Our inspiration came from many failed attempts at actually planning a trip to the "Quieter Side". Other trip planning and tourism resources in the area tend to be much too broad and confusing in their trip planning efforts. We wanted to simplify this experience by basing it on the core reason for traveling, your activity(s) of interest. What made our idea evolve to the next level was the fact that already on our staff was a local with expert knowledge on the area. He is also the originator of the "Stay And Play " concept and after numerous brainstorming sessions and researching the competition we knew we had to capitalize on his local knowledge of the things to do on the quieter side. So we asked ourselves, "Why not base our recommendations and suggestions on what our on-the-ground local expert has already experienced?" And then provide our visitors with the most detailed, relevant information possible.
Our trip planning guide and regional expert is Matt Bateman. Matt, born and raised in Franklin, NC, has grown up around the outdoors, spending Summer days wading in crystal clear trout waters and nights camping under the stars. From hiking and waterfall exploration to local cuisine and shopping, Matt has the "pulse" on what to enjoy. Matt enjoys all there is to do in the Great Smoky Mountains. Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Golfing, Mountain Biking, Rafting, Waterfall Exploration, Swimming (see below), Horseback Riding, Snowboarding, Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway and more. All of these activities have been his playground for most of his life. Now he wants to help visitors not only find these activities, but recommend and suggest which ones are most suitable for their needs.
Your other wonderful guide would be Melinda Bateman, also Marketing and Graphics Director for Stay And Play In The Smokies. As a relative newcomer to the Great Smoky Mountains and Western North Carolina area, she can offer a completely different perspective to our visitors than Matt can. (PS....Matt and Melinda are newly married!) Melinda was born and raised in Mississippi and while she likes to participate in outdoor fun and adventure, like a true Southern Belle, shopping and filling her social calendar are among the things she does best. Be on the lookout for some of her "Quick Tips" and notes to help you find some of Western North Carolina's other treasures in the numerous unique shops we have to offer, where to fill your belly with the best eats and what events to put on your calendar that you will absolutely not want to miss!
(Above: Matt showing some of his riding skills while doing one of his favorite winter activities in the NC
Smokies, snowboarding.) (Video courtesy of Nick Morgan)