About 25 miles from Asheville is the hopping small town of Waynesville in Haywood County. Its busy downtown has a surprising number of fine galleries and specialty shops. There are many things to do and special events to enjoy. Along with the popular Mast General Store, there are about a dozen galleries and a variety of antique shops, home furnishing centers, and gift shops. And don't forget the many restaurants and a couple of breweries. Nearby outdoor adventures are limitless since it's located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains and near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Waynesville is Haywood County's biggest town with about 10,000 residents (and it's the largest NC town west of Asheville). It's been a favorite mountain retreat since the early 1800s. Even before the railroad made it easy to get here, visitors flocked to Waynesville for the cool, clean air and water, outstanding scenery and an opportunity to escape sweltering cities.
Downtown Waynesville's restored historic buildings and brick sidewalks create a browser's paradise. Find plenty of free parking, including along Wall Street that runs parallel to Main Street, city lots and a parking deck at 143 Branner Avenue.
From bakery goods for dogs and their owners to innovative cuisine, find plenty of local food and fun places to eat. Nestled between Main Street and the Richardson River in Waynesville is the Historic Frog Level neighborhood with Frog Level Brewing Company (56 Commerce Street).
The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts is housed in the historic Shelton House (49 Shelton Street). Take a fascinating one-hour tour of the distinctive art, handicrafts and furniture created by North Carolina artists. Read more.
Adjacent to the Shelton House is the acclaimed HART Theatre, a semi-professional community theatre with a great line-up of Broadway shows, concerts and more year-round.
Folkmoot U.S.A. is a 10-day celebration of world dance and music with visiting international groups performing at many events in July (see our Folkmoot Guide).
On four Friday nights in the summer, come down for the Mountain Street Dances. Put on your cloggin’ & square dancin’ shoes and enjoy an old-fashioned mountain hoedown in front of the Historic Courthouse.
For winter fun, check out the nearby Cataloochee Ski Area and Tube World in Maggie Valley. See their Winter Itinerary for a full list of things to do in the area this winter.
Directions to Waynesville from Asheville: Take I-40 West to exit 27 onto Hwy 74. It's an easy 30-minute drive.
While it's home to some great small towns including, Maggie Valley (8 miles from Waynesville) and Lake Junaluska (3 miles from Waynesville), Haywood County is also home to 13 peaks above 6,000 ft., including the famous Cold Mountain. In fact, it has the highest average elevation of any county in the East. And all of county's rivers and creeks originate here. It's also home to 46 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway (mileposts 408 to 454), including its highest point at Richland Balsam. Here is a sampling of outdoor adventures:
- Waterfalls include Soco Falls, Skinny Dip Falls and Sunburst Falls.
- Hikes include Graveyard Fields, Max Patch, Cold Mountain, Black Balsam Knob and Purchase Knob.
- The scenic Cataloochee Valley area of the Great Smoky Mountains includes the famous elk, historic buildings, camping and hiking.
- The Pigeon River area of the Great Smokies has ziplines, whitewater rafting and more.
- Top scenic drives include the Appalachian Medley Byway and Forest Heritage National Byway.
Waynesville B&Bs, Cabins & Hotels
The Terrace at Lake Junaluska
This lakeside hotel is the perfect place to relax in a rocking chair with views of Lake Junaluska, at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. Enjoy lakefront rooms, a pool, paddleboard rentals, and… read more
Andon-Reid Inn Bed and Breakfast, Waynesville
Voted one of the Top 25 B&Bs in the USA and ideally-located to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains, Biltmore and Asheville, this historic B&B provides casual comfort and friendly hospitality. … read more
Waynesville & Maggie Valley Visitors Guide
Order the 56-page free "Visit NC Smokies" guide to Haywood County, home to small towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde - in the Great Smokies, Pisgah National… read more
The Swag, Waynesville
The Swag’s secluded property features 17 newly renovated rooms, including cozy suites and expansive private cabins. Various rooms include a two-person soaking tub, fireplace, and private balcony… read more
Boyd Mountain Log Cabins, Waynesville
Historic hand-hewn log cabins are carefully restored and tastefully furnished with a mixture of antiques and modern conveniences situated on 140 private acres. Beautifully restored cabins overlook… read more
Buffalo Creek Vacations, Waynesville
Stay in a real caboose or luxury log cabin on a working mountain farm with bison, llamas, goats, alpacas and more in Pisgah National Forest. Interior of the cabooses transformed to have all the… read more
Waynesville Top Events
Folkmoot International Festival
The world comes to our mountains for NC's Official International Festival with visiting dancers and musicians from many countries, big street festival, performances, parade and more in Waynesville… read more
A Night Before Christmas
Downtown Waynesville's historic Main Street area's shops, galleries and restaurants open late from 6-9 PM with live music, live carolers, Bethlehem market place and live natvity, old-fashioned… read more
Apple Harvest Festival
Find all things apple in downtown Waynesville, including cider, fried pies and other apple delicacies. Also find live mountain music, dance, craft and demo booths along scenic Main Street for the… read more
Church Street Art & Craft Show
Main Street in Waynesville transforms into an arts & crafts marketplace, one of the finest juried art shows in NC. Also enjoy live mountain music, clogging, entertainment and food. Browse many… read more
This street festival in downtown Waynesville is the ultimate cultural exchange with international and regional artwork, international dance and music from Folkmoot USA, and great food. 10 AM-5 PM… read more