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Discover Greensboro–Winston-Salem’s New Cool

The former textile towns are undergoing a renaissance thanks to stylish boutique hotels, inventive restaurants and breweries, and a vibrant arts scene.


Where to Stay

Sleep sustainably at the LEED Platinum-certified Proximity Hotel (from $239). The giant windows here not only serve as dynamic design elements but as energy-saving methods of heating and cooling (ask for a corner room for maximum sun), and water is heated by 100 solar panels on the roof. The sleek space, modeled after a cotton mill of the same name from the 1800s, sports modern furniture from nearby Highpoint, North Carolina, rotating local artwork and a saltwater pool. Stop by onsite restaurant Print Works Bistro for a classically French brunch of sausage and confit tomato quiche ($12) and truffle fries with saffron rouille ($8).


Subtle southern touches spiff up the rooms at the Kimpton Cardinal.  

Transport yourself to the Gilded Age at the new Kimpton Cardinal Hotel (from $216). The 174-room luxury boutique was built within the historic R.J. Reynolds Building, the prototype for the Empire State Building. A few original details, like the gold-gilded elevator bank and intricately carved service doors remain, but guestroom décor nods to history in a more modern fashion, with headboards inspired by southern menswear, emerald-green sliding barn-style bathroom doors, and seersucker bathrobes. In the evening, sip a War of the Roses cocktail ($11) at The Katharine, the hotel’s Parisian brasserie, before tapping into your inner child in the downstairs Rec Room for a game of bowling, basketball, or foosball.

Live like a local at one of the area’s eclectic Airbnb rentals. Bunk with friends at a three-bedroom apartment within a restored 1906 Queen Anne Victorian home, less than a mile from downtown ($129 per night). The soaking tub in the master suite and rocking chairs on the wrap-around front porch are the picture of southern charm. Leave the lightest of carbon footprints at an ecofriendly tree house nicknamed The Roost ($85 per night). The cozy space for two is made of formaldehyde-free plywood, has HRV ventilation fans, and sits eight feet in the air thanks to cypress posts. In Winston-Salem, this modern, two-bedroom loft ($165 per night) is within walking distance from both downtown and Old Salem, the historic district and former Moravian community built in 1766.

Where to Eat

Taste creative takes on the taco and street food at the Crafted restaurants.  

Surprise your taste buds at the Crafted restaurants in Greensboro. Crafted – The Art of the Taco is expressly not a Mexican restaurant, serving up internationally influenced tacos with an undeniably southern spin. Start with a Mason jar of bacon with a salted-caramel crust and spicy dipping chocolate ($7.95), followed by Big Truck ($9.95) tacos made with pulled pork, mac ’n’ cheese, tobacco onions, and bacon BBQ sauce, or the Fedora ($10.95) with seared rare blackened tuna, kimchee, and garlic aïoli. Down the road, the menu at Crafted – The Art of Street Food is filled with snack-size, small-plate, and large-plate versions of popular street-food dishes from around the world. Try searing Nashville Hot Chicken Wings ($7) and gooey Canadian Poutine ($7), or hop cultures with Indian “naked” fried okra with spicy onion-tamarind chutney ($6), and shaved beef phô with cilantro, basil, and mint (from $7).

On warm evenings, grab a table outside The Honey Pot in downtown Winston-Salem. The extra-wide sidewalks out front make for the perfect spot to people watch and sip a spicy ginger lemonade ($6). The hyperlocal menu changes every 45 days to ensure peak freshness, but might include small plates like Thai pork sausage with green papaya ($13) and entrées like seared wild tuna with yuca fries, avocado purée, and peppery jerk sauce ($25), or the farmer’s plate of chef-curated seasonal vegetables ($19). Wrap up with yellow curry doughnut holes sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and peach dipping sauce ($8).

Taste international flavors paired with southern ingredients at Undercurrent Restaurant in downtown Greensboro. Pop in early for cocktail hour (and a half) starting at 4 p.m. for the Healing Rain ($12), a crisp and refreshing mix of cucumber vodka, aloe vera, fresh cucumber, and citrus juice. Menus change based on the season and available produce, but recent dishes have included a fried oyster salad ($13), seared Outer Banks scallops in panang coconut-curry cream with forbidden rice, and white chocolate-blueberry bread pudding with whipped cream and caramel sauce ($9).

What to Do

Artists have taken over the walls and parks of downtown Winston-Salem.  

Explore the growing arts scene in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. At the Center for Visual Artists in Greensboro, sign up for private pottery ($80), printmaking ($80), and photography classes ($60). The center is located inside the Greensboro Cultural Center, also home to Dance Project for drop in Afro-contemporary ($14) and tap-dance classes ($12), and The Music Center for private guitar and piano lessons (from $50/hr). In Winston-Salem, murals and sculptures now fill the streets of downtown. Look for the artfully decorated mannequins that line the rooftops on Trade Street, or follow the stark red lines on Liberty, Trade, 6th Street, and 7th Street that lead to Artivity on the Green, a public art park developed by the AFAS Group (Art for Art’s Sake) and lined with 11 murals from local and international artists.

Hop among the new breweries in downtown Greensboro. At Gibbs Hundred Brewing Company, show up on Sunday at 11:45 a.m. for the free Detox Retox yoga class, an hour of yoga followed by a brew like the Cherchez la Femme milk stout ($5). There’s also trivia night, Lego night (for those with their own sets), running club with boozy incentives per miles logged, and a live-music open mic and singer/songwriter series on Sunday evenings. Pig Pounder Brewery serves authentic U.K.-style beers, importing its malts from Thomas Fawcett & Sons, one of the oldest family-owned maltsters in the U.K. Sample a traditional cask ale ($4.95, only served on the weekends), an unfiltered and unpasteurized ale served from a cask, sans carbon dioxide. Ask the bartender for a tour of the brewery space, where he’ll let you snack on a few malt grains.

Stroll through the urban revitalization happening in Greensboro’s South End neighborhood. Take a basic woodworking, metalworking, or 3-D-printing class (from $30) at Forge Greensboro, a 7,000-square-foot maker space. Pop into HQ Greensboro for an open event, where past classes have included calligraphy, floral arrangement, and espresso making. In July, check out Elsewhere Living Museum ($1 to $5 donation), a former thrift store turned artist-residency program showcasing not only the works of those artists but also knickknacks from the 58-year collection of former owner Sylvia Gray (dig through the massive toy bin of vintage playthings and eye the stacked-to-the-ceiling collection of dinnerware). Satisfy your retail fix at Hudson's Hill, an upscale menswear boutique and denim-repair shop, celebrating Greensboro’s strong denim-manufacturing history with American-made brands Raleigh Denim, Mary James & Co., and Mercury Supply leather goods. Social Status is a sneakerhead’s dream, with curated collections of Buscemi leather postbacks, rare Adidas, and special editions.

Expert’s Tips

Remember the courage of the Greensboro Four at the International Civil Right Museum, set in the former Woolworth’s building.  

From Will Howard, front man of Citizen Shade, a Greensboro-based pop-soul trio with a recently released EP, One for the Evening.

I have a special place in my heart for Churchill’s on Elm. It’s one of our favorite venues to play, but it’s not for the faint of heart if you don’t like being surrounded by cigar smoke. It definitely has a Mad Men vibe, and it’s more of a conversation bar.

The International Civil Rights Museum in the old Woolworth’s building is so good; I’ve gone three times. History tends to get women wrong a lot, but I feel like the museum’s treatment of the life of Rosa Parks is great. They also have a well-balanced presentation on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and the organizations around him like SNCC, SCLC, and his church. My dad, who’s from here and lived through all that, was in tears by the end of the exhibit.

John at The Marshall Free House is the most knowledgeable bartender I know. They’ve got one of the largest selections of whiskey, bourbon, and scotch in all of North Carolina, and they’re one of the few places that serve absinthe. The whole restaurant is U.K.-themed, so don’t miss their fish and chips.

Dames Chicken & Waffles is my favorite breakfast spot, bar none. The Carolina Cockerel with three fried chicken wings, a blueberry waffle, and peach and apricot shmear (sweet-cream butter) is my go-to dish.

Resources

Yes! Weekly covers the art, food, culture, and voices of the Triad region of North Carolina and keeps a regularly updated event calendar.

Monthly magazine 1808 Greensboro touts all things Gate City, including entertainment, dining, and movers and shakers around town.

Follow local food blogs Triad Foodies and Nik Snacks from Winston-Salem-based personal chef and food writer Nikki Miller-Ka for the latest culinary events and news in both Winston-Salem and Greensboro.


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