DAY TRIPS FROM ASHEVILLE
WANDER INTO THE MOUNTAINS AROUND YOU
Ready to escape the city? Take a break from your Asheville adventure and go on a day trip! Head just a half-hour west into Haywood County to see some of the best attractions the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer. Here, you’ll find five unique and charming towns and a smorgasbord of outdoor adventures: skiing in the winter, watersports in the warmer months, hiking year-round, and plenty of other activities, too.
Whether you have a few hours or a full day, we’ll show you how you can make the most out of your day trip from Asheville!
HOW TO GET TO HAYWOOD COUNTY FROM ASHEVILLE
Getting to Haywood County from Asheville couldn’t be easier! Simply get on I-40 West and follow the signs to your favorite mountain towns.
Not sure what to do yet? Let us inspire you!
START PLANNING THE BEST DAY TRIP FROM ASHEVILLE
Before you hit the road, think about how much time you have to explore. The NC Smokies are close to Asheville, so it’s easy to maximize your time, even if you only have 2-3 hours! Below, we’ve laid out a few adventures for you to try. Mix and match your activities to create your perfect day trip.
Time: 2 – 3 hours
With so many trails with varying lengths and intensities, there’s something for hikers of all skill levels to explore. For short adventures, try the 1.2 mile hike to the top of Waterrock Knob, just off Blue Ridge Parkway mile marker 451.2; take an easy half-mile hike to sweeping views at Black Balsam Knob; view four states from the summit of Devil’s Courthouse.
Time: 3 hours
At Cataloochee Guest Ranch, you can experience the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina from horseback. Choose from a number of different trails that will take you through lush tunnels of rhododendrons, across expansive mountain balds, or through wooded trails. Check their website to make a reservation.
Time: 2 hours or more
With limited time, you can try to squeeze in a few runs at Cataloochee Ski Area, but to make the most of your time (and money), you can spend a few hours of snowy fun across the street at Tube World. A two-hour session costs just $25 per tuber, but you’ll want to make sure to make reservations ahead of time to save your spot. It can get busy, and you don’t want to miss out!
Time: 2 hours
Stop in Maggie Valley to see one of the most unique museums in the world. Wheels Through Time is home to more than 300 rare American motorcycles and “one-off” automobiles. What’s more extraordinary: every single machine in the building is in working order. Even if you’re not a gearhead, you’ll be amazed.
Time: 2 hours or more
Waynesville has become a haven for artists, and all it takes is a walk down Main Street to see the tip of the iceberg. Spend the afternoon browsing galleries, boutiques, and unique stores, or check the event schedule for art events, street-wide festivals, and live music. Plan to come back for a show at the regionally-renowned HART Theatre.
Time: 3 – 5 hours
Nothing says “summer” like a river float and a cold beer. Stop by Pigeon River Outfitters in Canton to rent a tube, and they’ll shuttle you to the top of the river so you can float down to Bearwaters Brewing. Enjoy award-winning craft brews and delicious food while you relax on the deck overlooking the banks. Book your float on their website!
EXPLORE OUR MOUNTAIN TOWNS
Haywood County is home to five unique mountain towns: Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton, and Clyde. While each one is unique, there are a few things you can find everywhere here: friendly faces, delicious food, beautiful mountain views, and unforgettable experiences. Spend a day exploring one town or take time getting to know them all.
Waynesville, a vibrant home for many of our local artists, is the biggest city in Haywood County. Start your tour on Waynesville’s Main Street and explore shops, restaurants, art galleries, and more. However, going off the beaten path here is definitely worth the journey: travel to Frog Level Historic District for creekside brews and coffee. Then, make your way to Hazelwood for hidden-gem restaurants, charming boutiques, and addicting homemade soaps.
Unassuming, endlessly beautiful, and quietly exciting, there’s something about Maggie that keeps you coming back. Maggie has been a much-loved destination for motorcyclists and roadtrippers for decades. Golfing at the Maggie Valley Club, cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway, and skiing at Cataloochee Ski Area are fan-favorite activities here. Don’t be surprised if you see an elk wandering across the street while you’re finishing a plate of barbeque between hikes.
This 200-acre lake is the perfect place to recharge, whether you’re paddleboarding, kayaking, or taking a stroll around the iconic Rose Walk. Bald eagles have been seen soaring across the water here, so keep your eyes to the sky as you unwind. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can hop aboard the Cherokee IV and take an evening boat tour around the lake to learn about the area’s history. The cost is only $5!
Downtown Canton is home to eclectic shops and The Southern Porch, a beautiful Victorian mansion-turned-gastropub. But perched on the side of the river you’ll find BearWaters Brewing Company, home to award-winning craft beers, pub games, and an unbeatable atmosphere. Float down the Pigeon River to BearWaters for an afternoon well spent. For a unique souvenir, stop by a U-Pick farm to bring home a beautiful bouquet of local flowers.
Here, you’ll find one of the most photogenic spots in Western North Carolina at Max Patch, a beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail. Afterward, duck into the Fines Creek Community Center for fresh-as-you-can-get local produce and handmade crafts. In the center of town, stop for a moment by the Clyde Fire Station to pay tribute at the 9/11 memorial. Here, you’ll find a steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center—one of only 1,000 ground zero artifacts gifted to communities. For a fun day spent enjoying the scenery, saddle up on an American Paint Horse at Panther Creek Outfitters and experience the view.