A Regional Commitment to Local Food Tourism

Destination by Design worked with seven counties in the High Country Region of North Carolina to develop a food trail and tourism map to connect communities through interactive digital formats while promoting cultural assets and local food businesses.

neck of the woods local food trail

If North Carolina were a Thanksgiving spread, you’d get the feeling there’s a little something for everyone.

A variety of “Mom & Pop” establishments dot the state’s small-town main streets, while nationally competitive restaurants in Charlotte and Raleigh, attract foodies from all over. Whether you crave fresh-caught seafood or an array of barbecue styles, North Carolina has something to satisfy every drooling palate. In fact, the options are almost overwhelming.

This conundrum has been made all the easier in the High Country of Western NC, thanks to the Neck of the Woods flavor trail spearheaded by Destination by Design. The Neck of the Woods flavor trail unifies the region’s local food industry and empowers the local growers, chefs, craft brewers, and entrepreneurs who are the backbone of the region’s tourism economy.

This new brand, mobile-friendly website, and print map locates various wineries, breweries, farmers markets, farm-to-table restaurants, and other culinary points of interest in the seven counties that make up the High Country region.

The interactive, mobile-friendly website provides business contact information, Google map directions, hours of operation, and other helpful identifying information for dozens of establishments in the region. A printed tourist map – and associated small business content – was also developed.

Neck of the Woods Featured in CNN Travel as one of the World’s Most Enticing Food & Drink Trails

Seven Counties Connected Through Flavor

high country local food trail

Outdoor enthusiasts have always flocked to Western NC to hike their way through this beautiful region, now – thanks to the Neck of the Woods flavor trail – revelers can eat and drink their way through it too.

The Neck of the Woods flavor trail is an innovative approach to community development that elevates the rich local food heritage of the North Carolina High Country region.

Far more than just a roadmap for people who appreciate good food and drink, the Neck of the Woods flavor trail is a branding and marketing initiative that supports the farmers and small business owners that make the High Country region a great place to live and visit.

Most of our work at Destination by Design involves connecting people with the places they live.

What better way to do that than through good local food and spirits?

A Collaborative Branding Process

DbD led the branding initiative, which was driven by a collection of regional partners who understand the role that food, drink, and leisure play in the region’s overall tourism and economic development .

The engagement of a committee of regional stakeholders throughout the brainstorming and branding process was a central element to the success of the Neck of the Woods project. DbD collaborates with regional partners to develop consensus around a desired brand. A brand charette was held with the committee to ensure that everyone could respond and give input about the brand direction and the message that the region wanted to promote to its target audiences.

The stakeholder input phase of our process involved extensive brand and market research, stakeholder identification, small business engagement, and community interaction; all of which fostered a sense of ownership by the community throughout the 7-county region.

Key Project Takeaways

The Neck of the Woods flavor trail is a forward-leaning approach to connecting communities in a way that promotes unique cultural assets and supports local business.

In the digital media era, placemaking has taken on a decidedly more interactive and visual form. The Neck of the Woods flavor trail is a perfect example of how to connect communities and people using an interactive digital format. Whether passing through on a roadtrip or just enjoying a night out on the town, this innovative brand and project will allow more people to enjoy the cuisine and culture that make the High Country worth a visit.