Exploring the Hidden Gems of Waynesville: A Guide to the Best Local Attractions and Activities

Waynesville NC is a small mountain community in western North Carolina with a rich history and culture. Waynesville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and nearby to the popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  While the area has many well-known tourist attractions, there are also numerous hidden gems just waiting to be discovered by adventurous travelers.  These hidden gems provide some of the best things to do in Waynesville NC for visitors.

This guide will explore some of the best local attractions and activities in Waynesville, NC that aren't as well known and "off the beaten path", if you will.

A Day Out in Waynesville NC

Be sure to watch our video A Day Out in Waynesville NC, that highlights just some of the places we list below.

The Ten Acre Garden - Pizza and Produce

The Ten Acre Garden is a sustainable farm in nearby Canton NC. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, peaches, plums, cherries, asparagus, garlic, and other organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs are grown on the farm. A small herd of grass-fed cattle and a flock of free-range chickens supply fresh eggs on the farm.

Ten Acre Farm also includes a farm stand where visitors can buy the farm's fresh products.

In addition to their locally grown produce, a key attraction for the farm in recent years is their Pizza and special events.   The farm has a number of special events throughout the year, notably their Fall Festival, which has food and live entertainment.   

10 Acre Farm has become most well-known, ironically for their Pizza.   How does a farm and Pizza connect you ask?   Well, the owners built a brickoven Pizza for themselves and friends.  They decided to open that up the public, and offer specialty Pizza's on Friday evenings during prime season.   Pizzas are free, however they ask for a donation to the farm. 

Why Pizza on a farm?  Well, in addition to it being fresh and delicious, they also offer live entertainment, picnic tables, and large fields for the kids to play in.  You'll be surrounded by beautiful farm land and nearly 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains as well.   You can even BYO beer or wine to enjoy with your pizza.

On a typical summer Saturday evening, you'll find lots of families and friends hanging out, enjoying some pizza over a bottle of wine, while the kids play in the fields, and with the farm dogs.   There is often live entertainment, but even when there isn't, spontaneous jam sessions often break out in the evening around the fires.

Pizza and a farm - It's the perfect combination for a mountain summer evening.  Be sure to visit The Ten Acre Garden, it's just one of many hidden gems near Waynesville NC.

Apples and More at Barber Orchards Fruit Stand

Did you know the Waynesville has it's own local apple orchard and fruits stand?   It does and many don't even realize it.  Barber Orchards Fruit Stand is a family-owned business here in Waynesville, and has been growing and selling Apples for generations. Their orchards and fruit stand is situated in a beautiful location just outside of Waynesville and surrounded by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains.  They are open seasonally from April through November.

The orchard specializes in a variety of apples, including Honeycrisp, Rome, Golden Delicious, and Gala. They also offer other fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, and blackberries, depending on the season.  All the fruits sold in the orchard are grown locally and are hand-picked.

In addition to apples and other fruits, the orchard also offers a wide range of homemade baked goods such as apple pies, turnovers, fried apple pies, apple donuts, and apple fritters. They also sell homemade jams, jellies, preserves and of course apple cider.   

The apple donuts are just beyond delicious.  Be sure to pay them a visit, pick up some fresh apples and fruit, and a few baked goods as well.

Elk in Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley - Palmer Church in the Fall

Cataloochee Valley is a picturesque valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just outside of Waynesville. The valley is well-known for its beauty, rich cultural, natural history, and Elk.   When visiting, you'll also find historic structures, additional wildlife, and breathtaking views.   A trip to Cataloochee Valley is like going back in time for a few hours.

The Cherokee Indians first inhabited in the valley, and it eventually became a popular hunting place for European settlers. Several people settled in the valley in the late 1800s, and the remote settlement grew to include a school, church, and post office.  The citizens of Cataloochee Valley produced fruit, crops and lumber for area towns, Waynesville in particular.

As part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitors to Cataloochee Valley can now explore the historic buildings and learn about the area's history, as well as enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, and scenic driving into Cataloochee Valley.

Elk, black bears, and white-tailed deer are among the wildlife that call the valley home.  In fact, Elk were re-introduced into the Great Smoky Mountains in the early 2000s, in Cataloochee Valley.

The drive to the Valley is an adventure, but well worth it! 

Culture at Folkmoot International Festival 

Folkmoot International Day Waynesille NC

Waynesville has an annual festival called Folkmoot that is incredibly popular, and attractors visitors from all over the world. Since its inception in 1983, the festival has gained popularity in the area and annually welcomes thousands of guests.

Dancers and musicians from various nations perform traditional folk dances and music from their own nations during the event. Visitors have the chance to take part in the festival's celebration of human diversity and learn about the rich cultural history of various nations.

The festival is dedicated to fostering intercultural dialogue and understanding as well as to protecting and disseminating the rich cultural legacy of the world.

The main event, Folkmoot Summerfest is generally in July of each year and lasts several days, including a celebration in downtown Waynesville with music, dancing, vendors, crafts and more.

Visit the Highest Point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway is located just outside of Waynesville NC at MP431.  The overlook is Richland Balsam which is at an elevation of 6,053 feet.

The area around Richland Balsam is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is known for its biodiversity and natural beauty. The summit offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  This is a popular destination for visitors both for the views, and for getting their photo taken at the sign.

Visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway can reach Richland Balsam by car, as the parkway runs directly through the area and there is a parking area and overlook. There is also a hiking trail that leads to the summit, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the surrounding wilderness and enjoy the natural beauty of the area up close.  The nature look is further down the parkway at the next pull off an overook.  You'll see the sign for the trailhead.

Travel Waynesville's Quilt Trail

The Haywood County Quilt Trail is a North Carolina public art project in Haywood County. The project started in 2009 with the placement of 12 quilt blocks in Waynesville. Since then, the route has expanded to span more than 60 blocks in five counties: Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde, and Bethel.

Quilt blocks range in size from two to eight feet and are painted on pre-built wooden squares. They are used to decorate barns, outbuildings, community buildings, and other locations. Each block depicts a distinct quilt pattern, and many of the blocks include a story about the quilt pattern or the location where it is shown.

The Haywood County Quilt Trail is a lesser known attraction that also serves to honor the county's quilting legacy. Quilting has been a part of Haywood County culture for decades, and the quilt trail is an opportunity for visitors and people alike to learn about it and tour the countryside as they look for the quilt squares.

The quilt path is an enjoyable and educational way to discover Waynesville and Haywood County. The trail helps you learn about the county's history, culture, and quilting tradition and they can additionally appreciate the natural splendor of the county's rural countryside and mountains.

You'll want to begin your journey by visiting the Haywood County Quilt Trail website, which has a map and details on each of the locations, including GPS coordinates.  The majority of the quilt blocks are on private land, so they should only be viewed from public areas.   

Explore Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska near Waynesville NC

Lake Junaluska is a popular resort and conference center located just outside of Waynesville NC. The lake itself is a man-made body of water surrounded by scenic mountains, and it is a popular destination for walking, running, boating, fishing, and swimming.

In addition to its natural beauty, Lake Junaluska offers a range of recreational opportunities, walking trails, a golf course, tennis courts, and a fitness center. The resort also features a variety of accommodations, including lodges, cottages, and conference centers, making it a popular destination for conferences, retreats, and family vacations.  You'll also find restaurants and shops as well.  

The Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center is a major attraction of the area, hosting a wide range of events throughout the year, including religious retreats, educational programs, and cultural festivals. The center also features a bookstore, a museum, and a performance venue.

For those visiting the area, we encourage you to drive over, park, and talk a walk around the paved walking trail around the lake, where you can enjoy the beautiful views, wildlife, and all the things Lake Junaluska has to offer.

Arts and Crafts at Shelton House

In Waynesville, North Carolina, there is a cultural center and Museum called the Shelton House - Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts that focuses on conserving and promoting regional crafts and arts. The museum showcases the creations of regional artists and crafters through a variety of exhibits, displays, and educational events.

The museum's exhibitions include a range of crafts, including carpentry, quilting, weaving, pottery, and more. Additionally, the museum offers lectures and workshops that give visitors the chance to practice ancient skills and techniques while being taught by local artisans.

The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts offers visitors a gift store where they may buy one-of-a-kind products manufactured by regional artists in addition to its exhibits and programs. The goal of the museum is to inform visitors about the rich creative legacy of North Carolina and to support and promote the work of regional traditional craftspeople.

Hang out with Alpacas at Winchester Creek Alpaca Farm

Winchester Creek Farm is a 20-acre family-owned farm in Waynesville. The farm is home to a variety of miniature animals, including alpacas, horses, donkeys, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and more. The farm offers educational tours, field trips, private group tours, and even beautiful vacation rentals.

The farm is located near the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside of Waynesville NC. The farm has rolling green pastures that are nestled between the beautiful surrounding mountains.   

The farm offers a variety of educational tours. The tours are led by knowledgable and friendly guides that and teach visitors about the the farm, it's history, and the different animals on the farm. The tours are a great way to learn about the alpacas, miniature horses, and other farm animals.

Winchester Creek Farm is a great place to visit for both adults and families with children to learn about farm life and animals. The farm is a fun activity for the kids, the animals are super friendly, and the scenery is hard to beat.

Discover Soco Falls

Soco Falls is truly a hidden gem, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, not far from Waynesville NC, and just inside the Cherokee Nation boundry.   Access the small easy to miss parking area for the trailhead.  The short, but not well maintained trail will take you down to the wooden observation deck for beautiful views of this duel and majestic waterfall.

For better views, take the scurry trail down the base of the falls.  This option is only recommended for those with climbing and hiking skills.

Go Back in Time at Mast General Store and Downtown Waynesville

Mast General Store Waynesville NC

The original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis NC opened in 1883 to serve the local area.  The store grew and additional stories were opened in various different mountain towns, including Waynesville NC in 1991.

Mast General Store in Waynesville is located in downtown in an old department store from the 1930 that has been carefully preserved and restored over the years, and it features a charming and nostalgic atmosphere that harkens back to a bygone era.

Mast General stores are  renowned for their selection of traditional clothing, outdoor gear, and household goods, as well as its old-fashioned candy counter, which offers a variety of classic sweets and treats.  They are even contained in old Barrels, just like the old "five and dime" stores.

While visiting the store, be sure explore the rest of historic downtown and all of the wonderful and locally owned shops.  You won't regret it and just might feel like you've been transported back in time to a Norman Rockwell painting.

Tour Waynesville's Historic Farmers Market

The Haywood County Historic Farmers Market is a weekly farmers market in Waynesville and located in the Hart Theater Parking lot . The market is open from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Wednesdays from April through October.

The market features over 40 different vendors selling a variety of local produce, meats, eggs, baked goods, crafts, plants, and more. The market is a great place to find fresh, seasonal food and products, and to support local farmers and artisans.  You'll even find food and drinks available.

The Farmer's Market is wheelchair accessible, pet-friendly, and there is free parking right next to the market itself.

You can visit the Waynesville's Farmer's Market at at 250 Pigeon St. Waynesville, NC

Stand in Awe at Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob Near Waynesville NC

While well-known to locals, Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside of Waynesville NC isn't as well known to visitors. Waterrock Knob is a true hidden gem for those looking for stunning panoramic and high elevation views of the surrounding Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains.   Due to the nearly 360 degree view, Waterock Knob is the ideal location to view both a sunrise and a sunset.

Waterrock Knob is accessible via a short access road directly off the Parkway between Waynesville and Maggie Valley NC at MP451.2.  The access road will take you up to the main parking area, where you will find the incredible views, bathrooms, a visitor center and gift shop, picnic tables, and access to the hiking trail to the top of the knob.

Waterrock Knob is  is a great for the entire family to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views.   Kids can play in the fields, and the picnic tables make for a great picnic destination.    For those more adventurous families, you can hike up the .5 mile trail to the top of Waterrock Knob.   It's a great hike, but very steep.  In fact, we doubt you'll find a more steep .5 trail anywhere.

Enjoyed this article?

Find more great content here: