During our latest road trip, one of the top, top, top things I was excited to see was Western North Carolina. This region of the country hugs the Great Smoky Mountains, and is full of national parks, national forests, beautiful drives, gorgeous small towns, and a whole lot more.
We’d most recently been to this area for a brief time during our 2013 road trip, but we didn’t really get to experience much of it at that point. So, it was time to go back and do a whole lot of relaxing, exploring, relaxing, and relaxing.
Our first stop was the town of Waynesville. This city of about 10,000 is approximately 40 minutes west of the popular destination of Asheville. As the seat of Haywood County, it’s got a lot going on for such a small town. Of course, being in the middle of the mountains greatly helps its cause.
We were originally supposed to stay in Waynesville, but the Airbnb property we had reserved steadily went downhill since we originally booked it a few months before our arrival. I mean, really downhill. The place was more or less a dump, and we had to get out of there. So, you’ll have to wait and see where we actually stayed in another post.
All you get is the street outside of the place we ditched, just for a peek at the mountains. 😉
Speaking of mountains, this place is in the mountains, so you’ll have to wait for more pictures of the mountains in our other posts. Trust me, they’re everywhere in Western North Carolina. It’s awesome.
Anyway, as I alluded to before, Waynesville is really bustling for its size. Main street is full of restaurants, bars, antique shops, multiple breweries (!!!), and a whole lot of nice people. It’s got casual, high class…the works. No matter your preference, Waynesville has something for you. I love it.
In addition, and even though it’s not large in size, it has up-and-coming neighborhoods as well. Like Frog Level, which is also home to a brewery, a coffee shop that we had to go to literally every day, some cool shops, and more innovative businesses opening on a regular basis.
I could live here. I might live here. You never know. Waynesville has got it going on. Despite my weak photos – we were just too busy having a good time – this place is on point. I love it.
So, what the heck did we do? Well, we ate a lot, we walked a lot, and we drank (a lot?). Most of the touristy, sightseeing types of things we did are surrounding Waynesville, and this post is about Waynesville.
Being that so many small towns are near each other in this region, we were sort of in and out of town every day. We did a few things in Waynesville, then went over to a national forest, or another town, or took another drive. It was actually really hard for me to figure out how to cover all of these places in some sort of cohesive manner. I finally just decided to separate everything by town.
This entire WNC series will be piecemeal due to our roaming around, and you’re gonna have to live with it. And, just trust us that Western North Carolina is where it’s at. For realsies.
So, here’s what we did. And, don’t worry, there’s plenty for you to do here. In town and outside of town. It’s great. Really.
Mountain Street Dances
Oh, no. We definitely didn’t dance. Maybe we should have had a few beers…and then…you never know! We really just went to check out the live music, clogging, and square dancing that regularly takes place throughout the summer on Main Street.
This is all a very integral part of Appalachian history, and it’s really damn cool to see families and folks of all ages get out there and do their thing. Nearby Maggie Valley is home to the Folkmoot USA International Dance & Music Festival as well, so it’s serious business around here. Even though everyone is having a good time.
So, put on your boots and shake your booty. Or, just sit around and watch the fun.
Boojum Brewing Company
You know we get down with breweries. There’s so much that can be said about local culture in a local craft brewery. The first one we hit was Boojum, a legendary creature native to this area. It’s easier if you just read about it from the source. So, here ya go…
Owned by a brother and sister team, these folks don’t play around. They make good beer. Really, really good beer.
We drank and ate in their very nice tap room and restaurant, and had excellent service.
We really love how the entire front of it opens to the street when the weather is good.
We were, of course, sure to take some with us to go.
Special thanks to Nathaniel, Jessie, and Kitty for the great service!
Tipping Point Brewing & Tavern
Another brewery. Aw, shucks! Just down the street from the previous one, Tipping Point is more of a local hangout and bar than strictly a craft brewery. That’s not to take away from either place. They’re just different!
We’re equal-opportunity craft beer lovers here.
We had very good beer here as well, and quite enjoyed our time shooting the shhh with the staff.
The music was way too loud for such a small place, but it was poppin’ off on a Friday night. So, I guess that was understandable. And, you know we had to pick up some crowlers of that Imperial IPA #3 from the board up there. Oof! Well done, y’all.
Special thanks to Charles for the great service and all the local suggestions, and to Levi for the laughs.
Blossom on Main
We don’t get much Thai food when we’re in Europe, so we have to indulge when we get the chance.
Blossom on Main was a solid choice, with nice curries and soups, crispy spring rolls, and some very good service. I like me…all of those things. Not the best Thai I’ve ever had, but that’d be a lot to ask.
Special thanks to Kara for the great service and chat!
This right here is some no joke, properly made, and lovingly served barbecue. Haywood Smokehouse is serious business.
And it’s not North Carolina barbecue, either. I’m not sure why, and I don’t care. It’s Texas brisket and all that other Lone Star goodness in the heart of Western North Carolina. And it is soooooooo goooooooood.
Yeah, I told you so.
We’ve gotta thank our pal, Anna, for this gem. She was our contact at the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, and she knew just where to go for the good-good. The only reason we didn’t pass out after this meal is because we were so happy about it.
Special thanks to Jennifer for the hospitality!
City Barber Shop
Gotta do it! I like to keep my hair short, so I end up going to a lot of different barber shops when we’re on the road. Waynesville was no exception, and I chose this place because it was a local spot. None of those chain places for me.
And that’s how I met Bruce! Bruce isn’t the owner, but he works seasonally here as he spends his winters working down in Florida. This is often the case with a lot of people. You have Floridians who escape to Western North Carolina during the summer; you have Florida retirees that become North Carolina retirees in the summer, and you have North Carolinians who become Floridians in the winter. The latter is what Bruce is.
Thanks for the clean shave and the nice chat, Bruce!
Ah yes. We need our coffee! Everyone we talked to recommended this as the place for great coffee in Waynesville. And, let me tell you, the folks at Panacea do not disappoint. They make a mean espresso, as well as other coffee drinks, tons of different sandwiches, and more.
They have a wonderful space as well, with a huge back deck that overlooks the creek out back. They’re also next door to Frog Level Brewing Co., which we’ll have to visit on our next WNC run as we sadly just didn’t get around to it this time.
If you want that great, roasted deliciousness in Waynesville, this is your spot!
Special thanks for the good times to Lindsey for the laughs!
And that about sums up our run through Waynesville! Like I said previously, we were in and out of town every day for over a week. Keep your eyes peeled for our other Western North Carolina posts, so you can have a complete picture about what went down in this great part of the world.
Check out our other USA road trip posts right here. In the meantime, we’ll be dreaming about a return to Western North Carolina. 🙂
A very special and very big thanks to Anna at the Haywood County TDA, for showing us the ropes, giving us great advice, and for being a wonderful person. Thanks as well to Big John for schooling us at the TDA office. We’ll see you soon!
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Have you ever been to Waynesville? If so, what’d you think? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!