Explore downtown Waynesville

Students find Waynesville to be a popular destination because it houses Best Buy and a bigger Walmart, but did you know about their exciting downtown scene?

Waynesville boasts a bustling downtown full of interesting shops, restaurants, cafes and more. Sidewalks line both sides of the street and are shaded with tall trees. There are several benches to enjoy the cool breeze or look at the interesting art through downtown, like the statues of the two musicians made with recycled materials. Also, the town has a dog-friendly atmosphere with most of the stores allowing dogs to enter and/or selling pet supplies.

The restaurants in town offer a wide selection of different menus and styles. Favorites from Sylva like Bogart’s and Nick and Nate’s can also be found in Waynesville. At 319 N. Haywood St., Bocelli’s offers a fancier atmosphere with its Italian menu and décor. They offer indoor and outdoor seating as well as a newly attached sports bar next door. City Bakery and Panacea Coffeehouse, Café & Roastery offer delicious coffees and pastries. For more upscale dining, try the Old Stone Inn or the Cork & Cleaver. For a more casual atmosphere, eat at Tipping Point Tavern, Frogs Leap Public House or Sweet Onion Restaurant. For dessert, The Chocolate Bear offers gourmet, handcrafted truffles with exotic flavors that will amaze. They also sport many kinds of fudge and different mixes of goodies bags. Down the street, Main Street Perks serves up a mean milkshake while Pheasant Hill offers towering slices of interesting gourmet cakes.

For a night out on the town, try the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre. Located on Pigeon Street just a stone’s throw from downtown, the gigantic barn-like building sits in a wide, open field. Inside, cast and crew put on wonderful shows of different styles and tastes every weekend. Currently, the theater is performing “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” until June 16. The big summer musical “Brigadoon” will play from July 12 to August 4 followed by the southern comedy “Dearly Departed” from Aug. 16 to Sept.1. For some adult humor, try the “Avenue Q” musical, starting Sept. 20 until Oct. 6. This year’s season ends with “The Heiress” from Oct. 25 to Nov. 3. Ticket prices and times can be found on their website at harttheater.com.

If you are planning a day trip, Waynesville also provides a full calendar of activities and festivals to enjoy. On June 8, party like only Western North Carolina can with the Appalachian Lifestyle Celebration, beginning at 11 a.m. On Thursday, July 4, Waynesville will host their annual Stars and Stripes Celebration during the afternoon hours. Also in July are the Folkmoot USA parade and the International Festival Day. The parade takes place on Friday, July 19 with the International Festival the following day. Main Street is transformed into a global showcase of color, crafts and culture. The 43rd annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival will take place this year on Aug. 30 and 31, followed by the 24th annual Apple Harvest Festival on Oct. 19.

Finally, do not miss out on the great shops and stores that downtown Waynesville has to offer.

Mast General Store, at 63 N. Main St., is a favorite. Downstairs, barrels and barrels of candies line the floor. Smarties, Nerds, Boston Baked Beans, gourmet lollipops, Double Bubble, Tootsie Rolls, chocolate-covered raisins, any candy you can think of is waiting to be eaten. There are also funny signs, homemade soap, cute kitchenware and old-fashioned toys. On the main floor, there is clothing for men and women, then upstairs is where you can find hiking and camping supplies.

Other highlights include Pheasant Hill, which also houses unique, local products, Fun Things Etc at 196 N. Main St. or Mountain Quilts with their many cloth products and flameless candles. Also, whether or not you enjoy being in the kitchen, do not skip the Spice & Tea Pantry with its shelves of fascinating spices, herbs and salts with interesting, funny trinkets upstairs.

Whether for an hour or the whole day, Waynesville will not disappoint! There is much to see, do and enjoy the whole year round. For more information, go to visitNCsmokies.com or downtownwaynesville.com.