Are you searching for the best things to do in Cherokee, North Carolina? We have got you covered! Whether you’re just passing through, or staying for a little while, Cherokee has plenty of activities to do with the family or a group of friends looking for a fun weekend away!
While you’re in North Carolina exploring all the amazing national parks, mountain towns, breweries, waterfalls, and seeking to discover the hidden gems of the state, there are plenty of things to do! Cherokee is not exception to this! It is home to and near some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US and has some amazing stops to make any kind of road trip to Cherokee fun!
So sit back and relax while we walk you through our list of some definite must-stops to make your trip to Cherokee awesome!
15 Best Things To Do In Cherokee NC You Shouldn’t Miss!
Great Smokey Mountains National Park
Great Smokey Mountains National Park is one of the best things to do near Cherokee and perfect for people travelling with kids or just looking to adventure in the great outdoors!
The Great Smokey Mountains National Park is located upon a ridge of forest straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee! It is home to wildlife from black bears to amphibian’s like salamander’s, there are a myriad of opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat!
This is the idea location for things to do in Cherokee with kids looking to hike, camp or even just experience some of America’s oldest mountain range! This is also one of the best things to do in Cherokee for experience some gorgeous fall foliage!
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is a speciality museum hosting artifacts from Cherokee Indigenous heritage and carrying through to modern times which definitely makes this one of the best activities in Cherokee!
This Museum tells the history and culture of the Cherokee Indians through displays and computer imagery! Admission is 12$, and is completely handicapped accessible. You can walk through this museum on a completely self-guided tour featuring informative displays!
They even host beading demonstrations and have a great gift shops with more resources for information and curiosities! If you’re wanting to explore the history of the region, this is definitely an option for what to do in Cherokee!
Oconaluftee Island Park
Oconaluftee Island Park is another option for the best things to do in Cherokee in nature!
The Island Park is filled with picnic tables, shelters, grills and a paved walking trail! This is definitely one of the great free things to do in Cherokee for people looking for an afternoon of stress-free down time in nature! There are spots for fishing, swimming and wading when the weather is good with swings by the river and places to feed the ducks! There are also washrooms available to the public at the park!
Oconaluftee Island Park also sometimes hosts bonfire night featuring traditional Cherokee stories and legends! Definitely check out this location as one of the best things to do in Cherokee!
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is a great option for things to do in Cherokee at night!
This luxe hotel and casino hosts concerts and live shows and is the perfect destination for people wanting to spend a day inside (rainy day activity?) or just wanting to have a blast with the machines!
They have poker tables, slots and table games and is home to some great restaurants! You could totally spend a whole day at Harrah’s and never have to leave! Don’t miss out on this option for the best things to do in Cherokee for adults!
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is quintessential North Carolina activity and definitely one of the best things to do near Cherokee!
Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic driving routes in the South and a must-see of one of the best places to visit in Cherokee! Driving along this route is free and is also home to some really cool spots to stop!
It connects North Virginia and the South West side of North Carolina for 469 miles so you could easily spend a few days along this park way or even a week exploring! This destination is especially popular during the fall, as driving down this parkway with the fall foliage is one of the best Cherokee activities!
With sweeping overlooks and the classic Linn Cove Viaduct, there is plenty to see! It’s also near a whole bunch of cute mountain towns with unique attractions including Little Switzerland, Blowing Rock Boone and Bryson City!
If you’re looking to spend more time in Blue Ridge Parkway, there are plenty of spaces to stop! Whether you’re searching for a spot to stretch your legs and go for a hike, or simply stop at an overlook and enjoy the scenery!
Granny’s Kitchen is a great spot to stop for food in Cherokee!
It is a local community favourite since 1984 and home to some classic buffet style food to fill you up for all your adventures! It is family owned and run, which means your contributing to a local business when you visit!
It is one mile from Harrah’s and has a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu every day but Monday. Don’t miss out on one of the best restaurants in Cherokee!
SOCO Falls is one of the classic natural attractions in Cherokee you shouldn’t skip!
It’s a popular area for walking so it might be a little crowded and isn’t too far from the start! It is accessible from 8 am to 8 pm every day and is featured on a .24 mile loop trail near Maggie Valley.
Make sure to check out our list of the Best Things To Do In Maggie Valley And Nearby!
SOCO Falls is made from two merging waterfalls with an overlook and reachable by a short trail. It is not handicap accessible, but is a moderate hike so be prepared! It’s located on the edge of the Cherokee Indian Reservation and home to some beautiful landscapes!
Definitely don’t skip SOCO Falls when looking for the best things to do in Cherokee, NC!
Unto These Hills
Unto These Hills is a drama show demonstrating the tragic and triumphant story of the Cherokee population that traces back to the years before the Trail of Tears to the present.
This is definitely one of the best activities in Cherokee for people looking to learn about the history of the area as well as wanting to learn more about the Indigenous population!
It is a performance based on traditional values combined with modern sensibilities and past visitors describe this as a very powerful performance! Unto These Hills is definitely one of the best things to do in Cherokee!
Santa’s Land is the ultimate Christmas amusement park for all Christmas fanatics, making it one of the fun things to do in Cherokee!
It’s a small amusement theme park that’s one of the perfect things to do in Cherokee with kids, but still fun for adults! Explore this adorable spot for some great views from rides in the mountains!
While it’s not as large as Dollywood, it’s still plenty of fun, reasonably priced, and definitely a stop you shouldn’t skip!
Horseback Riding in the Great Smokey Mountains
One of the best activities near Cherokee is definitely booking a guided horseback tour with Smokemont Riding Stables!
This tour guide service is located in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and home to some great tours ranging from one to four hours long! You’ll be able to enjoy this national park at any time of year while the weather permits and completely personalized to your group!
Each ride is unique and perfect for people looking to see the area! The horses are well cared for and patrons say it shows! This is definitely a hidden gem and a must on our list of things to do in Cherokee with kids!
Another great waterfall to visit on our list of things to do near Cherokee is Mingo Falls!
Approximately 100 steps up and a quarter mile hike on natural terrain, this 120 foot waterfall is a beautiful sight that you should definitely make time for! This is one of the best free things to do in Cherokee if you’re looking to immerse yourself in some natural surroundings!
Mingo Falls is definitely worth the drive out but has limited parking off of Big Cove Road so get there early! Don’t miss out on one of the best things to do near Cherokee, North Carolina!
Mountainside Theatre is one of the best things to do in Cherokee at night and puts a unique take on classic shows!
Support the local theatre scene by catching a show at Mountainside Theatre! They host musical theatre performances featuring country music dating from 1940’s to present! This wild and funky spectacle is made amazing by their crazy talented cast and is definitely a great options for the best things to do in Cherokee while supporting local businesses!
Their past shows have included Appalachian Alice in Wonderland, Dracula and the Sleepy Hollows Experience! There’s also a concession stand so don’t worry they have you covered for snacks!
Rent a Kayak or Go Tubing
Another great option for the best Cherokee activities is definitely renting a kayak or going tubing!
Businesses like the Cherokee Rapids Tube and Kayak Rentals have some great staff who have great knowledge of the Oconaluftee River and are awesome guides of the area! This company has the biggest operation along the river and their location: “Our Little Princess” is the only one with direct access to the river!
Their guides are passionate about making your trip the best it can possibly be while taking you on routes that are a great mix of fast, adventurous and relaxing! Renting a kayak or a tube to venture down the Oconaluftee River is definitely a must-do activity on our list of the best things to do in Cherokee, North Carolina!
Mountain Farm Museum
The Mountain Farm Museum is one of the history museums that is one of the free things to do in Cherokee you shouldn’t skip!
This museum is located in the beautiful meadow by the Oconaluftee Visitor Centre and is home to multiple structures preserved from the previous century including a log farmhouse, blacksmith shop, apple house, spring house and barn!
Stop by this museum and learn how families lived in these mountains 100 years ago! It’s open daily and has park rangers on site! It’s a pet friendly location and has ample parking! It’s a cool option for attractions in Cherokee with some cool trails! It’s adjacent to a river hike where you could potentially see some elks!
This is definitely a cool option for the best things to do in Cherokee, NC!
Cherokee Heritage Museum and Art Gallery
Last on our list of the best things to do in Cherokee, NC is the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Art Gallery!
This location is an art and history museum that is very well thought out and well-organized! It has a 12 dollar entry fee and is home to some beautiful and educational exhibits perfect for learning at one of the best Cherokee activities.
This museum shows the history of the Indigenous peoples, as well as displaying art and artifacts from the population. They also have an audio tour available for those who want or need it. Definitely don’t miss out on this option for the best things to do in Cherokee!
Knowing your options is definitely they key to success when it comes to visiting Cherokee! There are plenty of fun options for activities in the city that we hope you’re able to take advantage of our list and try some fun activities! But if you’re venturing around North Carolina, we have a list of the best things to do across the state! And no matter what time of year you’re adventuring, North Carolina will hook you up with some amazing landscapes! Whether you’re there for the gorgeous fall foliage, or looking for the best Christmas lights display, there’s something for everyone!
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best things to do in Cherokee, NC, where will you go first?