Bilbo Baggins may have taken An Unexpected Journey. Sometimes even when you plan you take one too. While we have been very fortunate finding places to stay and I’m thankful for that. Waynesville was not our intended destination. I had found, what looks like, an amazing campground with bluff views just 10 minutes from Asheville, NC. But alas, my top 5 or 6 targets, Including that one were booked
With Asheville being our target we were fortunate to find a spot at Winngray Campground in Waynesville, NC. It ended up being a blessing. I’m going to admit. I was not thrilled with the campground at first and even less thrilled with our site. The sites were supposed to be “checkerboard” with the space behind and on each side of your RV empty, providing the “front yard” for one of the campers beside you. The motorhome behind and to one side of us was backed up into our “yard” because a tree was blocking his awning from opening. We have two awnings. The front one was also blocked by a tree and the back one was blocked by the motorhome. Basically, the view out our living area was the side of the motorhome. Now this is not totally the campgrounds fault but they let them do it. The campsite was also very tight to get our 5th wheel into. It took longer to position the camper than it did to set it up. Even with these negatives it turned out to be a great trip.
Let’s first give a review of the campground. Winngray is an old campground. It’s been around a long time. It has a creek that runs behind it where they have their tent sites. The campground is open year round and most of the sites are rented seasonally and have had decks and other permanent structures added. Mostly, tastefully done and roomy. There are lots of flower beds/pots that make the sites attractive. Many of the folks were from Florida. Our site was not one of the better ones. Although I will say it was much better after the motor home left a day or two before the end of our stay.
The folks manning the office and everyone we encountered camping was super nice and helpful. The campground is mostly well maintained. The laundry equipment all works really well. Especially the commercial dryers. Washers were $1.75 per load and the dryers were just feed quarters for time increments. There was table tennis table for entertainment while doing laundry. The camp store could have been better stocked. It did have a large library of books and DVD’s to borrow. The campground would allow you to receive shipments which allowed us to receive some Amazon orders were we needing. This is part of full timing we are learning to manage and I’ll discuss in a dedicated post
The best thing about the campground is lt’s location. We were 3 miles from Maggie Valley, 2 miles from Lake Junaluska, 5 miles from Waynesville, NC and 30 minutes from Asheville, NC. This was great for Cathy to make sales calls and for us to enjoy fine dining and breweries. All in all the experience at Winngray was a positive one. If we had been on a better site our perception would we be better. As it stands it’s not one of our favorites in our, to date, small sample of camping choices.
Waynesville, NC on the other hand gets high marks. I had driven through Maggie Valley before but really had never stopped in this part of North Carolina. Waynesville is a nice town. It has a revitalized downtown area about 3 blocks long. This strip contains gift shops, furniture stores, art galleries, real estate offices, breweries, a Mast General Store and some fabulous restaurants.
Let’s start with my favorite, beer. We found a nice little tap house and home brew shop, the Blue Ridge Beer Hub, in the basement on the back side of the main street. The Hub features nice indoor seating, hang space out front and a covered outdoor patio out the back. It has shelves well stocked with beer and beer making supplies. The beer tender was cordial at best, not the engaging type that makes you want to frequent a place. The patrons were another story and we ended up migrating over to the bar and socializing with a couple brothers. One a local and one visiting. They had a sweet dog and were a wealth of knowledge about where we should eat and drink.
This was our first night in town after setting up and we were looking for food but there was an hour wait which is how were found the Hub. We love meeting locals and this got our trip off to a good start. We got our text that our table was ready and bid our farewells to those two fine gentlemen. Our next stop was the Boojum Brewery Taproom. Do not come to Waynesville without stopping here. The venue has a great vibe, full bar, canvas’s of their can art all over the walls and great food. Cathy had Whistle Pigs, which are pigs in a blanket on steroids and I had Ahi Tuna Nachos. Both were appetizers but we did not go away hungry. We finished with what might have been the best cheesecake ever. The accompanying berries were fresh and bursting with flavor.
I was supposed to be talking about beer and here I am talking about our amazing meal. Ok, back to the beer and brewery. Just don’t miss the food. The beer at Boojum is very good. This is an above average brewery from the sampling I had.
I tried a beer from Asheville Brewing Company at dinner later in the week. It was called Shiva IPA and I wasn’t impressed. I have actually been to this brewery about 4 or 5 years ago and was not impressed. However, the restaurant where I had this beer was very good. It’s named Watami. I highly recommend it if you are in the mood for sushi and Asian food.
We wandered over to Frog Level Brewing Company. This is a pretty cool venue in Waynesville with some “living room” area’s that I think are missing from many breweries and tap houses. I had a flight and was not disappointed. They know how to brew some beer here. We did not order any food here but what I say come out on it’s ways to tables looked really, really good. I would include this on your list of stops if you are in the area.
On Friday, after work, we headed over to Sierra Nevada @ Mills River. I had heard this was a great venue but had not made it there on previous trips to Asheville. Well it lived up to the hype. It was kinda hard to decide what was best about the this place. Was it the venue, the friendly staff, the beer or the food. It’s one of those places that has put it all together. Go enjoy some beer with a wonderful dinner then go out back for more beer and enjoy the grounds. Play some games or enjoy live music. This is a large enough brewery that you have probably had some of their core beers. They have many more including seasonal on tap
We finally found an opportunity to go into Asheville, NC and while I didn’t get to do a lot of exploring. I did get to visit a couple of old friends (breweries) and some new ones as well. I started at one of my favorites, Wicked Weed. This is a cool venue. Covered outdoor seating with several fire pits, delicious food and really good beer. Be sure this is one of your stops when you come to Asheville.
While we were here we also visited their sister location the Funkatorium. This is where they brew beers that have a little “funk” to them. You will find a lot of sours and what I would term “wine like” beers here. They have a lot of live music, mostly Jazz, and a large and inviting outdoor area. We have eaten here in the past. The fare is a little what I would call modern. lots of sandwiches with local sourced ingredients and fresh baked bread. This time Cathy had an ice cream taco and I had a limited edition flight.
Between Wicked Weed and the Funkatorium we stopped at a couple of new breweries and a BBQ place. Just behind Wicked Weed is a brewery named Bhramari Brewing Co. Their tag line is “Chef-inspired Beer, Beer Inspired Food”. We did not sample the food but I would like to on a future trip. The venue is eclectic and has a very large outdoor area. They were playing pretty good music and the beer was good. I enjoyed a flight and the beautiful weather.
The BBQ place, Bear’s Smokehouse, was a delicious find and great for walking around dining. A large outdoor area with fire pits and games. This is some of the best brisket I’ve had. They have craft beer also. I had a pepper beer that very good but a tall boy was a little much. This is 10oz around a campfire sort of beer.
My 3rd stop of the day, Funkatorium was actually our last stop, was a small brewery several blocks off the primary path named Eurisko Beer Company. This was a find with a friendly beer tender and some really good beer. The taproom is decorated with art from a local artist that is of a unique style. The bathrooms are wallpapered with pages from the Twin Peaks book. The tap room is on the second floor and they have some outdoor area on the main street level. My apologies. I somehow failed to get pics of the art and brewery. But this is one you don’t want to miss.
One thing about full timing, especially if you are moving often, is that you have to pace yourself with food and activities. Especially being new to it as we are. Everyday feels a little like vacation. One of the reasons we decided to do this is to explore. We all have budgets and vacation budgets are usually higher to accommodate all the fun. We found many good places to eat and drink and there were of course more we just couldn’t try on this trip. I’ve covered some above with the breweries but we found several others.
If you want a biscuit the size of your whole hand. The Buttered Biscuit will supply it. This place is popular. Be prepared to wait for a seat. They also do a huge takeout business. Now this is not a fancy or trendy place. Think old style country diner. This place has the feel of somewhere the locals hangout. This is a home cookin’ kinda breakfast. Make sure you are hungry when you go.
The nice gentlemen I mentioned earlier told us about Wicked Fresh Seafood and Meat Market. The owner is from Maine and he is a trip. The people here were very nice but we came for the recommended clam chowdda’. It was as good as advertised. Cathy had a lobster roll which was fabulous also. This is primarily a market with some offerings brought in fresh from Maine. However, they do have a small menu, perfect for lunch or a snack. They package and freeze their chowder and gumbo so you can take some home with you. This is a great place to stock up with good stuff to cook at the camper.
If you know us at all you know we love some Mexican. Well, we all know most of what’s out there is Tex-Mex but hey it’s delicious. I do prefer restaurants with more authentic offerings but I’ll never turn down good Tex-Mex either. We found a very good spot called Papa’s and Beer. With a name like that we had to try it, right? The food here is satisfying. I loved the salsa bar and you could tell the salsa was fresh made. Give it a try.
Even though we were warned that it wasn’t that great of a place to eat we hit up Low Tide. It was on our way home one night and it’s one of the last restaurants we pass going to the camper. The service was good and the food was decent. I wouldn’t not eat here again but I wouldn’t choose it over other options. For reference, I had a burger and not the seafood. It probably didn’t help that they had their bar closed for some reason.
To wrap it up, there are some many good options in this area. Enough to fill a long stay or multiple trips. There were many other towns easily accessible from this location that we didn’t even visit. We highly recommend this area.