Ever planned a vacation with your four-legged companion? If not, you should consider it, as you may actually be surprised just how many people are traveling with their pets. In fact, a recent study by Home Away stated that 29.1 million Americans admitted to traveling with their pets in the past three years. It’s a growing trend these days, as our pets have earned an increasingly important role in our lives. They are no longer just a pet, but a part of the family.
I can vouch for that myself. It’s no secret that I am absolutely obsessed with my dog Patton, a three year-old goldendoodle with a personality bigger than he is (82 pounds to be exact). Anyone who knows me is fully aware that I plan my daily routine and weekend plans around the four-legged fuzzball, including vacations. Now, I know I can’t take him on every trip I go on, but I do try to plan at least a few Patton-friendly vacations every year, whether it’s a camping adventure or a relaxing getaway at a pet-friendly vacation rental. I have to admit…I love a good road trip with Patton, as does he. Especially if he’s being good and I allow him to hang his goofy head out of my Jeep’s sunroof. I’m pretty sure that’s his favorite part of the whole trip.
I also enjoy good reads about our canine pals. I just started a book called “Travels with Casey” about the bonding experience between a yellow Labrador retriever, Casey, and his owner. The book highlights their four-month cross country trek in a rented RV on a mission to meet as many interesting and inspiring dogs and dog lovers as possible. As a Haywood County native who LOVES living in this area, you can only imagine my delight when the author makes reference early on to his plans of hiking the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina with Casey. I haven’t reached that exact part of the book yet, but this reference excited me because I know personally what an incredible playground Haywood County and its surrounding mountains can be for both humans and dogs.
Not only does it boast miles and miles of hiking trails, it is also home to many dog-friendly accommodations, businesses and attractions that make it possible to plan an entire “pupcation” with your four-legged buddy. So with that said, I’d like to share one of the recent itineraries I created, inspired by Mr. Patton himself and dedicated to all you dog lovers in search of the perfect canine vacation. From dog-friendly restaurants and breweries to fun hikes and swimming holes that are create a “pawfect” adventure for both the two-legged and four-legged outdoor enthusiasts. So what are you waiting for? Pack up your pooch and head for the North Carolina Smokies!
Breakfast at Coffee Cup Café
48 Haywood Park Dr, Clyde, 28721
Coffee Cup Café’s outdoor deck offers panoramic views of the North Carolina Smokies and is the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast with your best “fur”iend. The cafe prides itself on using locally grown and produced ingredients to create its fresh menu. If you need a jump-start, don’t miss out on their homemade coffee drinks. Also known for their creative lunch offerings like the Turkey Florentine Grill, go ahead and grab a picnic spread for today’s hiking adventure.
Purchase Knob Hike
Make a stop by a Haywood Visitor Center and pick up a Purchase Knob Hiking Guide. This beautifully illustrated map was created by a local certified naturalist and highlights one of Haywood County’s best hiking gems. A favorite hike of local dog owners, Purchase Knob offers an open trail with plenty of features to explore, like Ferguson Cabin, all encompassed in a four-hour roundtrip hike. You will also find tons of great spots to picnic along the way. Easy to Moderate grade.
Check out our Craft Breweries!
There’s no doubt you and Fido worked up a thirst so treat yourself to an afternoon at our craft breweries. Haywood County is home to three locally owned and operated microbreweries: BearWaters Brewery, Frog Level Brewery, and Boojum Brewing and two of the three are pup-friendly! BearWaters and Frog Level will gladly welcome your four-legged growler outside of their brewery. Spend the afternoon trying out their various taps and don’t forget to grab an actual growler of your favorite brew to take home.
A Evening at Rendezvous Restaurant & Tiki Bar
70 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley 28751
A great place to wind down after a full day of fun with Fido! The Rendezvous Restaurant and outdoor Tiki Bar are located at the Maggie Valley Inn and Conference Center. The whole staff happily welcome other dogs at the outdoor Tiki Bar. The Rendezvous Restaurant menu features yummy favorites like southern fried chicken, ribs, steaks, seafood and the best hand breaded chicken tenders in town.
Breakfast at Trailhead Cafe and Bakery & Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery
City Bakery – 18 N Main St, Waynesville, 28786
Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery – 102 N Main St, Waynesville 28786
Stop by Trailhead Cafe & bakery and grab yourself a fresh breakfast sandwich or sweet pastry to go along with a cup of locally roasted organic coffee. While your there, pick up a picnic lunch because today you’re heading for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Afterwards, head down the street to Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery and let your pup pick out some special treats. Voted as one of “America’s Best Bakeries for Dogs” by The Daily Meal, this unique dog bakery prides itself on their homemade dog treats that are both healthy and tasty. There is also a wide range of specialty dog toys and accessories that you won’t find anywhere else in town.
Explore Black Balsam Knob Area
The 46 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway that run through Haywood County are one of the most popular attractions in the area. After breakfast head up Highway 276 to hop on the Parkway. Go South and just past milepost 420, look for the road to Black Balsam on the right. The Black Balsam Knob area is the perfect customizable hike for you and Fido. This section of trails includes some of the most spectacular mountains and balds in the Southern Appalachians, including Black Balsam Knob, Sam Knob, and Tennent Mountain. These treeless mountaintops draw people from afar due to their sweeping views and alpine appearance. After a morning of hiking, find a cool rock or grassy patch and enjoy your delicious City Bakery picnic.
Pick of Afternoon Adventure
After lunch, hike out and choose your next adventure:
- Swimming at Sunburst: Does your pooch love a cool dip in a mountain stream? Hop off the parkway at the Highway 215 overpass and head down the mountain towards the town of Canton. Once you reach the bottom, you will come upon the Sunburst Swimming Hole on your right. With two main swimming areas, this area is local favorite for both two-legged and four-legged swimmers. All the water originates within the mountains surrounding the creek, so you will find some of the freshest (and coldest) water around to cool off in.
- Lake Junaluska Rose Walk – If you’re pooch prefers a leisurely stroll instead of a brisk swim, take a drive to Lake Junaluska for a beautiful afternoon walk. This 2.6-mile loop around the lake is dog-friendly and includes a walk through a fragrant rose garden, which is a treat for both dog and human noses alike!
Dinner at Frankie’s Italian Trattoria
1037 Soco Road, Maggie Valley, 28751
This family-owned restaurant offers friendly personalized service while serving up delicious authentic Italian fare. From traditional pastas and pizza to seafood and steak, their extensive menu is sure to please! Frankie’s also loves dogs and is always ready to welcome Fido to their dog-friendly patio. Kick back and enjoy fantastic food, drink, and homegrown hospitality.
Brunch at Firefly Taps & Grill
128 N Main St, Waynesville 28786
Sids on Main, located in the historic Imperial, is the perfect spot to grab a tasty southern brunch. Sids on Main prides themselves on serving up a wide variety of local favorites in relaxed atmosphere. This Victorian style buidling hoasts a large porch and fenched in patio area that glady welcomes dogs. Their friendly staff love their four-legged patrons and are happy to cater to their needs. After lunch, grab a history guide from the hostess and take a stroll around the building to learn more about the restored Victorian style Inn that was originally built in the late 1800’s.
Visit The Pepsi Dog Park
Vance St., Waynesville 28786
Before you pack up and head home, let your pooch run off some of his energy at Waynesville’s Pepsi Dog Park. Located just 10 minutes from Canton at Waynesville’s scenic Recreation Park, the Pepsi Dog Park is a safe and fun environment to enjoy a round of fetch before the ride home. The park consists of two designated areas: large breeds and small breeds. And if a game of fetch isn’t enough, the park offers a scenic walking trail to take a stroll on before leaving.
The above itinerary is a SAMPLE itinerary. It was created to provide you with an idea of the many wonderful places to visit and dine while visiting the North Carolina Smokies. Other restaurants and attractions can be substituted based on your preferences and seasonality to create a unique itinerary customized just for you. We do suggest always checking for operational dates and times before traveling. For additional help planning your next trip to Haywood County, contact us!
Along with it’s picturesque beauty, Haywood County offers year round activities and events centered around our five homegrown initiatives: Food, Heritage, Music, Art and the Outdoors. No matter what you choose, we guarantee it will always be Fresh From the North Carolina Smokies! For more information visit www.visitncsmokies.com or contact the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority at 800-334-9036.