The beautifully preserved core of the Moravian settlement of Salem extends across several blocks south of downtown. You’re not obliged to pay for admission if you simply want to admire the architecture, eat in the Tavern, or shop in the wonderful Winkler Bakery or various craft shops. You’ll have a much richer experience, though, if you pay for access to the on-site museums, houses and workshops, where costumed guides explain and demonstrate Moravian traditions, such as gardening, doctoring and gunsmithing.
If you plan to visit any of the paying attractions, start by buying tickets at the large modern visitor center, across the main road from Old Salem proper, at the southern end of a large parking lot. And if your time is short, prioritize the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and the rewarding displays on Salem’s African American population in and around St Philips Church.