Smoky Mountain Getaway: Best Things to Do in Waynesville, NC

8 Unforgettable Things to Do in Waynesville, NC

Discovering Waynesville, North Carolina, is like uncovering a secret in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. With its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and many activities, a getaway to this charming town promises an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the great outdoors, a taste of local cuisine, or a peaceful retreat into nature, it offers something for everyone. Join us as we explore the best things to do in Waynesville, NC, and prepare to be captivated by the beauty and warmth of this enchanting mountain town.

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1. Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway, known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” provides fantastic views, particularly in the fall when the foliage transforms into a vibrant tapestry of colors. You can begin your journey from Waynesville and gain access to a variety of hiking paths, picnic sites, and picturesque vistas. Don’t miss the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center, where you can enjoy panoramic views and start a hike to the summit of Waterrock Knob.

For a shorter but equally scenic drive, take a leisurely cruise along the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway or explore the scenic byways that crisscross the region. A lifetime of memories and breathtaking sights await you, whichever path you take.

2. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Immerse yourself in the natural splendor of America’s most famous national park by visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Explore over 800 miles of scenic trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging backcountry hikes. Discover the diverse wildlife, from black bears to over 200 species of birds.

Witness the majestic views from Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, and enjoy the serene beauty of Cades Cove. Experience the rich cultural history of the Appalachian people and learn about the park’s efforts in preservation and conservation. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deeper connection with nature, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

3. Stroll Through Downtown Waynesville

Stroll along the Main Street of Downtown Waynesville, which is lined with vibrant storefronts, art galleries, and boutiques offering unique finds. Stop by one of the local eateries for a taste of Southern hospitality or catch a live performance at the historic Strand Theater.

Stop by Mast General Store, a beloved community landmark since 1883. Browse aisles filled with nostalgic candies, outdoor gear, and Appalachian-inspired gifts, and soak in the store’s old-fashioned charm.

4. Sample Local Brews and Cuisine

Waynesville’s culinary scene is a reflection of its rich culture and heritage. The town boasts several local breweries where you can savor craft beers inspired by the region’s flavors. Don’t pass up the chance to eat at farm-to-table establishments, where chefs craft delectable meals that capture the essence of the mountains using locally acquired products.

For an authentic taste of Waynesville’s agricultural heritage, take the chance to visit a local farm or orchard. Take a tour, pick your fresh produce, and savor the farm-fresh goodness of the region’s bountiful harvest.

5. Engage with the Arts at the Haywood Arts Regional Theater

The Haywood Arts Regional Theater (HART) offers a robust calendar of plays, musicals, and performances for those who appreciate the performing arts. Located in a beautiful setting, HART is recognized for its high-quality productions that entertain and inspire audiences. Make sure to check their schedule and catch a show during your visit.

Be sure to drop by the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery & Gifts, too, which showcases the work of over 200 regional artists. From traditional Appalachian crafts to contemporary masterpieces, there’s something to inspire every art lover.

6. Relax at Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska is a serene retreat where you can unwind and reconnect with nature. Explore the lake on a stroll, hire a kayak or canoe, or just chill at the water’s edge. Don’t forget your binoculars—the lake is a well-liked bird-watching location! Unwinding and reestablishing a connection with nature is made ideal by the lake’s tranquil ambiance and breathtaking mountain backdrop.

And as night falls, don’t miss the opportunity to gaze at the stars. Far from the city lights, the night sky over Lake Junaluska is a stargazer’s paradise, with constellations shining brightly and the Milky Way stretching across the horizon. It’s the perfect way to end a day in this haven of peace and natural beauty, feeling rejuvenated and connected to the world.

7. Discover Local History

Housed in the historic Shelton House, the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts showcases the rich artistic heritage of the state. It offers insight into the talents and traditions passed down through generations with its outstanding handcrafted pottery, textiles, and carpentry collection.

To dive deeper into mountain culture, attend one of Waynesville’s many cultural events and festivals, such as the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival or the Church Street Art and Craft Show. Celebrate the music, crafts, and traditions that make it a unique and vibrant community.

8. Adventure Awaits in Waynesville’s Great Outdoors

The Nantahala River, a gem within this rugged terrain, invites thrill-seekers to experience its rapid currents, perfect for kayaking and white-water rafting adventures that promise heart-pounding excitement amidst nature’s splendor. For those drawn to the mountains, the Pisgah National Forest presents an expansive playground where mountain biking trails weave through dense forests, offering both challenging terrains for experienced riders and gentler paths for beginners.

Horseback riding offers a different pace of adventure in Waynesville, allowing visitors to explore the countryside’s rolling hills and lush valleys at a leisurely trot or a brisk canter. Riding through this picturesque landscape, one can connect with the tranquil beauty, creating moments of peace and reflection.


Waynesville, NC, offers plenty of things to do, catering to both the adventure seeker and those seeking a more serene experience. The blend of outdoor excitement with cultural richness, art galleries, and interesting local cuisines ensures every visitor finds an unforgettable moment. Whether you’re drawn by the call of the wild in the vast expanses of the Pisgah National Forest or the allure of historical exploration and cultural immersion in the heart of Waynesville, your journey here promises to be filled with memorable escapades.

Don’t just dream about your next great adventure. Make it a reality by learning more about the top things to do in Waynesville, NC, at

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