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NC Smokies: Where to Stay, Where to Play, and What to Eat. 5 day Itinerary for Adventurous Families.



The North Carolina Smokies, your new favorite spot for family adventures. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Haywood county, NC, is a hidden gem. With amazing views, fewer crowds, and lots of opportunities for outdoor fun, it's one of those dog friendly small towns you say. "Yeah, I could live here." Here's where to stay, where to play, and what to eat; plus our 5 day itinerary.


Where to stay:


Buffalo Creek Vacations, a working Bison ranch and farm in Clyde, NC. They have pet friendly cabins, great for families (one sleeps up to 14!). We stayed at the Red Dog Barn and, not only was it beautiful inside, but it had a gorgeous wrap around deck with views of the mountains AND the Bison, that walked right in front of our cabin. We also really loved watching the Bison feeding (they invite you to watch each morning), and meeting the farm animals. It's a really cool family cool farm, run by some amazing people.

Bonus tip: you can watch the sunset and the bison from the HOT TUB on the front deck.


Where to play:


  1. The Blue Ridge Parkway- Hike Black Balsam Knob (1.4 miles) and Devil's Courthouse (0.8) both have stunning views for relatively short hikes.

  2. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cataloochee area. We rented a UTV from Cataloochee UTV Adventures to explore the area is it was SUCH a fun way to see the park. Be sure to explore the historic buildings (my kids loved the schoolhouse) and keep an eye out for wildlife. We saw an elk and there were a bunch of just-missed bear sightings while we were there (but not from us, pretty sure my kids scared them away).

  3. Tour the Winchester Creek Farm. Alpacas, mini horses, chickens, pigs, and so much more, all the animals (and staff!) were so nice here. We got to meet the animals; and pet, hold, and feed many of them.

  4. Go mountain biking at Chestnut Mountain Park was SO fun. It's a huge mountain biking park with plenty of trails for beginner to expert. My kids loved racing the beginner trails and practicing their jumps.

  5. Walk around Lake Junaluska (it's gorgeous at sunset!).

  6. Explore downtown Waynesville, NC. One of the best small town downtowns we've seen in a while, lots of local shops and restaurants. We loved the Mast General Store and Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery.

Where to eat:


  1. Frog Level Brewing. Great outdoor seating, live music, and fresh cooked dog meals on the menu.

  2. Boojum Brewing Co. We tried every single appetizer and they were probably some of the best I've ever had. They had some amazing murals painted throughout the restaurant and staff was extra fun too.

  3. Sauced. Amazing pizza AND tacos, need I say more? They also had some pretty amazing wall art, I love the art vibe in this town!


Our 5 Day Itinerary:


Day 1:

  • Check into a cabin at Buffalo Creek Vacation, a real working Bison ranch and farm.

  • Grab dinner at Haywood Smokehouse.

  • Head back to the cabin, relax in the hot tub, watch the sunset (and bison!) from your deck.

Day 2:

Day 3:

  • Breakfast at Haywood 209 Cafe, grab a box lunch for a picnic later.

  • Rent a UTV from Cataloochee UTV Adventures for a full day of exploring The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  • Have a picnic lunch at one of the many wildlife viewing areas, we saw elk!

  • Dinner at Boojum Brewing Co.

  • Sunset walk at Lake Junaluska.

Day 4:

  • Breakfast at Beach Mountain Diner, grab a picnic lunch to go.

  • Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  • Hike Black Balsam Knob (1.4 milies) and Devil's Courthouse (0.8 milies).

  • Picnic lunch at the Devil's Courthouse overlook.

  • Explore shops of downtown Waynesville, NC.

  • Dinner at Sauced.

Day 5:

  • Watch the Bison feeding and explore the farm at Buffalo Creek Vacations.

  • Brunch at Grateful Table.

  • Head home, drool over all your photos, and plan your next trip back.


Ready to plan your visit? Find more ideas and planning tips at Visit NC Smokies or check out some of our adventures at We Chose Adventures.


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