Things to do in Cherokee, North Carolina
The Oconaluftee River in Cherokee is a beautiful area to visit and if you’re ever near the Smokies I suggest checking it out🏔The Oconaluftee area and trails have plenty of places to float/raft, fish and play. The river here is a place many families gather, especially the Oconoluftee Island Park. In the evenings or on the weekends many people can be seen playing in the water and enjoying family time together.
When I visit family we like to go to Oconaluftee Island and listen to stories from elders over a bonfire. Fun fact: Cherokee don’t have typical powwow type dances like you may have seen from other tribes or on tv, but instead hold stomps. Bonfire times and other special events can be found on the Visit Cherokee website.
Museum of the Cherokee
If you’re looking to see Native American artifacts and learn more about the history of the Cherokee tribe I highly suggest checking out the Museum of the Cherokee. The layout of the museum is great and the exhibits are very interactive. The collection of Native American artifacts is impressive. The museum is also, within walking distance to many shops and food options.
Indian Village-Cherokee, North Carolina
If you’re looking to see the heart of the Cherokee people I would also, suggest visiting the Indian village. The village isn’t far up the mountain from the museum and has tours daily with Native American guides that explain the culture, history and way of life. The village also, has a walking trail and gardens to explore.
Combined tickets can be purchased that include multiple attractions such as the Unto these Hills drama. The theatrical interpretation of the journey of the Cherokee people is a must see. The internal flame in front of the theater is worth a walk down to the theater and I highly recommend getting tickets to watch the performance.
Visiting the Great Smoky Mountain’s National Park
If you’re into hiking Cherokee has many beautiful trails. The Great Smoky Mountain’s National Park is also, a close drive from Cherokee and offers a plethora of trails and photo opportunities. Hiking part of the Appalachian trail is an unbeatable experience.
Things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
As you drive from Cherokee, Nc to the Great Smoky Mountain’s National Park you will also, be close to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. From where I was staying in Cherokee it was only 37 miles to Gatlinburg. If you’re not familiar this area along with Pigeon Forge is a known tourist hotspot. It is a vacation destination in itself and has everything you can imagine in terms of entertainment, restaurants and shopping. During this trip I didn’t spend much time in Gatlinburg, but I have been there before several times with family.
Skylift Park-Gatlinburg, Tennessee
One evening of the trip was dedicated to Gatlinburg. While there I wanted to revisit one of my favorite attractions and ride on the Skylift . This ride is a Gatlinburg icon and I remember riding on it as a child. I was excited to be able to finally check out the new partial glass bridge this trip as well. Tip:The Skylift Park allows multiple visits in a day with paid admission and it is the perfect spot to catch the sunset.
While at the Skylift park a storm came up and we stayed put there for a couple of hours. There is a gift shop, concession style restaurant and bar on top of the mountain. Along with the beautiful views there are plenty of chairs to sit and areas to capture the perfect photos. We decided to enjoy lunch there too and had pizza and beer with the mountain views. The concession area had fresh food and the bar staff were very friendly.
Sugarlands Distillery- Gatlinburg, Tennessee
One of the other activities I decided to do while in Gatlinburg was to visit Sugarlands. I enjoy a good drink and had heard so many positive things about this distillery. I am not a stranger to moonshine and grew up with a family that proudly made their own shine.
Watching programs like Moonshiners on the History channel peaked my interests in this topic as an adult. I was excited to be in Gatlinburg and to finally get to checkout Sugarlands for myself. Tasting tours are available for $5 and I tried 12 tiny samples of different varieties of their moonshine, plus a cream liqueur. Honestly it was all amazing!
Sugarlands also, has a huge gift shop and after our tasting we purchased several types of shine to take home. The $5 tasting fee is knocked off a shine purchase too which was nice. There were several deals for a percent off certain items and a free item after 5 when we visited. We also, enjoyed some fun cocktails and live music in their bar behind the gift shop. Sugarlands was really a great way to spend our evening in Gatlinburg and a fun way to experience something different.
There is so much to do and see in this area of the Smoky Mountains from Cherokee, Maggie Valley, Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge anyone could make a multi week vacation out of it. There is something to appeal to everyone in the family too from history, water activities, food/drink and the outdoor lifestyle. I know I can’t wait to plan another trip back to the area.
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