Things to Do in Cherokee

The town of Cherokee—the headquarters of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians—is located in Swain County, North Carolina


Situated in the Qualla Boundary land trust, the town’s landscape includes fauna and flora of the Oconaluftee River Valley and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Enjoy learning all about Native American culture and traditions or enjoy the great outdoors surrounding the region.


Immerse your family in Native American life as it was in 1760 at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, where Native Americans in period dress go about their daily routines. As you meander the paths, greet the people you meet with the Cherokee word for hello—“osiyo.” You won’t be bored during the five-day Cherokee Indian Fair, where you’ll find music, food and rides, along with stickball games, archery and blowgun demonstrations. From late May through mid-August, Native American performers present the story of their nation in the outdoor drama "Unto These Hills." You’ll be drawn into the show with surround sound, masterful lighting effects and elaborate costumes. Bring a blanket big enough for the whole family to sit on.

Into the Woods

Hikers on the reservation and at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park frequently are rewarded with the sight of a tumbling waterfall along the way. If you’re traveling with small children, the hikes to Soco Falls and Mingo Falls are short and easy. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Yunwi Tsunsdi, the friendly spirits that help if you’ve lost your way. At the Smoky Mountain Gold and Ruby Mine in downtown Cherokee you might find precious gems and gold. Your admission fee is free, and they provide all the equipment needed to pan for bling.

Breathtaking Drives

Take U.S. 441 north for a few miles to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The splendid drive through the park on Newfound Gap Road follows a ridgeline parallel to the Oconaluftee River. When you reach the Appalachian Trail, take a short walk on the iconic hiking path, or turn south to the observation deck at Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the trail. Continue through the park to the Cherohala Skyway, a spectacular drive up and over high peaks with long-range views of the mountains and neighboring Tennessee.

Fry Bread, Biscuits and Gravy

Load your plate with Southern favorites from the buffet at Granny’s Kitchen. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but closed on Mondays, your choices include grits, biscuits with sausage gravy, and fried chicken and okra. Both Paul’s Diner and the Little Princess Restaurant serve Indian tacos with fry bread, substituting for the traditional taco shell. Check out the mustard-based barbecue sauce and the banana pudding at Country Boy BBQ for a quick meal.

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