WAKE FOREST, N.C. — If you're going a little stir crazy, maybe it's time to try something new. Safely exploring a different town -- like Wake Forest -- supports local businesses and provides a change of scenery.
Here are some of our favorite must-visit spots.
Start your day with a homemade donut or breakfast sandwich from Main Street Grille, Cafe & Bakery
, just minutes from downtown Wake Forest. The spacious indoor dining area is open during the pandemic.
We visited on a weekday and felt comfortable to eat inside, but on a weekend, grabbing breakfast to-go may be your best bet.
We tried a chocolate-covered caramel cream donut, but there so many options, including pastries, cinnamon buns, biscuits, brownies, turnovers, pies and cakes. Lunch is also served, and the bakery stays open until 8 p.m. on Saturdays.
Wake Forest Coffee Company
, on White Street, is another great stop. The coffee is delicious -- we tried a honey lavender latte -- and there is an entire upstairs area that offers plenty of seating, views of downtown and work from local artists.
on Brooks Street is a cool addition to downtown Wake Forest, serving craft beer, creative cocktails and a full lunch and dinner menu featuring Scandinavian food with a southern twist.
Visiting White Street Brewing
is another great way to get out of the house and enjoy a chance of scenery at a safe distance from others.
A trip to Wake Forest isn't complete until you visit Shorty's Famous Hot Dogs
, when has been in Wake Forest for more than 100 years! Shorty's serves traditional southern "red" Jesse Jones Hot Dogs and an all-beef dog.
We also love The Dairy Depot,
where you can get more than 50 flavors of soft serve ice cream, sundaes and fun toppings -- all without leaving your car. The Dairy Depot offers a drive-thru, walk-up ordering and outdoor seating, making it a perfect stop always but especially during the pandemic.
Nestled beside the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre is Over the Falls
, which is known for their delicious sandwiches but also serves up salads, burgers, wings, pizza and infused bourbons. It's perfect for a date night or quick lunch.
When you're downtown, you can easily spend an hour in The Cotton Company
, which features stalls from over 50 different vendors, many from North Carolina. We loved the vintage-inspired clothing, the stall for pet lovers, and all the products for people who want to showcase their love for Wake Forest, Raleigh or the entire state.
The Cotton Company is an excellent place to find creative gifts for family and friends who are ordinarily hard to shop for. Think specialty puzzles, unique artwork and interesting bath and beauty products.
Just down the road is NC General Stores
, another great stop for creative, locally-made gifts. Featured recently on Tar Heel Traveler
, this cozy shop sells art and foods from local makers, including pottery and art plus jellies, peanuts, sauces, pickles and even grits made by some of North Carolina's oldest mills.
On your way out of downtown, stop by Sweeties Candy Shop
for a nostalgic trip back in time. Sweeties serves up more than 20 flavors of chocolate truffles with unique flavors like birthday cake and cherry cheesecake and a huge selection of classic candy that's hard to find at your local grocery store.
There are candies for unicorn, llama and dinosaur lovers, fans of Rick and Morty, and much more. The shop makes custom gift baskets or provides customers with everything they need to make their own -- complete with fun boxes and ribbons.
GoAskMom has your complete guide
to Winterpast Farm
, a one-of-a kind petting zoo full of rescued animals, but we visited Farmer Mary to learn what's new. When the N.C. State Fair was canceled due to the pandemic, Mary decided to hold her own blue ribbon contest, helping young visitors choose their favorite animal.
All the animals at Winterpast have different names, personalities and stories, and Mary loves to tell her guests about them. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the chance to pet a potbelly pig and feed and emu or peacock, while younger guests can climb trees, sit down to brush a rabbit and dress up to take photos with the animals.
The entire $10 admission goes to supporting the farm, which has become a haven for unwanted or abandoned goats, chickens, rabbits and other farm and exotic animals. Mary just asks that guests text her at 919-244-1800 before planning a visit so she can create a special experience.
Whether you're up for camping, biking, hiking or boating, Falls Lake
is a great way to surround yourself with the great outdoors without traveling too far from home. Check out the website before you go
to find the best access point for what you plan to do.