20+ Great Things to Do in Waynesville and Nearby!

Last Updated on February 9, 2023

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

Waynesville, North Carolina, is known by many as the fun place to be in Western NC. As the largest town west of Asheville and the county seat of Haywood County, Waynesville offers everything from an adorable downtown to big and bustling annual events and gorgeous outdoor surroundings.

This North Carolina mountain town is about 40 minutes from Asheville, making it an easy day trip. However, stick around, and you’ll see that there are quite a few things to do in Waynesville, including the many shops, great restaurants, and artists in and around downtown.

As we mentioned, it is surrounded by popular outdoor attractions, including the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, among many more.

With so many places to explore, we created this guide to break down the best things to do in Waynesville NC, and nearby! Whether you’re a frequent visitor of Waynesville or looking to explore all the town has to offer, this guide will be helpful.

Here’s how we have organized this guide:

  • Where is Waynesville?
  • Where to Stay in Waynesville
  • Annual Events
  • Things to Do in Waynesville This Weekend (and All Year!)
  • Waynesville NC Restaurants
  • Craft Breweries
  • Things to Do Near Waynesville
    • Asheville
    • Blue Ridge Parkway Stops
    • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • The Best Things to Do in Waynesville NC (Our Picks)

If you live in the area or want to plan a trip to Waynesville and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me?” this guide will definitely help you out!

Read More: 80+ Great Small Towns in North Carolina (+ Our Top 10 Picks)

Where is Waynesville NC?

Waynesville NC Map of Surrounding Areas created by NC Tripping via Google Maps
Waynesville NC Map Created with Google Maps.

Waynesville is the county seat of Haywood County in Western North Carolina. It was founded by Revolutionary War Colonel Robert Love in 1810 and remains beautifully situated between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Waynesville is also 30 miles southwest of Asheville (40 minutes away) and close to other mountain towns such as:

We’ll share more about these neighbors in this guide’s “Day Trips” section. However, for now, let’s stick around in Haywood County and dig into the many fun things to do in Waynesville NC!

Read More: Waynesville Map of 30+ Attractions (+ 6 Surrounding Counties in Western NC!)

Visiting Waynesville Today

Waynesville NC Things to Do

Visit Waynesville today and you’ll find a charming small town with a population of about 10,000. There are shops, restaurants, and more along Main Street in downtown Waynesville and even more down the hill in the Historic Frog Level District.

We will mention those two areas at the beginning of our “Things to Do in Waynesville NC This Weekend” section, but first, we think you’ll want to know about where to stay.

Where to Stay in Waynesville

There are quite a few Airbnbs and VRBOs near Waynesville, and even more locally owned inns and cabins. In fact, Waynesville has been called the “Bed and Breakfast Capital of North Carolina,” and we think that’s a fair assessment!

While there are countless B&Bs for you to choose from, here are some of the best in the area:

  • Andon-Reid Inn Bed & Breakfast (92 Daisey Ave, Waynesville, NC): This is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay in Waynesville. Located in a historic 1902 property, the Andon-Reid Inn has seven charming and spacious rooms that will make you feel at home.
  • Boyd Mountain Log Cabins (445 Boyd Farm Rd, Waynesville, NC): For a quiet time in the countryside, consider staying at one of the eight log cabins at Boyd Mountain. The cabins are nestled in a 150-acre cove overlooking the Smoky Mountains, with access to three stocked fishing ponds, hiking trails, and a Fraser Fir Christmas tree farm.
  • Red Leaf River Inn (146 Chestnut Walk Dr, Waynesville, NC): Located on the outskirts of the town and at the foot of the Smoky Mountains, this is a lovely place to stay. The inn’s five rooms are stunning, with lots of natural lighting, farm-like decor, and modern wood styles.
  • Oak Park Inn (196 S Main St, Waynesville, NC): Located in downtown Waynesville, Oak Park Inn is a great place to stay if you want to be in the heart of the town. Choose from the queen, king, or double rooms equipped with TVs, mini-fridges, microwaves, and more.
  • The Swag (2300 Swag Rd, Waynesville, NC): The Swag is one of the most luxurious places to stay in NC. Here, you’ll find genuine hospitality in a truly beautiful setting.
  • The Yellow House (89 Oakview Dr, Waynesville, NC): The Yellow House has been recommended by our readers and members of our Facebook Group and we can see why. This hilltop getaway overlooks the mountains and offers a quiet and luxurious stay.

Read More: 22 Ridiculously Unique Rentals and Airbnbs in Asheville (and Nearby)

Annual Events in Waynesville

Waynesville is a thriving center for all annual events, cultural, historical, or otherwise. If you’re visiting during these times, we highly recommend stopping by!

Folkmoot Festival (July)

Waynesville welcomes the entire world for ten beautiful days in July. The Folkmoot Festival celebrates global cultures through dance and music, bringing the entire world together in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

This event has been held here every summer since 1984. Since then, over 8,000 performers from 200 countries have traveled to Waynesville to celebrate their culture and traditions.

Global communities are recognized here, and so are the Cherokee and Appalachian cultures rooted in Western North Carolina. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience right here in North Carolina.

Read More: Summer in North Carolina (and 50+ Great Events!)

Apple Harvest Festival (October)

The annual Apple Harvest Festival in downtown Waynesville (held each October) is one of the best ways to enjoy fall in North Carolina. The event has been named one of the nation’s top ten fall harvest festivals, and we couldn’t agree more.

The streets of downtown are lined with vendors with all things apple—pies, ciders, caramel apples, and even arts and crafts.

Read More: Apple Picking in North Carolina (+ the Best Orchards to Visit)

Church Street Art and Craft Show (October)

Things to Do in Waynesville NC

The Church Street Art and Craft Show overtakes Main Street each October. Artisans from multiple states come to display their work, while attendees can browse an extensive selection of artwork, crafts, and more.

As the name suggests, the show used to take place on Church Street, a street adjacent to downtown. Over the years, the event grew so large that it moved to Main Street to accommodate the numerous artists and visitors.

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (20+ Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Things to Do in Waynesville This Weekend (and All Year!)

Even if you aren’t around during the town’s annual events, you can still join in on the fun with these fantastic things to do in Waynesville this weekend and throughout the year.

  • Stroll Downtown
  • Waynesville Art Galleries
  • Haywood County Blue Ridge Craft Trail
  • Visit Mast General Store
  • Shelton House Museum of NC Handicrafts
  • Historic Frog Level District
  • Haywood Regional Arts Theatre (HART)
  • Restaurants
  • Craft Breweries

Stroll Downtown

Waynesville North Carolina

With tree-lined sidewalks, brick walkways, and cute storefronts in historic buildings, downtown Waynesville is quite charming. From bakeries to boutiques, a walk down Main Street will make you feel at home in the welcoming town.

Shop at boutiques like The Southern Loft and High Country Style, grab a drink from Orchard Coffee, and pick up some funky souvenirs from Affairs of the Heart. Main Street has something for everyone.

Read More: Why and How to Support Amazing NC Local Businesses Every Day

Waynesville Art Galleries

    Waynesville Artists

As if Waynesville wasn’t great enough, the town also has a vibrant arts scene! Downtown features six galleries or studios where visitors can appreciate the work of local artists and craftsmen. Here’s a quick summary of what can be found at each:

  • Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) Gallery & Gifts (86 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): HCAC is the leading arts organization in Waynesville. In addition to hosting events and classes, HCAC has a downtown gallery featuring rotating exhibits and a retail space selling local glassware, paintings, pottery, and more.
  • Green Hill Gallery (34 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): This shop showcases and sells the work of local artists, making it a great place to find gifts. Choose from panoramic photographs, colorful ceramic pieces, and hundreds of jewelry pieces.
  • Jo Ridge Kelley Fine Art & Teaching Studio (136 N Main St, Waynesville, NC) Jo Ridge Kelly is a local Plein air and studio oil painter. She works in her downtown studio gallery and invites the public to watch her artistic process.
  • The Jeweler’s Workbench (80 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): This shop and repair service specializes in unique jewelry, accessories, watches, and more. 50+ artists provide wares from the Smoky Mountains region.
  • Mud Dabbers
  • T Pennington Art Gallery (15 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): Teresa Pennington is an acclaimed colored pencil artist whose vivid work features the scenery of Western NC. Browse her beautiful pieces at her Main Street gallery.
  • ”Twig & Leaves Gallery (98 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): This Waynesville art gallery/store is““Where Art Dances with Nature.” Its collection includes nature-inspired art, pottery, and wood products from over 120 artists in the local region.“Twig & Leaves Gallery (98 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): This Waynesville art gallery/store is “Where Art Dances with Nature.” Its collection includes nature-inspired art, pottery, and wood products from over 120 artists in the local region.

Want to visit more artist studios? Check out the Haywood County Blue Ridge Craft Trails! Here, you’ll find Waynesville artists and more towns represented.

These are a few of the artists in Waynesville that you can visit:

  • Christina Bendo Pottery (109 Pigeon Street, Waynesville, NC): Christina uses local clay to throw functional and decorative pottery. Mendo depicts beautiful natural scenes with flora and fauna observed from her natural environment.
  • Mud Dabbers (20767 Great Smoky Mountain Expressway, Waynesville, NC): is one of the more whimsical and playful pottery studios on Waynesville’s Blue Ridge Craft Trails. The name is a lighthearted take on dirt daubers, in which tiny insects build their nests out of the mud. Just like those dirt daubers, Mud Dabbers hand-craft all of the items from natural materials. 
  • Glass by Gayle (247 Sunnyside Road, Waynesville, NC): Gayle Haynie started her career in glass more than 30 years ago and now owns Glass by Gayle. She began with stained glass, progressed to learn about fused glass, experimented with the medium, and tested the boundaries of what is possible. 

Visit Mast General Store

Address: 63 N Main St, Waynesville, NC

Mast General Store, open since 1883, is like stepping back in time. The store chain, which has 11 locations across North Carolina, has a store in downtown Waynesville, which is the perfect touch to the charming scene.

Mast General features a stockpile of old-fashioned sweets, old-timey items, toys, and outdoor accessories. Shop the hot items of “yesteryear” with a trip to this store.

Read More: 30+ Great Things to Do in Boone (Hikes, Eats, and More!)

Shelton House Museum of NC Handicrafts

Address: 49 Shelton St, Waynesville, NC

The historic Shelton House is three blocks from downtown and was constructed in 1875 for the Shelton family. It became the first site in Haywood County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Today, the property also houses the Museum of NC Handicrafts. The Museum is filled to the brim with beautiful antique furniture, heritage crafts, quilts, and other traditional items from local artisans. It’s a great place to experience the town’s past and present art and culture.

Read More: 40+ of the Most Amazing Museums in North Carolina (for ALL Ages!)

Historic Frog Level District

Frog Level Waynesville 1

The Frog Level district is a hidden gem in Waynesville, located down the hill from Main Street. Once the railroad arrived in Waynesville in 1884, the area began to develop around the depot.

Locals named the district “Frog Level” due to its low-lying location along the Richland River and its proneness to flooding.

Frog Level Waynesville Drone

Over the past century, Frog Level has seen wholesale companies and commercial buildings rise to create the district it is today.

Frog Level covers Commerce Street and Depot Street. A couple of great spots here include the popular Frog Level Brewing Company (56 Commerce St, Waynesville, NC) and Panacea Coffee Shop & Cafe (66 Commerce St, Waynesville, NC).

There are also plenty of antique shops and more to explore in the Historic Frog Level District!

Read More: 125+ Important Facts About North Carolina You Should Know (History, Geography, and More!)

Haywood Regional Arts Theatre (HART)

Address: 250 Pigeon St, Waynesville, NC

The HART Theatre was founded in 1985 to highlight local and beyond performers’ talents. As one of the most active hubs of culture and performance, HART hosts many events throughout the year, including plays, musicals, classes, and more.

Catching one of these highly-rated shows will surely be the highlight of your trip to Waynesville.

Winchester Creek Farm

Address: 386 Walker Rd, Waynesville, NC

Winchester Creek Farm is a family-owned farm that you can tour and learn about the animals that reside here. Residents of this 20-acre farm include alpacas, horses, goats, sheep, and more!

Read More: Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk

Eat at These Restaurants in Waynesville

In addition to the vibrant arts scene and rich history, Waynesville also boasts a strong selection of restaurants and cuisines. Here are a few that you should know about:

  • Beach Mountain Diner (429 Hazelwood Ave, Waynesville, NC): Barry and Cason Adeeb are seasoned restaurateurs, who own four award-winning Beach Diners in Florida. When the pandemic hit, they decided to use that time to open a new diner in Waynesville, where they used to vacation. The sleek and modern restaurant, which has become a hit, offers classic diner food with a twist, from pancakes and omelets to burgers and wraps.
  • Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen (111 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): Named for a Civil War-era home downtown, Birchwood Hall opened its doors in 2017 with the mission of authentic farm-to-table dining. The elegant Southern menu comprises biscuits, salmon, filet mignon, meatloaf, and much more.
  • Church Street Depot (34 Church St, Waynesville, NC): This laid-back downtown burger joint is perfect for a classic dinner of burgers, fries, and milkshakes. The ice cream is provided from nearby Mooresville, and the hand-patted burgers feature three types of beef: 100% Angus, a custom blend with brisket and chuck, and locally sourced.
Haywood Smokehouse Waynesville
  • Haywood Smokehouse (79 Elysinia Ave, Waynesville, NC): Haywood Smokehouse has several locations in Western North Carolina; we cannot recommend it enough! The service is always fantastic, and the food is fast, delicious, and smoky. We’ve eaten here several times and enjoyed the brisket, pulled pork, and collards!
  • Dillsboro Chocolate Factory (170 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): Enjoy award-winning chocolate at the Chocolate Factory downtown. Established in 1999, the factory only uses single-bean cacao in their chocolate, meaning the products have a refined and luxurious taste not found in regular candy bars. Grab some truffles, bark, or fudge from here to fulfill your sweet tooth!
  • The Chef’s Table (30 Church St, Waynesville, NC): You can’t go wrong with The Chef’s Table for luxury dining in an upscale atmosphere. The restaurant boasts the most extensive wine selection in Waynesville at 250 varieties and obtains its ingredients from its 12-acre farm. For a lovely dinner for two, this is the place to be!

Read More: 20+ Wonderful Restaurants in Waynesville NC and Nearby!

Drink Responsibly at These Craft Breweries in Waynesville

Frog Level Brewing Waynesville

One of the best things to do in Waynesville NC is to explore its craft beer scene.

  • Frog Level Brewing Company (56 Commerce St, Waynesville, NC): This is one of the most modern structures in the Frog Level district, with a shaded patio by the creek and local artwork decor. From delicious pub food to upscale snacks and desserts, Frog Level Brewing is one of the most popular places to eat in Waynesville. If you’re in the Asheville area, check out their sister brewery 7 Clans Brewing.

Read More: 25+ of the Best Breweries in Asheville (South Slope, Downtown, and Nearby Towns!)

  • Boojum Brewing Company (50 N Main St, Waynesville, NC): We fell in love with Boojum Brewing’s beers long before visiting their Main Street Waynesville taproom. Named for the man/beast that lives in the North Carolina mountains, Boojum pumps out some tasty beers (Hop Fiend for example) with a great food menu. We’re suckers for wings and burgers and those are just a couple of the yummy creations you’ll find at Boojum.
  • Honorable Craft Beer Mentions: While these aren’t Waynesville breweries, we think you should know about the great craft beer selections found at Blue Ridge Beer Hub (21 East St, Waynesville, NC) and at Mad Anthony’s Taproom and Restaurant (180 Legion Dr, Waynesville, NC).

Read More: 80+ Tasty North Carolina Breweries (The Best of the Best!)

List of Things to Do Near Waynesville NC (Day Trips)

Beyond Waynesville, there are quite a few amazing places to explore in Haywood County and nearby! Here’s a quick list of Waynesville day trips before we offer a deeper dive into each one:

  • Lake Junaluska (10 Minutes Away)
  • Maggie Valley (20 Minutes Away)
  • Sylva (25 Minutes Away)
  • Asheville (40 Minutes Away)
  • Bryson City (40 Minutes Away)
  • Cherokee (40 Minutes Away)
  • Brevard (1 Hour Away)
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Stops Nearby
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Read More: 75+ Fun Day Trips from Asheville (Within a 2-Hour Drive)

Lake Junaluska

10 Minutes Away from Waynesville NC

Waynesville Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska is right at Waynesville’s doorstep, with this mountain retreat open to all. In addition to hosting conferences, weddings, and other events, the lake also offers hotels and inns for a lakeside vacation. However, if you’re just interested in relaxing for an afternoon, there’s still lots to do here.

There is a 3.8-mile scenic trail that wraps around the lake, offering a great getaway from city life and views of the historic buildings and lake. Visitors can also rent kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards during the summer months for an afternoon on the water or take one of the boat tours.

The lake is also open to public fishing and birding. For some land fun, check out the 18-hole golf course and playground.

Maggie Valley

20 Minutes Away from Waynesville NC

Tube World in Maggie Valley

One of our absolute favorite North Carolina mountain towns is Maggie Valley, just around the corner from Waynesville. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy this amazing spot in the NC Smokies.

Read More: 20+ Amazing Things to Do in Maggie Valley (and Nearby!)

Sylva

25 Minutes Away from Waynesville NC

Sylva near Asheville NC
View from the Jackson County Historic Courthouse.

Sylva is one of the most interesting towns near Waynesville. It’s bustling with incredible restaurants, shops, and an iconic courthouse on a hill.

Fly fishing is another popular thing to do in Sylva. In fact, the town is home to the only fly fishing trail in the United States.

Here are a few Sylva spots that we think you should know about in more detail:

  • City Lights Bookstore
  • Innovation Brewing
  • Jackson County Historic Courthouse

Read More: Independent Bookstores in North Carolina (25+ of the Best!)

Asheville

40 Minutes Away from Waynesville NC

Facts About Asheville Grove Arcade
Grove Arcade.

We mentioned Asheville being within an hour’s drive and exploring that city is great after you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the best things to do in Waynesville.

Some of our favorite Asheville attractions include:

Read More: 75+ Great Hikes Near Asheville (Within a 2-Hour Drive)

Bryson City

40 Minutes Away from Waynesville NC

Road to Nowhere outside Bryson City NC
Road to Nowhere.

Sitting on the NC-Tennessee border, Bryson City is definitely one of our favorite towns near Waynesville! Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is well-known for hiking and river recreation.

Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Waynesville’s Swain County neighbor:

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do In North Carolina (Your NC Bucket List)

Cherokee

40 Minutes Away from Waynesville NC

Mingo Falls in Cherokee North Carolina
Mingo Falls.

Cherokee is home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and also where you’ll find some of the best things to do near Waynesville.

Here are a few of them:

Read More: 20 Excellent Things to Do in Cherokee and the Qualla Boundary (and Nearby!)

Brevard

1 Hour Away From Waynesville NC

Things to do in Brevard NC downtown walking

Brevard is also a quick day trip from Waynesville and full of fun things to do!

Read More: 25 of the Best Waterfalls in North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway Stops Near Waynesville

Waterrock Knob BRP
Waterrock Knob.

Forty-six miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway runs through Haywood County, offering stunning views and fantastic hiking trails. Driving NC’s most famous scenic byway is one of our favorite things to do near Waynesville.

In fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway is just eight minutes from Waynesville. To reach the road, head west towards Sylva on Highway US 74/US 23/US 441. The access road is on the right after about 4.5 miles, and you’ll enter the Parkway at Milepost 443.1.

Here are some BRP stops near Waynesville that you should know about:

  • Note that southbound Blue Ridge Parkway mileposts count up from your entry point and they count down when headed north.
  • Waterrock Knob (MP 451.2, 45 Minutes Away): If you are looking for a hike in Haywood County’s section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we recommend Waterrock Knob. This hiking trail near the Parkway’s southern terminus offers incredible views from the parking lot and the summit. It is one of the most popular places to view the sunset in North Carolina!
  • Richland Balsam Overlook (MP 431.4, 50 Minutes Away): Even more impressive is that the highest point on the Parkway is near Waynesville at Milepost 431, where the elevation is 6,053 feet.
  • Devil’s Courthouse (MP 422.4, 40 Minutes Away): Short and strenuous, Devil’s Courthouse is a mostly-paved trail that leads to a rock overlook at 5,720 feet. Legend says there is a cave within this mountain where the devil holds his court.
  • Black Balsam Knob (MP 420.2, 50 Minutes Away): Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain are part of the longer Art Loeb Trail, which winds along luscious mountain balds for scenic views. You can hike a half-mile up to the first balds or see more via a 5-mile loop.
  • Graveyard Fields (MP 418.8, 50 Minutes Away): Graveyard Fields is one of the few BRP trailheads with a toilet. Beyond that reason to stop, the Graveyard Fields Loop Trail is an easy hike to a spectacular waterfall. You can also follow a longer loop to a harder-to-find cascade.
  • Cold Mountain Overlook (MP 411.9, 35 Minutes Away): Besides Mount Mitchell and Mount Craig, did you know North Carolina has 40 peaks over 6,000 feet? Cold Mountain is one of them and if the name sounds familiar, there was a 2003 Academy Award-winning film by this name featuring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law.
  • Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower (MP 409.6, 45 Minutes Away): Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower provides 360-degree views from the stairs. The 1.5-mile roundtrip hike is super easy and the views are epic! The top of the fire tower is locked, but you can climb five stories and look out at the rolling mountains in the distance.

Read More: 50+ Beautiful Waterfalls Near Asheville (Within 2 Hours)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cataloochee Elk Maggie Valley NC

The gorgeous mountain scenery is part of Waynesville’s charm. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is about 30 minutes away and full of great things to do near Waynesville.

The closest entrance is the one in Cherokee, accessible via US 74 through US 19 and turning on US 441 for entry. Here are a few of our favorite places inside the park and not far from Waynesville:

Read More: 12 Wonderful National Parks Sites in North Carolina

The Best Things to Do in Waynesville NC (Our Top 5)

We’ve gone beyond the town’s most popular attractions and have narrowed down our favorites. These are our picks for the best Waynesville NC things to do:

  • Downtown Waynesville
  • Folkmoot
  • Historic Frog Level District
  • Waynesville Art Galleries
  • Haywood Smokehouse

Do you have any picks to add to our list? You can let us know in the comments or by email. Also, don’t forget to share your Waynesville NC adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

More Waynesville NC Things to Do

We’ve created many more NC travel guides that feature these things to do in Waynesville, and nearby!

Leave a Comment