Little Switzerland, North Carolina, is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. The village is located at 334 Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’s known for its striking mountains and natural landscape.
So, if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, this little town is the perfect place for you. However, this brings up the question: what can you do in Little Switzerland?
Get to Know Little Switzerland
In case you’re wondering, Little Switzerland got its name because of the surrounding vast range of deep valleys and foothills that resemble the Swiss Alps.
In fact, the sweeping panoramas of mountains inspired the name of one of the village’s most famous destinations, the Switzerland Inn. It all started in 1909 when three men guided their mules through the slopes of Grassy Mountain in North Carolina.
The men were amazed by the natural scenery when they reached the top. From the west, you could see Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains. Heading to the south, you’ll find the Linville Mountains. To the east of Linville Mountains, you see Table Rock Mountains.
Keep reading to find out eight fun things to do in Little Switzerland, North Carolina!
1) Hike the Mountains of Western North Carolina
You get a peak to the north at Roan Mountain, which borders North Carolina and Tennessee. Mesmerized by the mountains around, Justice Heriot Clarkson, the founder, picked that spot to build the Switzerland Inn—even before the town was established.
So, why don’t you repeat the same journey and go hiking through the trails of the Grassy Mountains? From there, you can also head in whichever direction you like and enjoy other foothills!
2) Explore the Neighboring Waterfalls
The enchanting Crabtree Falls are just over 4 miles from Switzerland Inn.
Crabtree Falls offer a strenuous yet enjoyable walk for hikers who relish a challenge. You’ll have to walk a 2.5-mile loop trail filled with numerous plants to reach the falls. The scenic trail has steep inclines and rocky terrain, making the trek difficult.
On average, the hike can take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to complete. Still, the 60-foot waterfall is worth the adventurous hike.
If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly hike, you can drive to Roaring Fork Falls, one of Pisgah National Forest’s waterfalls. The waterfall is just under 13 miles from Crabtree Falls.
Once you reach the trailhead, you’ll find a small parking area. From there, start hiking up the trail to reach the 100-foot waterfall. The distance is about a half-mile, so it should be short and easy.
Now, if you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can drive to Black Mountain Campground, about 3.3 miles away from Roaring Fork. There you’ll find the trailhead for Setrock Falls, a 75-foot waterfall. Setrock’s trail is also about half a mile.
The best part of this journey is that there’s no entrance fee. Plus, the parking is free!
3) View the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Highest Peak
If you’re not afraid of heights, then you shouldn’t miss viewing the Blue Ridge Mountains from the highest peak in North Carolina, Mount Mitchell. Standing at 6,684 feet, you can expect your journey to the mountain’s summit to be challenging.
Once you arrive at Mount Mitchell State Park, which is around 22 miles away from Little Switzerland, you’ll have to walk a 12-mile road to reach Mount Mitchel’s summit. Alternatively, you can drive up to the summit and walk around 300 yards to the peak.
Either route will lead you to the observation tower, where you can get a 360º view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
You can also enjoy various activities in the park, such as picnicking, camping, and backpacking back to Pisgah National Forest.
There’s no entrance fee to the state park. However, you’ll have to pay if you plan on camping there. You’re only allowed to set up your tent in the campground within Mount Mitchel’s State Park, which hosts nine family campsites.
4) Drive Through the Diamondback
Driving through the Diamondback is a great idea for anyone who wants to see Little Switzerland but doesn’t want to walk.
The road spans 38 miles and passes through other roads, like the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC 226A, US 221, Toms Creek Road, and NC 80.
What’s unique about the Diamondback is that it’s a diamond-shaped route with various climbing curves and switchbacks. That makes it ideal for motorcyclists, bikers, and speed car drivers.
Even a calm car ride on the Diamondback might be fun. That’s because you can enjoy the stunning mountains and green valleys surrounding the road.
5) Visit the North Carolina Minerals Museum
It’s only natural that North Carolina dedicates a museum just to mining.
After all, the state leads in the production of many minerals, like lithium. You’ll also find many minerals and rare gems on display! Examples of the stones in the mining museum include quartz, mica, feldspar, and gemstones.
You can also learn about the creation of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are among the oldest mountains in the world. Plus, you get to relive the Overmountain victory by visiting the encampment.
Aside from mining and history, the museum has a gift shop where you can buy books and souvenirs about western North Carolina.
So, if you’re a geology enthusiast or want to learn about the state’s mining history, the North Carolina Minerals Museum is the place to go. The best part is that the museum is only a seven-minute drive from Little Switzerland!
6) Enjoy Delicious Food
You might feel drained after all that hiking, sightseeing, and driving. As you might guess, nothing can replenish your energy better than delicious food! So, where should you eat in Little Switzerland?
In the heart of Little Switzerland, at the Switzerland Inn, you’ll find The Chalet Restaurant. The restaurant serves American cuisine, from prime ribs to vegan options. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy an outstanding view while eating!
You can also enjoy fresh homemade sandwiches, quiches, soups, and more at the Switzerland Cafe and General Store.
If you’re a bookworm, you might like going to Book and Beans. As the name implies, the place is a bookshop with a coffee bar. You get to savor some desserts and coffee while reading a book!
7) Tour the Orchard at Altapass
If you want to do all of the above activities in a single place, then the Orchard at Altapass is the place to go.
The apple orchard is less than 6 miles away from Little Switzerland, North Carolina. You can enjoy various apple activities, like planting trees, picking apples, and making jam.
You can also shop at the apple orchard’s general store to buy their products, which are mainly food. Aside from apple sauces and jams, the orchard sells local honey, pickles, and dips.
What’s more, you can stroll through the fields and watch the graceful barn swallows fly around. And if that weren’t enough, you can head to the pavilion and hang out where the Overmountain men came from native American territories to attack the Brits.
So, what’s not to like? From cooking, shopping, and enjoying nature’s serenity to learning about history, The Orchard at Altapass has all the activities covered! The only drawback is that the historic apple orchard is open from May to October.
8) Shop at the Trillium Gallery
Any trip isn’t complete without buying gifts. And the Trillium Gallery is the place to shop if you want to buy souvenirs in Little Switzerland.
The store offers a variety of products, like soap, jewelry, and carved wooden serving pieces—many of which the locals crafted.
Hiking and exploring waterfalls are among the many things you can do in Little Switzerland, North Carolina. You can also head to the Orchard at Altapass to pick apples and walk through the fields.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the sights but aren’t into walking or hiking, you can take a scenic ride on the Diamondback road. Additionally, you can learn about mining history at North Carolina Minerals museum.
As for the food, you can enjoy delicious American cuisine or freshly baked goods at The Chalet Restaurant and Switzerland Cafe and General Store, respectively. And if you want to enjoy coffee and dessert while reading, head to Book and Beans!
Plus, you can buy locally crafted gifts at the Trillium Gallery to share your Little Switzerland experience with others!
So, when will you travel to Little Switzerland?