Last Updated on March 30, 2023
Nestled within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits the friendly burg of Waynesville. Historic buildings, relaxing benches, public art, and welcoming folks make Waynesville a thoroughly enjoyable place to live and visit. And if that’s not enough, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer a lifetime of outdoor adventures.
When was the last time you visited this mountain retreat with magnificent mountain views of the Blue Ridge Parkway? Whether you’re vacationing or stay-cationing, Waynesville offers many ways to Live Abundantly in WNC. Here’s a quick itinerary to build an awesome weekend in Waynesville, NC.
Friday evening in Waynesville, NC
Check into your rental
Why stay at an impersonal hotel when you can sleep like a local? Centrally located in Haywood County, Waynesville offers a variety of weekend rental options for those excited to be in the heart of Western North Carolina. Choose an upscale B&B in walking distance to downtown or a creekside mountain cabin with unbelievable views—the choice is yours! For an extra decadent excursion, book a room at The Swag, an internationally known high-end travel destination for lodging and culinary delights. At 5,000 feet in elevation, The Swag is the highest inn in the eastern United States.
Sink your teeth into Sweet Onion
Nestled in the heart of downtown, the Sweet Onion Restaurant offers regional cuisine with contemporary flair. Try traditional favorites like Southern fried chicken and fresh mountain trout, or expand your palate with the Thai peanut chicken and rice noodles or fried saltines and pimento cheese. Whatever you do, don’t miss their signature sweet onion soup and sweet onion chicken parmesan. And save room for one of the scrumptious house-made desserts. Whether you’re walking there from our Main Street office, or it’s a destination for the whole family, the menu does not disappoint. Everyone loves Sweet Onion.
Admire Art After Dark
Art After Dark transforms Downtown Waynesville and the Historic Frog Level District into an exquisite visual, culinary, and performing arts center. According to the Waynesville Gallery Association, there are few local destinations where you’ll find such a wide breadth of talented artisans and craftspeople. We would have to agree! Participating galleries offer meet-and-greets, featured shows, refreshments, and live local music. The event happens on the first Friday evening of each month, May through December, from 6:00–9:00 PM. Look for the festive Art After Dark flags that guide the way to participating galleries.
Saturday in Waynesville, NC
Find your early-morning cure-all at Panacea
Enjoy a fresh coffee and healthy breakfast at Panacea Coffee Co. on Commerce Street. Since 2002, Panacea has served a wide variety of fresh coffee and tea beverages from their full-service espresso bar. It’s also one of the best coffee roasters in the area. For late risers, breakfast is available all day. Choose from among the many muffins, scones, and bagels available, including a lox and bagel plate. Or skip straight to one of the delicious sandwiches and salads available for lunch. Find your panacea, and find a meeting place, a celebrating place, and a sharing place.
Outdoor adventures are limitless around Waynesville—every weekend of the year! The Blue Ridge Parkway bisects the county, making for a great drive. You can view elk from the scenic Cataloochee Valley area of the Great Smoky Mountains, or go birding at nearby Lake Junaluska. And when it’s snowy, there are plenty of opportunities to ski, sled, rock climb, and more. Whatever you choose to do, there’s something fun for the whole family!
All of the county’s rivers and creeks originate within the county, making it a great location for waterfalls, water adventures, and wildlife, as well. Gear up and kayak down tranquil or whitewater rivers (your pick). High-elevation hiking abounds, as Haywood County is home to 13 peaks above 6,000 feet—including the famous Cold Mountain. You can even zipline through the treetops of the Nantahala Gorge. But don’t forget to take a picnic with you on your adventure!
Explore Hazelwood Village
Although it was incorporated by Waynesville in 1995, the historic Hazelwood Village neighborhood has maintained its own identity and evolved into a revitalized retail district. Enjoy arts and shopping along the walkable Hazelwood Avenue, including the iconic Hazelwood Soap Company and local favorite Smoky Mountain Coffee Roasters. Robin Blu is one of our favorite “pop into” spots in Waynesville. With a passion for all things creative and unique, you’re sure to find the perfect gift for your loved ones or yourself at Robin Blu.
Taste the best of Haywood County
Worried about working up an appetite trekking around town? Stop over for a quick meal of a grass-fed burger or a Depot Dog from Church Street Depot. This culinary hotspot—named the Best Burger in Haywood County—offers mouthwatering hand-pattied burgers, 100% Angus hot dogs, turkey burgers, sandwiches, housemade chili, coleslaw, and more. Don’t forget the hand-cut cheese fries on the side! The Depot also offers “adult milkshakes” made with Mooresville ice cream. If you are ready for a chocolate fix, treat yourself!
Grab a craft brew
Waynesville is home to a few great craft breweries and bottle shops—enough that it’s common to create a whole day around them. Learn about local legends at Boojum Brewing Company. You could spend all day in the taproom sampling their delicious beer and pub grub! Downstairs, the Gem Bar is the perfect hangout space, with bar games including pool, darts, shuffleboard, and foosball.
Or enjoy some of the smoothest craft beer to touch your tongue at Frog Level Brewery in the historic district of the same name. From the bite of their IPA to the smokiness of the Scotch Ale, you can enjoy their menu in the tasting room or get it packaged to take home. Venture out onto the back deck overlooking the flowing creek, and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Sunday in Waynesville, NC
Get your biscuit buttered
No, that’s not a euphemism for anything. It’s just what you do at a restaurant whose motto is “The bigger the biscuit, the closer to heaven.” But with breakfast served all day, seven days a week, there’s plenty of time to butter everything on the menu at the Buttered Biscuit! Enjoy combining pancakes with other items of your choice, including two eggs, city ham, or country ham. And if you’re hungry, the City Slickers combo has you covered. It features two eggs with meat and blueberry or strawberry waffles or pancakes. If you prefer your brunch to be heavier on the “UNCH”, lunch items are available from 11:00 AM–2:00 PM.
Shop and stroll Main Street
Didn’t get enough of Downtown Waynesville’s stroll-able sidewalks yet this weekend? We didn’t think so. The town’s restored historic buildings are a shopper’s paradise and deserve some exploration. And with plenty of free parking, you don’t have to worry about the time! High Country Furniture & Design, Massie Furniture Co., and Simply Main offer local home furnishings we love. Local shopping options range from long-time staple Mast General Store to gift shops and boutiques like Affairs of the Heart, Olde Brick House, and Ava & Arden. If you love consignment treasures, don’t miss Flawsome New & Preloved.
Balsam Antique Mall is another great spot for treasure hunters. They offer fine period antiques and furniture, modern collectibles, and everything in between.
Explore your mountain heritage
In our opinion, you should always make time to learn about an area’s history when you visit. That goes doubly if you live here! Open May through October, the grand Shelton House in Waynesville (built in 1875) now houses the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts (founded in 1977). Enjoy a guided tour in the Charleston-style farmhouse with a double veranda. View heritage crafts from the 18th and 19th centuries, agricultural exhibits, and items of today’s crafters and artisans. The museum was also the first site on the Haywood County Quilt Trails. Visiting off season? Check their calendar for upcoming year-round events.
Plan your next trip
It’s great to visit Waynesville any weekend of the year, but visitors in July have a special treat. Since the 1980s, Hazelwood has been home to the Folkmoot Friendship Center. The center serves as the headquarters for the two-week Folkmoot international dance and music festival held every July. More than 100,000 people enjoy performances from and opportunities for cultural exchange with 8–10 international dance groups each summer.
Spend every weekend in Waynesville, NC!
It’s easy to discover new outdoor adventures in Waynesville every day. High peaks surround the town, once billed as the Gateway to the Smokies and now the seat of Haywood County. But Waynesville’s proximity to Asheville offers residents the best amenities of a larger city while still holding on to its small-town atmosphere. For instance, the recently restored Frog Level Historic District is now home to a collection of small galleries, a coffee roastery, and a microbrewery. From outdoor adventures to cozy spots downtown, Waynesville, NC welcomes people from many different backgrounds to visit and stay for life.
Does that sound like the perfect lifestyle for you? Find a great home in Waynesville now!