Nestled near the Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian hiking trail, Cherokee, North Carolina, is a quaint town with magnificent views, friendly locals, and plenty of shops and restaurants to explore. You and your family can get the best out of your Cherokee vacation rental by planning your itinerary in advance. Consider this guide of 12 popular activities for families with kids.

1. Visit the Oconaluftee Indian Village

Travel with your family back in time to the 1760s when you visit the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Take a walking tour through this interactive living history village where you can view the Cherokee Indian work and sacred ritual sites. Watch the various cultural dances, and interact with villagers as they hull canoes, sculpt pottery, make beaded jewelry, and weave baskets. Kids are amazed by the blowgun demonstrations and love watching as the village prepares for war. Purchase handmade items as souvenirs, and stay for the bonfire at night, where you can listen to the Cherokee storytellers describe the legends and mysteries of the tribe.

2. Explore Santa’s Land Fun Park & Zoo

At Santa’s Land, it is Christmas year-round. Kids love the small train that chugs around the perimeter of the park. Take them for a ride on the Ferris wheel before they sit on Santa’s lap. The park includes a zoo with wild and exotic animals, including deer, bears, and kangaroo. You can also watch a magic show where kids can volunteer as assistants.

3. Go Horseback Riding

Head out from your vacation rental with your family for an afternoon of trail riding at the Smokemont Riding Stables. Take one of the guided tours on horseback, or opt for a quiet wagon tour through the forest. Trail tours include a waterfall tour or a four-hour tour that follows alongside the Oconaluftee River. Horseback riding is best for children ages five and up, while all ages can ride along on the wagon tour.

4. Have Fun at the Cherokee Fun Park

Laugh the day away at the Cherokee Fun Park. This multi-use park has something for everyone in the family. Play a round of mini golf, or head inside to enjoy your favorite arcade games. The park has go-karts for older children and adults. The ride features a triple-level paved track that delivers speed and excitement.

Find the perfect Cherokee vacation rental on is the world's #1 vacation rental search engine with over 10 million properties!

5. Hike the Oconaluftee River Trail

Stretch your legs by walking along the Oconaluftee River Trail. This park is ideal for families who bring their pets along to the vacation rental. This stretch of wilderness is approximately two miles outside of the Cherokee visitor‘s center. It runs along side the Oconaluftee River, offering beautiful views that are ideal for family photos.

6. Rent a Kayak

Cherokee offers miles of rivers and beautiful lakes to traverse by kayak. The Cherokee Rapids River Company rents kayaks and canoes and all of the equipment needed to spend the day on the water. Head to Fontana Lake for quiet and calm waters, or add some excitement to your trip by heading down the Nantahala Rapids.

7. Experience the Thrill of River Rafting

The Cherokee Rapids River Company also provides guided tours along the Nantahala River by raft. Start your trip on calm waters, where you learn to navigate and steer. On the last leg of your trip, get ready to experience a few rapids, making this the perfect activity for the thrill-seekers in the family.

8. Take a Trip on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Enjoy beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains from the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Choose the Polar Express ride in the winter, where children can hitch a ride with Santa. There are also several theme rides with Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, as well as a Wizard of Oz-themed ride.

9. Bowl a Game at the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center


Beat the heat of the summer or head to the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center to get out of the rain. Here, you and the family can rent shoes and bowl a few games, eat pizza, or play games in the video arcade. The center includes a cinema, so after bowling, the family can enjoy a new blockbuster hit before heading back to your vacation rental.

10. Zipline Across the Nantahala Gorge

Sign up with the Nantahala Outdoor Center for ziplining through the forests and over the gorge. This ziplining trip offers 360-degree views of the valley below and is definitely not for the faint at heart. There are 12 different ziplines and eight different sky bridges, so you and the family can spend the day soaring through the trees.

11. Go Fishing

Spend the day on the water at Fontana Lake, and let the kids ski, swim, and go fishing. Rent a boat at the Alarka boat dock, or bring your own with you on vacation and dock it at the marina. Catch trout, bass, and catfish to have a feast back at your vacation rental.

12. Hike to Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls is a stunning 200-foot waterfall that is perfect for family photographs. Located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, the falls are just a short hike from the parking lot. In the morning, you may experience a slight fog that adds to the magical feeling and mystery of the area. Have a picnic on the grounds, or bring fixings for a barbecue.

Ready to go? Check out these amazing Cherokee vacation rentals on