Going to the FEI World Equestrian Games? Visit these Five Mountain Towns!

Hiker admiring a view of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The highly-anticipated FEI World Equestrian Games are happening in Tryon, NC right now, bringing spectacular competition and a world of excitement to North Carolina. If you’re here the watch the Games, you’ve probably already noticed that there’s so much to see in our state. If you want to take a short day trip to discover what else you can do in Western North Carolina while you’re visiting, you should explore Haywood County.

Nestled in one of the most unique regions in the country, you’ll find a heavy saturation of mountain heritage and an air of relaxation that’s only stirred by the promise of an all-out Appalachian celebration. Haywood County, which is right in the heart of the North Carolina Smoky Mountains, is home to friendly faces and a rustic southern charm that keeps our visitors coming back and makes our residents proud to call this place home.

Here you’ll find five distinct mountain towns, each with its own identity, but offering a completely authentic Appalachian experience like nowhere else. Expect good food, outdoor adventure, and small-city kindness with a big-city feel wherever you go.

What’s your speed? You can find it here.


A charming and walkable downtown destination awaits you in Canton. Find yourself surrounded by rich culture in a paper mill town that’s turned itself into an up-and-coming Asheville suburb. Stop in at the highly-rated Southern Porch for lunch and treat yourself to a brew with a view at Bearwaters Brewing Company, located right on the Pigeon River.



Head due west of Canton and you’ll find the quaint and quirky town of Clyde, home to the veteran memorial known as the Big Gun. Right next door, stop by the creatively-named bakery, the Big Bun. Stay in a refurbished train caboose for the night if you’re feeling adventurous. For your daily dose of history, take a tour at the Shook Museum. The best souvenir to take home from Clyde? How about some fresh produce at one of our U-Pick farms.

Lake Junaluska

Just about as rich in history as it is photogenic, “Lake J” offers a pristine 200-acre lake at the base of a stunning backdrop composed of 1,200 acres of rolling hills and valleys. A popular destination for locals and visitors, there are many ways to spend a day—or weekend—in Lake Junaluska. Its beauty is best appreciated from all angles, so follow the Rose Walk along the exterior of the lake. For more fun, get out on the water with a rented paddleboard or kayak. The newly renovated rooms at Lambuth Inn are a great place to lay your head between days of adventuring.

Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley scenic overview


One of North Carolina’s most popular mountain destinations for decades, Maggie Valley is bursting at the seams with hometown pride. With lots of affordable hotels, it’s the perfect home base for a stay in Haywood County. Appease your appetite with a stop by the locally-famous Joey’s Pancake House or one of our several classic BBQ joints. Don’t forget to pop into Elevated Mountain Distilling Company, our own (legal) moonshine distillery sourcing local water sources for maximum taste. This stunning valley town is perfectly suited to explore Mother Nature, get accustomed to the taste of the Smokies, and happen upon our famous gang of wild elk.



Waynesville NC

The largest town in Haywood County, Waynesville is a vibrant mix of everything you hope for in a mountain town. Its quaint urban charm is best unearthed by taking a stroll down Main Street, which is lined by local boutiques, gift shops, and artisan goods. A selection of farm-to-table restaurants and delectable craft beer scene sets Waynesville up as a foodie heaven.

Wherever you hail from, you’re welcome here!  We know the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon bring people from all over the world, so make the most of your time here and explore more of North Carolina. For help planning a trip and navigating Haywood, stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center in Maggie Valley—and grab one of our sweet new t-shirts while you’re there.

Don’t forget to tag your social posts with #HayNow and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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