Last Updated on December 22, 2021
Last Updated on December 22, 2021
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort was North Carolina‘s first casino and one of the best getaways in the beautiful Smoky Mountains portion of our Blue Ridge Mountains. Operated by Caesars Entertainment, Harrah’s offers gaming for ages 21 and up in a state-of-the-art setting.
Live table games, electronic and video gaming machines, and sports betting are a few of the exciting things to do at this resort. Our guide features all of it, including some tips we want to share after staying here, too.
Here’s how we’ve organized the guide:
- Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort Facts and History
- Experiencing Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort Today
- Hotel Rooms (Where to Stay)
- Parking Info
- Hotel Amenities (Things to Do)
- Before You Go (15 Tips)
- More Things to Do in Cherokee (and Nearby)
You can skip ahead to any of these sections or continue reading some interesting facts and the history of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
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Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort Facts and History
- Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is the first casino in North Carolina and is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Caesars Entertainment operates the casino.
- The property is located on US-19 in Cherokee.
- It features a 150,000 square foot casino and an 1,800-room hotel packed with restaurants, entertainment, and more amenities.
- Before Harrah’s, the wild west-themed Frontier Land operated on the land from 1964 to 1982.
- In 1994, the EBCI Tribal Council and State of North Carolina reached an agreement to establish a casino on the then-abandoned land.
- Harrah’s opened in 1997, offering only video poker.
- Live dealers were allowed in 2012, following a gaming compact between the State of NC and the EBCI. The agreement also earmarked a revenue share toward public education, with remaining profits distributed among tribal members.
- In 2015, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel opened in nearby Cherokee County, outside the town of Murphy. The EBCI also own this casino and Caesars operates it, too.
- Casino profits are distributed to tribal members in the form of two checks per year. Additional comminty giving includes financial aid for those pursuing secondary education, affordable housing, and healthcare supplements.
Read More: Interesting Facts about North Carolina
Experiencing Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort Today
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort has an interesting history, but here are the things to know so you can enjoy it today.
Parking really depends on where you will be staying.
There are separate parking garages for the Cherokee Hotel and the other towers (Creek, Mountain, and Soco). You can self-park but if you’re staying at Harrah’s, valet parking is FREE.
Tell the parking attendant where you’re staying when greeted by them. If you arrive at the wrong parking area, the staff will tell you where to go.
Hotel Rooms (Where to Stay)
1,800 pet-friendly rooms and 83,000 square feet of conference space await at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort:
- Creek Tower, Soco Tower, and Mountain Tower are are on the Resort Hotel side of the property.
- The Rotunda is the center of Harrah’s. Here, you’ll find restaurants, the Event Center, and more.
- The Cherokee Convention Center and Hotel is the newest section of the resort.
Each one is filled with nice rooms and vary according to your needs. During our hosted stay in Cherokee Tower, we had two queen beds and a nice view of Cherokee and the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains.
A handful of elevators await in the lobby and will quickly take you up to your room. Even during busier times (like checkout), there was never a long wait for an elevator.
Phone Number: 828-497-7777
We always recommend that you book directly with the hotel and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is no exception. The official website will be able to help you if something arises. That’s not always the case with third-party websites.
Hotel Amenities (Things to Do)
Now that you’ve settled in and dropped off your bags, here are the best things to do inside Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
Many people come here to experience the casino, which is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week throughout the year.
When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by video games, table games, and places to start your sports betting. The colorful lights and festive mood match up pretty well with even our favorite Christmas lights displays.
You can also eat inside the casino, with 21 and over dining such as Pizzeria UNO, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more.
Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center
The Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center is next to the casino and a great way for families to bowl and game together. There are 24 lanes with multiple themes available for all ages and levels.
The Game Center features the newest arcade games, each one more fun than you’ll find in a typical arcade.
Restaurants and Bars
It’s really hard to beat the food and drink options at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
Guy Fieri’s and Brio are two of the most popular places to eat in Harrah’s. Myst Bar is the place to be at night, especially when live music is playing.
Along with those heavyweights, here are some more options:
- Guy Fieri’s Cherokee Kitchen + Bar is in Cherokee Tower. Here, the Food Network icon’s menu of approachable eats await. Ribs are a must here, but you really can’t go wrong here. Sides are chosen for you to complement the entree. Hopefully, your dish comes with something pickled.
- Above Myst Bar and one of the Casino entrances, Brio offers Northern Italian favorites, meat entrees, and an excellent wine and drink list. Their made-to-order pasta will take you to Tuscany but don’t count out a delicious oven-roasted steak, either.
- A Gordon Ramsay restaurant will soon join the big names, offering yet another wonderful choice for a meal.
- Myst Bar is a colorful circular bar in the Rotunda. Bar and lounge seating are joined by High-def TVs and live music. Classic cocktails, craft beer, and wine tie it all together, making this THE place to be on busy evenings.
- Cherokee Tower also has a nice bar in the lobby, serving just about any adult drink you can name.
- Wicked Weed has a taproom and kitchen inside Harrah’s, too. We have loved their collection of craft beers and sours for a long time. The season-driven food menu here is excellent, too.
Read More: The Best Breweries in Asheville
Whether or not you brought kids, we think you should bring your swim clothes to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. A seasonal outdoor pool and a year-round heated indoor pool are the perfect way to spend a day.
Cherokee Event Center
The 3,000-seat Event Center hosts big names throughout the year. Chris Rock, Alicia Keys, and THE Dolly Parton have entertained the masses in this venue.
Hopefully, you’ll have a seat to the next big act that comes through.
The on-site Mandara Spa will take you far from the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. You can choose a Balinese massage, couples massage, add body therapies, facials, and more self-care to your experience.
If you want to keep up your exercise routine, Harrah’s has a fitness center to help. You can pick from any of the machines and weights inside to get that heartbeat going.
Pick up something for your loved ones at home (or yourself) at one of Harrah’s many shops. Clothing, fragrances, and accessories are just a few of the items you can peruse and take home.
If you plan to golf at Sequoyah National, you can gear up at the official pro shop, also inside Harrah’s.
Sequoyah National Golf Club
Sequoyah National Golf Club is a wonderful place to tee off throughout the year, thanks to significant renovations in 2020. Located just a few miles from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, your 18-hole journey through this course will be as memorable as many of the PGA’s best.
Ready to Experience Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort?
The excitement inside and around Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort has us hooked and ready for our next visit. We think you could easily spend your entire time exploring any of the amenities, and if you have kids, bring them!
We went into our first stay thinking this would only be suitable for adults but we were sorely mistaken. Of course, enough about us.
What experiences do you have to report on this amazing place? Please let us know in the comments below or by email.
Before you do, here are some tips to help you prepare for your stay.
Before You Go: 15 Tips
- Keep an eye out for events. Some big-name acts, musicians, and singers come through this place.
- Book Direct. Third party websites aren’t flexible like the official Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort site.
- Before you arrive, make sure you have everything to take up to your room when valet takes your car. It’s easy to forget something if you haven’t planned.
- Wear your fitbit because you’ll get a lot of steps walking around the resort.
- Pack some exercise clothes if you want even more steps. The fitness room has everything you’ll need to break a sweat.
- Bring pool clothes because you know you’ll want to swim!
- Also, bring Your Kids. This place is great for all ages! They will love the arcade, the bowling, and pools. Make sure you have a caretaker in place if you plan to hit the casino. Only people ages 21 and up are allowed to enter.
- Don’t forget to bring your ID if you didn’t drive. You will need it to enter the casino.
- You don’t have to visit the casino. It’s an exciting place but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy yourself.
- If you don’t know what you plan to play, just pick the first game that tickles your fancy. As you keep walking the casino floor, at least a handful of games will continue jumping out at you.
- Set a limit if you plan to play in the casino. If you think you have a problem, the National Council on Problem Gambling has a 24 hour confident helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
- For dinner, try to book a table in advance, especially if you want to dine at Guy Fieri’s or Brio, for example.
- If you have time, venture out into Cherokee and its surroundings. We’ll share more about this shortly.
- Prepare for the time of your life!
- Plan a return trip. Why? There are so many things to do at Harrah’s, you will need to come back to experience it all!
More Things to Do in Cherokee
Outside Harrah’s, there are several opportunities for guests to learn about the history and culture of Cherokee and its people. Throughout the year, you can visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and follow the Cherokee’s journey from ancient times through today.
The Oconaluftee Indian Village is another option, seasonally open and next to the popular Unto these Hills production.
Read More: 50+ Beautiful Waterfalls near Asheville
Things to Do Near Cherokee (and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort)
Cherokee is an easy drive from Asheville and is within two hours of many Western North Carolina attractions. Here are a couple of mountain towns and national parks sites that immediately surround Cherokee and the Qualla Boundary.
Read More: Day Trips from Asheville
Bryson City is definitely one of our favorite towns near Cherokee! You can hike the Deep Creek Loop, go whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River, ride the scenic Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, or get lost on the Road to Nowhere.
Maggie Valley is east of Cherokee and one of our favorite vacation spots.
It’s close to hikes and great waterfalls (like Soco Falls!), but also home to a wonderful collection of eateries and shops. A special mention goes out to Joey’s Pancake House, makers of epic breakfast plates!
Lake Junaluska is just down the road from Maggie Valley. This lovely community has a scenic trail that takes you around its namesake lake.
Read More: 75+ Great Hikes near Asheville
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the Tennessee-North Carolina border. GSMNP is the most visited National Park in the United States.
More than 900 miles of hiking trails complement an assortment of historic sites and biodiversity in this wonderful park.
Here are a few of our favorite hikes on the NC side of the Smokies:
- Clingmans Dome Observation Tower: This is the western terminus of the Mountains to Sea Trail.
- Deep Creek Trail: You can hike to 3 beautiful waterfalls from this hike that starts just outside Bryson City.
- Big Creek Trail: You have to cross over into Tennessee via I-40 but come back to NC for this trailhead. It leads to Mouse Creek Falls and more beautiful sights along the way.
Read More: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway
Before you hop on the 469-mile Parkway, stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor on US-441. There’s a nice exhibit hall and gift shop here.
Outside is a very popular place for Elk watching. Those majestic animals often pass through this area in the early mornings or around sunset. Don’t approach the elk and remain at a distance when they are roaming.
Some of our favorite Blue Ridge Parkway stops nearby include Waterrock Knob (MP 451) and the Richland Balsam Overlook (MP 431).
Read More: The Best NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes