A Guide to Our Local Charm

Stewartia Ovata, of Mountain Cameila

The extremely rare Stewartia Ovata, or Mountain Camelia can be found near Bryson City in early summer.

One of the biggest and most noticeable differences between city or suburban life and small town living is the pace. In life, most of us are often rushed and seldom have time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. The constant time crunch can rob our lives of small, special interactions; making eye contact with people as you pass, stopping to say hello, or just relaxing and being present in the world around without always thinking ahead to the next three items on the “to do” list. The pace is a bit different here in Bryson City! It is slower, more relaxed. While the culture may not be as diverse as in a city, there is definitely variety and there is a lot of character!
When we go on vacation, we go to get away from it all; we go to disconnect from the demands of our lives, relax, rejuvenate, be inspired! You will find all of this in Bryson City! Here, you can climb a mountain or have a day at the spa; head out to Tsali for an exhilarating bike ride or go tubing at Deep Creek; have an exciting day of whitewater rafting or stay in, relax and enjoy the view. Our local charm – some may call it “Southern Charm” will be an interesting and, we hope, enjoyable part of your vacation. To help you know what to expect, and how to respond, I have made a little list of some of the differences and customs you can expect to encounter on your visit:
1- Slow down! You are here on vacation, right? So, what’s the rush? I remember moving here from South Florida a few years ago with my family and although I already knew the area well, it took some time to adjust. Sometimes, I still find myself brimming with impatience in line at the grocery store because I forgot that lightning fast checkout service is something that you just don’t find around here! In Bryson City, people are friendly and helpful; they look you in the eye and ask you how you’re doing – then wait around to listen to the reply! At the grocery store, I expect to run into one or two (or nine) people I know; I have learned to just allow time for it in my schedule. People just move at a more relaxed pace here. I find that I do, too, for the most part, at least! It’s really quite refreshing – the way things would be if we weren’t so overloaded.
2- People will wave at you – wave back! You will notice as you drive on rural roads that people may wave as they pass you. This may seem strange at first, since you are clearly strangers. Just wave back. It is a local custom to convey friendliness or courtesy and it is offensive if you ignore it. So, don’t be rude – wave! These are also the folks who will stop to help you out if you find yourself with a flat tire, a dead battery or a wheel in the ditch. They won’t ask you for anything – they are just being neighborly and helping out. That’s just how we do things around here.
3- Smile and say hello. When you are hiking on a trail, in a restaurant or walking on the sidewalk and you see someone, it is very likely they will look you in the eye, smile and say hello. I know this does not happen on the streets of New York but it happens in Bryson City. It’s not weird or strange or scary and nobody wants anything other than for you to enjoy your day. It’s okay to smile back. Its okay to say hello. It may seem uncomfortable but this is life in a small town. It’s part of our culture, part of our charm. Enjoy it!

Coming to the mountains always involves a little bit of “roughing it” but at Watershed, we provide everything you need to rough it in style. Keep checking in for more tips to help make your visit to Bryson City a trip you will want to take every year!


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