Marie BartlettLook up “charm” in the dictionary and you could just as likely see the small mountain town of Waynesville, North Carolina. Its Main Street Historic District is on the National Registry of Historic Places due to more than 35 of its architectural buildings. And its population – all 10,000-plus – don’t seem to mind a bit when non-natives stop in to browse for local crafts or peruse its folksy shops that specialize in everything from nostalgia to fine art.

Waynesville courthouse

street scene in Waynesville, North Carolina

Situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains in Haywood County, the county seat Waynesville is less than an hour’s drive from Asheville, another favorite western North Carolina tourist destination. Asheville was ranked among the Top 3 places to visit in 2015. But with less traffic and an easy-to-stroll downtown district, Waynesville is a nearby daytrip that should not be overlooked.

Start at the small but friendly Visitor Center on Main Street (look for the big blue awning) and have a chat with the helpful folks who distribute maps, answer questions and love to share their fondness for the surrounding beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Walking tours, or “Volksporting,” designed to improve health, cover the 6.2 miles that comprise the downtown are encouraged, as are scenic drives.  

downtown Waynesville, North Carolina

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