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.
Surrounded by the carefully clipped hedges of a formal garden, Reynolda House Museum of American Art lets visitors contemplate canvases in the stately surroundings of a turn-of-the-century tobacco baron's mansion. Armed with personalized membership cards, members gain free admission to the museum’s permanent collection, which includes works by Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keeffe. Gorge hungry eyes on the soulful iron-horse portraits of railroad photographer O. Winston Link, on display until June 19, or pick up pointers from the Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (October 7–December 31). Reynolda House will be the two nomadic exhibitions’ sole stop in North Carolina this year before wandering off in search of new adventure.
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.