Fun Things For Five Dollars Or Less In And Around Winston-Salem, North Carolina

By Julie Rains on 17 August 2008 6 comments
Photo: Julie Rains

Want to have a fun day but short on cash? Here are some outings around my town that I have enjoyed, nearly all for free:

Take a bike ride around Salem Lake.

  • What I love: The marked, mostly shaded trail with a view of the lake is suitable for cyclists of all abilities.
  • What you need to know: Bring an old bike, mountain bike, or hybrid as most of the trail is hard-packed dirt and there are lots of rocks; be alert to fast-moving cyclists, especially those who are riding in the opposite direction.
  • Bonus: The lake trail connects with a paved greenway.
  • Cost: $0.

Play at the playgrounds at Tanglewood Park.

  • What I love: Swings, slides, and sandboxes combine with modern equipment such as a kid-friendly climbing wall and a chair swing for children with physical challenges.
  • What you need to know: There are 2 playgrounds, both near picnicking areas that occasionally get crowded.
  • Bonus: Many activities are available at Tanglewood such as golf, swimming, tennis, fishing, mountain biking, and horseback riding though most require a fee.
  • Cost: $2 entrance fee at the gate.

Stroll in and around Reynolda Gardens.

  • What I love: The nature trail is quiet, peaceful, and a nice beginning or ending to a walk in the formal gardens.
  • What you need to know: Watch for signs after entering the Reynolda Village shopping area in order to find the gardens and trail. The nature trail ends in a meadow near the Reynolda House: you can turn around or walk through the grass to return to the gardens or parking lot.
  • Bonus: Reynolda House Museum of American Art hosts community days with no or nominal entrance fees.
  • Cost: $0.

See a play, movie, or Independence Day fireworks at Shallowford Square. (see feature photo of the Square with stage set for The Wizard of Oz.)

  • What I love: Enjoying great entertainment in a pleasant atmosphere is made even more fun because it costs nothing for friends to join you.
  • What you need to know: Bring your own lawn chair; if you are going to a play, get there early (chairs are often set up in the very early morning prior to an evening performance). 
  • Bonus: Concessions are often available; selection is limited but the prices are reasonable.
  • Cost: $0.

Hike Stone Mountain (about an hour away).

  • What I love: The terrain of the stone and the view from the top of Stone Mountain Loop are both incredible. 
  • What you should know: The Stone Mountain Loop is strenuous and shouldn’t be started late in the day.
  • Bonus: If you’re not up for the big hike, there are nice hikes to the Waterfall on the way up the mountain or side trips to Wolf Rock.   
  • Cost: $0.

Take a computer class at the library.

  • What I love: You can send your teenager to a computer class so that he/she pass the state competency exam. 
  • What you should know: You need to register in advance and classes fill quickly. 
  • Bonus: Courses are available for adults and cover a broad range of topics; classes are offered at community sites.      
  • Cost: $0.

Participate in “On the Same Page” reading program.

  • What I love: Nearly everything about this program is fantastic: the books, though often written years ago, have significant cultural relevance (this year’s selection: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury); libraries stock loads of the book so getting a copy is easy; community dialogue is exciting. 
  • What you should know: Discussions and events will vary by location and venue so visiting a site outside of your neighborhood could be enlightening.
  • Bonus: It will be easy to find someone who has read the book so even if you can’t make an event, you can have an impromptu book discussion.  
  • Cost: $0.


For even more ideas on how to uncover fun things to do for $5 or less, check out Myscha's post on Family Fun for Five Dollars or Less in Houlton, Maine.  If you know of fun things in your area you'd like to share, submit them to the open group write, which inspired my list and gave me a new appreciation for the cool, nearly no cost things to do in my neighborhood.  

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Guest's picture

I lived in Winston-Salem briefly as a child. Your list brings back memories! Especially Tanglewood...

Guest's picture

I have lived in W-S for about 11 years (since college)--thanks for this great list of things we love to do, and some new ideas. Winston is a great place with close proximity to tons of fun things to do.

Myscha Theriault's picture

Looks like you've got some fun things to do in your community, Julie. Great post.

Guest's picture

Thanks for the article.

Don't forget free evening summer concerts at Salem Square (Old Salem) and at Bethabara Park.

My kids bike around Salem Lake all the time.

Guest's picture

I love the idea of taking a class at the library! Unfortunately my local library classes are $25, but the community center in town offers ones for cheaper.


Guest's picture

what fun things i lived here all my life and havent found **** to do