Top 10 Things to do in Cherokee This Summer | Cherokee, NC

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Top 10 Things to do in Cherokee This Summer

Grab your calendar and take note! With so much going on this summer in Cherokee, you won’t want to miss a thing. Here are ten must-see, must-do experiences to top the list for your Cherokee vacation. You’ll want several days to explore so be sure to book a place to stay. Call us at 800.438.1601 and we’ll help get you set up.​


The Cherokee Powwow is the largest powwow on the east coast, drawing contestants and spectators from all over the world. At this three-day event, July 1 to July 3, 2022, you can see colorful tribal regalia and experience authentic Indian dancing, drumming, and food. Don’t miss the Grand Entry (shown above), when as many as 500 dancers come into the arena together and dance for points. There’s also an amazing fireworks display that lights up the sky on July 2. 

See the Outdoor Drama

Deputing in 1950, "Unto These Hills" is one of the oldest outdoor dramas in the United States. The story follows the Cherokee leader, Tsali, and his family during the time of the Indian Removal Act.  It’s a performance filled with songs, dance, and riveting action sequences. Get there early to catch the pre-show (30 minutes before the main performance at 8 p.m.), featuring Cherokee songs and dance.​ The 2022 season runs May 28 to August 20, 2022.

The Cherokee Bonfire

The Cherokee Bonfire features Cherokee storytellers sharing tales, music, dance, and history around a glowing fire. During the break, marshmallows are handed out for roasting! “It’s all about storytelling,” says organizer Daniel Tramper, who is also a cultural ambassador for the tribe, “and everyone is welcome to take a seat and listen.” The Cherokee Bonfire event is free, and held at the Oconaluftee Island Park on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 7 to 9 pm, June 1-October 31. 

Shop Cherokee Made

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual Inc., is the nation’s oldest Native American co-op, with the work of over 250 master artists on display, and available for purchase. From mesmerizing baskets, sculpture, pottery, weaving, jewelry, and more, each piece is expertly handmade. No two pieces are alike! It’s the best representation of Eastern Cherokee craft in the world.

Play in Nature

Take in the beauty of Cherokee’s waterfalls: Mingo Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the southern Appalachians, and Soco Falls, a double, “twin” fall (shown above). With the new Fire Mountain Trail System you can walk, hike, or ride a mountain bike directly from downtown. The views at Sequoyah National Golf Club are also spectacular. Call 828.497.3000 for tee times!​

Cool Off

When the summer is sizzling, there’s no better way to cool off than at the Oconaluftee Islands Park. Close to downtown, the park has spots for swimming, tubing, or easy wading. Pack a picnic and enjoy a shaded spot to relax. The grassy island has bridges, picnic tables, and piers to fish.

Cherokee Summer Carnival

The Cherokee Summer Carnival presents family-friendly fun with a variety of vendors, food, games, karaoke, and literally dozens of carnival rides. The gates open at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The carnival is a summer celebration you won't want to miss. Entrance is free to the public.

Fishing for All Ages

Speaking of fishing, anglers won’t want to miss the Tim Hill Memorial Trout Tournament ($10,000 purse) July 9-10 or the Qualla Country Trout Tournament, August 27-28 ($20,000 purse). Children ages 3-11 can get a taste of fishing for free at the Talking Trees Trout Tournament, August 5-6. Registered children receive free fishing poles and have the chance to win awesome prizes.​

Step Back in Time

At the Oconaluftee Indian Village, guests can experience what life was like in a Cherokee village in the 18th century. Watch as the villagers make traditional crafts, tools, and household goods, and step inside replicas of traditional Cherokee dwellings from this time period. A guide will lead the way, but there’s lots of room for independent exploring and asking questions. Make sure you stay for one of the scheduled performances filled with Cherokee song and dance, and participate in the Friendship Dance.

Connect to the History

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian was designed by Disney Imagineers and shows the ancient history of the Cherokee in a state-of-the-art facility with lots to see and engaging, interactive displays. Cultural specialists called Cherokee Friends are often on hand to answer questions and demonstrate Cherokee traditions to really enhance the visitor experience. Look for the Cherokee Friends in the lobby or outside on sunny days. 

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