Graffiti from a wall in Winston-Salem, NC
After ruling out Wyoming and Montana for a possible retirement area after last summer’s cross-country adventure, Bob and I headed south this past week for a tour of Virginia and North Carolina. We checked out western Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountain cities, Roanoke and Lynchburg, then drove into North Carolina to visit Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Wilmington. We had planned to visit Durham but ran out of time.
My favorite spot was Winston-Salem, where there’s an expanding downtown area that offers interesting shops and galleries. The city seems to have an active downtown association and a growing number of special events, like an international film festival, wine festival and a farmer’s market. With lots of old industrial buildings under renovation to become high-end residential and artist loft spaces, I can see this could be an enjoyable area to keep on our short list of possibilities.
Here is the year round gallery space on North Trade Street for Piedmont Craftsmen. Once a year they hold a huge member art sale in the town’s convention center.
It is getting harder and harder to find these small restaurant gems, but we seek them out diligently wherever we go. We had a lovely lunch here at 6th and Wine in downtown Winston-Salem and afterwards I stopped in at Studio 2.
Almost every city we visited has been overrun by unattractive strip malls, chains and big box stores. The face of America may offer consumer convenience, but charm and individuality have disappeared, so enjoying a lively, expanding downtown arts district like Winston-Salem’s is refreshing and offers hope.
I’m not sure it’s the “promised land” I dream of finding in this country, but we definitely enjoyed sunshine, mild weather and beautiful scenery all along the way.