It’s funny that as much as Harrah’s Cherokee advertises (you can’t miss their billboard on I75, or on the radio for that matter), I had never been there. It’s only about a three hour drive from Atlanta and a relatively easy drive. Protip: If you live in North Atlanta it matters which route you take otherwise you could be adding extra trip time on to your drive. Make sure you read my article on Cherokee NC here

We were glad to get the 2022 Ford Explorer to ride. I’ll get on to my top  favorite things about the Explorer for 2022 but let me say the seats are uber comfortable.

We made a short stop to take some fun pictures as we made our way to the Appalachian mountains and to Cherokee. Though it was snowing while we made the drive up, it wasn’t blizzard conditions and we felt very comfortable riding in the Ford Explorer. 

Exploring NC with the Ford Explorer

After 3 short hours we arrived at Harrah’s in Cherokee. This is the largest hotel in North Carolina. With several connected buildings, Harrah’s serves many casino lovers in the Southeast that can’t make it to Vegas. A gorgeous lobby greets guests in the new tower. If you like things more rustic, book the old tower. 

Lobby at the Casino in Cherokee, NC

We enjoyed dinner at Guy Fieri’s new restaurant in the hotel. Portions are huge so it’s a good thing we had a long walk back and forth to our room from the restaurant. The next morning found us waiting and waiting and waiting. The hotel, being severely understaffed, couldn’t accommodate all the guests.

Guy Fieri’s restaurant at Harrah’s

After an extremely late lunch and understandably a bit perturbed at the hotel’s lack of preparation for guests, we headed out to explore the area and see what the Ford Explorer could do. 

We drove from Cherokee to Maggie Valley. It’s a long stretch of road with cute buildings and hotels. I’m glad we got out and explored but the part was stopping along the Blue Ridge parkway and having a small adventure in the snow. I love how the Ford Explorer handled the snow like it was nothing. I know my sedan would not have been so fortunate. 


The hotel was much more lively on Saturday than Friday. The casino was hopping and they even have live music at the casino on weekends. But we scored tickets to a concert (yes, they even have a concert venue inside the hotel!). The huge auditorium has terrific acoustics. What a fun night! 

The next morning we were keen to get on the road but not before exploring our surroundings just a bit. This time we turned right out of the hotel instead of left. Just up the road we found a beautiful quasi park with a duck pond and bridges. Taking the long route home, we passed the time quickly. And I have to say, GA has nothing on TN when it comes to our rest areas! 

Some favorite features of the Ford Explorer

One of the most interesting things I found about the 2022 Ford Explorer is that it looks so much bigger on the inside than it does from the outside. From the outside it looks like your average SUV, I mean sleek and sexy for sure. It captures the sleek and sexy appeal but also manages to be roomy for a huge group. 

Interior of Ford Explorer – comfy, roomy seats

The seats are so comfortable, even after driving for hours, I still felt quite comfortable. I certainly appreciated the heated seats. 

The Explorer’s 18.2 cubic feet expands to 47.9 cubic feet when you fold down the back seat. Though we didn’t have a ton of luggage it is great to know the room is there if you need it. Too bad we didn’t think to go furniture shopping when we were in NC. 

Though for driving around Atlanta, you need to be on alerts all the time, on road trips you can take advantage of the active lane control and adaptive cruise control, plus “evasive steering assist” that might help avoid crashes. 

Ford explorers start at $34k and go up to about $55k. Also two new model colors join the lineup – Two new colors join the lineup—Stone Blue and Burgundy Velvet.

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!