Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Cherokee, North Carolina, is a captivating destination that offers a wide array of activities for travelers seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and natural beauty. From exploring the rich history of the Cherokee people to immersing yourself in the stunning Appalachian wilderness, this article let’s dive into the diverse range of Cherokee North Carolina things to do:

Discover Cherokee’s Rich History

  • Cherokee Indian Reservation: Start your journey by delving into the history and culture of the Cherokee people at the Cherokee Indian Reservation. This cultural hub features the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, where you can explore exhibits that narrate the story of the Cherokee Nation and its resilience.
  • Oconaluftee Indian Village: Step back in time at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a living history museum where you can interact with reenactors in a recreated 18th-century Cherokee village. Learn about traditional craftsmanship, rituals, and daily life.
  • Unto These Hills: Experience the power of storytelling at the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills.” This captivating production recounts the history of the Cherokee people, their struggles, and their resilience. It’s an immersive and emotional journey through time.
  • Cherokee Heritage Trails: Embark on a self-guided tour of the Cherokee Heritage Trails, a network of interpretive sites that educate visitors about the Cherokee’s history, culture, and natural surroundings.

Outdoor Adventures in Cherokee

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: As the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee offers endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike along scenic trails, go wildlife watching, and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of one of America’s most-visited national parks.
  • Fishing in Cherokee: Known for its abundant streams and rivers, Cherokee is a fishing paradise. Get a permit to fish in the Qualla Boundary and try your luck catching trout in well-stocked waters.
  • Mingo Falls: Discover the breathtaking Mingo Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the southern Appalachian Mountains. A short hike takes you to this natural wonder surrounded by lush greenery.
  • Oconaluftee Islands Park: Spend a relaxing day at Oconaluftee Islands Park, a scenic park with picnic areas, a riverwalk, and shallow streams ideal for wading and splashing. It’s perfect for families.

Cultural Experiences

  • Cherokee Powwows: If you visit during the right time, don’t miss the vibrant Cherokee Powwows. These cultural gatherings feature traditional dances, crafts, and authentic Cherokee cuisine.
  • Cherokee Art Market: Explore the rich artistic heritage of the Cherokee Nation at the Cherokee Art Market. Admire and purchase traditional and contemporary Cherokee art, including pottery, jewelry, and textiles.
  • Cherokee Bonfire: Gather around the fire at the Cherokee Bonfire for storytelling, music, and marshmallow roasting. It’s a wonderful way to connect with Cherokee culture and unwind after a day of exploration.

Family-Friendly Fun

Overhead view of bears in a zoo enclosure.
  • Cherokee Fun Park: Keep the kids entertained at the Cherokee Fun Park, featuring go-karts, mini-golf, an arcade, and gem mining. It’s a great place for family bonding and creating lasting memories.
  • Cherokee Bear Zoo: Get up close and personal with some of the region’s most iconic inhabitants at the Cherokee Bear Zoo. Witness black bears in a naturalistic environment while learning about their behavior and conservation efforts.
  • Santa’s Land Fun Park & Zoo: Another family-friendly attraction, Santa’s Land Fun Park & Zoo, offers a blend of amusement park rides, farm animals, and a visit with Santa Claus himself.

Casino and Entertainment

  • Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort: For those seeking nightlife and entertainment, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is the place to be. Enjoy slot machines, table games, live music, and a variety of dining options.
  • Cherokee Grand Theater: Check out the Cherokee Grand Theater for live performances, concerts, and comedy shows. It’s a great way to unwind in the evening.

Shopping for Souvenirs

  • Cherokee Craft Shops: Explore the craft shops in Cherokee, where you can find unique souvenirs, including handmade baskets, traditional beadwork, and pottery.
  • Cherokee Farmers Market: If you’re looking for fresh produce, local honey, and handmade crafts, visit the Cherokee Farmers Market for a taste of the region’s artisanal offerings.

Cherokee North Carolina Things to Do: Exploring Activities and Safety

Two women on a shuttle, using their phones.

When planning your trip to Cherokee North Carolina, it’s essential to consider transportation, activities, and safety measures to ensure a well-rounded and secure experience. This comprehensive guide covers Cherokee North Carolina things to do, transportation options, and safety tips.

Transportation Options

  • By Car: The most common way to reach Cherokee is by car. The town is conveniently accessible via US Route 19 and US Route 441, making it easily reachable from nearby cities like Asheville, North Carolina, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
  • By Air: The nearest major airport is Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), approximately an hour’s drive from Cherokee. Rental car services are available at the airport for added convenience.
  • Public Transportation: Cherokee itself does not have a public transit system, but shuttle services from nearby cities like Asheville may be available. Some hotels in Cherokee also provide shuttle services to popular attractions.

Getting Around Cherokee

Once you’re in Cherokee, you have several options for getting around town:

  • Walking: Cherokee’s downtown area is pedestrian-friendly, making it easy to explore attractions on foot.
  • Bicycles: Some Cherokee hotels offer bicycle rentals, allowing you to tour the town at your own pace.
  • Shuttle Services: Certain hotels and resorts in Cherokee offer shuttle services to top attractions, such as Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
  • Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft operate in Cherokee, providing convenient transportation options.

Safety Tips

Cherokee North Carolina is generally a safe destination for travelers, but it’s important to follow these safety precautions:

  • Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast, especially when engaging in outdoor activities in the Great Smoky Mountains. Be prepared for changing conditions and carry appropriate clothing and gear.
  • Wildlife Caution: Cherokee is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears. Maintain a safe distance from wildlife and avoid feeding them. Adhere to guidelines from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for bear encounters.
  • Water Safety: When participating in water-related activities like fishing or wading, be mindful of water conditions and currents. Always wear suitable safety gear, such as life jackets when needed.
  • Responsible Gambling: If you plan to visit Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, gamble responsibly and set spending limits. The resort offers resources for responsible gaming.
  • COVID-19 Precautions: Stay informed about COVID-19 safety measures in place during your visit. Follow mask mandates, practice social distancing, and adhere to guidelines from local authorities and businesses.
  • Emergency Contacts:
Emergency ContactPhone Number
Police/Fire Emergency (911)911
Cherokee Indian Police(828) 497-4131
Cherokee Indian Hospital(828) 497-9163
Great Smoky Mountains National Park(865) 436-1230


Cherokee, North Carolina, is a destination that seamlessly blends cultural heritage, outdoor adventures, and family-friendly fun. Whether you’re interested in exploring the rich history of the Cherokee people, hiking through the stunning Great Smoky Mountains, or enjoying entertainment at the casino, Cherokee offers something for every traveler. Plan your visit to this enchanting region and experience the diverse array of activities that make Cherokee, North Carolina, a must-visit destination for all.


1. When is the best time to visit Cherokee, North Carolina?

The best time to visit Cherokee is during the spring and fall when the weather is pleasant, and the landscape is adorned with colorful foliage. However, each season offers its own unique charm, so plan according to your preferences.

2. Are permits required for fishing in Cherokee?

Yes, a fishing permit is required to fish in the Qualla Boundary. These permits can be purchased at various locations within Cherokee, and they help fund conservation efforts and maintain the well-stocked waters.

3. What should I pack for a visit to Cherokee, North Carolina?

Be sure to pack comfortable hiking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent, and any outdoor gear you might need for your chosen activities. Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning scenery!

4. Can I learn more about the Cherokee language and culture while visiting?

Absolutely! Many attractions in Cherokee, such as the Cherokee Indian Reservation and the Oconaluftee Indian Village, offer educational experiences where you can learn about the Cherokee language, culture, and history.

5. Are there any special events or festivals in Cherokee throughout the year?

Cherokee hosts a variety of special events and festivals, including powwows, cultural celebrations, and holiday events. Be sure to check the Cherokee events calendar when planning your trip to see if there are any festivities during your visit.