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Road Trip and Things To Do In Cherokee NC

Overview: Attractions in Cherokee – Road Trip and Things To Do In Cherokee NC

Cherokee, NC is located at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Only a thirty minute drive from Maggie Valley, this town serves as the center for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Rich in history, the area has many historical events year round focused on previous settlements and Cherokee culture. Tourists can find things to do in Cherokee NC such as tribal run botanical gardens, museums, arts and crafts center and dramas. Outdoor activities in the area are an abundance with plenty hiking trails and river accesses.

Overview: Great American North Carolina Road Trips: Maggie Valley To Cherokee

Are you one of those types of people who load up the kids in the car and pick a new and spontaneous adventure to go on? If so, then this article is for you. For several years now, I have been documenting my travels with my 4-year-old daughter, across the United States. I have done a lot of hit and miss research, and have picked out some of the best places for families to drive on single day and weekend road trips.

Maggie valley is a beautiful town, with tourist stops open year round, and plenty of hotels and restaurants, to satisfy all of your families needs. Whether you are driving on the cheap, or going all out, Maggie valley has it all. Most hotels are less than $100 on the weekend, unless you arrive at the peak tourist season in summer, then they tend to get a little pricey. If you book ahead, usually you can get a better rate, especially if it’s off-season and not on a weekend.

One of Maggie valleys many great adventures, is to go horseback riding. Queens stable is located just off Soco rd and has been in business since 1948. It offers trail rides on 200 acres of family owned farm, with beautiful mountain views and pristine natural surroundings. It costs $20 for a 1-hour ride, or for $30, you get a 1 hour 45 minute ride to the top of the mountain and along the ridge. They accommodate children 6 and up and adults up to 235 pounds. They are open from around April 1st through until November, but they do offer other rides during other times, but you should call and check first. To reach them call (828)926-0718

Wheels through time, is a great place to stop in, and enjoy one of the best transportation museums in the eastern United States. Opened only 4 years, they have had an extremely large number of visitors, over 250,000 and counting. They have well over 10,000 pieces of memorabilia, ranging from early, turn of the century motorcycles, to classic cars and racing memorabilia. They even have Steve McQueen’s Cadillac! Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and half price for children 12 and under. They can be reached at (828)926-6266 or online at It’s a definite destination stop for motorcycle enthusiasts and racing fans alike.

If you like to ski or just play in the snow, then Cataloochee ski area is the place for you, during your trip through Maggie valley. Located at the end of Maggie valley, near the now closed, but recently to be reopened Ghost town in the sky, it offers skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Because of the large amount of information they offer on skiing dates and pricing, I suggest you contact them at (828)926-0285 or online at The web address provides maps to the lodge and of the skiing area, as well as live web cams of their skiing and tubing areas. The best times to visit are just after Thanksgiving . They have artificial snow machines, so Cataloochee ski area is the first one to open and the last one to close.

As you leave town, and head towards the Great Smoky Mountains national park, you enter the Qualla boundary, also known as the Cherokee Indian reservation. It consists of nearly 57,000 acres of federal government public trust lands. With a large amount of family oriented activities, this town of 9,000 residents has an abundance of places to visit and see. The Oconaluftee Indian Village is a great place to take the kids. There they have a working Indian village, with all native Cherokees, to help explain the ways of life they once new, before the advent of the modern technology. There is also a fascinating play that has been in production for almost 60 years, entitled “unto these hills” that tells the infamous tale of “the trail of tears” when Cherokee and others local tribes were moved to Oklahoma. One of top three Native American museums in the United States is located here, and in 1998, it went under renovation, and today, provides a great hands on experience for the adults, as well as the kids. To find out more about Cherokee and its attractions go online at or phone them at 800-438-1601

Day One: Road Trip and Things To Do In Cherokee NC

Morning Activities:

  • Breakfast at the Lobby Meadowlark Lobby or Pop’s grits and Eggs
    3253 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751 Phone: 828-944-0677
    This local breakfast spot is nestled in Maggie Valley on your way towards Cherokee. This restaurant is known by locals and visitors for their omelets and pancakes.  It’s a sure way begin your Cherokee adventure off right.
  • Tour the Cherokee Culture at The Museum of the Cherokee Indian

    Cherokee Culture at The Museum

    Cherokee Culture at The Museum

    Location: 589 Tsali Blvd. Cherokee, NC at the intersection of Tsali Blvd. and Drama Road
    Winter Hours (Sep–May) is 9:00AM–5:00PM Monday-Sunday. Phone: 828-497-3481
    ADMISSION: Adults $11; Children (ages 6–12) $7; Children 5 and under admitted free.
    Experience history of the Cherokee tribe displayed vividly. If your idea of a museum includes dusty displays, this museum is anything but.  It’s inspired by the exquisiteness and ingenuity of the Cherokee people. Visitors will experience a cultural and historical fused with an interactive video, intriguing displays, and a full sensory experience. Guests will learn about the Cherokee people’s inventiveness, resilience, and will to survive through troubling periods in history. The journey will illustrate who the people of Cherokee really are, where they came from, and why they’re still here.

Afternoon Activities:

  • Harrah’s Cherokee Casino

    Harrah’s Cherokee Casino

    Harrah’s Cherokee Casino

    777 Casino Dr, Cherokee, NC 28719 828-497-7777

  • Lunch at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino offers many restaurant and meal options to choose from:
    Earl of Sandwich, Selu Garden Cafe, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Brio Tuscan Grille, Chef’s Stage Grill, Johnny Rockets, Lobby Cafe, Pizzeria UNO Express, The Noodle Bar and much more.
  • Spa Treatment
    Spend your afternoon with a relaxing treatment at the Mandara Spa at the entertainment venue
  • Shopping/Bowling
    The Casino has various shopping options with gifts and apparel available.
    ULTRASTAR multi entertainment area with a 24 lane bowling alley and bars.

Evening Activities:

  • Essence-the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino nightspot
  • Gambling– Games from poker to slot machine are available
  • Attend a live show at their event space! Below is the most recent scheduled events.

Day Two : Road Trip and Things To Do In Cherokee NC

Morning Activities:

  • Breakfast at the Lobby Meadowlark Lobby or Qualla Java Cafe
    938 Tsalagi Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719 Phone: 828-497-2882
    The shop operates from 7:00AM-3:00PM Tuesday-Friday, 8:00AM-5:00PM Saturday, 9:00AM-3:00PM Sunday, Closed Monday
    This local coffee and lite breakfast fare shop is a great way to begin your morning journey in Cherokee. You will find this spot in an outdoorsy shopping center that has local Native American shops. Its named is a homage to the land at which it was built on; previously tribal land.
  • Local Shopping
    At the shopping center where Qualia Java Café is located.

Afternoon Activities:

  • Lunch at BJ’s Diner
    840 Tsali Blvd, Cherokee, NC 28719 Phone: 828-497-4303
    This restaurant operates from 11:00AM-6:00PM Monday-Saturday, 11:00AM-4:00PM Sunday
    Riverfront located, this restaurant from the road may not impress the fancy food critics. But as they old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. They are known for delicious burgers and quick eats with outdoor seating next to the river. If you’re looking for a budget friendly stop this is the place!
  • Blast to the Past at Oconaluftee Indian Village
    218 Drama Road, Cherokee, NC Phone:828-497-2111 The hours of this location are 10:00AM-4:00PM Monday-Saturday with tours every 15 minutes and Closed Sunday [Please note: This location operates beginning APRIL 18, 2018-Mid NOVEMBER]The Oconaluftee Indian Village is a replica of an ancient tribal homestead. As visitors travel the trail they are immediately transported back in time to the 1760s. As you tour the area, a Cherokee cultural expert will show you the way with information about cultural displays and processes that are sacred to Cherokee traditions. Guests will have to opportunity to interact with the villagers as they craft canoes, sculpt pottery and masks, weave traditional baskets and style beadwork.


  • Picturesque Views from Clingsman Dome

    Clingsman Dome

    Clingsman Dome

    This lookout tower is located by following US-441 to Clingsman Dome Rd near the Tennessee/North Carolina border [note: during winter, the road leading to the tower is closed DECEMEBER 1-MARCH 31; 7 mile hike on the road]. Once your reach Clingsman Dome Rd you will follow the road to the parking lot. Clingsman Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The tower gives visitors a 360° view of the Smoky Mountains. On the clearest days views can expand AS far as100 miles. On your way to the observation tower, visitors can stop at the Clingsman Dome Visitor Center for more information. For accessibility information during any season contact 828-436-1200. Preparations for the high elevations is essential. Bicycles and pets are not permitted to the paved trail to the observation tower. And the trail to the tower is not wheelchair accessible.

Evening Activities:

  • Elk viewing at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum
    1194 Newfound Gap Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719 [8 mins from the Indian Village] Phone: 828-497-1904 Hours for the location is 8:00AM-4:30PM Tuesday-Sunday, Closed MiondayAfter being reintroduced in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, over time elk herds have migrated towards the Cherokee area. Normally herds can been seen from Oconaluffee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum meadow located at their property. Rangers will often block northbound lanes for cars to park roadside to watch the elk interactions. The best time to see the elk is an hour or two before sunset when herds come from the wooded areas to feed before returning at night. It is not permitted to feed or to obtain elk antler. It is against park regulations to approach an elk and is illegal to disturb or displace an elk or their herd. Tourists can safely watch from the parking area of the Farm. Additionally, it is recommended to bring a scope or binoculars for ease of viewing.Seasons for Viewing
  • Winter: Elk wear a doubled layer coat during the colder months. Typically herds may move from the high country to the valleys to feed. Unfortunately they may not be seen for weeks. During the winter the park is often closed due to accessibility issues, it is recommended that tourists call the visitor center prior to their planned trip.
  • Spring: Elk typically shed their antlers as early as March. The antlers are rich in calcium which are quickly consumed by other wildlife in the ecosystem.
  • Summer: Most calves are born in the early summer months. Males will roll in mud wallows to keep themselves cool from the sweltering heat.
  • Fall: The elk’s breeding season is best known as the rut, which runs from mid-September to late fall. During the rut season, Males can be seen making buging calls to challenge other bulls and attract females. Dominant bulls use the fields to gather and breed with up to 20 cows. Bull elk actively charges any threat to their territory and sparring with its antlers with other males. Encroaching too close to a bull may warrant the animal to perceive the vehicle as a threat.

Cherokee North Carolina Events


  • Dwight Yoakum Concert
    JANUARY 13, 2018 7:30PM Tickets 21+ and ID is required
    Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center
    Dwight Yoakam has over 20 albums to his name and a country music pioneer. The Grammy award winner will be live in concert at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.
  • Jamey Johnson Concert
    JANUARY 26, 2018 9:00PM   21+ and ID is required
    Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center
    Jamey Johnson is a Grammy nominated country music artist. He is well known for co-writing with the industry biggest stars; Trace Atkins, George Strait and Willie Nelson.


  • Phillip Phillips Concert
    FEBURARY 9, 2018 9:00PM Tickets 21+ and ID is required
    Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center
    Phillip Phillips is a former contestant and winner of 21st Century Fox “American Idol” show. Live in concert, Cherokee is one of the first stops of the artist’s Magnetic Tour.


  • Bret Michael’s Rockfest with Special Guest Firehouse
    MARCH 10, 2018 7:30PM Tickets 21+ and ID is required
    Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center
    This glam metal and pop culture icon will be live in concert. Michaels is best known as the lead singer of the 80s band Poison, which sold more than 40 million records and has been six top 10 singles.
  • Alice Cooper-Paranormal Evening
    MARCH 17, 2018 9:00PM Tickets 21+ and ID is required
    Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center
    This theatrical rock icon has had a career spanning five decades with no signs of slowing down. Expext to be entertained with over the top props that Cooper is known for live in concert.
  • Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: One Show Fits All World Tour
    MARCH 23, 2018 9:00PM Tickets 21+ and ID is required
    Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center
    Gabriel Iglesias brings his comedy program to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino with his infamous Hawaiian t-shirt. Iglesias got his fame from his Comedy Central special and his successful run on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”. Reserve your tickets and get ready for a night of laughter!