Complete Guide to Waynesville, North Carolina
Surrounding Areas

A Complete Guide to Waynesville: Activities, Restaurants, Bars, and Shops

Welcome to Waynesville, the sweetest little town at the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While Waynesville isn’t far off from more populous places – 35 minutes to Asheville and about an hour to Hendersonville – it’s got more than enough to keep you busy for a beautiful weekend retreat or a special festival or event. 

Make the most of your trip and make Waynesville a memorable spot in these gorgeous mountains. From taking in the beauty of nature and wildlife along the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoying all of Waynesville’s excellent shops, restaurants, and annual events, you’ll never run out of fun while you visit this best-kept secret of Appalachian culture and fun! 

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Complete Guide to Waynesville

The Best Waynesville Activities 

While a small town isn’t going to have 17 events going at once, at least not most of the time, there are often more than enough things to do in Waynesville. Where this town really shines is in nature, though: from farm tours to hiking, you’ll be happy to connect to the community. Check out the variety of Waynesville attractions, and find out if this is your favorite small mountain town of them all!  

1. See a Show at Haywood Arts Regional Theatre

Things To Do in Waynesville: HART
Image courtesy of HART

If you haven’t considered seeing a show at the HART before, you’ll be impressed. Local actors and actresses put on around seven main stage performances a year, with occasional other Waynesville events held at the theater. 

Local theater is a true labor of love, and volunteers do much of the work to make sets, greet patrons, and make sure that your night out is incredible. Laugh through comedies, be moved by dramas, and go home singing to yourself after musicals – HART has a show for every personality. 

2. Step Out at the Friday Night Summer Street Dance

Four times each summer, a whole slew of Western NC’s cloggers, bluegrass musicians, and bands come together to literally shut down traffic in downtown Waynesville for the Friday Night Summer Street Dance

You can quickly pick up many of the steps to traditional Appalachian dances, which are meant to be a fun way to meet people. Plus, they don’t require you to have anything memorized. A “caller” yells the steps in time with the music and gets everyone into the swing of things. 

Even if all you want to do is enjoy a mountain sunset and a lively banjo and fiddle tune, stepping out for this street dance spectacle is sure to get your toe tapping at least a little bit! If you’re looking for fun things to do in Waynesville, don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind street dance.

 3. Walk Waynesville Greenway and Try Local Hikes

Complete Guide to Waynesville: Waynesville Greenway

If you visit during Waynesville’s plentiful good weather, you’ve just got to get outside. The Waynesville Greenway is a great place to start, connecting you to nature all around town without dizzying heights or drop-offs. 

Still, many people like the more rugged walks in the woods, and there are plenty of those too in the mountains surrounding Waynesville: From Little Cataloochee Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to various trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway, find your next challenge here in Haywood County. 

If you’re staying at a vacation rental, consider asking your host which trailheads are closest and whether they are easy, moderate, or challenging. New friends found at all the fun Waynesville events are also likely to have opinions and recommendations!

 4. Take Your Family for a Farm Tour or Other Special Waynesville Events

Things To Do in Waynesville: Winchester Creek Farm
Images courtesy of Winchester Creek Farm

One of the most popular Waynesville festivals takes place in October, the Apple Harvest Festival. This event transforms downtown Waynesville into an arts and crafts haven, with, of course, many apple varieties and apple confections available for purchase. 

The local Waynesville restaurants and shops also go all-out for this premier Waynesville event. Local farms like Winchester Creek Farm and Sugg Plantation and Alpaca Farm offer tours during limited portions of the year, making them a good resource if you’re looking for family-friendly, educational opportunities while you’re there. 

Many children have never seen an alpaca, for instance, and may not know what their fur is used for, making it an intriguing outing. In both cases, you’ll get to see a variety of animals and see what life on a farm is really like. These Waynesville events and farm tours can get your family out and about and interacting. It’s a great way to enjoy everything this town has to offer.

5. Explore the Haywood County Quilt Trail

While a general drive in the countryside is really beautiful, and Waynesville’s Haywood County is no exception, it’s often fun to have a little bit of a scavenger hunt along the way, like the car games that children play when on a long trip. 

A great way to learn a bit about the history of craftsmanship in Western NC while also taking in a breathtaking drive is to explore the Haywood County Quilt Trails. Barns all over the county feature vibrant “quilt square” designs on them, which can be as small as two feet across and as large as eight feet across. 


The Best Restaurants in Waynesville

For a small community, places to eat in Waynesville are actually quite plentiful and of excellent quality. When visiting for popular Waynesville events, make sure you make a reservation or duck into one of the tasty Waynesville restaurants offering incredible flavors in the shadow of the beautiful nearby mountains. 

This is only a small sampling of all the cuisine options, so don’t be afraid to take a stroll down Main Street to check out the best Waynesville restaurants, new and old. 

1. Savor the Flavors at The Sweet Onion

A great restaurant has at least a few things on the menu that really make you say, “I just have to try it.” The Sweet Onion brings together dishes like Tuna Sashimi and Cajun Brussel Sprouts on the same appetizers menu, and you know that things are just going to get more adventurous from there. 

Sample the incredible Lemongrass Grilled Chicken Salad, a Pimento Fried Chicken Club, or the Wild Mushroom Ravioli – the sky is the limit! Combine your tasty dinner options with a bottle from the extensive wine list, and you’ve got a recipe for a great date or at least an absolutely scrumptious meal. 

2. Try the Farm-to-Table Experience at Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen

Birchwood Hall asks, “what would it be like to really connect with all-local producers and purveyors and make a modern menu that celebrates Southern cuisine?” The comfortable wood-tone space features an extensive bar and beautiful colors and lines, but the food is the main star of this space. 

Start with an order of Goat Cheese Fritters with seasonal pepper jelly or a Butter Wedge Salad complete with bacon and bleu cheese. Dive into a catfish roll, a grilled portabella sandwich, or an incredible meatloaf plate, all prepared with a combination of comfortable flavors and a little edge coming from some spicing twists and flavor fun. 

It’s a great place to take a crew that includes both adventurous and comfort-seeking diners since everyone will recognize the kinds of food available, but each dish has a very Birchwood spin on the flavors, all sourced with the highest quality local ingredients possible. 

3. Break Into the Barbecue at Haywood Smokehouse

There’s a reason why Haywood Smokehouse has expanded to multiple locations: the food is made the old-fashioned, slow-and-low-cooking way, and people can tell it’s something special. If you’re looking for the best Waynesville restaurants, give this place a try.

Their hallmark is serving “the best Texas-style barbecue outside of Texas,” and the Texans who visit can vouch for them. From house-made sausages, scratch-made sauces, and on-site smoked ribs and brisket, you’ll find something incredible on every corner of the menu. 

Sandwiches made with their smoked pork or turkey breast are also popular. As a person who fell in love with Shiner Bock in the heart of Texas, it’s nice to have a spot where sipping Shiner with an incredible barbecue plate is possible. If you’re thinking about ordering to-go, make sure you get the Waynesville location rather than one of their other spots, giving yourself a longer-than-planned commute to get your food!

4. Try the Tasty Breakfast at The Buttered Biscuit

This local institution is just the right spot for a breakfast sandwich or a diner-style lunch. Sink your teeth into a buffalo chicken or blueberry and strawberry biscuit, or try any of a variety of waffles, pancakes, French toast, omelets, or even pork tenderloin with eggs!

Lunch options include a variety of melts, burgers, and salads, all priced affordably. The menu includes down-home comfort sides, including mashed potatoes, fried okra, cole slaw, and lots more. When visiting a small town, a great way to really feel like a local is to stop by the local breakfast spot where regulars gather, and The Buttered Biscuit is a great option if this is what you’re looking for. 

5. Have a Classy Meal Out at Valé 243 Southern Italian Kitchen

Guide to Waynesville, North Carolina: Valé 243
Image courtesy of Valé 243

When you really just want to be transported to the Southern Italian coastline but you’re hanging out in Haywood County instead, Valé 243 is one of the best Waynesville restaurants. With a classy menu that includes all the Italian flavors you know and love, they offer a great date night restaurant as well as a variety of foods that make for good takeout. 

Sample the Caprese salad made by the chef’s own Nonna Margherita, a tasty Amalfi Coast classic made with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, and arugula greens, as well as a glistening drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Try a meatball sub or eggplant parmigiana sandwich, and get a side like fried zucchini or balsamic Brussels sprouts to add a little green to your plate. 

Signature pastas, meats, and pizzas round out the menu. Check out their Speedy Sergio deal, a fast lunch-hour meal with pizza slices and a soft drink. When you get to the end of your meal, if you have even the littlest bit of room left in your stomach, find room for a bite of Titina’s Tiramisu or a cannoli. It’s truly a feast every time you stop by. 


The Best Bars in Waynesville

Whether your vibe is “five-course wine-paired dinner from a thoughtful sommelier” or “light beer on draft while I watch the big game,” Waynesville can deliver the fun nightlife experience you need. Many Waynesville restaurants also have a lively evening scene, with a bar, pool tables, live music, or other entertaining features. Enjoy everything that Waynesville has to offer while you catch up with friends or relax with a pint.

1. Cross the Pond at The Scotsman Public House

Things To Do in Waynesville: The Scotsman
Image courtesy of The Scotsman

The Scotsman celebrates Scotland with a rousing experience of pub life. From tasty foods that combine American, Scottish, and Irish flavors for total comfort to the tasty variety of wine and beers, as well as (of course) excellent Scotch and cocktails, you’ll find something to love. 

Best Things To Do in Waynesville: The Scotsman

It’s a particularly good place to hang out and catch up with friends because there is pool, shuffleboard, and darts to keep you occupied. For music, either enjoy the many live music events that the Scotsman lines up or groove to a song or two from the old-fashioned jukebox! There’s something for everyone. 

2. Party with the Locals at Waynesville’s Water’n Hole

This comfy bar and grill is a great place to find local live music and just have a good time in Waynesville’s downtown. They also keep big TVs on so you can catch the big game with your group. 

Fun and silly Waynesville events, from ugly sweater parties for Christmas to zombie proms for Halloween, bring the fun to the bar. The food is classic and delicious diner-style flavors, from a truly monstrous burger to tasty French toast for brunch. You’ll find the perfect spot for a fun and rowdy evening with friends here at the Water’n Hole.

3. Find Great Food and Fresh Beer at Boojum Brewing

Complete Guide to Waynesville: Boojum
Image courtesy of Boojum Brewing

While cans and on-tap Boojum beer can be found all over Western NC due to its popularity and great flavor, you’re going to find the best, freshest beer on tap at their downtown Waynesville taproom. 

Their taproom offers a relaxed lunchtime atmosphere and a great back deck, and the evening brings the option to hang out in the 21+ Gem Bar, the lowest level of the building below the restaurant. 

Sample their tasty sandwich menu, or have a lavish dinner of Shrimp and Grits alongside any of the 16 beers on tap. If anyone in your party balks at going to a brewery, reassure them that there is plenty of wine as well as craft cocktails available, making Boojum just the right fit for a good time. 

4. Be a Casual Connoisseur at Bosu’s Wine Shop

Complete Guide to Waynesville: Bosu's Wine Shop
Images courtesy of Bosu’s Wine Shop

When done right, a wine shop isn’t just a place to duck into and duck back out again with your skinny paper bag for your next dinner party. Instead, it is a community. 

While Bosu’s wine shop does indeed have a retail component, they also have a wine-by-the-glass menu, a tasting flight of the week, and various five-course wine dinners that introduce you to great glasses alongside scrumptious and well-prepared meals. 

They’ve also got beer for those who aren’t in the mood for a Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon, and they can easily host a group for a private party – invite all your favorite wine-loving friends.


The Best Shopping in Waynesville

There are more treasures than you might expect when you go shopping in Waynesville. This little town features a variety of antique and vintage options, as well as new fashion boutiques and fun hippie shops akin to those you’d find in Asheville, NC. Make the most of your time here by visiting a few Waynesville shops, and see if you don’t walk out with a few bags and a new favorite place to stop by! 

1. Go Antique Treasure Hunting at Southern Charm Vintage Market

This market features all kinds of farmhouse and antique pieces that can be made new again when you opt to add them to your home decor. Many people are excited about the modern farmhouse look these days, and this vintage market is stocked to bursting with items that can really tie a room together and be a conversation piece. 

If you love vintage clothes too, this may be the place for a unique find: they stock dresses, hats, scarves, and so much more. When something exciting comes in, they tend to post it on their Facebook page, but hustle to Main Street quickly if you see something of interest: beautiful treasures sometimes go fast there!

2. Find Excellent Artwork at Twigs and Leaves Gallery

Complete Guide to Waynesville: Twigs and Leaves
Image courtesy of Twigs and Leaves Gallery

This gallery has the motto, “Where Art Dances with Nature,” and you’re sure to see a theme as you admire the many items on display at this gallery. Everything reflects, in some way, the beauty of the natural world around Waynesville and beyond. 

From impressive watercolors and oil paintings to fused glass art, jewelry, and handmade wooden items, you’re sure to find something made by a local artist who is beloved here in Waynesville. 

The many artists who have items on display in Twigs and Leaves take inspiration from the world around them, and this gallery, more than most, is perfect for finding an item to commemorate your time in the mountains, connecting the memory of time well spent here in Waynesville. 

3. Search Souvenirs and More at Affairs of the Heart

What began as a store to sell handmade crafts in 1996 is going strong as an eclectic and fun shop for handmade items as well as so much else. Whether you’re looking for a card for an occasion, a novelty sign to finish out a new back porch design, a silly mug for a gift, or the jewelry that will pull together an outfit, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for at Affairs of the Heart

There’s also novelty socks, candles, plush animals, dish towels, and even Waynesville-themed merchandise. They’re a great place to stop if you’ve been enjoying your sojourn in this sweet gem of a town and want a memory or a gift to take home with you.

4. Shop for Outfits Galore at Soul Sisters Depot

Fun Things To Do in Waynesville: Soul Sisters Depot
Image courtesy of Soul Sisters Depot

There’s always something funky and fun at the Soul Sisters Depot, a boutique in downtown Waynesville that features hippie gear, bath and body products, and more traditional looks like excellent jeans, beautiful shoes, and jewelry galore. 

When the weather turns chilly, go to Soul Sisters for the drapey cardigans and cozy sweaters you need, as well as the candles to light and keep your home feeling dreamy and comfortable. When the weather warms up, this Western-chic-centric collection brings you whimsical tops, great shorts and skirts, and every accessory you need to design a look all your own. 

It’s very clear that the owners of Soul Sisters have a passion for fashion and the willingness to find the items that will delight their visitors. 

5. Pick Up Practical Art and Gifts at Mud Dabbers Pottery & Crafts

If you really want to have a conversation piece when you finish your shopping time in Waynesville, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something more beautiful and inspiring than the pottery stoneware from Mud Dabbers

This business has been in the tiny community of Balsam, North Carolina, for literal generations, and the beauty of these glazed vessels is such that they are just as at home in practical use for serving meals as they are in design, making your home more beautiful. 

They are part of the larger Blue Ridge Craft Trail, showcasing all the many artisanal products created in our part of the world, and you can watch in the open workspaces as the artists craft these items by hand, making them a product that is just as perfect for a gift as for your own dining room table. 

We hope you enjoy your trip to Waynesville! What are your favorite things to do in Waynesville, NC? Let us know in the comments.


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Laura finally got to move to Asheville in 2021 after a decade of visits and hangouts here. She loves the food, the coffee shops, and the riverfront in Asheville. Laura is always finding something new and wonderful to try.

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