9 Things to Do in Cherokee This Fall & Winter | Cherokee, NC

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9 Things to Do in Cherokee This Fall & Winter

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.

1. Christmas Parade, December 15th

Cherokee’s Christmas Parade is a beloved annual tradition to ring in the holiday season. The parade runs from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., but 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.

2. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Experience the 11,000-year-old Cherokee story at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, with cutting edge displays designed by Disney imagineers. On Saturday, December 8 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm enjoy Cherokee Heritage Day, a monthly event with free cultural activities including traditional dancing, storytelling, cultural arts demonstrations, genealogy workshops, hands-on craft workshops, and more. The museum is open year round but closed on Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Winter hours (September–May) are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday.

3. Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual

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.

Photo by Jaci Peña Photography

4. 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.

Photo by Traciemq79

5. 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!

6. Soco Falls

Soco Falls is a breathtaking double waterfall located in Cherokee. This cascade is more off-the-beaten-path than Mingo Falls. Be on the lookout for a small sign that marks the waterfall, as you drive towards Maggie Valley from Cherokee on US 19.There is a trail to the Soco Falls observation deck which offers incredible views.

Photo by Luckofthekeela

7. 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. Check out our guide of 13 hikes in and around the area, for more outdoor adventures.
Photo of Michael Bradley from Fly_Fish_Cherokee

8. 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.

Photo by Shredman91

9. 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.


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