The Best Bed and Breakfast location in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains (hint: it’s not Asheville!)

Red Leaf River Inn in Waynesville, NC featuring a lush green lawn and shady trees.

The Best Bed and Breakfast location in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains (hint: it’s not Asheville!)

Planning an Asheville Getaway?

There’s no denying it. Over recent years, Asheville, North Carolina, has built a reputation as a top travel destination with good reason, thanks to its restaurants, access to the great outdoors, and vibrant art community. But that reputation also has brought in larger crowds, lots of traffic, and rising hotel prices. 

Instead, in-the-know travelers looking for affordable and relaxing bed and breakfasts in Asheville head for Waynesville, NC. This off-the-beaten-path town is Asheville’s more laid-back cousin, but don’t let the lack of construction fool you. 

Waynesville has a thriving downtown scene of its own and has gathered up plenty of accolades in recent years, including “Best Main Street” and “Best Undiscovered Town.” In fact, given its prime location nestled at the foot of the mountains, it’s known as the Gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

If you’re looking for a true Smoky Mountain getaway where you can relax and recharge, steer clear of the bachelorette parties in downtown Asheville and head to Waynesville, the area’s best-kept secret. 

What awaits you in Waynesville? 

  • Inexpensive lodging options
  • Plenty of amazing restaurants
  • Activities galore: easy access to hiking trails, waterfalls, casinos, ski resorts, and more (without having to battle Asheville traffic to get there!)

Now – the question is, where are the best places to stay in Waynesville, NC? We’re so glad you asked. 

The Red Leaf River Inn is a charming bed & breakfast located on a 5-acre property just minutes from the heart of town. With lush foliage and a peaceful pond on the property, a stay here is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Owner and chef Victor Johnston prepares daily meals that will take you on a culinary journey. Start your day with fresh fruit, scratch-baked pastries, and coffee (our own custom blend!) before enjoying a hearty hot breakfast such as banana bread French toast, or eggs and bacon with home fries. 

Things to Do in Waynesville NC

Take the cash you’ll save from staying at our cozy bed & breakfast (instead of expensive options in Ashville, like the Biltmore!) and treat yourself to an amazing multi-course dinner, prepared fresh on-site by Chef Victor. Whether you’re in the mood for a decadent charcuterie board, a classic NY strip, or even a custom buttercream cake for a special celebration, we’ve got delicious options for every occasion, prepared with seasonal local ingredients. 

While you may never want to eat anywhere else, if you’re interested in a night on the town, grab dinner at one of the many restaurants in town, like Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen, which offers a farm-to-table experience that highlights regional ingredients and showcases elements of Southern and Appalachian cuisine. 

After dinner, head to Boojum Brewing to enjoy live music and award-winning craft beer. Music lovers won’t want to miss Folkmoot USA, the town’s annual 10-day international folk music festival that draws crowds from around the world. 

If you’re in the area to explore the many hiking trails, waterfalls, and views, you’re in luck. Waynesville sits at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains, where plentiful hiking trails abound. Guests can also hop onto the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway for a drive just a few miles from the inn. 

Lake Junaluska is just 12-minutes by car from the Red Leaf Inn, and this sprawling resort has something for everyone to enjoy, with activities including mini golf and shuffleboard, rose gardens to stroll, and a 500-acre lake open for canoeing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, or simply a leisurely cruise on the water. 

If floating down the river with a cool drink in your hand is more your style, head to Pigeon River Outfitters for a refreshing afternoon spent enjoying a tubing excursion. 

In the winter, hit the slopes at Cataloochee Ski Area before returning to cozy up in front of the inn’s wood-burning fireplace for the evening with a glass of wine.  

And if you really want to head into Asheville for the day, Waynesville is only a half hour away, so you can be in the city in no time! 

Book your stay 

Ready to book your Smoky Mountain getaway? Check out our rooms or visit the reservations portal to make your reservation today! 


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Chef Victor Johnston, Owner of Red Leaf River Inn in Waynesville North Carolina

Thanks for visiting! I’d love to host you during your stay in North Carolina!

– Victor

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