Railroading: Day Trip to Salisbury

Story and pictures by Tam Richert.

Two hours by train from Cary, the town of Salisbury, North Carolina is steeped in history and small town charm.

Arriving in Salisbury

For my first trip to Salisbury, I stepped through the 1908 train station and headed to the Visitor’s Center (204 E. Innes Street , left out of the station and right on Innes).

I continued up Innes to Main Street and Tastebuds Coffee and Tea (106-A N. Main St). This purveyor of organic coffee has just the right balance of friendly advice, wood and upholstery to sit a spell, sip and strategize.


Town is divided into 4 Squares for easy navigation with the intersection of Main Street and Innes Street at the center.

Both streets have plenty of interesting architecture and shoppingLiterary Bookpost is a well-stocked independent bookstore with the appropriate creaky wooden floor and tin ceiling (110 S. Main Street. Say hello to Sasha the resident cat at Stitchin’ Post Gifts (104 S. Main Street).

For a leisurely town overview, try the Historic Salisbury Trolley Tours from the Visitor Information Center ($8 adults/$5 children 4-10) that begin at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays from April to October (VisitSalisburyNC.com).


The town goes back to 1770. Some of General Cornwallis’ men never left. They lie still in the English Cemetery. During the Civil War, there was a Confederate prison in town.

Historic Preservation and adaptive reuse are business as usual here. The train station is a conference center and downtown housing is interspersed with retail. Walking Tours are available online.

Food and Drink

Salisbury is the home of Cheerwine. The old-fashioned soda fountain inside Innes Street Drug (112 S. Main Street) was the perfect place for my first taste of the cherry beverage.

For over 25 years, Hap’s Grill (116 1/2 N. Main Street) has been THE place for quick hot dogs. The building is narrow and was built in an alley so standing room only here.

Sweet Meadow Cafe (118 W. Innes St.) offers an eclectic menu using fresh local produce. The aroma was intoxicating.

Simply Good Natural Foods (128 E. Innes Street) is a good choice for a picnic or snack for the return train ride.

Go for Day Trip, Return for a Weekend

The hustle and bustle of Main street gives way to cool tree-lined Bank Street and the grander living of another era. You might find yourself wanting to linger a little longer. The Bed and Breakfast historic houses on South Fulton Street can oblige.

I have a long list of places yet to see in Salisbury. I’ll be back. For 3 hours, a whole day, or a weekend, Salisbury is a great trip by train from the downtown Cary station.

4 replies
  1. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    It’s nice to see my husband and I aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the great stops along Amtrak’s route. Charlotte, Greensboro and Wilson are great for a day as well. There’s a full day worth of activities within walking distance of the G’boro station though you may want to budget for additional transportation expenses (bus/cab).

  2. Christine
    Christine says:

    Having moved to Salisbury from Cary (NW Maynard!, we love the small town charm, lovely people, and historic preservation ethic. A great time to visit is the second weekend in October when Historic Salisbury Foundation hosts OctoberTour – the opening of 6-12 historic private and public historic sites for tour by the public! This year especially is one not to miss – the Hambley-Wallace House – a fantastic large home on Fulton Street, will be open for the first time to the public after an thorough and extensive rehabilitation! Watch for OctoberTour updates and plan to visit – October 13 & 14!!

  3. Gary
    Gary says:

    We took the same day trip just after Christmas, with 8 grandkids. Their parents dozed, relaxed. Walked to a downtown BBQ place and then to an corner ice cream place.
    Amtrak employees seem to love their jobs and take pride in what they do.

    Earlier in 2011 we did the same excursion (2 of us) and did the trolley tour.

    Our next trip may be an overnighter so we can do the nearby Transportation Museum.

    Our fave Amtrak is the Vermonter from DC to Burlington, in mid-winter. You arrive in 13 hrs, totally rested. Open sleigh ride in the snow is memorable! Cary to DC is a fun 5 hr ride. Priceline hotel deals near Union Station are plentiful on weekends. Get the oatmeal at McDs in Union Station before you board!

    Now, all we need is light rail to DPAC!

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