – Jade IPA. Marketing Manager Ray Goodrich shared with me, “we weave ourselves into the fabric of our community.” That is so true! They are doing some incredible things for those in their community. A few years back, they gave their followers the opportunity to submit photos of their dogs to be considered for IPA labels. After going through roughly 1300 submissions, they were able to narrow the submissions down to 25. Goodrich then called each one and asked about the story of their dog. From that they were able to choose 12, who were then featured on a monthly IPA. They’ve also introduced IPAs of the month named for a specific need, brought awareness to the need through events, and then donated portions of sales. At their second location, guests enjoy weekly “Yogammunity” and Foothills Fit sessions followed by a complimentary pint.

Dinner at Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro

Winston-Salem is a foodie’s dream. We had dinner at Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro. The owner, Jennifer Smith, named the restaurant after her grandmother and it serves classic favorites with a twist. I was told a favorite among locals is the tomato pie so that’s what I ordered. I can see what people have been coming back to this place for 10 years!

Day 4

Breakfast at Krankies Coffee

After we said goodbye to our luxury Estate, we stopped at Krankies Coffee before heading back to Charlotte. I wasn’t sure I could eat anything else but had been thinking about their chicken biscuit brined and fried in local Texas Pete hot sauce and honey. Krankies also has a full farm to table menu.

I was pleasantly surprised with Winston-Salem. It had been so long since I laughed as much as I did. The food was incredible. The people were so welcoming. It’s clear ‘community’ is at the heart of this city.

You may also like


Mick Scott August 19, 2019 - 4:47 pm

Who wrote this? I can’t find the author’s name anywhere. (I’m probably staring right at it.)

Amelia Old August 21, 2019 - 10:26 am

Hi! My name is Amelia Old. I am the author of this piece and the founder of Passports from the Heart.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More