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Welcome to Waynesville, North Carolina.

Surrounded by high mountains and set in the heart of a vast outdoor recreational area, Waynesville is a big, friendly town with a large and beautifully renovated downtown filled with inviting cafe's, shops and restaurants.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Waynesville has great restaurants and  galleries

When we have visitors that only have time to explore one Western North Carolina town, we often recommend Waynesville. With its brick paved Main Street lined with charming brick-and-stone, early twentieth century commercial buildings, few other towns offer as many fascinating diversions while maintaining a warm and inviting small-town flavor.

Whether you are in the mood to shop-till-you-drop, or just want to explore, Waynesville provides hours of pleasant diversion. Fine boutiques rub shoulders with galleries, coffee shops and lots of fine handcrafted furniture and home-decor emporiums. We almost always stop in Twigs and Leaves, one of the mountain region's most elegant and eclectic home-decor and craft shops. There is almost always something here that catches our eye and pulls at our heartstrings. We also love to stop into Osondu Books and sample another one of their seemingly limitless varieties of tea while browsing the local author shelves. And we often have lunch or early dinner at Sweet Onion, the busy bistro with savory regional cuisine that is just a block off Main Street.

The farmland around Waynseville is lovely

The up and coming area of Waynesville is Frog Level, the tongue-in-cheek name that locals gave this once-industrial, low lying area near the train tracks that was once the first place to flood after heavy rains. Today this region is being revitalized. The town Visitor's Center can be found here, along with numerous shops and restaurants that fill newly renovated turn-of-the-last-century commercial brick buildings.

Cataloochie Valley, Smoky Mountain National ParkSet among some of the tallest mountains in Western North Carolina, Waynesville is in the heart of a magnificent outdoor recreational area that includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the northwest, celebrated Maggie Valley to the north, as well as the stunning Balsam Mountains to the southwest and the Shining Rock Wilderness Area, Cold Mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the south. Hiking and biking trails abound. Whitewater rafting can be found nearby and enjoying a scenic drive is as easy as picking a two lane road and following it out of town.

Collared Elk, Cataloochie Valley, Smoky Mountain National ParkOne of our favorite side trips from Waynesville heads 20 miles north into the almost undiscovered Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This deep and fertile valley nestled between high peaks was once home to a thriving farming community. The entire community was relocated when the National Park was formed. Today, the valley has largely returned to nature. A single paved road winds through the lush meadowlands of the valley floor, following a sparkling stream. A few homesteads from the original settlers have been preserved. Most of visitors who find this small paradise, however, come to see the thriving herd of Elk which were re-introduced to the valley in 2001, and which can often be seen in the early morning and late afternoon browsing in the meadows. The Cataloochee valley also offers numerous opportunities for hiking, biking, camping and fishing.

Our Favorite Waynesville Shops and Restaurants:

Twigs and Leaves Gallery, Waynesville, NCTwigs and Leaves. This elegant, upscale gift and home furnishings shop specializes in remarkably fine crafts created by a host of mountain artisans - all with a theme of nature and the environment. In fact, true to the shop's name, it's fascinating to see how many pieces incorporate real or imagined twigs and leaves in their execution. The shop's inviting galleries display a wealth of framed art, handcrafted jewelry, carvings, exceptional ceramics and gift items, as well as some of the finest art-quality tables, chairs and other furniture that we have seen anywhere. The long central counter features an impressive array of creative jewelry made by regional and national artisans.

Osandu Books, Waynesville, NCOsandu Books and Tea. Inside this innovative shop is a bookstore that offers a wide variety of titles, with a particular emphasis on works by local writers. In the back of the store there is a tea shop where you can choose from fifty or more varieties of organic black, green and herbal teas. There are always two or three iced teas brewed, and any one of the varieties can be custom brewed and served hot or cold. Osandu's tea gurus are very knowledgeable and are always ready to recommend a new flavor for you to try. Osandu also hosts regular readings by local authors such as mountain mystery writer, Vicki Lane. The real fun of this shop is to order a tea you have never tried before, and sip it as you browse the bookshelves, or pick a book and settle into one of the cozy wing chairs for an extended read with tea and pastry.

Gallery 86. This small gallery is fun. The flagship of the Haywood Council of the Arts, Gallery 86 displays the works of local and regional mountain artists through a regular schedule of themed art shows. Paintings have a strong presence here, but you may also find pottery, quilts and weavings, woodcraft, sculpture and much more.

Sweet Onion Restaurant, Waynesville, NCSweet Onion Restaurant. Waynesville is big enough to sport several fine restaurants. One of the busiest local favorites - and one of our favorites in all of WNC - is Sweet Onion. This lively bistro serves clever takes on both trendy cafe and down-home comfort style foods. The wonderful smells that waft down the street may be part of the reason that there are always lots of hungry diners for both lunch and dinner. The menu is varied and affordable with elegant versions of classic pub food such as Savory Meatloaf with brown butter mashed potatoes, as well as more exotic Asian-Southern fusion specialties such as Barbeque Pork Egg Rolls. The Garlic-Cheddar biscuits that come with every meal are sinfully good as is the house salad, especially with the light and zippy lemongrass vinaigrette. In the evening, the menu includes a few more elegant and elaborate "chef's specials", and the ambiance trends towards fine dining.

Lomo Grill. This upscale Waynesville eatery blends an Argentinean Grill with a more traditional Italian-Mediterranean restaurant. Chef Ricardo Fernandez and his wife-and-partner Suzanne believe in using fresh, organic vegetables and free range meets from local farms. Many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs they use are grown on their own Wildcat Ridge Farm. Lomo's menu features such specialties as Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Shrimp and Sausage, as well as a variety of cuts of grass-fed black angus beef prepared Argentine style on the Grill.

Textures. Woodworker and furniture maker John Gernandt has teamed up with his wife-and-partner, textile artist Suzanne Gernandt to create this warm and inviting art and furnishing shop on Main Street. In addition to John's delicate and beautiful hardwood tables, chairs, desks and other furnishings and Suzanne's richly colored and patterned wall hangings, there is a wonderful selection of plush furniture by Robin Bruce and a variety of ceramics, glassware and objects d' arte. The couple work in their studios on the premises and studio tours can be arranged. Suzanne also offers a series of engaging textile workshops.

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