Waynesville, North Carolina

Best Places to Retire in North Carolina


Waynesville (population 9,700) is located in the extreme western part of the state, bordered by Great Smoky Mountain National Park to the North, and the Pisgah National Forest to the South.  The area boasts 18 peaks over 6,000 feet, more than any county east of the Mississippi River.  Waynesville is a nearly 200-year old community with quaint old buildings and brick sidewalks. It is a mountain town at 2,658 feet above sea level, with cool summers, dramatically beautiful autumns, mild winters and fresh green springtimes.   In the downtown area there are more than 100 retail shops, including a good many restaurants, numerous galleries and antique shops, boutiques, and professional services.  Waynesville also has ìsmall town charmî and friendliness about it. http://www.waynesville.com/

Although tucked quietly into the mountains, Haywood County is well connected to the outer world via I-40, I-26, I-81 and the Asheville Regional Airport, which is just 35 minutes away.  There is also a great deal going on there with festivals, special events and performances scheduled year-round. There are outstanding opportunities to experience and enjoy the out-of-doors with the vast resources of the national forests, and the extraordinary access offered by the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There are three whitewater rivers that offer rafting or fishing, plus there is horseback riding, hiking, skiing and snowboarding, sightseeing, superb golf resorts, and much more.

There are more than 150 eating establishments within the Waynesville, Clyde, Maggie Valley and Canton area.  These include everything from fast food, to barbeque, home cooking, lodge fair, seafood, tavern restaurants, ethnic food, and fine dining.  Haywood County hosts an international folk festival in the summer, bluegrass jams in the fall, award-winning theater in the winter and arts and crafts events year-round.

Arts & Culture

There are festivals and events year-round in Haywood County. http://www.smokeymountains.net/pages/getPage/78

Folkmoot USA is an annual festival that celebrates the worldís cultural heritage through folk music and dance by more than 350 people traveling to western North Carolina from 10 to 12 countries. http://folkmoot.com/

The Haywood County Arts Council provides and supports opportunities to appreciate and participate in all the arts. http://haywoodarts.org/

There are four local museums:

  1. Canton Historical Museum http://www.cantonnc.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={F7881873-899A-4E61-941F-8DA36E761717}
  2. Mountain Farm Museum http://www.westernncattractions.com/mountain.htm
  3. The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts/Historic Shelton House http://www.learnnc.org/1p/pages/2254
  4. and the Wheels Through Time Museum http://wheelsthroughtime.com/

Haywood County has two performing theaters:  Colonial Theatre (828) 648-2363 and North Carolina Community Theatre of the Year (formerly Haywood Arts Regional Theatre) (828) 456-9091

Maggie Valley Opry House features Bluegrass and Mountain Music nightly from May through October.  (828) 648-7941 http://www.raymondfairchild.com/

The Biltmore Estate, just south of the city of Asheville, is a major attraction.  This 255-room French chateau is the largest private residence ever constructed in the United States. Built in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt (just 28 years old at the time), it was meant to rival the most magnificent castles of Europe.  It has four acres of space and includes 34 master bedrooms, 43 baths, 65 fireplaces, three kitchens and an indoor pool.  The estate was on 125,000 acres, (today it is 8,000 acres) surrounded by magnificent gardens on a grand scale.  The huge gardens are meticulously maintained and the home contains over 50,000 art objects, antiques and furnishings. http://www.biltmore.com/visit/gardens/index.html

Flat Rock Playhouse/Vagabond School of the Drama produces professional theatre while teaching drama and the performing arts. Between May and December it produces a nine-show professional series of comedies, musicals, and dramas.  It offers a summer and fall college intern program, a two-show season and cabaret series by Theatre for Young People, and year-round classes and workshops for students from kindergarten through high school. http://www.flatrockplayhouse.org/

The Asheville Symphony Orchestra has been performing for over 40 years.  It presents a Masterworks Series of six concerts, as well as special pops and choral concerts. http://www.ashevillesymphony.org/

The Ashville area has a number of acting companies and theaters.  Among them are Asheville Community Theatre which performs at Charlton Heston Auditorium – http://www.ashevilletheatre.org/, numerous college theaters where students perform, the Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place – http://www.dwtheatre.com/, and Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre which performs in Owens Theatre on the campus of Mars Hill College – http://sart.mhc.edu/. The Montford Park Players have been presenting free Shakespeare productions at an outdoor amphitheater in Asheville since 1973. http://www.montfordparkplayers.org/


The nearby Blue Ridge Parkway meanders along the mountaintops in the Appalachians.  It is one of the most spectacular drives anywhere east of the Mississippi with stunning views anywhere you stop.  There are also many popular hiking spots along the route.

There are six golf courses in the area. http://www.thegolfcourses.net/golfcourses/NC/Waynesville.htm

Cataloochee Ski Area in nearby Maggie Valley has four lifts, including one quad lift, and 10 trails. http://www.cataloochee.com/

The Haywood County Recreation and Parks Department runs a number of programs for persons of all ages, including athletic leagues, arts and crafts, special events, tours, and more. http://www.haywoodnc.net/index.php?option=

Lake Junaleska Conference and Retreat Center, built along this 250-acre lake, is owned and operated by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Administrative Council of the United Methodist Church. It hosts dozens of church-related programs, conferences, educational seminars, meetings, retreats, and family reunions.  There is also a community of private homes, bed and breakfasts and lodges that ring the lake.  The center can accommodate up to 2,000 people.  Included among its many programs are Elderhostel learning experiences. http://www.lakejunaluska.com/

Haywood County is a great location for mountain golf with beautiful vistas and lush green fairways. There are at least 10 courses within easy reach of Waynesville. http://www.nctraveler.com/golf/index.html Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern United States.  The beauty and wonders of these ancient mountains attract over nine million visitors each year. There are over 800 miles of trails, accommodations for camping, ranger-led programs, fishing and more. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/

The Pisgah Forest offers a wide range of options, including hiking and back-packing, camping, fishing, biking, horse-back riding, swimming, rock-climbing, car-touring, waterfalls, wildlife, historical areas, and a variety of special programs to choose from, including everything from lectures to guided hikes and square dancing.  http://ncnatural.com/NCUSFS/Pisgah/pisgdst.html

The Cradle of Forestry in America is a 6,500-acre historic site within the Pisgah National Forest commemorating the beginning of forestry conservation in America.  It has exhibits and a film plus  two guided trails to historical buildings and a 1915 logging locomotive and sawmill.  It also features craftsmen at work and other special programs.  http://www.cradleofforestry.com/history4.htm


Haywood Community College, located in Clyde, NC, (6.7 miles) has an 83-acre campus. It offers 34 curriculum programs to over 1000 students.  The college also provides many classes through its continuing education division, including adult basic education, GED preparation, occupational courses, and community service programs.  Its modern facilities include a student center with a 1,150-seat auditorium, state-of-the-art labs and shops, and a child care center. http://www.haywood.edu/hccflsh.php

University North Carolina at Asheville is the only liberal arts school in the UNC system.It has approximately 2,600 full-time and 700 part-time students. http://www.unca.edu/

Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC (53 miles) became a part of the 16-campus state university system in 1971.  It has an enrollment of approximately 7,000 students. http://www.wcu.edu/

Senior Programs

Waynesville has a Meals-on-Wheels and Senior Meals Program. http://www.mealcall.org/meals-on-wheels/nc/waynesville.htm

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) helps people age 55 and older find service opportunities in their home community. http://www.mountainprojects.org/html/rsvp.html

Haywood County Social Services offers programs for Adult Placement, Adult Protective Services, Independent Living, In-Home Aide Services, Medicaid for the aged, Meals On Wheels, Transportation, and more. http://www.haywoodnc.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=


Haywood Regional Medical Center is a 200-bed acute care facility located in Clyde, NC.  Clyde is 6.7 miles northeast of Waynesville. http://www.haymed.org/


Asheville Regional Airport, about 30 miles from Waynesville, has an 8,000-foot runway and is currently served by six regional carriers.  http://www.flyavl.com/

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is midway between the cities of Greenville and Spartanburg and about 80 miles from Waynesville.  http://www.gspairport.com/

McGhee Tyson Airport, 12 miles from Knoxville, TN and about 90 miles from Waynesville.  http://www.tys.org/


Average January temperatures are a high of 47 degrees and low of 23 degrees.  The July averages are 82 degrees and 58 degrees.  Elevation is 2,658 feet. http://www.wunderground.com/US/NC/Waynesville.html


The Enterprise Mountaineer – http://www.themountaineer.com/
The Smoky Mountain News – http://www.smokymountainnews.com/

Property Taxes

Haywood County – http://www.haywoodnc.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=

State Taxes


Chamber of Commerce


State Aging Agency



Clyde – 6.7 miles
Asheville – 31 miles
Hendersonville – 46 miles
Brevard – 39 miles
Chimney Rock – 52 miles
Greenville, SC – 83 miles
Charlotte – 145 miles
Knoxville, TN – 96 miles

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