Grab your calendar and take note! With so much going on in the 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 multi-day event you can see colorful tribal regalia and experience authentic Indian dancing, drumming, and food. Don’t miss the Grand Entry 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 during the event.

powwow grand entry
A young boy in traditional attire holding a flaming bowl during a nighttime performance of "Unto These Hills," surrounded by onlookers in various costumes.

See the Outdoor Drama

Unto These Hills,” debuting in 1950, stands as one of the longest-running outdoor dramas in the United States. This captivating story unfolds the journey of Cherokee leader Tsali and his family during the era of the Indian Removal Act. Filled with mesmerizing songs, dances, and gripping action scenes, it promises an unforgettable experience. Arrive early to enjoy the pre-show before the main performance, featuring traditional Cherokee songs and dances.

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.”

A man in traditional Cherokee attire speaks to a woman and a young girl by a fire at night, conveying cultural heritage.
A cozy room with a woven Cherokee basket in the foreground, a rocking chair draped with a colorful blanket, and a warm, glowing electric fireplace in the background.

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!​

A lush, green forest setting with a multi-tiered waterfall cascading over rocks, surrounded by mist and vibrant foliage, with a stream flowing over jagged stones in the foreground at Soco Falls.
People enjoying a sunny day at Cherokee Island Park with a swimming area. Some are wading and swimming in the water, while others relax on the grass and under umbrellas.

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

Join the Cherokee Summer Carnival for a fantastic family-friendly experience featuring a wide array of vendors, delicious food, entertaining games, karaoke, and an abundance of thrilling carnival rides. With gates opening in the afternoon throughout the week and earlier on weekends, this summer celebration promises endless excitement for everyone. Best of all, admission is free for all attendees!

A young girl with curly hair rides a colorful rooster on a carousel during summer, holding tightly to the pole. The background features a blur of spinning lights, creating a sense of motion.
closeup of fish in fisherman's hand

Fishing for All Ages

Don’t miss out on the exciting fishing tournaments coming up! Anglers of all ages can join in the action at the Tim Hill Memorial Trout Tournament and other various tournaments, offering substantial cash prizes. Plus, kids aged 3-11 can enjoy the Talking Trees Trout Tournament for free, with registered participants receiving complimentary fishing poles and the chance to win fantastic prizes. Learn more.

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.

A smiling man dressed in traditional native American attire performs outdoors before an attentive audience at Oconaluftee Indian Village in a forest-like setting.
Woman at museum of the cherokee people looking at exhibit

Connect to the History

The Museum of the Cherokee People 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.