Travel

Discover the Ultimate Hidden Gems in Little Switzerland

If your budget is putting a damper on your dreams of a European vacation, don’t despair. The South is home to numerous destinations that offer a taste of Europe without breaking the bank. One such gem is Little Switzerland, a charming town nestled in western North Carolina, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Founded in 1910 by a North Carolina Supreme Court Justice who envisioned a resort town, Little Switzerland owes its name to its resemblance to the Swiss Alps. With rolling valleys and breathtaking views of Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains, the landscape captures the essence of the Alps. As the town developed, many buildings were designed in Swiss architectural styles, featuring picturesque chalets that add to the village’s allure.

Little Switzerland is an ideal spot for a weekend getaway, especially if you’re longing for an international experience. However, keep in mind that the high season runs from April to November, as several businesses and inns close down from Thanksgiving through March. While enjoying the town’s stunning vistas is a worthwhile activity in itself, there are plenty of other things to do. Visit Emerald Village, a collection of historic mines that also houses a mining museum and offers activities like gemstone mining and gold panning. Don’t miss a stop at Little Switzerland Books and Beans, a cozy three-story complex that started as a bookstore in 1986 and has now expanded to include a coffee bar and bakery.

In addition to its attractions, Little Switzerland is surrounded by natural beauty. Explore Crabtree Falls and Linville Falls for an up-close encounter with the area’s scenic wonders. Take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy breathtaking vistas from Wiseman’s View and Chestoa View.

When it comes to accommodations, Switzerland Inn is a top choice. Stay in a Swiss-style chalet and be treated to magnificent mountain views at every turn. The resort offers a range of amenities, including a spa, pool, hot tub, and several dining options. Other excellent lodging options include the Alpine Inn, Skyline Inn, and Big Lynn Lodge, each offering its own unique charm and comfort.

When it’s time to satisfy your hunger, Switzerland Inn’s Chalet Restaurant offers a fine dining experience with dishes like Alaskan Halibut and Roasted Duck with Orange Marmalade Glaze. Don’t miss their Swiss Onion Soup for a taste of the Alps. If you prefer a more casual setting, Terrace Dining allows you to enjoy your meal outdoors, surrounded by beautiful scenery. For pre- or post-dinner drinks, head to The Fowl Play Pub & Tap Room, where you can indulge in cocktails or craft beers.

No visit to Little Switzerland would be complete without a trip to Switzerland General Store, a delightful café and merchant in the heart of downtown. Browse through the shelves for a souvenir and savor their famous Applewood smoked trout and hickory smoked barbecue pork for a memorable lunch experience. Little Switzerland offers an enchanting escape that captures the spirit of Europe right in the heart of North Carolina.

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