The North Carolinian Smoky Mountains are immersed in Appalachian tradition and true Southern hospitality. No matter the season, you'll discover a unique way for your travelers to explore the area's cultural roots.
"Haywood County is a fun, convenient and breathtaking location for group tours," said Ron Bower, CTA, CTIS, group sales manager for Haywood County Tourism Development Authority. "We are the quiet side of the Smokies, home to three national parks, a thriving elk population, great local shopping and dining, breweries, theaters and scenic beauty that is unmatched."
"Springtime is known as our other color season. In fact many say our colors are most vibrant in spring," Bower said. Springtime pursuits in Haywood County include the vintage motorcycle and automobile museum Wheels Through Time, bird watching along the banks of Lake Junaluska, a tour of the World Methodist Council Museum, a walk through historic Main Street in Waynesville, and a musical evening at the Classic Wineseller or the Strand Theater.
Haywood County's four Microbreweries—BearWaters Brewing, Boojum Brewing, Frog Level Brewing, Tipping Point Tavern—are fun group travel destinations.
For two weeks in July, festival-seekers enjoy the Folkmoot Festival, at which entertainers throughout the world gather to delight visitors in dance and culture. The oldest Labor Day celebration in the South, Canton's Annual Labor Day Festival celebrates the North Carolina workers who helped build the Champion Fibre Company paper mill.
"Fall is simply glorious in the North Carolina Smokies," Brower said. "Don't miss the chance to see the foliage as you golf on one of five year-round courses, or take a horseback ride or have an authentic meal at Cataloochee Ranch."
In addition to the color show, the Maggie Valley Fall Arts and Crafts Festival, the High Country Quilt Show and the Apple Harvest Festival offer up group travel fun. Homemade apple cider and baked good made from the "best apples in the Smokies" are available at Barbers Orchard.
An Appalachian Christmas at Lake Junaluska offers a traditional holiday experience and The Night Before Christmas on Waynesville's Main Street is complete with carolers, holiday shopping, hot chocolate and a visit from Santa.
"Winter is a wonderful time in the North Carolina Smokies," said Brower. "Cataloochee Ski Resort offers the longest ski season in the South, with slopes at 5,000-plus feet elevation." February's Winterfest Smoky Style is another fun way to celebrate the season.
Click here to read Matt Poe's article "Four Seasons: On the 'Quiet Side of the Smokies'" in the January/February 2016 issue of Groups Today.
Photo courtesy of Haywood County TDA.