A Week in Haywood County
Discover 5 charming Haywood County towns in 5 days with this itinerary from Expedia.com
By: Kohleun Adamson
As the autumn air and golden leaves turn crisper each day, we at Expedia.com are aching to bundle up and explore the Smokies in their fall colors and taste the latest harvest from local breweries and restaurants. With historic sites, craft breweries, beautiful scenery and enchanting hotels scattered throughout Haywood County, there’s only one obstacle between you and a fabulous getaway: planning your trip from an embarrassment of riches. From guests’ favorite hotels to the venues and excursions everyone keeps talking about, we’ve put together an itinerary that you’re more than welcome to steal away with…
Monday: Eat to your heart’s content in Waynesville
Stay here: The Yellow House on Plott Creek Road B&B
Sitting atop a hill with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this idyllic bed and breakfast is the perfect place to kick off your vacation. Waynesville is Haywood County’s largest city, and it has the dining options to prove it. When you aren’t toasting to another gorgeous day, hide away in this B&B’s quiet gardens and snuggle up in a unique suite. We are totally smitten with the antique furnishings. Plan to stay here for a few nights as you visit some of the county’s smaller gems.
Skip setting your alarm and start the day with a delicious home-cooked meal at the B&B, then plan your day around the rest of the three square meals. Waynesville eateries specialize in farm-to-table fare, and your first stop has got to be Frog’s Leap Public House for the spicy ahi tuna avocado tartar and pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter. So scrumptious! For dinner, sit down for an elegant spread at award-winning The Chef’s Table. Sample Southern classics, like the fried green tomato and the local hazelnut-crusted trout. Tell yourself, “I’m on vacation,” and indulge in a glass of Scotch to bring the meal to a close.
While we’re talking about the fabulous cuisine, we ought to mention Waynesville is also a craft brewery hub. So be sure to order up the local beers with each meal. Yes, a little classy day-drinking may be the perfect pairing with your Haywood County getaway. Be sure to try a tasting flight at BearWaters Brewing Company—the city’s most award-winning beer maker—as well as our other favorites, Frog Level Brewing, and Boojum Brewing Company. BearWaters recently moved to Canton—the last stop on our itinerary—so read on to learn more about where to find their signature Skipping Stone Stout in the future. Bottoms up!
Tuesday: Get out on the water in Lake Junaluska
Located just 4.5 miles north of Waynesville, Lake Junaluska is an easy day trip from The Yellow House on Plott Creek Road B&B, so go ahead and book another blissful night. A hot in-suite spa bath will sound extra soothing after a long day playing on the water at Lake Junaluska Retreat & Conference Center. Slice through the calm currents in a kayak, sunbathe on the dock and putter around in a peaceful pontoon with a knowledgeable tour guide. Feeling fierce? Try floating around on a paddle board—it’s the next best thing to walking on water. Come back to Waynesville and refuel with pizza, pasta, and tapas at family-run Pasquale’s Mediterranean-Italian Restaurant. If you can’t finish that baked penne smothered in meat sauce, pass some our way.
Wednesday: Step back in time in Clyde
The entire region is sprinkled with history, from early Native American artifacts to colonial homes and Civil War sites. In Clyde, historic houses and museums trace local and national history throughout the centuries. Explore the multi-generational Shook-Welch-Smathers House. Construction began as early as 1795 by Jacob Shook and later residents continued to expand and renovate the space up to the most recent updates in 2003. As you wander up each staircase, pay attention to the changes in style and craftsmanship—that’s history in the making. Speaking of making history, take a bite—or several—of Southern comfort food at Blue Rooster Southern Grill. We’re pretty sure their shrimp and grits are a local icon, too.
In solidarity with their fellow fire fighters and other victims and heroes of 9/11, the Clyde fire house team erected beams from Ground Zero as reminders to reflect and remember that fateful day. Visit another contemporary town landmark in the city center at the Anti-Aircraft Gun Memorial, given to the city by David Brown in honor of women and men who served in WWII, the Korean War, and the war in Vietnam. Locals affectionately call it “The Big Gun,” because, well, it is.
Thursday: Take the scenic route through Maggie Valley
Stay here: Cabins at Twinbrook Resort
What better way to see the Great Smoky Mountains than from a comfy cabin surrounded by mountain peaks, waterfalls and walking trails? Stay in a cozy one-bedroom cabin for a tranquil solo retreat or romantic getaway, or invite family and friends and hide out together in a bigger space—all outfitted with high-speed Internet, luxury bedding, and access to shared resort amenities. After a day in the great outdoors, sit by the community fire pit and stare up at the stars. Stay here for the rest of the week.
Whether you fly or drive to your destination, make sure you can see this valley as it was meant to be explored: from the tree-lined lanes of inter-state Blue Ridge Parkway. Stop for a visit to Devil’s Courthouse—you can’t miss the ominous rock formation that looks remarkably like a face judging Maggie Valley’s visitors. Prefer a more heavenly hike? Leave the parkway via US Route 19 and head towards Cherokee until you see signs for Soco Falls, a misty and secluded patch of paradise. Take a towel, because we aren’t joking about the misty part.
Friday: Kick up your heels in Canton
As your week in Haywood County winds down, join in one last hurrah! Known for its annual Labor Day Festival—the oldest of its kind in the entire Southeast. Each Labor Day weekend, downtown Canton becomes a two-day party with live bluegrass music, a farmers market, crafts expo and lots of activities for kids of all ages. Indulge on tacos, barbecue, ice cream and more from local eateries and get out on the dance floor in honor of the Labor Movement. If you miss Labor Day in Canton, no worries. There’s always the town tree lighting ceremony and Christmas parade and other gatherings throughout the year, like the outdoor concert Pickin’ in the Park in September and charity events, too, so bring your dancing shoes and an open heart.
Whenever you’re able to visit Haywood County, have your send-off dinner at Southern Porch in Canton’s historic The Imperial Hotel. Although the guest rooms are no longer available for rent, there’s always something cooking in the Southern Porch kitchen and the beautiful building outdates Canton as we know it. Today, it’s a family-owned charmer preserved by the Smathers family. It’s an incredible piece of local history, and we haven’t even mentioned the lovely garden setting and the bourbon barbecue burger—the perfect end to a relaxing excursion and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
If five days seems like a whirlwind, then by all means, extend your stay or come back to savor the sights, flavors and celebrations that make Haywood County, North Carolina a jewel in the Great Smoky Mountains. The adventure starts now!
About the Author: Kohleun Adamson
Kohleun is a fan of high tea in Scottish villages and low tide on Coronado Beach, and she can’t get enough of rolling vineyard vistas. These days it’s no easy feat to pull her away from the California coast, but she can be wooed with Moroccan cous cous and ancient palace ruins. As a writer, Kohleun has a passion for sharing the intricate details of a journey well traveled, whether it involves crossing continents or exploring close to home.