Richard Petty was a race car driver for more than 30 years, an epic career that earned him the nickname "The King" and a slot in NASCAR's Hall of Fame. His last race was in 1991, and he's now happily retired. But at Richard Petty Driving Experience, civilians can re-create his glory during race car rides of their own.
At NASCAR tracks around the country, Petty's eponymous company provides a broad spectrum of high-speed experiences. Amateurs can hop into the driver's seat of a streamlined, 600-horsepower race car and hit the track for as many as 50 laps. However, they can also opt for a ride-along, and enjoy speeds of up to 145 mph without the hassle of steering or hand-cranking the engine.
Old Salem Museums & Gardens whisks visitors to the cozy streets of a reconstructed 18th-century Moravian town that encompasses 100 restored and reclaimed buildings and expansive, pristine gardens. As they stroll through the 90-acre homage to early Americana, visitors can interact with hands-on activities, such as the German paper-cutting art of Scherenschnitte or the colonial tradition of libeling a governor with accusations of actually governing. Old Salem's horticultural marvels include the Miksch Garden—a living illustration of Moravian subsistence farming—and the Family Gardens of Salt Street, which demonstrate the innovative practice of seed saving. In addition to year-round attractions, special exhibits rotate through town, celebrating momentous occasions, notable people, and game-changing presidential pets. After traversing the grounds, visitors can peruse souvenirs at a number of gift shops or sidle into Winkler’s Bakery for a piece of renowned Moravian sugar cake.
Amidst the painted pots and chalk drawings in the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem's Surprise Garden stands the Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam's Kaleidoscape, reflecting the museum's motto, "where learning happens through play". Far from a hands-off installation, the multi-colored, crocheted structure is always covered with swinging, climbing kids. Clambering is an equally popular activity inside the nonprofit museum, whose lobby is full of wavy platforms and a beanstalk climber that stretches all the way to the second floor.
But climbing isn't the only way to stay busy at Children's Museum of Winston-Salem. At other exhibits, youngsters can pretend-steer a rowboat, man the conveyer belt inside a child-sized Krispy Kreme factory, and construct buildings with magnetized blocks. After full days of play, kids can unwind during staff-led story times in the museum library or gather with other children for programs such as teatimes.
Though they come from different walks of life, the instructors at Happymess Art Studio find common ground in their passion for artistic expression. They harness their diversity and devotion in the studio, which offers an eclectic assortment of art classes week after week. Happymess is not just painting?its schedule features watercolor classes, drawing classes, and a "Paint Like" series, where you can absorb the ideas of iconic artists by studying their stylistic approaches and grocery receipts.
Outside the studio, the Happymess instructors work their magic in the community aboard the Happymessenger art bus, a mobile art experience that partners with local art groups, schools, and organizations.
Part of the North Carolina Railway Museum, the New Hope Valley Railway shepherds passengers through pine forest aboard vintage diesel and steam-engine trains. Covered cars protect riders from the elements, while a historic open-air caboose allows them to recline in locomotive fashion as they enjoy the shade of the woods, the breeze of the wind, and the harmonious serenade of local wildlife choirs. Trains depart from and return to Bonsal Depot, where a gift shop awaits filled with keepsake merchandise and a display track showcases vintage railroad equipment.
Free to the public, the North Carolina Railway Museum houses historic railway artifacts including vintage trains from builders such as Vulcan Iron Works and General Electric. On select Saturdays and Sundays, the Railway lets passengers take control of diesel-electric or steam-engine trains to experience firsthand life as a conductor.
Wooden Stone's airy, 5,000-square-foot gallery space showcases fine American crafts that blend artistry and function. Now representing more than 600 American craftspeople, 100 of who are Carolinas natives, Wooden Stone primarily highlights work made by small numbers of artists at a time. The selection of finely crafted, functional artwork ranges from furniture to jewelry, and each of the pieces—composed of materials including ceramics, wood, glass, and metal—greets buyers with its own distinct feel and favorite knock-knock joke.