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Go There: Find Art, Culture, History and Way More in the Carolina Core

This 120+ mile stretch of North Carolina is full of arts, culture, history, innovation and more to entertain, delight and surprise you. 

By Amanda Ellis on January 17, 2023

Greensboro's downtown is lively at night
Greensboro Convention & Visitors Bureau

North Carolina is a state that has about everything you could want, from beaches to mountains, rural life to city sights and things to do ranging from the historic to the relaxing to the educational. 

One region in particular has everything you could want – and even some small town charm thrown in too. That would be: the Carolina Core – including charming cities Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point. This 120+ mile stretch of North Carolina between Charlotte and Raleigh is full of arts, culture, history, innovation and more to entertain, delight and surprise you. 

Where to Stay

Wherever you decide to anchor yourself in the region, you’ll have great choices.

The Kimpton Cardinal's historic building served as inspiration for the Empire State Building.
Tim Hutchins
The Kimpton Cardinal hotel, center, shares a historic building with luxury condo living for locals.

The Kimpton Cardinal in Winston-Salem offers character and all your favorite hotel perks with a central location to downtown. There are also unexpected perks to look forward to, like extras for pets, a rec room with bowling, a basketball court, foosball, ping-pong and more plus a 2-story spiral slide. This hotel is located inside the R.J. Reynolds building, which served as the muse for the Empire State Building. 

The O.Henry Hotel in Greensboro incorporates local materials, landmarks and views into a unique stay with fun extras like daily tea and weekly jazz nights. Greensboro’s Proximity Hotel is another option that is both stylish and sustainable – it’s the first LEED Platinum “green hotel.” And The Historic Magnolia House inn, one of only four Green Book sites in North Carolina still in operation, hosted some of our nation’s most well-known African-Americans during the Jim Crow Era. 

The Historic Magnolia House inn is one of only four Green Book sites in North Carolina still in operation.
Kendra Knight Photography
The Historic Magnolia House

High Point offers several of those cute bed and breakfasts that are hard not to love – including the JH Adams Inn, a gorgeous 1918 mansion. 

What to Do

Winston-Salem

Explore murals and shop the downtown arts district between 5th, 7th and Trade Streets. If art in a museum and historic setting is more your speed, the Reynolda House Museum of American Art displays a premier collection of American art inside a historic home. Reynolda’s collection includes pieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent and Andy Warhol. 

Old Salem faces the modern Winston-Salem skyline.
Visit Winston Sal
View of Winston Salem skyline from Old Salem.

At Old Salem Museum & Gardens, learn about the Moravians, one of the oldest Protestant denominations and one of the first groups to settle this area. This living history museum depicts 18th century life through the Historic Town of Old Salem, in the same location as the original settlement and with some original building components. Here you can view live trade demonstrations or simply stop in various buildings like a doctor’s house, school and more for a tour from knowledgeable, period-costumed guides. Old Salem also leads the Hidden Town Project to track the legacy of enslaved and free people of African descent from the founding of Salem in 1766 through the Jim Crow Era and into the 21st century.

Greensboro

The Greensboro greenway surrounds downtown.
Downtown Greensboro Inc

Walk or bike the Downtown Greenway, a nearly four-mile trail surrounding downtown Greensboro. Look for nearly 30 public art pieces that are part of the greenway. Stroll Greensboro’s downtown to browse shops for local denim and other goodies, including stops like Hudson’s Hill that make retail meaningful and locally relevant. 

While you’re downtown, pay The International Civil Rights Museum a visit. This site includes a restored lunch counter in the original location of the Greensboro sit-in, in which four college freshmen led a 1960 sit-in protest at the Woolworth department store’s lunch counter.

Meet a penguin at the Greensboro Science Center.
Amanda Ellis

The Greensboro Science Center offers an aquarium, zoo, 3D theater, zipline, huge outdoor playground and other fun for adults and kids alike. A variety of ‘inside track’ experiences let you get up close to the creatures here, and you can even design your own custom VIP experience featuring the species that interest you. 

High Point

The brand new Nido & Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum is a great stop if you have kids along. Two floors of fun include a variety of activities and adventures from a kid-sized town, with a furniture design studio reflecting local heritage, to a double decker carousel. Something unique about this facility is that some exhibits have appeal for slightly older children than the usual children’s museum demographic – the Mars Academy space exploration activity and STEAM lab, for example. The Hall of Mysteries offers opportunities to solve different mysteries  through secret passages and clues, hidden periscopes, a secret bookcase and ancient artifacts. Even adults have to put their thinking caps on to solve these. 

The Mantel Mercantile offers cute shopping in High Point.
The Mantel Mercantile

Indulge in personable local shopping at spots like gift and decor shop The Mantel Mercantile, located inside a historic pink mansion; The Blooming Board, a charcuterie lounge where you can graze and sip while shopping a curated selection of clothing, jewelry and more; and H.P. Trousers, another immersive shopping experience with men’s apparel, a bar and a couple friendly dogs.

If you need a kitschy landmarks fix, drop by the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers while you’re in town. It’s 36 feet tall and a couple of larger than life socks peeking out of a drawer represent High Point’s heritage in the hosiery industry. 

Where to Eat

You probably won’t have room for all the things you’d like to try in the Carolina Core.

Whet your sweet tooth with a Moravian Cookie, a paper-thin treat traditionally spiced with clove, cinnamon and ginger. In fact, you can nibble your way all the way through history with these culinary trails

Get an upscale taste of pizza in Winston Salem at Mission Pizza Napoletana. This osteria serves a full menu of pizza and Italian-inspired dishes, plus unique experiences like a prix fixe option that includes pizza, and a curated pizza experience of off-menu options. Southern bistro and local favorite Mozelle’s offers very popular outdoor seating equipped with heaters and blankets during the colder months. 

Chez Genese is a French-inspired Greensboro cafe with heart and great fare.
VanderVeen Photographers
Chez Genese

In Greensboro, French-inspired cafe Chez Genèse offers not only lovely breakfast, lunch and brunch menus, plus treats, but also creates meaningful employment opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Sage Mule is a brunch and lunch spot great for a scratch-made meal, expertly crafted latte or day-time friendly cocktail. 

Available at locations in Greensboro and Winston Salem, Cheesecakes by Alex boasts 22 cheesecake flavors as well as other decadent sweets, and Biscuitville, a fast casual restaurant concept in North Carolina and Virginia, serves from scratch Southern breakfasts that some say are the best you can get from a drive-through.  

These adorable High Point treats are cute and delicious.
Emil Moldoevanu

In High Point, Biscuits Brisket & Beer serves a unique, slow-smoked turkey and brisket plus many Southern favorites. This eatery is located inside an expansive food hall adjacent to local baseball park Truist Point: the Stock + Grain Assembly. Pop’s Mini Doughnuts, also located inside the Stock + Grain Assembly, offers the sweet treats you daydream about from not only donuts but milkshakes and more. Plank Street Tavern is an unassuming bar with a great cocktail menu.  

Where to Work (if you must!) 

Congdon Yards co-working and community space is cozy and productive.
Carolina Core

Need to get some work done while you’re in the area? Check out High Point’s very cool Congdon Yards free coworking space and coffee shop. This old factory-turned-trendy entrepreneurship hub is largely workspace for lease, but the first floor is a cozy public collaboration and working space open to anyone. And you might be able to get a glimpse of The Generator, which makes industrial-grade woodworking machinery accessible to all furniture designers, makers, interior designers and architects — as well as small, medium and large furniture companies.

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