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Visit Downtown Wake Forest


Wake Forest is one of the 11 towns outside of Raleigh that make up Wake County. Wake Forest is called "the birthplace of Wake Forest University," but the college moved to Winston-Salem in 1956, and Wake Forest is now home to the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Although part of the second-largest county in the state, founded in 1832, the historical Wake Forest maintains its small-town atmosphere with a quaint downtown area with antique shops, boutiques, locally-owned restaurants, breweries, bars, and beautiful parks and greenways. Residents can head into Durham or Raleigh for big-city amenities, but many choose to stay close to home when it comes time to enjoy a fun, active lifestyle.


Parks and Fun in Wake Forest

There is no shortage of opportunities for Wake Forest residents to enjoy the great outdoors. When heading out for a day of sun and fun, families and sports enthusiasts can choose from parks, athletic fields, walking, biking, and jogging trails, tennis courts, pickleball courts, or wide-open spaces. Whether you are taking your kids out to get some fresh air and to burn off energy, to fly a kite, or to get in a serious workout, you will not need to step outside Wake Forest's boundaries.


Falls Lake Recreation Area offers families an opportunity to enjoy watersports, hiking, and fishing year-round in the 12,000-acre reservoir. The lake area includes seven shoreline access points, more than 300 campsites, five swimming beaches, and countless trails.


Families flock to E. Carroll Joyner Park, developed from an old farm featuring historic farm buildings, to take in a concert in the 1,000-lawn-seat amphitheater, to bike and run along the paved trails, to sit in the shade of a fully maintained pecan grove, or to just enjoy the well-manicured fields in the 120-acre park. For tennis courts, playgrounds, softball fields, and a dog park, others head to J.B. Flaherty Park for their activities. Check out Wake Forest's newest park, Forest Ridge Park. Located off old 98, the park features 587 Acres of parkland adjacent to Falls Lake with mountain biking, multi-use trails, fishing, disc golf, and nature programs. The playground area has a zip line, slides, swings, and climbing elements with rubber surfacing.


Join one of the many running groups in the area, such as the Tuesday night Norse Brewing Company run club, and biking clubs, like the one that leaves Strike & Barrel every Thursday night, for the exercise, a fun night out, and to support the local businesses.

More than likely, you'll need to take your workouts inside some time. When you aren’t at Alchemy Hot Yoga, make sure to come by Burn Boot Camp in the Wakefield neighborhood of Wake Forest to complement your outdoor free-wheeling fun with the discipline of a tough boot camp. On rainy days, head inside to the community centers at Joyner and Flaherty, to play basketball or to take a fitness class.


Festivals and Dining in Wake Forest

Wake Forest offers residents plenty of activities throughout the year. The Wake Forest Renaissance Center for the Arts holds a host of events and activities, such as movies, exhibits, concerts, plays, recitals, conferences, and private celebrations.


Concerts and festivals, such as "Meet in the Street" held each May; "Friday Night on White" music series held throughout the summer; and Art After Hours where the streets of downtown Wake Forest come alive when the merchants bring live music, fun, and food to the residents.


Wake Forest has a diverse selection of restaurants offering fast food, fine dining, and everything in between. The long-standing Shorty's Famous Hot Dogs, Over the Falls Deli, The Lemon Tree, Sugar Magnolia, Pizza Amore, and The Forks Cafeteria are some of the popular, locally-owned restaurants. Grab a dessert at Lumpy’s Ice Cream, the town’s favorite ice cream parlor.


And you won’t go thirsty! Wake Forest is also home to White Street Brewing Co., Tonic Bar and Social Club, Norse Brewing Company, Unwined on White, and plenty of other places to grab an adult beverage and relax. Coffee is aplenty as well, with Black & White Coffee Roasters, the Wake Forest Coffee Company, and Plant Cakes Bake Shop where you can enjoy a coffee and a vegan sweet treat.



Wake Forest is home to plenty of unique shops and galleries. Check out a bunch of local artisans all at once by stopping in The Cotton Company. In there, you can browse over 50 booths featuring local, handmade artisan products ranging from pottery, candles, bath and body, to jewelry, sweet snacks, and signs. To fill your sweet tooth, stop by Sweeties Candy Shop on White St. for candy, customized sweet gift baskets, and more.


If you are looking for the latest fashion trends, head to Arrow Tree Boutique, Lily Maes, or So You at The Factory. Find the newest mystery or sci-fi book at Page 158 Books, or go to Play4Life Comics, a full-service comic book store offering current and vintage comic books and action figures. You can probably find whatever it is you want right in downtown Wake Forest!


Now you know why over 42,000 residents call Wake Forest home!

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