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A smiling family enjoys hiking over rocky terrain with forested mountains behind them and wispy white clouds above in the cerulean blue sky.

Haywood County is the perfect home base for an action-packed family vacation. With a long list of outdoor adventures, incredible places to explore and a wide range of restaurants and takeout options that appeal to palates of all ages, it’s easy to see why families love to stay and play in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.

Family Adventure Itinerary (printable version)


Rise and Shine—It’s Fishing Time
They say the early bird gets the worm . . . well, so do the trout! Purchase a three-day inexpensive fishing license to fish in the designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters in Waynesville and Maggie Valley. This special three-day license can be purchased online at or by telephone Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. at  (888)248-6834. You can also drop a line in Ferguson’s Trout Pond at Ferguson Supply & Cafe in Clyde, where you’re sure to catch more than a few trout in their fully-stocked pond, a perfect for fishing newbies (or those just looking to relax).

Did you forget your fishing pole and tackle box? No worries! Stop by the Maggie Valley Visitor Center and pick up a free tackle box filled with six lures/flies and you can borrow either a fly rod or a spinner rod.

Horseback Riding at Cataloochee Ranch
119 Ranch Dr., Maggie Valley 28751
What better way to explore the North Carolina Smoky Mountains than by horseback? Enjoy wildflowers, mile-high vistas, lush forests and the cool quietness of rhododendron tunnels as you ride through Cataloochee Ranch and the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Half- and full-day rides available.

Exploring and Picnicking in Cataloochee Valley
Spend the afternoon with the reintroduced elk of Cataloochee Valley, which are most visible during dawn and dusk. The valley is one the most remote parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is rich in mountain history and beauty. The area is laced with abundant wildflowers and wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, butterflies and many species of birds. With several hiking trails, streams and historic buildings from the early 1900s, there is plenty to explore in the valley. Find a cool spot by the stream and enjoy a delicious spread with the best views around.

A bull elk grazes in front of three cows in his harem in a grassy field in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Smoky Mountain Sk8way & Fun Zone
19025 Great Smoky Mountain Expressway, Waynesville 28786
Spend the evening at Smoky Mountain Sk8way & Fun Zone, Western North Carolina’s largest roller-skating rink and family entertainment center, featuring over 20,000 square feet of arcade games, climbing walls, slides, an inflatable obstacle course and a brand-new wood roller-skating floor.


U-Pick at Ten Acre Garden
158 Chambers Farm Ln., Canton 28716
Experience one of the area’s favorite U-Pick farms located in a fertile river bottom valley in the shadow of Cold Mountain. Depending on the time of the season, take your pick of flowers, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and a variety of veggies. Don’t forget to also check out the on-farm market for a variety of produce, honeys, jams and other local products. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to meet one of the farm’s lovable redbone coonhounds, which are always first in line to greet visitors.

Various sizes and colors of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers fresh from the farm await purchase at a farm stand.

Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway
The 46-mile stretch of Parkway that runs through Haywood County is one of the most popular attractions in the area. After breakfast, hop on the Parkway just outside of Waynesville on Hwy. 23/74. Head north and make plans to stop at Richland Balsam, Devil’s Courthouse and Graveyard Fields (just to name a few). Your family will experience scenic trails, panoramic views, cascading waterfalls and much more.

Visit Sunburst Swimming Area
Hwy. 215, Canton 28716
Enjoy one of the area’s best swimming holes, Sunburst Swimming Area. Take Hwy 215 toward Lake Logan. Keep going until you pass Sunburst Campground on your right and the swimming hole will be the river area on your left. With two main swimming areas, this area is a local favorite for kids and adults alike! All the water originates within the mountains surrounding the creek, so you will find some of the freshest (and coldest) water around to cool off in.

Family Putt-Putt Challenge
Maggie Valley and Waynesville
Find out who in your family has the best golf putt of all. Maggie Valley and Waynesville are home to three putt-putt courses that have been entertaining families for decades. Check out one (or more) and see who reigns master of the putt-putt challenge!

Fantasy Golf & Game Room – 3659 Soco Rd., Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley Carpet Golf – 3054 Soco Rd., Maggie Valley

Red Barn Miniature Golf – 1856 Dellwood Rd., Waynesville

The above itinerary is a just a SAMPLE. Other attractions and activities can be substituted based on your preferences and the current seasonality to create a unique itinerary for your next visit.

Restaurant Suggestions – Haywood County is home to such a wide range of locally owned and operated restaurants that we couldn’t just pick a few! From casual, down-home eateries and takeout to gourmet, fine dining and everything in between, we have it all here in Haywood. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these eight great takeout options.