Waynesville; Welcome to Frog Level

It is said that the last shot of the Civil War east of the Mississippi River was fired in Waynesville, North Carolina in May of 1865. You can visit the memorial on Sulphur Springs Road.

Waynesville is in the heart of Haywood County and has, among its many mountains, an impressive 18 peaks with an altitude over 6,000 feet!

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We made time to visit North Eaglenest Mountain, formerly called Mount Junaluska, right inside the peaceful retreat community of Lake Junaluska.

My song for this entry is “Mountains Be My Throne” by Grand Magus:

 

The main goal of our weekend here was to check out the local craft beer scene and see our friends in concert, but we had quite an itinerary.

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Cafes, Restaurants, & Bakeries
Sweet Onion Restaurant was our first check-in, and we were starving. This place is known for dishes based around the sweet onion itself, so we ordered all of them. 

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The Sweet Onion soup came first, and it was heavenly. Next came the crispy sweet onion strings with a spicy sauce.

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We also had a side salad and a small macaroni & cheese. The versatile sweet onion was highlighted differently in each dish and everything was delicious.

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In the Frog Level District, Panacea Coffee Company offers a knockout lox plate. We arrived late in the brunch hours and they had just ran out of bagels, but this fresh-baked baguette did the trick. Be sure to check out the back patio and sit for a spell by the water.

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The interior of Panacea is detailed with high ceilings, massive windows, various types of seating arrangements, and cozy nooks.

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Over on Montgomery street, Wicked Fresh Seafood & Meat Market caught our attention with their “Fresh Lobster Rolls” signs. We quickly made a U-turn and ran inside.

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It has been almost two years since I had my first authentic lobster roll. My best friend and I sat on the ground outside the Boston Market eating lobster rolls and clam chowder, dodging the masses surrounding the market.

We had our own private moment of joy inside the chaos, and this lobster roll took me right back there.

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I have had other lobster rolls in the meantime but they were not worth mentioning. Upon further inquiry I learned that the owners of Wicked Fresh, if not obvious by the name, are Boston natives and brought the song of their people down to Waynesville.

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Wicked Fresh offers traditional butcher meats, seasonings, marinades, sides, fixings, drink, etc. so you can gather items for a home-cooked meal or recruit an impromptu picnic.

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Eating it on the hotel balcony overlooking the mountains with a Waynesville soda counts as a picnic, right?

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Firefly Taps & Grill on Main Street was a rustic place with a vibrant menu. We shared the deviled eggs and salad, macaroni & cheese, and a pimiento cheese sandwich.

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Honourable Mentions for food go to Mad Anthony’s, Frog Level Brewing, and to Sauced, where we only had drinks but spent the entire time gawking at the brick oven pizzas that all the other guests were eating.

Sauced also has cool murals, beer taps for faucet handles, and lots of other interesting things to look at.

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Mad Anthony’s has some fantastic small plates, including these spicy pork belly and pineapple tacos with grilled corn.

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Frog Level Brewing Company has a unique take on the Cuban sandwich. We had one of those and a grilled brat with our beers. Read more about some of the breweries of Haywood County here.

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Just Simply Delicious lured us in with the will-weakening aromas of chocolate and buttercream. We admired the cupcakes, S’mores brownies, cinnamon buns, eclaires, and other treats before making our choices.

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Culture
Waynesville was founded in the early 1800s by a Revolutionary War colonel who named it after his commander General “Mad Anthony” Wayne. I found an episode of the American Military History podcast which tells a little more about the mad General.

Town

Modern Waynesville is a low-key and unassuming town with much more to it than the humble, faded awnings and worn brick buildings let on. It is the second largest town of Western North Carolina and is situated between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smokies.

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The liveliest downtown area starts at the Courthouse and extends only a few blocks along Main Street, though there are other cool areas nearby. We found so many boutiques and specialty stores along Main and smaller side streets, so be sure to wander.

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Shops/Galleries
The walls of the Olde Brick House are lined in herbs, spices, and teas so naturally it is one of my favourite shops in Waynesville. I found some Earl Grey Creme tea, Orange Habanero seasoning, and other treats. 

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EarthWorks Gallery hosts local and global mystical treasures with an art studio in the back.

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Wall Street Books is a short walk from Main Street with a very diverse selection of used books and a lovely outdoor garden for reading and socializing.

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Davis Home Furniture has so many lovely items I wanted to bring back with me. I had been looking for the perfect piece for my kitchen- something that matched my black and white theme with lots of succulents- and I found a painting here that is the only one of its kind.

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Twig & Leaves Gallery showcases a huge collection of local art, pottery, mosaic-mirrored guitars, gifts, and more.

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Moonlight & Garbo Boutique has some very striking handmade local jewelry and high fashion accessories for reasonable prices. We enjoyed chatting with the owner and trying on some of her wild pieces.

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The Strand is an independent movie theatre right on the main strip. We have one of these theatres in my neighbourhood back at home, and I enjoy the eclectic mix of genres and time periods.

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Affairs of the Heart is a novelty and gift shop that we made quite a few purchases in, among many other places where I did not take photos. In the case of Moose Crossing’s Burl Wood Gallery, photos are not allowed, but make time to treat your senses to a visit.

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Frog Level District
Construction in the historic Frog Level District first began in the 1800s as a railroad commerce center. At the time it was considered downtown Waynesville, and the area now known as downtown near Main Street was called Uptown.

There are a few different murals in the area involving a frog and a level. Get it?

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Social services, doctors, retail, general stores, and places of leisure filled Uptown whereas Frog Level, a nod to its lowland location near the creek, catered to the needs of railroad workers, tradesmen, industrial repairs and storage, and travelers.

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Squat, wooden panel-covered buildings comprise a large part of the Frog Level District, giving it a sort of Wild Western cowboy feel.

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We admired these beautiful etched patterns in some of the front windows.

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Many of the brick buildings have been renovated and converted into cool spaces like Panacea Coffee Company and Frog Level Brewing, a health food store, and thrift/antique shops like Second Blessing, Frog Pond, and Dead Man Walking.

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You can read an extensive history of the construction, demolition, relocation, and development of buildings over the decades here.

And of course Richland Creek, as well as the railroad, runs right through the district.

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Night Life
Our friends’ bands played a show at the Water’n Hole. This two-story bar and venue has a chill vibe and regularly hosts local and regional bands.

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Asheville-based bands Skunk Ruckus and Viva Le Vox put on a great show as always!

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If you are looking for more breweries and night life options, check out Haywood County Hops; a Brew Tour.

Exploring the many small towns of Western North Carolina continues to be a growing passion of mine, and Waynesville is definitely near the top of my list. In the area for a while? Follow me to Sylva or Lake Lure!

 

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