Within the landscape of the United States, North Carolina is a somewhat underrated state for people to visit – but is nevertheless one that has much to offer for both domestic and foreign tourists alike.
One such location is Cherokee, North Carolina – an area steeped in history, indigenous culture, and glorious natural beauty spots.
But what exactly can tourists do in Cherokee, and what is it like?
Things To Do In Cherokee, North Carolina
To help things along, we have compiled our list of the best activities and sites to experience on your next visit to Cherokee. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
1. Visit The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Also known as the ‘smokies’, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest and most beautiful national parks in the United States – offering countless experiences in terms of nature walks, outdoor activities, and wildlife spotting opportunities.
As the ancestral home of the Cherokee nation, the Great Smoky Mountains are home to ridges, trails, streams, rivers, waterfalls, and of course the hills and mountains themselves, and you will soon lose yourself in the embracing grasp of this amazing natural phenomenon (for more stunning river vacations, check out our guide to Idaho Falls).
2. Go Trout Fishing
One of the best activities to do in the Smoky Mountains – if you are so inclined – is to go trout fishing. Trout breed and live in abundance all throughout the waterways of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the area offers some of the best fishing spots in the country.
In this region there are four types of trout that can be found – rainbow trout, brook trout, golden trout, and brown trout – and there are thousands of prime fishing locations throughout the national park for you to choose from.
3. Play At Sequoyah National Golf Club
Nestled under the watchful eye of the Smoky Mountains, the Sequoyah National Golf Club offers some of the best holes in the region – bathed in pristine, natural beauty, which offers players a peaceful outlet for them to hone their long game, and have some fun to boot.
Containing 6,072 yards of groomed bentgrass greens, and bluegrass fairways, the course won Golf Magazine’s ‘Best New Course You Can Play’ back in 2009, and has remained a popular and much loved course ever since.
4. Visit Blue Ridge Parkway
Accessible from Cherokee, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a magnificent and much loved hiking trail that makes for one of the best hikes, bike rides, or gentle saunters of your life.
With a vast panorama of mountain ranges, valleys, sprawling vistas, and endless clear skies, this really is one of the best places in the country to take on some exercise, bathe yourself in nature, and leave the modern world behind.
5. Explore Mingo Falls
As we mentioned above, Cherokee and the surrounding National Park are home to some fantastic waterways and waterfalls – with the most famous being Mingo Falls.
Perfect for camping and picnicking, this whole area is basked in light and iridescent spray, creating a place of supernatural beauty that has long since been part of Cherokee folklore.
6. Visit The Oconaluftee Indian Village
This ancestral village of the Cherokee people is a fantastic example of living history, and is a great place to learn much about what the area has seen over the years, and what it has to offer.
With guided talks, skills and crafting, and all manner of lifestyle teachings, this really is one of the best experiences of this kind, and can truly be a life changing and informative experience for people from all walks of life.
It really is like being transported back to the 1760s, and shows you what life was like for the Cherokee people who made the region their home. Witness the cultural dances, see tools and homes get made, and experience what it was like to live and work in this area.
7. Visit Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual, Inc
This arts and crafts center is the perfect experience for those interested in crafting – and you can witness how some of the area’s most famous makes get created (for more art experiences, check out Shreveport’s art scene) .
Part shopping experience, part manufacturing demonstration, and part Native American cultural experience, this really is a multifaceted experience for locals and tourists alike to experience when they visit Cherokee.
These practices of making goods have been tied to the place for centuries, and are a window into the culture and people who have long called the land their home.
8. Visit The Museum Of The Cherokee Indian
For a more in depth study and examination of some historical finds, why not visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian?
Entirely unique and engaging – just like the Cherokee people themselves – this museum is not your dusty, run of the mill museum, it is a window into the inventiveness, ingenuity, and creative knowhow of the Cherokee people.
With interactive, creative elements, preserved artifacts to observe, and guided tours and talks to explain things in more detail, this really is an immersive and interesting experience.
Plus, when you are finished, it boasts an impressive gift shop that houses many locally made products and trinkets that you can take home, enjoy, and use as a memory of your time with the Cherokee people.
9. Catch A Performance Of ‘Unto These Hills’
This theatrical production is something of a local legend, and one that is widely popular for visitors to the region.
Established by the Mountainside Theater Production, it is one of the longest running outdoor dramas in the United States, and gives audience members an insight into the history and story of the Cherokee people, their experiences in the area throughout the centuries, and the joys and trials they have faced along the way.
This can be an emotional experience, and one that can really bring you closer to the town, and the history of the indigenous people who live there. This is certainly not one to be missed!
10. Visit Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Of course, if something more modern is more up your street, then why not check out Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort?
Harrah’s is a widely recognized name in the casino industry, and with numerous locations all around the world, including Las Vegas, they certainly know a thing or two about gambling and luxury.
This can be a great way to spend a couple of days – taking in the sights, the nightlife, the food, and of course the gambling – just be sure to partake responsibly!
11. Try White Water Rafting
If you are the outdoorsy type, then why not try white water rafting on Cherokee’s famous waterways? These aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you or your family happen to be naturals in the water – or have a taste for adventure – then there isn’t a better thing to try!
12. Go Bird Watching
Some people however, prefer things to be just a little bit more peaceful. If you happen to fit this description, then the numerous species of birds in the area might be something you’ll want to check out!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has some of the most varied and beautiful birds in the country, and the various hikes and trails offer some of the best ornithological spots in the world.
13. Ride The Fire Mountain Trails
The Fire Mountain Trails are renowned for their appeal amongst mountain bikers and adrenaline junkies of all types – and this could be the perfect experience for you and your family to enjoy while you stay in the Cherokee area.
10.5 miles long in total, these trails offer plenty of room to ride or hike, and offer some of the best views of the surrounding countryside.
14. Check Out The Wildlife
Along with birds and trout, Cherokee also has some of the best varieties of wildlife in the country – with creatures such as elk being regular sights in the center of town and the surrounding woodland.
This can be a great way to see some of your favorite woodland creatures, but remember to keep a safe distance, and be respectful to their habitats at all times!
15. Go Skiing
Another one for the adrenaline junkies, Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains have some of the best winter skiing opportunities around, and can be great fun for people of all ages and abilities.
Most people think of Aspen when they think of skiing, but North Carolina is the place to be for beautiful, breathtaking nature, and some of the best slopes in the country.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about Cherokee, North Carolina, and the best things to do there when on vacation!
North Carolina is somewhat of an underrated state, and there is much to offer both locals and tourists alike. Luckily, with handy guides like these, you can ensure that you see what needs to be seen, and make the most of your vacation time while there.