In early October, Small Town Charm ventured out to the mountains as the deep reds and golds of the turning leaves guided us to Cherokee, North Carolina.  Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Cherokee is a destination that offers a rich tapestry of Native American culture and heritage as well as a providing a taste of modern enjoyment for the family.  

Cherokee is home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the town’s culture is deeply rooted in Native American traditions. The Cherokee people have a long and storied history in the area, and visitors have the opportunity to learn about their heritage through museums, cultural performances, and historical sites.

On our day trip, we visited the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, a captivating place that provides insight into the history and culture of the Cherokee people. There you can explore interactive exhibits, artifacts, and storytelling that span thousands of years, from ancient times to the modern era.  The Oconaluftee Indian Village is close by and certainly worth the quarter-mile drive.  The sprawling grounds provide a living history museum. Here, costumed interpreters reenact traditional Cherokee life, demonstrating crafts, dances, and daily activities where you can gain a deeper understanding of Cherokee customs and heritage.  “Unto These Hills,” is an outdoor evening drama that tells the story of the Cherokee people, from their ancient origins to the forced removal on the Trail of Tears. This powerful and emotional production is a must-see for anyone interested in Cherokee history.

Our afternoon and evening took us to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.  Situated on the Qualla Boundary this world-class casino is astounding.  It is a 21-story, four-star, luxury hotel with 1,108 spacious rooms.  Their gaming floor was vast (much more than we anticipated) and filled with slot machines and table games, providing ample opportunities for excitement and fun – including a luxury spa and a full bowling alley. Beyond the gaming, the resort boasts top-notch dining options including a Gordon Ramsey Food Market and the Brio Italian Grille, where we dined.  We must say our meal experience was incredible.  The price was on point, the upscale cocktails were remarkably refreshing, and the meal and service were outstanding.  The casino often hosts live concerts and events, enhancing the vibrant atmosphere—definitely something to look into prior to arrival.   And make sure you are certain as to where your hotel room is booked.  There are several towers with different names.  In more crowded circumstances, the navigation in and around the hotel can be challenging.  That said, check-in was flawless. 

These two gals were exhausted by 7 p.m., but incredibly educated in the rich culture of the Cherokee Indians.  The next day we were off to Santa’s Land in Cherokee.  Now THAT was an adventure you will not want to miss (video included) in next month’s Unconditionally Her.    

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA overlooking the Newfound Pass in autumn.

As the sun sets over the stunning mountain-scapes, Cherokee’s small-town charm and its deep connection to the Great Smoky Mountains create an atmosphere of tranquility and adventure. Whether you seek to connect with Native American culture or escape into the mountains, Cherokee offers a memorable experience that lingers in your heart long after the day’s end.  For us gals, we give our Cherokee experience 3.5 charms.