Downtown Wake Forest

by Triangle Families Explore Ambassador @zoeyannacameron

We spent the day exploring all Downtown Wake Forest has to offer for families with children. This town is friendly, safe, full of history, and moves at a seemingly slower pace of life we could all learn from. I would describe downtown as follows : community, inclusiveness, artistic, nostalgic, full of history, and family friendly FUN!

Plant Cakes Bakeshop for Donuts (410 S White Street)

This all-Vegan bake shop hit it out of the park for us. Every donut was delicious (side note: I ordered my husband’s gluten free birthday cake here last month and it was also amazing) and the owners are committed to using only the highest quality organic and non-GMO ingredients. Such a good option for those with dietary restrictions. I would recommend making a pre-order, they sell out QUICK. There is limited socially distanced seating indoors at the bar, but we took our order down to the coffee shop and ate outside. Also be aware that because the shop is small, they will restrict the number of guests at one time. Curbside delivery is also offered.


Wake Forest Coffee Company : (156 S White Street)

Coffee for adults – smoothie & hot cocoa for kids. After we grabbed our donuts we headed here for outdoor seating and coffee. The artist loft is a really neat space and everything felt distanced and safe.

Personal Favorite: NC General Stores (150 S White Street) 

“Friendly, local, NC loving, NC selling, gourmet, country, corner store.”


We love the general store for their commitment to the nostalgia of days gone by. They have a little cart at the front for your small shoppers, old Pepsi cooler, and a good old fashioned display of candy jars to make the kids go wild. We also love the local NC puzzles. A great way to shop small and bring an activity home. This Father/Son duo has owned different businesses downtown for a little over 25 years. Tim Forest shared with me that his favorite part of growing up in Wake Forest was, 

“Being able to roam. A good town to walk and ride bikes. A fun town to be a kid in.”

He also shared with me that Shorty’s Hotdogs houses some of his favorite childhood memories.

His father, Nathan Forest, paints and sells his art in stores. My daughter loved grabbing a piece of candy and looking at his paintings. This store felt like a great step back in time. Tim was willing to share a lot of information about Downtown making this the perfect place to start your adventures.

Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs (214 S White Street)

Unfortunately the famous hot dog shop was closed when we stopped by, but it looked like the perfect kid friendly stop for a bite to eat!

Play 4 Life Comics (149 S White Street)

Brandon, the owner, shared with us that his favorite childhood comic book series is Batman. His advice to young kids getting into comic books, “Jump in anywhere and try to have fun with it!” 

His shop offers many child friendly renditions of comic books.

B & W Hardware (232 S White Street)

What a fun change of pace from taking the kids to target to look at toys! The young man working at the front desk shared with me that the hardware shop has been open for 70 years. They had a great selection of toys as well as a variety of things like bird feeders, bikes, and tools for the outdoorsy kids! Normally they have popcorn to enjoy while browsing, but that has been suspended during the pandemic. Leslie loved picking out a Melisa and Doug car set and looking at all the hardware stores had to offer. I was also pleased to see they had a lot of cleaning products in stock that I haven’t been able to find other places.


The Cotton Company ( 306 S White Street)

This was a neat shop with a lot of different local vendors. It had everything from books, art, clothes, and some food items. Several vendors had handmade children’s items and the booth was entirely a kid’s toy vendor.


Sweeties Candy Shop (353 S White Street)

Gift baskets, small family parties, and all the candy you could ever dream of! Lots of house made fudge, some sugar free options, as well as non food related kid gifts. The shop had a fun “Sweeties” punch bug out front, bubble machine, and a beautiful hand painted mural on the side of the store. This was probably Leslie’s favorite stop.


Walk through the Seminary Campus and a visit to “Mr. Bonejangles” before lunch

The Seminary College is a beautiful campus and the history surrounding the small rock wall that encompasses the school is amazing.

Mr. Bone Jangles lives on a tire swing and changes with the season, you can follow him on Instagram


Various Art around Downtown

We loved looking at all the different nods to art around downtown WF. How many can you find when you visit?

Page 158 Books (415 Brooks St)


Our family loves this book store, but they were closed on the day we stopped by. Pre covid they offered free story time for kids, a train table, and an amazing selection of children’s books. Please be sure to check them out – they’re awesome!

Lunch time: Over The Falls (419 S Brooks St)


Over The Falls has some amazing options for dining, local brews from White Street Brewing, and they cover their tables with paper (doubles as a giant coloring sheet for kids) after sanitizing. I love Over The Falls for their fresh food, touch less bathroom doors, cleanliness, and friendly staff. The Lemon Tree Cafe is an amazing option for anyone with dietary restrictions, but at this time they only offer outdoor seating.

A Walk Around H.L. Miller Park and then to “The Giving Fence”

After lunch we took a walk through H.L. Miller park before stopping by The Giving Fence. The park doesn’t have any playground equipment and is pretty small, but it has more than enough for the imagination of a child to run wild. There are three bridges, one bench swing, and paved walking trails throughout.

Giving back is important in this little town. The fence reads, “Take what you need free– leave what you can.”

It was the perfect time to teach my little one about giving to others and re-purposing. We picked out coats, hats, and gloves we have outgrown, washed them, and brought them to the fence on hangers. REMEMBER to place plastic bags over the tops of your jackets in case of rain. There is also a donation house for food. All sponsored by Wake Electric.

Last Stop : Bowling at Strike and Barrel (413 S Brooks ST)

I was HIGHLY impressed by Strike and Barrel. I’d advise making a reservation because they only have 4 lanes of bowling open to keep things socially distant. 


Safety Measures include:

Protective screens between bowling lanes, masks worn at all times when not eating or drinking, hand sanitation centers set up throughout, double sanitation on tables and shoes.

They also have a full bar, arcade, and a food menu. We had such a fun time here and I can’t wait to go back! The staff was very friendly and helpful. $2 dollar games on Tuesdays!

Well, that’s all! We had a full day, learned some history, ate lots of great food, experienced new things, and felt very safe and welcomed in every business we entered. Downtown Wake Forest gets a 10 out of 10 from our little family 🙂

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