Wondering what to do in Cherokee, NC, this fall and winter? Now is the perfect time for a peaceful and picturesque getaway to our beautiful mountain town. Pack your bags and leave the planning to us. With these nine fun, family-friendly things to do this season, you’ll want to stay a few nights or more to make the most of your trip. We can even help you find the perfect accommodations.

Cherokee Christmas Parade

Cherokee’s Christmas Parade is a beloved annual tradition to ring in the holiday season. This year’s parade starts at 6 p.m. on December 9. Be sure to arrive early to claim a spot, and consider bringing camping chairs and bags for catching candy thrown from passing floats. All parking along the parade path and surrounding areas will cease 15 minutes prior to the parade and roads will not open again until the conclusion of parade festivities.

A festive night parade featuring a float by the Cherokee Nation, adorned with Christmas lights, decorations, and people dressed in warm attire enjoying the celebration.
Two individuals viewed from behind, observing a large artistic installation featuring feathers at a Cherokee fall activities exhibition. The background shows a colorful abstract painting.

The Museum of the Cherokee People

Experience Cherokee History at the Museum of the Cherokee People with cutting edge displays and learn from the Atsila Anotasgi Cultural Specialists. The Museum is open daily all year-round except the day preceding the Thanksgiving holiday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc.

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. is the oldest Native American cooperative in the country, with over 350 juried artisans creating traditional Cherokee masks, pottery, baskets, jewelry, and much more. Browse their incredible selection of art and pick out something for everyone on your holiday list! Don’t miss the gallery in the back of the coop, which displays Cherokee baskets, wood carvings and pottery from celebrated Cherokee artists across the decades. Qualla is open year round but closed Christmas and New Year’s Day. Winter hours (September–May) are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; and closed Sundays in January and February.

A variety of handcrafted Cherokee baskets displayed on wooden shelves, featuring different sizes, patterns, and weaving techniques. Each basket is uniquely designed with natural tones.

Oconaluftee Islands Park

Soak up the soothing river views at the Oconaluftee Islands Park. Enjoy the sound of rushing mountain streams, flat rocks to skip across the water, and a large bamboo forest that’s filled with enchantment.

Mingo Falls

Rising over 120 feet on the Qualla Boundary, Mingo Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the southern Appalachians. The hike from the parking area to the falls viewing platform is under a half mile, although it’s steep—161 steps! The steps do have a handrail and there is a bench at the top to take a seat and catch your breath. The view at the top is definitely worth it!

A scenic waterfall cascades down a rocky cliff surrounded by autumn-colored trees, with fallen logs and rocks in the foreground, perfect for fall winter travel.
Photo by Traciemq79

Sequoyah National Golf Club

Sequoyah National Golf Club offers beautiful mountain views from every hole, bringing each golfer a new perspective on the ancient Cherokee creation story. Originally formed by the flaps of the great buzzard’s wings, the mountains here frame Robert Trent Jones II’s elegant, challenging design. Enjoy the course’s breathtaking views this winter.

Chase the Sun at Waterrock Knob

As the second highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Waterrock Knob Overlook (milepost 451.2) is worth a visit. If you’re looking for a quick hike, there is a one-mile round trip trail to the top of Waterrock Knob, which was named after the stream where hunters and farmers collected water. Whether you’re there in time for sunrise or sunset, the circular parking lot means you can see both east and west views.

A man wearing a cap and sunglasses is fly fishing in a river, skillfully handling a fishing rod and net as he stands waist-deep in flowing water during the fall season.
Photo of Michael Bradley from Fly_Fish_Cherokee

Fish Cherokee

Michael Bradley, a Cherokee native and member of the USA Fly Fishing/World Championship Fly Fishing Team says that some of the best fishing can be done on warm winter days, when the fish are more active and “catchable,” and the water is nice and clear. With his company, Fly Fish Cherokee, LLC, Michael takes small groups out to his favorite spots, including families with children, to practice catch-and-release fly fishing in Cherokee.

Fire Mountain Trail System

The Cherokee Fire Mountain Trail System is free to the public, and open every day. The 10.5-mile, mixed-use network provides guests with a variety of paths and seven total trails, perfect for hikers, bikers, and runners. There are single-track and wider sections, as well as smooth spots and more challenging trails. The trailhead is conveniently located a hundred yards from the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, NC, where it also shares a parking lot.

Two happy mountain bikers stand on a trail with their bikes, surrounded by autumn foliage under a cloudy sky. They are dressed in casual cycling gear and helmets, enjoying one of the many things to do
Photo by Shredman91