There are an abundance of things to do in our area. Below are some articles that talk about area trails, swimming holes, tubing and waterfalls. Don't miss the links below the articles that will lead you to more information on area attractions!
Here's a website that talks about some nice hiking trails. https://visitncsmokies.com/blog/fantastic-family-hikes-haywood-county/
Of all of these listed on that web page, Water Rock Knob would be the closest. It is on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is a good place to stop to take a pit stop and admire the breathtaking views. There is a ranger's station here with a small shop, and also fun (but somewhat
steep) trail. https://www.blueridgeparkway.org/poi/waterrock-knob/
For a beautiful day trip on a clear day, consider hiking Graveyard Fields, Devil's Courthouse and Skinny Dip Falls. They are all along the same area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You would just need to bring food and drinks for the day as there are no businesses around there. These are all about an hour away from the House of Joy, but still in Haywood County. The drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to reach this area is quite spectacular. https://visitncsmokies.com/blog/fantastic-family-hikes-haywood-county/
Cataloochee Valley (not to be confused with Cataloochee Ranch or ski area) offers several hiking trails, and is also a great place to stream fish. It is very close to us as the crow flies, but takes about an hour to get to because of its narrow, winding road. Cataloochee is part of the Great Smoky National Park, and is a great place to view elk and deer, as well as to visit historical homesites. https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cataloochee.htm
The closest place to hike into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is just up the mountain from Mountain Top Experience, at the top of Hemphill Rd. It's called Purchase Knob, and is officially a nature research center, but is also open to hikers. It offers beautiful views and nice trails. They often keep their gate closed, though, which requires you to park at the gate and hike up their gravel road about a half mile or so to reach the Purchase. https://www.romanticasheville.com/purchase_knob.htm
Some of these destinations are occasionally closed for various reasons. It is always a good idea to make a call before starting out on a long drive, to make sure they will be accessible.
The closest and most popular swimming hole in our area is Sunburst swimming hole, which is about 40 minutes away. It is talked about in this article: https://visitncsmokies.com/blog/wet-and-wild-ways-beat-the-summer-heat/
The other two swimming spots that article talks about are Graveyard Fields Falls and Skinny Dip Falls, which are off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, about an hour away from us. They would be spots that would offer hiking and swimming all in one. The best ways to get onto the Parkway from us are either by US 19 at Soco Gap (through Maggie Valley and up the mountain on Soco Rd), or by US 23/74 at Balsam (this is the highway that takes off from Russ Avenue in Waynesville and heads southwest towards Sylva).
Another swimming hole that's about 45 minutes away (just over the Tennessee line) is Midnight Hole, which is quite beautiful. There's about a mile and a half hike up along Big Creek to get to it. https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/north-carolina/midnight-hole-swimming-hole-north-carolina/
One of our absolute favorite tubing rivers is Deep Creek in Bryson City, about an hour away. There are places along the road just before you get there to rent tubes. Part of Deep Creek is a pretty wild ride and may not be good for younger children, but there's also a nice section that is much calmer. Be sure to rent life vests for the kids while you are picking up your tubes. There is a swimming hole there too, as well as trails and waterfalls. https://www.greatsmokies.com/deepcreek-tubing/
Another great place for river tubing is in Cherokee, which is about 45 minutes away. https://www.cherokeerapids.com/
Sliding Rock isn't a swim area, but it's a lot of fun. Wear your cutoffs for a fast slide down a giant rock face. About an hour away. There is a small fee to slide. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g49442-d255246-Reviews-or20-Sliding_Rock-Pisgah_Forest_North_Carolina.html
The closest big waterfall to us is Soco Falls, only about 25 minutes away, up the mountain from Maggie Valley. It's a bit of a hike down a lot of wooden steps to get to it. Be aware when driving there that it is easy to miss because the parking lot is not marked. Follow the direction on this website: https://visitncsmokies.com/attractions/soco-falls/
There are more area waterfalls listed at this site: https://visitncsmokies.com/attraction_categories/waterfalls/
The area around Mountain Top offers a wide range of things to do. Everything from tranquil hot air balloon flights to invigorating zip line tours through the tree tops. Just be sure to check for any closings before you go.
Absolutely Yummy Catering - waynesvillecatering.com/
Kaninis - www.kaninis.com/
Wicked Smoke BBQ - www.wickedsmokebbq.com/catering/
Snappy's Italian Restaurant - https://www.snappysitalian.com/