Waynesville, a picturesque town nestled in the Smoky Mountains, has evolved from being just an Asheville suburb to a unique destination in its own right. Established in 1810 and officially incorporated in 1871, Waynesville now boasts six distinctive neighborhoods: Downtown, Frog Level, Hazelwood, Laurel Ridge, Russ Avenue, and West Waynesville. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you on a journey through these exclusive neighborhoods, helping you unlock the charm and character that each one has to offer. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, you'll discover that Waynesville's unique neighborhoods are brimming with hidden gems, cultural experiences, and natural beauty.
Downtown Waynesville: A Blend of Tradition and Scenic Beauty
Downtown Waynesville is undoubtedly the most iconic district in town. It boasts a quintessential American Main Street charm, enhanced by stunning mountain vistas that surround the area. As you stroll along Main Street and Wall Street, you'll encounter boutique shops and some of the region's finest dining establishments. Downtown is also the epicenter of cultural events, including the renowned Mountain Street Dances, Art After Dark, Church Street Arts & Crafts, and many more.
For those seeking artistic experiences, the HART Theatre, the premier performing arts center in the region, is just a short drive away. Downtown Waynesville offers a vibrant blend of tradition and scenic beauty, making it a must-visit neighborhood for anyone exploring the town.
Frog Level: Riverside Relaxation and Local Hangouts
Frog Level, once prone to flooding by Richland Creek, earned its quirky name due to its amphibious connection. You'll recognize Frog Level by its iconic frog mural, a popular spot for photos. This neighborhood is home to local hangouts like Panacea Coffeehouse and Frog Level Brewing Company. What sets these businesses apart is their shared deck overlooking Richland Creek, providing the perfect ambiance for relaxation.
Frog Level also offers a treasure trove of local art and antiques. Explore the shelves of beautiful pottery at Art on Depot or hunt for unique finds at Laughing Lamb Antiques and Depot Village. Frog Level is a testament to Waynesville's commitment to preserving its history while creating vibrant spaces for the community.
Hazelwood: A Fusion of History and Modernity
In 1995, Hazelwood merged with Waynesville, contributing to the town's growth and diversity. Once a manufacturing hub in Haywood County, Hazelwood now boasts a thriving retail district. Among its highlights are 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 offers a diverse selection.
Don't forget to keep an eye out for a statue of the North Carolina state dog, the Plott Hound, on Hazelwood's main street—a unique local touch. Another cultural gem in Hazelwood is Folkmoot USA, where dancers from ten different countries come together for a short time, creating a vibrant atmosphere in the Folkmoot Center on Virginia Avenue.
Laurel Ridge: Golf, Views, and Elegance
For golf enthusiasts and lovers of upscale living, Laurel Ridge is a hidden gem. This neighborhood is home to the Laurel Ridge Country Club, boasting a golf course, pool, and tennis courts. Throughout the area, you'll find magnificent mountain homes that offer some of the best views in Waynesville. With its stunning scenery, Laurel Ridge is a coveted venue for weddings and golf getaways. Laurel Ridge is a testament to the natural beauty of Waynesville and its commitment to providing exclusive experiences to its residents and visitors alike.
Russ Avenue: Retail Haven and Recreation Paradise
Russ Avenue is one of Waynesville's newer business districts, offering a range of essential retail options, from fast food to grocery stores. A little further down Howell Mill Road, you'll discover one of Waynesville's best-kept secrets: the Waynesville Recreation Center.
The Waynesville Skate Park, an 8,000-square-foot concrete surface complete with ramps, jumps, and a half-pipe, is a paradise for skateboarders, and it's entirely free. Just remember to wear helmets and pads for safety. If skateboarding isn't your thing, the Recreation Center has much more to offer, including a dog park, walking trails, a disc golf course, tennis courts, ball fields, and more. It's the perfect place to enjoy the fresh mountain air and engage in a variety of outdoor activities.
West Waynesville: From Manufacturing to Modern Living
Once known for the Dayco rubber hose factory, West Waynesville has transformed into a thriving retail destination. On the same site where the factory once stood, you'll now find Waynesville Commons, a growing retail space featuring stores like Walmart, Belk, and Petsmart. West Waynesville also offers a delightful culinary scene. Be sure to visit Clyde's Restaurant, a local institution serving hearty, authentic Southern cuisine since the 1940s. Luna Mexican Modern Kitchen, with its focus on organically produced and healthy Tex-Mex dishes, is another culinary gem.
West Waynesville is also home to Allens Creek Park, a recreational haven with sports fields, playgrounds, and gazebos—a perfect spot for a picnic and outdoor fun.
In conclusion, Waynesville, with its diverse and exclusive neighborhoods, offers a wealth of experiences for residents and visitors alike. From the rich cultural tapestry of Downtown to the serene elegance of Laurel Ridge, each neighborhood has its unique charm and character. So, whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, make the most of your Waynesville experience by exploring these exclusive neighborhoods.
To plan your visit to our Smoky Mountain town and explore these neighborhoods further, download the Haywood County Visitor's Guide. Stay updated on upcoming Waynesville events by signing up for our newsletter. We look forward to welcoming you to Waynesville, where you can experience the best of the Smoky Mountains.
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