HAYWOOD COUNTY, NC
Haywood County is full of ways to have a good time. Outdoor enthusiasts (from snow skiing to fishing, biking and more) have options available all year. Shoppers will love the quaint Main Street of Waynesville, and history lovers will find much of historical interest. Foodies? You are guaranteed good times.
First, applause to the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority. Those folks have done their homework and you reap all the benefits. So we’ll get you started, but by all means, turn to them for expert assistance.
WHERE TO STAY
Here are a few of our favorites:
Andon-Reid Bed and Breakfast Inn is a 1902 house that’s full of romance and hospitality. Large windows, tall ceilings, extensive oak hardwood floors, and veranda wrap-around porches provide comfortable surroundings and beautiful views.
Sit outside on the stone patio and drink in the mountain sights. Reserve the newly renovated Magnolia Room with its distinctive styling and king-sized bed. In the morning, ask for breakfast on the patio, weather permitting. A perfect start to your day.
Brookside Mountain Mist Bed and Breakfast Brookside has five large guest rooms on the ground level in Waynesville, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Reviewers give it high marks for warmth and attention to detail, as well as the breakfasts and other welcoming touches. Guests choose between mountain and garden views in lovely surroundings.
The Swag Country Inn is next door to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and for many families, it’s become an enduring family tradition. A favorite among multiple generations, it’s in the New York Times bestseller, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and Wall Street Journal calls it one of the “10 coziest hotels in the United States.” Hint: take the electronics if you must, because you’ve got WI FI and more, but consider going unplugged for a few days. It will be just the downtime you need.
Consider Cataloochee Guest Ranch for another unique accommodation perfectly positioned in beautiful Maggie Valley. Breakfasts and dinners are provided for overnight guests. Activities include horseback riding, mountain hikes, wildflower walks and even a wagon ride. Snow-skiing is nearby, in season.
Another possibility is Waynesville Inn Golf Resort and Spa. Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains on one side and the Blue Ridge Parkway and Balsam Mountains on the other, the resort is ideally located just minutes away from Asheville and Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Guests can easily enjoy skiing, fishing and boating, hiking, sightseeing, shopping, and fine dining in the surrounding areas. Three nine-hole courses offer a great experience for golfers. On the property, the Balsam Spa offers first-class treatments and soothing massage.
For more rustic accommodations, consider Boyd Mountain Log Cabins, which draws enthusiastic reviews on Trip Advisor. Described as rustic (they are from 150-200 years old), yet outfitted with modern conveniences and lovely furnishings, the views are incredible and the surroundings extremely conducive to settling in and chilling out.
There are dozens more, from casual mountain motels, to historic properties and elegant resorts. We’ve given you a few of our favorites, just to whet your appetite for the trip. And once you are comfortably situated, the fun really begins.
WHAT TO DO
You don’t have to be an expert equestrian to enjoy riding a mountain trail. Even if you didn’t choose Cataloochee Guest Ranch for your stay, do consider them for a mountain excursion. Their horses are known for their gentle, experienced rides and the 80-year old farm is an adventure in itself. (For their 80th birthday celebration year, they’re offering “way back when” dinners. Lots of fun and a bit different.) While you’re there ask about a tour of The Backcross Chestnut Orchard. It’s a joint project with Cataloochee Ranch and the American Chestnut Foundation to help return these majestic beauties to the area.
Fortune hunters will want to consider Old Pressley’s Sapphire Mine. It’s a real gem mine – no fake buckets of rocks allowed here – and authentic. It’s one of the oldest operating mines in western North Carolina that was made famous by the discovery of the 1,445 carat "Star of the Carolinas." The mine contains abundant quantities of Sapphires and other precious minerals. The on-site rock shop assures that you can walk away with a treasure, even if you don’t find one yourself.
In addition to the Waynesville Inn golf Resort and Spa, golfers will enjoy Lake Junaluska public Golf Course. More beautiful surroundings make a round of golf a wonderful experience for all skill levels. Time for Lunch (or Dinner)
For great meals, consider Frankie’s Trattoria, a true Italian trattoria that serves authentic Italian food and fabulous homemade pizza. It’s fairly new to Western North Carolina, but the restaurant has been popular in south Florida since 1971, winning awards for their food and creativity.
Sids on Main is found in the tiny town of Canton, located in what was the historic Imperial Hotel. Food is great for lunch or dinner, with creative specials (and hand-crafted cocktails). A beautiful setting and casual, yet uptown.
Try lunch at The Sweet Onion in downtown Waynesville. They offer regional cuisine with a contemporary flair. Think blue crab ahi tuna nachos, for example. You can find traditional favorites such as southern fried chicken, or signature pastas, but do save room for their homemade desserts – delicious.
What about Frogs Leap Public House? Locals love the unique farm to fork approach. The menu changes with the seasons and availability, but when you order, know that sustainability and buying local are core to this restaurant. One lunchtime favorite is the Southern Gentleman, with grilled ham, béchamel, and melted Swiss on sourdough bread. (Make it a Southern Lady by adding a sunny side up local farm egg.)
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the southwestern border of Haywood County, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including historic Cataloochee Valley and Pisgah National Forest can be found in the north section. In the valley, keep watch for the majestic elk, reintroduced and now flourishing. Enjoy the sights from a distance.
The Cataloochee Valley also offers abundant wildflowers, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, black bears, and many birds. There are hiking trails, streams for fishing and preserved buildings. Pack your camera!
Later, take a drive along the 47 miles of mountain roads that take the Blue Ridge Parkway through Haywood County. Save time for a hike at either Graveyard fields or Devils Courthouse. Tourism can share the meanings behind those interesting names.
Motorcycle enthusiasts must stop at the Wheels Through Time Transportation Museum (Check out our Carolina Adventure about the museum.)
A more laid-back excursion might be to follow the Haywood County Quilt Trails, available at one of the visitor centers. Quilts are highly individual, and symbolize family and comfort. The quilt squares are installed on barns, public buildings and on the side of shops. Along the trail, you may want to stop at the Shelton House, built in 1875 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you’ll find many exhibits of 19th C. crafts.
WHEN THE SUN FALLS
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy another excellent meal at one of the area’s renowned restaurants. In addition to the ones mentioned for lunch, there are many others, including this sampling:
The Chef’s Table is an award-winning, slow-food, locally-sourced restaurant, which includes great art with your meal as well as pairings with perfect wines to compliment the food. (They also offer retail wine sales for that perfect bottle to take home and relive memories.)
Bourbon Barrel Beef and Ale is an excellent possibility and although it’s open for lunch or dinner, we suggest dinner so you can take advantage of the local artisan brews and perhaps a bit of the small batch bourbon offerings. Their beef, pork and chicken come from local farms, but they also feature great seafood, again sourced nearby.
J Arthur’s Restaurant is located in Maggie Valley, and for many years has been a popular choice for couples and families. (They have a kid’s corner with toys and such, assuring the little ones will be close, yet happily occupied.)
Well known for their gorgonzola cheese salad, steaks and prime rib, they also offer seafood, chicken and vegetarian pasta.
A NIGHT OUT
If the night is young, consider a bit of entertainment. The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, founded in 1985, is a volunteer-based community theatre showcasing the talents of the people of the region. HART, under the leadership of Executive Director Steven Lloyd, has grown into one of the most active theatres in the Southeast, producing a year-round schedule of plays and musicals from its home, The Performing Arts Center at the Shelton House. HART’s home is a stunning facility – both grand and informal – constructed in the style of the traditional Summer Stock playhouses of the 1920s.
Between May and October, the Maggie Valley Opry House is full of live traditional bluegrass and mountain music that’s usually accompanied by legendary artist Raymond Fairchild. This is foot-stomping, hand-clapping fun. Call: 828.926.9336.
We know you’re tired. And tomorrow is another day.
Now, fueled and energized, there’s a lot on your plate today, figuratively speaking. We’re borrowing liberally from tourism’s “Homegrown Taste of Haywood County.”
The farms in Haywood County are often the suppliers to the great restaurants we’ve recommended. Everyone works together for fabulous results. Here are a few must-see stops:
We love the Sunburst Trout Company in Canton. We’ve tried the trout and it was divine. The smoked trout dip sounds just great and the caviar would be a perfect splurge. Go visit and see what this third generation family enterprise has accomplished.
Love figs? We do, too. (In fact, check out our figgy bread in your next newsletter.) At Wildcat Ridge Farm, in Clyde, you won’t find large felines, but you will find the largest selection of fig trees in western North Carolina, plus pretty, pretty plants. (Great gourmet food, too.)
Ten Acre Garden, in Waynesville, is a working and pick-your-own farm that produces and sells a large variety of produce, including lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, cut flowers, eggs and jams and jellies.
When it’s lunchtime, enjoy one of the restaurants mentioned earlier, or try Clyde’s Restaurant on Main Street in Waynesville. 828.456.9135
Spend the afternoon shopping in downtown Waynesville, wandering along Main Street and stopping in at Mast General Store. The Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery (just voted one of the top dog bakeries in the country). You can also go to Twigs and Leaves, offering nature-related arts and fine crafts, or perhaps High Country Furniture. There are so many art galleries, as well as Sunburst Market (where you can get the scrumptious trout), and the Jewelers Workbench.
Finally, it’s time to reward yourself. Haywood County is home to three microbreweries: BearWaters Brewery, Frog Level Brewery and Tipping Point Tavern. If you’ve done everything on our list, plus spent time in the national parks and along the Parkway, you’ve had an amazing road trip. Let us know what you discovered and we’ll add it to our list. You’ll return another day, for sure.
Learn more from www.visitncsmokies.com
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