Views of Mountains at Little Switzerland

Little Switzerland NC | 17 Fun Things To Do in 2024

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High up in the mountains of North Carolina, you may come across a very small town called Little Switzerland. Even though it’s small, there are many things to do in Little Switzerland NC.  

Little Switzerland, an unincorporated community, is one of the few small towns with direct access to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountain charm ropes visitors in, quickly making it a memorable place for many. 

You won’t want to skip over this town while you are traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway! Let’s take a trip to Little Switzerland and dive into all it has to offer. 

Things to do in Little Switzerland NC

1. Little Switzerland Books and Beans

Since the 1980s, Little Switzerland Books and Beans has been the place to stop and take a rest. The shop originally began as a bookstore, and now has over 30,000 volumes of new and used books. While browsing the three floors, you’ll find yourself in a maze of trinkets, books, and other unique historical items. 

Little Switzerland Books and Beans inside with lots of books

There is also a full-service espresso bar, making it a great place to visit in the mornings for a cup of coffee and a little reading to start the day. It is very easy to find, being right next to the general store and the coziest stop in town.  

Outside Books and Beans Cafe

2. The Swiss Shoppe

Have you got a bit of a sweet tooth? Then you’ll love visiting the Sweet Shoppe. Located on the Switzerland Inn property, The Swiss Shoppe is the perfect place to stop for candies, chocolates, and local organic ice cream by Artesana crafted in nearby Marion, NC. Buy candy by the pound, or pick a few for dessert. This is a perfect place to bring the kiddos.

* Open seasonally from early April through sometime in October/November.

Swiss Shoppe Ice Cream Cone

3. Trillium Gallery

While you are on the Switzerland Inn property, the Trillium Gallery is a gallery full of beautiful watercolors, unique jewelry, hand-crafted pottery, and stunning fire-blown glass pieces. All pieces of art are made by local artists. Located directly across from the main entrance of the inn, Trillium Gallery is a gorgeous place to spend a rainy day and take in art made with love and spirit. 

* Open seasonally from early April to the end of October

Trillium Gallery

4. Switzerland Cafe

The Switzerland Cafe is a staple in the town that has served locals and visitors for over 30 years.

Pimento Cheese Panini

The cafe has one of the largest wood-fired smokehouses in the entire state and specializes in homemade sandwiches, soups, and quiches. They have an amazing beer and wine selection as well. 

BBQ Plate at Switzerland Cafe

It is a famous, and well-loved cafe that is always bringing people back. For a homey, nostalgic atmosphere, delicious food, and happy people this is a great place to grab lunch, dinner, or an amazing dessert. Make sure to add this to your list of restaurants to visit in Little Switzerland NC.

Roasted Veggie Sandwich

*Open seasonally from April through sometime in November. 

5. Tom Creek Falls Trail

Located between Marion NC and Little Switzerland NC, Tom Creek Falls is one of North Carolina’s finest waterfalls. The trail to see the beautiful 80 ft falls is an easy 1 mile there and back trail that starts 1.2 miles drive from US Highway 221. 

Since the trail is short and straightforward, it’s a great trail for bringing the family and is doable for small children. At the end of the trail is an observation deck to easily view the falls, take pictures, and enjoy. Swimming around the falls is prohibited because of the strong current, though the small pool at the base is great for wading. 

Tom Creek Falls near Little Switzerland NC

6. Crabtree Falls

Ranking as one of the best waterfalls in the state, Crabtree Falls is a 70 ft waterfall found just 5 miles from Little Switzerland NC. The hike is a bit more strenuous than expected, as there is a steep incline and uneven terrain.

It can take a couple of hours to reach the base of the waterfall. However, the hike is beautiful through the thick hardwood trees and well worth it. 

The trailhead for Crabtree Falls is off of milepost 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a great hike to do during any season. 

Beautiful view of Crabtree Falls near Little Switzerland NC

7. The Orchard at Altapass

It seems everything is happening at the wonderful Orchard at Altapass! It is one of the most highly visited spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a blast for the whole family. You are welcome to explore the non-profit orchard, pick organic apples, and learn about the environment, the land, and the apples themselves.

Producing up to 125,000 bushels of apples each year, there is no better place to get some of the best apples you’ll ever eat. 

Ice Cream and Fudge at Orchard Altapass

Multiple walking trails cover the entire property; you can also explore by taking a hayride as well. Educational programs are set up to get children excited about growing food and learning about the ecosystem in which the property is located. Things like tree plantings and hands-on activities take place frequently. 

If you get hungry, there is a general store with souvenirs and snacks and a grill room. Want something a little sweeter, pick up a slice of hot apple pie with ice cream, it’s delicious! Be sure to check out their calendar for any events and live music taking place during the busy season. Pets are happily welcome.

*Open seasonally from May through October. 

Inside the Altapass Orchard Store near Little Switzerland NC

8. Switzerland General Store

Part of the Switzerland Cafe, the Switzerland General Store, is a small store connected to the cafe. The General Store has all your essential items and much more. From imported wines and beers to cheeses, snacks, candies, and even local crafts.

General Store Sign

The General Store is a great place to find souvenirs and grab a drink. This is another great restaurant to visit in Little Switzerland NC. If you are looking for any Blue Ridge or Diamondback-themed souvenirs or t-shirts, this is the place you’ll want to be.

*Open seasonally from April through sometime in November. 

Inside the General Store

9. Penland School of Craft

Founded in 1929, Penland School of Craft is a full immersion educational center located in Bakersville, North Carolina, around 20 minutes from Little Switzerland. Some of the workshops they teach include things like pottery, metals, photography, printmaking, textiles, wood, and more.

Teaching the ways of these crafts can be specific and take a steady hand, but there is no better way to learn these crafts than being surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains

The school started simply with only a few programs but has expanded into a vast learning center on 420 acres with 57 buildings. The gallery and visitor center is open year-round and is a place where you can explore the grounds.  Stop for a visit to view the galleries where the students and teachers showcase their work. 

10. Emerald Village

Address: 331 McKinney Mine Rd, Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Emerald Village in Little Switzerland is a well-loved destination that includes several gems, mining, and historical attractions. The Discovery Mill is considered one of the most picturesque aspects, as it climbs up the mountain overlooking the mines in the village. 

Museum Mine
North Carolina Mining Museum at Emerald Village

The mill has 10 different levels and floors with shops, exhibits, and tons of history. Each floor offers a new theme that explores the mill. The first floor is a great place to stop and grab a souvenir, food, or ice cream. There are indoor picnic areas and many outdoor picnic areas as well. 

Mining Museum
North Carolina Mining Museum at Emerald Village

11. Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a long expanse of winding highways and rolling roads that go through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The parkway itself is 469 miles long and connects the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is truly nothing like driving the parkway, as the experience is both fulfilling and breathtaking. 

Little Switzerland is located at milepost 334 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and as I mentioned earlier, it is one of the few towns that has direct access to the parkway. Driving the entire parkway would take about 12-13 hours. You’ll find so many lookouts, waterfalls, hiking trails, museums, and more along the way.  Please note you can enjoy just sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway as well.

Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway

12. Museum of North Carolina Minerals

Address: 214 Parkway Maintenance Rd, Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Directly down the road, just 6 minutes from Little Switzerland, is a small but fascinating museum called the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. While Emerald Village is a more family-fun, interactive mineral museum, the Museum of NC Minerals takes more of a science-focused approach.

Inside Museum of NC Minerals Sign of NC state

Inside the museum are many exhibits about the area’s mining background and the minerals that make up the land. There are a few hands-on exhibits, and it is a learning experience for the whole family. 

Museum of NC Minerals Sign

13. Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell is a favorite location for outdoorsy folk looking to enjoy the nature in the area. Located 20 miles from Little Switzerland, the drive is not bad and well worth it. The park is beautiful and offers tent camping, around 40 miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, exhibits, and the mountain itself.

Mount Mitchell has an elevation of 6,648 feet, making it the highest point east of the Mississippi River. 

Enjoy an afternoon on the observation deck, or find the family a campsite for some exciting camping. Mount Mitchell State Park has lots of beauty to offer. 

View from the top of Mount Mitchell

14. Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain is a must-see for all who travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though it is located almost an hour from Little Switzerland NC, there is no way you can miss it if you are in the area.

Grandfather Mountain is a place of amazing biodiversity and some spectacular scenic views as the top of the mountain reaches 5,945 feet. 

While there are exhibits and wildlife habitats to explore at Grandfather Mountain State Park, one of the highlights of the area is the mile-high swinging bridge. The bridge is 228 feet in the air, making it America’s highest suspension bridge. It spans 80 feet across the mountain and offers views you won’t get anywhere else. 

Grandfather Mountain Mile-High Swinging Brige near Little Switzerland NC

15. Linville Falls

Another top-ranking waterfall in North Carolina is Linville Falls. At milepost 316, you’ll find a trailhead where you can hike to see the three-tiered waterfalls. Multiple hikes in the area bring you to different viewpoints of the falls. The hikes are not hard, and none of them are extremely long either. 

Linville Falls Campground is a popular destination for some awesome tent, RV, and even cabin camping. Tent sites are comfortable and shaded, while RV sites have full hookups and the campground itself is very accommodating. It is a relaxing campground, and pets are allowed. 

Linville Falls NC

16. Ride the Diamondback

The Diamondback may be one of Little Switzerland’s most famous attributes. It is a 38-mile loop, shaped like a diamond, that starts at milepost 334 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Its fame comes from being a popular motorcycle or sports car thrill ride, as many enjoy the sharp twists and turns that the road offers. Motorsports lovers from all over the world come to enjoy the unique scenic, curvy road. 

The Switzerland Inn welcomes Diamondback riders and is the perfect base camp for those looking to enjoy the ride! The hotel offers lots of assistance with things like maps, directions, and connections to motorcars and motorcycles. 

Little Switzerland Sign

17. Roaring Fork Falls

One of the more accessible falls in North Carolina is Roaring Fork Falls. Located near the base of Mount Mitchell. The hike is just half a mile to see the beautiful trickling falls that have a long cascade of about 100 feet and are only 50 feet high.

It is a popular spot to visit during the fall, as the fall leaves make for great scenic photos. 

Roaring Fork Falls near Little Switzerland NC

Little Switzerland NC Lodging

1. Switzerland Inn

Right in the heart of Little Switzerland NC, The Switzerland Inn is a large attraction for visitors or locals looking for a staycation. The inn is a large estate sitting on top of a small hill, nestled right in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Room choices include staying inside the Main Lodge to your choice of mountain view suites and rustic, fully furnished cottages. 

Views of Mountains at Little Switzerland

The inn is the epitome of luxury and comfort, plus it comes with a beautiful view. There is a fine dining restaurant, a full spa, several shops, and many outdoor activities all right there on the property. If you are looking to book a comfortable yet elegant family vacation, or if you want a romantic weekend out, this is a gorgeous place to stay. 

Views of Mountains at Little Switzerland

2. Big Lynn Lodge

Over 100 years ago, Big Lynn Lodge started on an old dahlia farm in Little Switzerland NC, and today has grown into a comfortable 42-room inn. Nestled in the mountains, Big Lynn Lodge offers cozy mountain vibes with a humble beginning.

The inn itself has a spectacular 40-mile view of the Catawba River Valley, which you can enjoy from the deck equipped with rocking chairs, swings, and benches. Big Lynn Lodge is a popular place for hosting weddings, reunions, and other small events. 

Included with the lodge is a library, a card room, a billiard room, a fireplace lounge, and lots of spacious grounds to explore and walk around. The lodge offers delicious homemade cooking for breakfast and dinner. Enjoy elegant simplicity at the Big Lynn Lodge on your vacation. They are open year-round.

Best Time to Visit Little Switzerland NC

Little Switzerland NC is known as a summer town, most things only being open 6 months out of the year. Yet during these magical 6 months, you’ll find beauty here that seems to never end. Little Switzerland is a unique, majestic place with its old history, Alpine mountain charm, and views like no other place in the world. 

If you are planning a trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains next summer, you will not want to miss out on Little Switzerland NC. Not only can you explore museums, hiking trails, and waterfalls in the area, but you will also be able to relax in elegant or charming inns to fully immerse yourself in the mountains. 

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