The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for our area starting January 2 at 10:00pm through January 3 mid-day. Conditions could be hazardous so plan ahead and stay safe. Learn more here.

Free and Cheap Ways to Explore Haywood County


Finding free things to do and budget-friendly activities while on vacation can help make a smaller dent on your wallet! Lucky for you, we have hundreds of free and inexpensive activities ranging from hiking our beautiful mountain trails, to convenient picnic spots and refreshing swimming holes, you’ll never run out of places to check off your Smoky Mountain bucket list.


North Carolina has some of the best hiking in the Southeast. There are hundreds of different trails to choose from. Hike your way up to a peaceful waterfall, or walk to a picturesque summit. 

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Devil’s Courthouse
  • Graveyard Fields
  • Max Patch
  • Cataloochee Valley Trails
  • Little Sam Trail
  • Black Balsam Knob
  • Art Loeb Trail
  • Sam’s Summit Loop
  • Blackrock Mountain
  • Lake Junaluska Walking Trail
  • Richland Creek Walking Trail
  • Downtown Waynesville Cardio Trail


Rushing streams, sparkling rivers, rippled ponds, and serene lakes are plentiful in Haywood County. A unique feature of the water is that it all originates here, none of it actually flows into the county from elsewhere. The water is filled with mountain trout, and is ideal for fly fishing. Grab your tackle box, and get ready to cast your fly rod and enjoy the pleasures and peacefulness of fishing in our mountain waters. There are also ideal areas for picnicking during the warmer months. Choose from one of the parks or pull off at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and find a secluded spot to sit and eat.

Best spots for grubbing and grabbing:

  • Parham, McCracken, Mountain View Greenway & Mary Rathbone Rich Park
  • Maggie Valley Town Hall Playground & Picnic Area
  • Todd & Ruth Henry Memorial Park
  • Lake Junaluska Dam Park
  • Waynesville Recreation Park
  • Canton Recreation Park
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park


We’ve all tried to beat the heat in a neighborhood swimming pool, but trust us: you haven’t truly cooled off until you have taken a leap into a mountain-fed, natural swimming hole. Swimming holes are natural pools of water created by our local streams and rivers that are perfect for swimming. There also aren’t many better ways to explore nature than hunting down some of our most scenic waterfalls. Haywood County is home to many awesome swimming spots and waterfalls that are fairly easy-to-access and even easier to enjoy!

Check out our Smoky Mountain swimming holes:

  • Sunburst Swimming Hole
  • Midnight Hole
  • Lower Falls, Graveyard Fields
  • Skinny Dip Falls
  • Bubbling Spring Falls
  • Soco Falls
  • Little Bird Falls
  • Wildcat Falls


Want to explore our sweet mountain towns but don’t want to break the bank? There’s plenty of great free or budget-friendly activities to check out in the NC Smokies on your next vacation. Admire unique arts and crafts through the windows of our favorite downtown shops or take a trip to the farm for fresh flowers and produce.

  • Window Shopping in Downtown Waynesville, Hazelwood, Frog Level, Maggie Valley & Canton
  • Find Hidden Treasures at Antique & Consignment Shops
  • Walk around one of our Farmer’s Markets
  • Take your family Gem Mining
  • Mini-Golf in Maggie Valley
  • Follow the Haywood County Quilt Trail
  • Take a studio art tour
  • Test your skills at Maggie Valley Puzzle Rooms
  • Attend a Downtown Waynesville Street Dance or Block Party
  • Kayak, canoe or paddle board at Lake Junaluska
  • U-Pick fruits, vegetables and flowers at Ten Acre Garden
  • Play or walk at the Waynesville Recreation Center
  • Visit the Elk at Cataloochee Valley
  • Skate the night away at Smoky Mountain Sk8way and Fun Zone
  • Enjoy one of our historic museums
  • Take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Tube down the Pigeon River
  • Play a round of disc golf at Vance Street Park or Haywood Community College

Haywood County is the perfect location for your next mountain escape, as we’re in an ideal location for tons of free attractions and things to do. You can also find the best selection of Smoky Mountain lodging and vacation rentals, sure to suit every taste, party size, and budget. Start planning your trip today!

Related Posts

As springtime peeks through the winter frost in western North Carolina, it signals the start of a much-anticipated culinary season – ramp season! Known
Haywood County is the paw-fect place for your furry friend! With its southern hospitality, this county welcomes both humans and their four-legged pals. You’ll
Looking for indoor activities to keep you entertained when the weather isn’t ideal outside? Look no further than the NC Smokies, because we’ve got