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I made a blind trip to Salisbury on Wednesday afternoon. I didn’t do any research, didn’t look up any sites to explore, didn’t even put in an address. I just mapped my way from Charlotte to Salisbury and decided to figure out the rest when I got there. What I found was a thriving downtown district, a true Old South Main Street revival (or preservation) and just a gem of a town.
I got there around lunchtime and found a small crowd of workers watching a street performer sing a cover of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable.” (Is this my heaven? Yes.) Street performances aren’t uncommon in Salisbury. In fact, the city’s 3rd Annual Busker’s Festival was last weekend and featured more than 40 performers lining the streets.
I wish I had found out about the festival sooner, but it’s not too soon to start planning for next year’s event. It’ll be Friday, September 2, 2016.
Everyone I encountered greeted me with the same two questions, “First time here? What can I help you with?”
Maybe my suspicious iPhone photography of everything in sight was a red flag or maybe I looked like an outsider in my baseball tee and white jeans or maybe the people of Salisbury really are just that accommodating. Whatever it was, I liked it.
Here are 18 things to see, do and eat in downtown Salisbury (and this isn’t even close to everything).
See & Do
Address: 314 Depot Street
Large, four-room shop filled with jewelry, housewares and clever gifts.
Tickle Our Ivories Project
Location: multiple locations downtown
Salisbury Symphony partnered with Rowan County high schools to create a community arts initiative. Students decorated seven donated pianos that are now on display throughout downtown. Passersby are encouraged to stop and play.
Address: 110 South Main Street
Is there any greater business concept than a bookstore with a bar? Literary Bookpost serves wine and beer and hosts regular social events for book lovers.
Address: 109 West Fisher Street
Super cute stationery store.
Historic Salisbury Mural
Location: behind Wells Fargo at 130 South Main Street
A 127-ft x 48-ft mural painted by artist Cynvia Rankin in 1980. Fully restored in 2001.
Address: 210 South Main Street
I didn’t have time to stop in here but anyone with a “Proud supporter of messy hair and sweatpants” shirt in the front window deserves a feature.
Address: 221 South Main Street
Massive gift shop loaded down with jewelry, accessories, art and more.
Simply Good Natural Foods
Address: 128 East Innes Street
A Salisbury staple since 1979, this store is filled with natural foods, supplements, local goods and more. They’ve also got a smoothie bar and customer lounge.
Spanky’s Homemade Ice Cream & Deli
Address: 101 North Main Street
Local favorite for homemade ice cream since 1986.
Abigail’s – A Cake Affair
Address: 113 North Main Street
New bakery selling cupcakes, cookies, homemade ice cream and gorgeous custom cakes.
Address: 116 1/2 North Main Street
I saw a line out the door and a crowd of people huddled around a stand-up table in front of this tiny to-go counter and had to stop and get the scoop. Turned out the people at the table were Agenda readers and were happy to offer up their dogs for a photo. Hap’s has a simple five-item menu (hot dogs $1.75, hamburgers $3.50, bottled drinks $1.50, chips $0.75 and slushes $2). Cash only.
Maraca’s Cuban Cafe
Address: 118 West Innes Street
Authentic Cuban food from Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Mabel Jacome and her husband Frank Trujillo.
Innes Street Drug
Address: 112 South Main Street and 1706 West Innes Street
Nothing makes me happier than an old school pharmacy/soda shop combo. Very, very intrigued by the Apple Ugly, a Salisbury original that’s basically a hunk of dough dripping in frosting. The preparation instructions include “take a nap” as a step.
Address: 115 West Fisher Street
Home of the only rooftop patio in a 50-mile radius.
Isjay’s Sweets & Celebrations
Address: 206 South Main Street
This bakeshop with an unexpected video game lounge behind the kitchen is like the mullet of bakeries: business in the front, party in the back.
Address: 207 South Main Street
Famous for their oatmeal cream pies.
Chef Santos by Goodfellas
Address: 123 East Fisher Street
When I asked someone for the best restaurant in town, this is what they told me, but it’s closed for lunch.
Firehouse Brew Pit
Address: 113 South Lee Street
This place was oddly packed at 2 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon.
Bonus point: You can take the train. Amtrak travels from Charlotte to Salisbury in about 40 minutes for $10 to $12 each way. The Salisbury Depot will drop you right in the heart of downtown.
Connect with Downtown Salisbury