Although you may never want to leave the luxurious Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, there’s so much to experience not far from your front door
The mountain setting for the 21-story Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel in Cherokee, North Carolina is certainly majestic,but the 1,108 rooms and in-room amenities also contribute to the guest experience.
The hotel has 53 room types featuring king or two queens, each including the normal fixtures such as large TVs, refrigerators, coffee makers, hair dryers and safes. There are rooms with whirlpool baths, overhead spa-like rain showers, accessible mobility, rooms for the hearing impaired and much more.
From the upscale Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to the casual dining of BRIO Tuscan Grille and Selu Garden Café to quick bites at Johnny Rockets and the Earl of Sandwich, there are dining options to fit every taste and budget. Overall, there are 11 choices to grab something on the go, sit down in a casual atmosphere with friends or enjoy that one special meal and evening to remember.
On the casino floor, you’ll find your favorite video games, including Buffalo, Monopoly Wheel of Fortune and many others. There are more than 3,100 games in denominations from one penny per spin up to $500. There a wide range of video poker including Double Double Bonus, Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild and Pot O’Gold, among others. Variations range from a nickel play to high limit machines.
The new non-smoking addition of the World Series of Poker – Poker Room has opened featuring 25 tables offering eight-handed cash games. Texas Hold’em Poker Tournaments are Monday to Thursday at 7 p.m. Registration begins a few hours earlier.
There’s no shortage of table games on the casino floor. Hit or stay, the choice is yours in the popular game of Blackjack. A Craps table can be challenging for a newcomer to the game, but after a rules overview and a few minutes at the table, you’ll be ready.
The popular spin-off of Five Card Stud Poker; Let It Ride pits you against other players with the winner doing quite well. Three Card Poker uses traditional poker rankings, except straights are higher than flushes. Digital Mini Baccarito has made James Bond’s favorite table game classic a 21st century favorite. caesars.com/harrahs-cherokee
Harrah’s Cherokee Resort is surrounded by 11,000 years of cherished Cherokee culture. Take time to discover it all. Step into the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a vivid portrayal of an historic Cherokee village.
The age-old arts and crafts of Cherokee artisan, many made and demonstrated at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, are on display at the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian gives a fun way to immerse in the history of the Cherokee people. Take time to visit Mountain Farm Museum, Mingus Mill or the Sequoyah National Golf Club. visitcherokeenc.com
Nearby Bryson City is only an 11-mile drive to plenty of fun and adventure. Departing from its historic downtown depot, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is a favorite of groups and one of the best ways to enjoy the scenic beauty of the mountains. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion and Tuckasegee River Excursion are popular round-trip experiences. The latter has an hour-and-a-half layover in Dillsboro for shopping in more than 50 shops. For lovers of the outdoors, there are options for every adventure level from tubing and white water rafting to ziplines. greatsmokies.com
Just 33 miles from Cherokee you’ll find Haywood County, right in the middle of the Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway. First stop is Waynesville and the Shelton House/Museum of North Carolina Handcrafts. The Shelton House shares the rural origins of the town and promotes Western North Carolina history, heritage and crafts. Historic Downtown Waynesville reminds you of a time when all your hometown shops were occupied and all your shopping needs were satisfied. Then, it’s on to Maggie Valley. You don’t have to be a motorcycle maniac to thoroughly enjoy Dale’s Wheels Through Time. The world’s premier collection of rare American motorcycles, memorabilia and one-of-a-kind automobiles is a must see. It’s 5:00 somewhere, so before leaving town make a stop at Elevated Mountain Distillery Co. They’ll show you how to make good spirits, than treat you to a tasting. visitncsmokies.com.
The casino isn’t the only way to bring some winnings home from the mountains, but you’ll have to drive 33 miles for your second opportunity. North Carolina has the greatest variety of gemstones in the East. The Franklin area is where you’ll find rubies and sapphires from spring through autumn. Bring a towel to sit on and some gloves if it’s chilly or you don’t want to ruin your manicure. At Rose Creek Mine you’ll dig your own dirt then wash the dirt away in the covered flume. Gold City Gem Mine does the digging for you on its 40-acre property. If you prefer to pan for real gold, they have all the supplies you’ll need. Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine features a 150-foot covered flume and a wide variety of gems and bucket sizes to fit any budget. All cutting prices are per carat weight of the finished product based on gem type. franklinchamber.com/gem-mines-north-carolina/
The 50-mile drive to the Highlands Botanical Station is well worth the journey. Established in 1927, HBS opened a one–room museum as an attachment to its library in July of 1928. Work began in the late 1930s on the station’s free-standing museum and opened in 1941. Known today as the Highlands Nature Center, the museum has a variety of public programs and is the perfect start of your visit. The star of the show for visitors may very well be Highlands Botanical Garden. Now in its 60th year, it has developed into a foremost High Elevation (approaching 4,000 feet) garden featuring native plants. highlandsbiological.org and highlandschamber.org/savor/elevated-dining
During the day, immerse yourself in the beauty, history and culture of the Western North Carolina mountain communities. In the evening, explore the thrills and excitement of casino gaming and luxury resort accommodations.
By Dave Bodle