Getaway of the Month: Waynesville

Discover what the Western North Carolina burg has to offer this fall

One of the great things about living in East Tennessee is how close we are to another great state: North Carolina. Knoxville is just about an hour’s drive from the border between the two states, and not far beyond that you’ll find the wonderfully mountainous regions of Western North Carolina. From eclectic, thriving Asheville to other, more hidden gems like Sylva, Cashiers, Dillsboro and Cullowhee, there’s more than meets the eye to these small mountain towns.

If you have a free weekend or even just a full day to explore what the region has to offer, take the short drive over the border and show your neighboring state some love. One city (and its surrounding area) that you should definitely take time to visit is quaint, family-friendly Waynesville. The following is a guide to where you should stay, eat and shop while you’re there.

What to do

Max Patch, roughly an hour north of Waynesville, is a beautiful, spacious bald offering views for miles and access to great hiking on the Appalachian Trail and the Buckeye Ridge Trail. If you’re into horseback riding, that’s also an option on the Buckeye Ridge Trail, but really, just a walk to the top of Max Patch is a great way to get your heart rate up and to enjoy the beautiful mountains. If you make it onto the trails, keep an eye out for mountain wildflowers such as turtlehead and horse nettle, and foliage such as mountain laurel and rhododendron, which remain beautiful even into late summer.

As for Waynesville itself, you couldn’t pick a better town in which to simply stroll, shop and people watch. Take a walk up and down the semi-bustling Main Street, or walk over to the Historic Frog Level district for great food, drink and shops. If you’re a disc golfer, there’s a fantastic 18-hole course that starts outside of the Waynesville Recreation Center.

Where to stay

Whether you want to stay inside of Waynesville or out of town, there are several great options to satisfy all budgets. If you’re hiking Max Patch and want to rough it, there are some campsites along Cold Springs Road, which you can access by taking the Harmon Den Exit off I-40, or you can camp near Max Patch along the Appalachian Trail for a more immersive experience. If you want to save money while still staying close to town, Waynesville has several budget-friendly motels, such as the Super 8, that are clean, well-kept and offer great value for the price. Another place you might want to try is the Balsam Mountain Inn. Just about 20 minutes from downtown Waynesville, the old-fashioned, secluded inn in Balsam is a great place to bed down for a night or two.

What to eat and drink

Though small and remote, Waynesville has a great selection of restaurants and places to score a great pint of beer or glass of wine. For more upscale fare, try the shrimp and grits at The Sweet Onion Restaurant. Excellent small plates at Frogs Leap Public House include the devils on horseback (dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon) and smoked pork belly confit. Boojum Brewing Company is another solid, casual eatery and a great place to sample a local beer and to nosh on fresh fish and chips.

For coffee, you must try Panacea Coffee Co., which serves breakfast and lunch offerings such as bagels and lox, as well as unique salads. When it’s time to switch from coffee to beer, head next door to Frog Level Brewing Co., where you easily can spend many an hour enjoying fine craft beer and playing games like darts, cornhole and Jenga. The patio there is a great place to sit and relax next to Richland Creek.

Where to shop

After a long day of hiking, you might feel like slowing things down for a while, and shopping in Waynesville is a great option. Check out Mast General Store (the first location opened outside of the High Country), Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel, or Wall Street Books, just to name a few. If you need a healthy snack or some groceries, Zoolie’s Natural Food Market is just a short walk from the main drag. And don’t pass up a trip to the The Classic Wineseller, a cozy package store/restaurant serving charcuterie, all-natural cheeses, flatbreads and other gourmet fare. It even hosts live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.

There you have it: plenty of suggestions to help you plan out your next getaway to Waynesville. Got any other suggestions for Waynesville weekend trips? Know of any interesting food news or new restaurants in Knoxville and the surrounding area? Email me at maggie@blanknews.com.

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