If you live in any of the following cities you’re in for quite a treat:
All of these cities are within 3 hours of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Now it’s important to know that there are several great areas to be explored while in the Smoky Mountains. Bryson City andd Cherokee are two of the best and are what this article is all about.
First of all, Bryson City is one of the cutest little towns you will ever see. It reminds me of one of those towns you always see in the movies, where everything is perfect. The tallest building only has four floors. In Bryson City you will find several attractions including whitewater rafting, train rides, jet boats, and beautiful areas to hike. There are also several festivals that take place throughout the year, the most popular being Freedom Fest. Here are a few of the places that I highly recommend:
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
The GSMR offers several different train rides throughout the Smoky Mountains
A few of the highlights of this attraction are:
-You are able to see the train wreck from the famous movie The Fugitive which starred Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. Most of the movie was filmed in Western, North Carolina
-They have special rides during the Christmas Season which include Christmas carols, the little ones being able to meet Santa, and wonderful meals.
-Another upside for the little ones is the Thomas and Friends Adventure.
-The prices will vary according to the length of your trip, what train car you are riding in, whether or not it is a special train ride (such as the Thomas and Friends Adventure), and of course the time of the year. If you are in Bryson City, you should really try and visit the GSMR, it is well worth the money. The area is gorgeous and you will only be able to see most of the area while on one of the trains.
Smoky Mountain Jet Boats
This place is really something else. If you love to hike and love fast rides, then this is the place for you. After arriving at Smokey Mountain Jet Boats you will have two choices:
-There is a Hike/Jet Boat ride package which is $65 for adults and $50 for kids. This adventure includes a guided hike to Lake Fontana, lunch, a swim in the lake, and then a jet boat ride back.
-If that sounds a little high for you, don’t worry, they also offer just the jet boat ride for $25 for adults and $12.50 for kids.
These boats are extremely maneuverable. You will be amazed at how fast they can turn and how fast you’ll get soaked.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
If you love to go whitewater rafting this is the best place to go in Bryson City. Olympic athletes even come to the Nantahala Outdoor Center to practice. The center offers several skill level rafting adventures so everyone feels at ease here. You can also go hiking around the center, which is gorgeous. The Nantahala Outdoor Center is located in The Gorge of Bryson City and you honestly feel secluded from the fast paced world. Do they offer anything else? Yes.
- Mountain biking
- Rope climbing
- Rock climbing
- Lake tours
- Fly fishing
The also have gift shops, restaurants, lodging, and vacation packages. Whether you are new to whitewater rafting or an expert, you will love the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
If you are interested in learning about a Native American culture you must visit Cherokee. Cherokee is a Native American Reservation and has several attractions that allow you to learn about the way the Cherokee people use to live. There is also Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel which is very popular and there is a small theme park for kids called Santa’s Land.
The best places to learn about the Cherokee culture are:
The Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery which has several Cherokee artifacts and has some gorgeous historic photographs of Cherokee. The admission price is only $2.50.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is another great museum that has so much to offer. They have tons of Cherokee artifacts and their website alone is amazing. They also work hard to debunk some of the myths that have been associated with the Cherokee people. The price for this museum is also very reasonable: $8 for adults and $5 for children.
The Oconaluftee Indian Village allows you to experience the way the Cherokee people use to live, first hand. This is truly something to behold. While at the village you can watch the Cherokee:
- Make arrowheads, pottery, canoes, and masks
- Do bead working and weaving
- Use blowguns
- Speak their native language
The prices to this attraction are also amazing, only $13 for adults and $6 for kids.
Unto these Hills is a play that shows how the Cherokee people were forced to leave their homes. It is truly a very dramatic play and is very popular. Over 5 million people have been to see this play since it opened in 1950. Adults pay $16 and kids $8.
For more fun while visiting Cherokee visit:
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel : one of the best casinos you’ll ever visit.
Santa’s Land : a must if you have little kids. They’ll be able to visit Santa, see baby bears, ride the Rudi Coaster, and just have a wonderful time.
There you have it. There are several great places to visit in Bryson City and Cherokee North Carolina. Please make a visit to these beautiful towns. I promise, you won’t be disappointed`