Family Friendly, Fun & Free

Here's a Top Ten list of activities the whole family can enjoy. Most things are free; however you may wish to make a donation to the National Park; the Tsali Recreation area requests a $2 day-use fee; and tube rentals are about $6 per day.

Printable idea sheet

1 Explore the Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a leisurely waterfall stroll, tubing ($6/day tube rental), swimming holes, fishing and picnic area. Just 5 minutes from Bryson City.

2 Visit the Swain County Heritage Museum. Then, take a historic stroll through Bryson City. Guides available online or at the museum.

3 Experience history at the Mountain Farm Museum, Mingus Mill and the Oconaluftee Visitors Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Cherokee entrance). Watch for elk in the late afternoons.

4 Take a scenic drive
We’ve got one for every day of your visit!

Road to Nowhere: short, scenic drive beginning in Bryson City and ending in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Explore the “spooky tunnel” and the back-country trails beyond.

The Blue Ridge Parkway: America’s most visited scenic road begins in Cherokee.

US 441 North to Gatlinburg from Cherokee winds its way through the National Park. Check out the Clingmans Dome Tower.

The Dragon (Hwy 129): 318 curves in 11 miles. Enough said!

The Cherohala Skyway: scenic tour from North Carolina to Tennessee.

5 Watch free family movies on a outdoor screen every Friday night at dusk, May - August behind the red caboose on Everett Street in Bryson City.

6 Hear Cherokee storytelling at the bonfire Friday & Saturday nights at 7pm in summer. Island Park in downtown Cherokee.

7 Splash your cares away in the pristine waters of Fontana Lake and enjoy a view of the tallest dam east of the Rockies.

8 Bring the dog, the kids and a picnic to Island Park, located in the center of downtown Bryson City on the Tuckasegee River. The fishing is great there too.

9 Bike or hike the world-renowned trails at Tsali Recreation Area on the shores of Fontana Lake. ($2/day use fee per person).

10 Explore the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians and learn the history of rods and reels, basic knots, fly-tying, and types of gamefish. Have fun with the scavenger hunt, games and toy bugs to examine.