Waynesville isn’t just considered an Asheville suburb anymore—it has truly formed its own identity as a must-see Smoky Mountain town. Founded in 1810 and officially incorporated in 1871, Waynesville has now grown to include 6 distinct neighborhoods: Downtown, Frog Level, Hazelwood, Laurel Ridge, Russ Avenue, and West Waynesville.
To help you navigate your way around on your next visit, we’ve made a handy guide that will get you traveling like a local. Keep reading to learn what each Waynesville neighborhood has to offer!
Downtown is arguably the most recognizable district in Waynesville. It looks just like a traditional American Main Street, but with a Smokies-style twist: there are beautiful mountain vistas pretty much anywhere you look. Boutique shops and some of the best restaurants in the area line both Main Street and Wall Street. This is where most of our headline cultural events happen, like Mountain Street Dances, Art After Dark, Church Street Arts & Crafts, and many more. And speaking of culture, you can find the HART Theatre, the region’s premier performing arts center, just a short drive away.
When Richland Creek used to flood back in the day, this particular area of Waynesville became the “frog level”…and the name stuck. You’ll know you’re in Frog Level when you see the iconic mural—make sure to stop and take your picture with the frog! There are plenty of local hangouts here, like Panacea Coffeehouse and Frog Level Brewing Company. These businesses share a deck overlooking Richland Creek, so get ready to relax and stay awhile.
Frog Level is also a wonderful place to discover local artists and antiques. Browse shelves full of beautiful pottery at Art on Depot, or find treasures at Laughing Lamb Antiques and Depot Village.
In 1995, Hazelwood and Waynesville merged into one community, laying the ground work for the Waynesville we see today. The former manufacturing center of Haywood County, Hazelwood is now home to another blossoming retail district that includes the popular Hazelwood Soap Company and the cozy Italian eatery, Amici’s Italian Restaurant. If you’re looking for gifts to take home, Robin Blu has a little bit of everything.
If you look closely, you can find a statue of the North Carolina state dog, the Plott Hound, on Hazelwood’s main street, so keep your eyes peeled for him!
Hazelwood is also home to Folkmoot USA, and every year dancers from ten different countries live together for a short time at the Folkmoot Center on Virginia Avenue.
If you’re a golfer, you’ll fall in love with Laurel Ridge. This upscale region of Waynesville is where you can find Laurel Ridge Country Club, which features a golf course, pool, and tennis courts. Throughout the area, you can find magnificent mountain homes. As a spot with some of the best views in the area, Laurel Ridge is a great venue to have a wedding or host your next golf getaway.
One of the newer business districts in Waynesville can be found on Russ Avenue. From fast food to grocery stores, this is where you’ll find some essential retail. But just further down Howell Mill Road, you’ll find one of Waynesville’s hidden gems: the Waynesville Recreation Center.
The Waynesville Skate Park is an 8,000 square foot concrete surface with ramps, jumps, and even a half pipe—and better yet, it’s completely free. (Just note: all skaters must wear helmets and pads, so make sure you bring your gear.)
If you’re not into skating, the Recreation Center also has a dog park, walking trails, a disc golf course, tennis courts, ball fields, and more. It’s really the perfect place to enjoy plenty of fresh mountain air.
The neighborhood of West Waynesville used to be most well-known for the Dayco rubber hose factory. Today on that same site, you’ll find Waynesville Commons, another growing retail space with stores like Walmart, Belk, and Petsmart. You’ll also find some good eatin’ here too! You’ve got to try Clyde’s Restaurant, famous for serving hearty, authentic Southern food since the 1940s and Luna Mexican Modern Kitchen, who serves organically-produced and healthy Tex-Mex dishes. Also in West Waynesville is Allens Creek Park, home to sports fields, playgrounds, and gazebos — it’s a great place for a picnic and some outdoor fun!
To say Waynesville’s got a lot to offer would be an understatement. Take a trip and try to experience it all! For more help planning a trip to our Smoky Mountain town, download the Haywood County Visitor’s Guide and sign up for our newsletter to get timely travel tips and upcoming Waynesville events right to your inbox.