If you’re planning a trip to the magical mountain town of Little Switzerland, you’re in for a treat! In this guide, guest blogger Polly Clover shares the 18 best things to do in Little Switzerland, NC. As well as her top tips for visiting.
As someone who’s lived in North Carolina and done my fair share of east coast road trips, I’m here to tell you that Little Switzerland is a must-visit.
This quaint, idyllic mountain town sits 3,000 feet above sea level. It’s tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen.
Although the community is small, there’s no shortage of activities. Whether you love nature, want to take a unique vacation, or need to relax, Little Switzerland is the place to go!
From gem mining and chasing waterfalls to enjoying delicious food and camping in the forest, there’s endless fun to be had.
And, if you’re looking to get even more adventurous, I’ll also share some of my favourite day trips and things to do near Little Switzerland, NC.
So, let’s get to it and check out the best things to do in Little Switzerland, NC!
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Is Little Switzerland Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! In fact, Little Switzerland is easily one of the most underrated hidden gems on the East Coast.
While there are many awesome mountain towns in North Carolina, I definitely recommend not overlooking this one. There are many things to see and do in this quaint mountain town.
Little Switzerland is small in size but large in personality and even bigger in views. It’s known as North Carolina’s gem mining capital and is home to gorgeous landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and lovely locals.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone who’s looking for a peaceful getaway, Little Switzerland is well worth visiting.
Tips for Visiting Little Switzerland, NC
A trip to Little Switzerland offers a memorable experience. While it’s easy to appreciate every sight and activity, here are some top tips for making the best of it.
Best Time to Visit
I personally think the best time to visit Little Switzerland is in early October. The weather is lovely, and you get to experience North Carolina’s remarkable fall foliage.
You can also count on all the fun activities and locations mentioned below being available and open.
If you’re planning to visit Little Switzerland, NC, it’s important to note that this mountain town is only open from about mid-April through October.
Many accommodations, activities, and restaurants are closed for almost half the year. This is because winter weather is quite cold and snowy in Western North Carolina, and many snowbirds go elsewhere.
While fall is my favourite time to visit, it’s also a fantastic spring vacation destination. Again, the weather is nice, and it makes for an ideal time to explore Little Switzerland’s nature.
How Long to Stay
Personally, I prefer spending as much time as possible in one place to explore as much as I can, so I would suggest spending about 4-7 days.
However, your trip to Little Switzerland can really be for as little or long as you’d like or can make it.
Many people think that because Little Switzerland is, well, little, there’s not much to do. But there is actually a ton packed into this small town!
If you wanted to do everything mentioned in the above list of things to do in Little Switzerland, you could easily spend a week.
With that said, you can always pick a few things and still have a terrific weekend!
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Getting Around Little Switzerland
You’ll definitely want a car to get around Little Switzerland. There are so many cool things to see and do, many of which require you to drive to.
If you’re travelling to North Carolina by plane, your best bet is to fly into Asheville. The Asheville Regional Airport is about an hour away, so you can rent a car at the airport and drive to town.
Visiting on a Budget
If you’re looking to take a vacation without spending a lot, you’re in luck!
On a budget, there’s no shortage of what to do in Little Switzerland, NC. Since it’s nature’s paradise, there are many things to see and do outdoors that don’t require any spending.
My favourite free activities from the list above include chasing waterfalls, hiking, exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, and walking through the Orchard at Altapass.
There are also many beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy picnic meals from the General Store.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodation, check out the Skyline Village Inn. This laid-back, affordable hotel is close to all the best things to do in Little Switzerland, NC.
It’s simple but also has a tavern, lounge, and deck surrounded by the mountain panorama.
Where to Stay When Visiting Little Switzerland, NC
One of the cool things about visiting Little Switzerland, NC, is staying in a mountainside inn or lodge. Most accommodations offer fantastic outdoor space to allow guests to enjoy nature right outside your backdoor.
Here are a few of the best places to stay for your Little Switzerland getaway:
Quirky Mountain Cottage: La Petite Chalet – La Petite Cottage is a unique vacation mountain home situated on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Each room has its own character with vibrant colours and fun decor. Just outside is a firepit and garden paths. It feels like a secluded getaway ideal for rejuvenation while also conveniently located close to the best things to do in Little Switzerland, NC.
Cosy Mountain Cabin: Ginny’s Cabin – It’s easy to think Ginny’s Cabin came right out of a storybook! This charming, custom-built vacation rental offers a homey vibe with a beautiful indoor and outdoor living space. The yard features a fire pit, covered porch, outdoor kitchen, and pet-friendly space. This home is also located close to Little Switzerland’s top attractions.
Plush Resort: Switzerland Inn – If you prefer a hotel experience, Switzerland Inn is the perfect option. Choose from a casual hotel room, a suite with mountain views, or a rustic cottage. Switzerland Inn also offers fine dining, on-site shops, and a spa. Not only is there a lot to enjoy at the inn, but there’s even more right outside your door in North Carolina’s stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.
Best Things to Do in Little Switzerland, NC
While visiting Little Switzerland, NC, you’ll want to make sure you see and do as much as possible.
The best experiences include enchanting waterfalls, scenic hikes, tasty food, and finding magical gems. And there’s more where those came from, so let’s check them all out!
1. Chase Waterfalls
Tip – Take the Crabtree Falls trail to your right for a shorter route (.9-mile one way).
2. Explore Emerald Village
One of the most iconic things to do in Little Switzerland, NC, is visiting Emerald Village.
This group of historical, gem, and mining attractions is a must-visit. With so much to see and do, there’s something for everyone.
Activities and exhibits at Emerald Village include gemstone mining, gold panning, and mineral collecting.
There’s also a nighttime underground mine tour that offers an unforgettable adventure.
3. Go Camping
There aren’t many better places to camp than in the mountains of North Carolina.
You’ll love a camping trip in Little Switzerland if you’re a nature lover like I am. You can make it a one-night experience during your vacation or camp the whole trip.
Here are some great spots in and near Little Switzerland:
4. Treat Yourself at The Swiss Shoppe
What’s a vacation without treating yourself? The Swiss Shoppe has it all, from ice cream and candy to cake and fudge.
This adorable shop offers seating inside and outside, a fun photo booth for a picture souvenir, and a couple of arcade games.
5. Check out the Little Switzerland Tunnel
If you’re looking for a brief but unique activity, The Little Switzerland Tunnel is it! It’s 1 of 26 tunnels along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This 547-foot stone tunnel is an awesome photo opp that you can either drive or walk through.
Tip – The GPS may not take you directly to the tunnel, but you can find it at milepost 333.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
6. Hang out at Mount Mitchell State Park
Spending the day, or even a couple of hours, at Mount Mitchell State Park is easily one of the best things to do near Little Switzerland, NC.
It’s about 20 miles outside of town and is well worth the drive.
Mount Mitchell is 6,684 feet high, and it’s the highest point east of the Mississippi. The views can’t get any better from its easily accessible observation deck.
You can also enjoy camping, hiking, and picnicking at the park. From May through October, there’s also a delicious on-site restaurant.
7. Make Your Own Jewellery at Gem Mountain
Even if you don’t usually prefer tourist attractions, Gem Mountain is definitely one worth checking out.
Enjoy one of the most memorable adventures hunting for gems and other one-of-a-kind activities. There are several properties around Little Switzerland, each offering a unique experience.
Not only can you discover colourful and valuable gemstones, but you can also have your stones cut and made into jewellery at Gem Mountain.
There’s also a general store where you can find unique souvenirs unlike anything else. The grounds have a tranquil outdoor space to hang out after mining for gems, too.
8. Try Local Ciders at Little Switzerland Orchard and Winery
If you’re looking for local things to do in Little Switzerland, NC, I definitely recommend stopping by the orchard and winery.
Little Switzerland Orchard and Winery offer a relaxed atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating.
This family and pet-friendly small business is an excellent place to try local ciders and fruit wine. They also have live music on occasion.
9. Drive Diamondback Road
Driving the Diamondback Road should definitely be on your North Carolina bucket list if you’re up for an adventure.
Diamondback 226A is a 36-mile diamond-shaped loop that goes through Little Switzerland. It’s a winding scenic drive that’s especially popular for motorcyclists, but it’s also cool to see at least a portion of it by car.
The road takes you along steep curves and past picture-perfect scenery of lush forests and mountainsides. It’s filled with switchbacks that adventure seekers love!
10. Take in the Blue Ridge Parkway Views
If this is your first time driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’re in for something special!
Even for those of us who have experienced it before, it’s magical every time. That’s why I strongly encourage driving it anytime you take a North Carolina road trip.
This National Parkway is almost 500 miles long and runs right through Little Switzerland.
You’ll definitely want to spend some time driving a piece of this winding road during your trip. It’ll take you past rugged mountains and offer views of long-range vistas.
Since this is where the tunnel is that we mentioned above, it’s a great activity to join with that.
There are also several lookout points from the parkway in Little Switzerland, including Table Rock Mountain Overlook, which offers a breathtaking long-distance mountain view.
11. Relax at Books and Beans
With so much to see and do in Little Switzerland, you’ll want to take some time to kick back and relax. Books and Beans is the perfect place for it!
This large, unique bookstore boasts three stories of endless books and unique art.
There’s also a cafe, which offers delicious coffee and treats. There’s plenty of space to sit and enjoy hanging out for a while.
12. Go to the Museum of North Carolina Minerals
With mountains so rich in gems and minerals, the Museum of North Carolina Minerals offers a one of a kind experience.
This museum isn’t like others, so it’s a great stop for history buffs looking for something different. It’s easy to make this a quick stop as it’s a small museum.
You can explore interactive exhibits to learn more about the region’s mining industry. There’s also a visitor centre with food and a gift shop.
Tip – I recommend calling before you go because they sometimes close during regular business hours.
13. Visit Switzerland General Store
I don’t know about you, but I love to visit a general store anytime I can!
Fortunately, the Switzerland General Store is an excellent one to check out. And it’s a part of the Switzerland Cafe, so it’s a great place to shop and eat.
The store sells neat local items and souvenirs, including wine, North Carolina craft beer, candy, and crafts.
The cafe serves delicious North Carolina fare and homemade foods, including a smoked pork BBQ (an NC staple!), sandwiches, and quiches.
14. Spend time at Lake James State Park
Although it’s not directly in town, Lake James State Park is another top spot close to Little Switzerland.
It’s under 30 miles away and, with so much to see and do, makes for a fun day trip.
Lake James State Park is situated on a lake and is surrounded by Appalachian Mountain views.
There are tons of activities to appreciate at the park, including swimming, camping, fishing, and boating. There are also 25 miles of trails, ideal for hiking and biking.
15. Pick Apples at The Orchard at Altapass
16. Enjoy Fine Dining at Chalet Restaurant
Chalet Restaurant is a part of Switzerland Inn, but you don’t have to be staying there to enjoy their delicious food.
This is one of the nicest restaurants in the area and has an incredible menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer a variety of drinks and desserts, too.
You can enjoy small bites like toast, traditional dishes, and even sweet treats at breakfast.
The lunch menu includes lobster bisque, various salads, burgers, and more. At dinner, you can enjoy many items off the lunch menu and steak and speciality entrees.
While the food is incredible at Chalet Restaurant, the stunning scenery outside the panoramic view windows makes the dining experience unlike any other.
17. Have a Drink at The Fowl Play Pub
Just next to Chalet is The Fowl Play Pub & Tap Room. This is a more laid-back spot to have drinks after dinner.
You can also skip fancy dining at Chalet and have a casual dinner at The Fowl Play. The menu offers wings, burgers, shrimp, and more.
You can also enjoy local craft beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The Fowl Play Pub features live music, too.
18. Take a Day Trip to Blowing Rock
Another one of my favourite can’t-miss things to do near Little Switzerland, NC, is visiting Blowing Rock.
It’s about an hour away, so I recommend heading there early. You can also camp out at the state park for a night if you have time.
Blowing Rock is similar to Little Switzerland in that it’s an adorable mountain town with picturesque views. But, it offers different sites and activities.
A few things worth checking out in Blowing Rock include:
- Downtown Memorial Rock: a charming area with various shops, boutiques, and galleries.
- The Blowing Rock: a massive cliff 4,000 feet above sea level that’s over a million years old.
- Grandfather Mountain State Park: a large park in the mountains with hiking trails, rugged cliffs, and a campground.
Enjoy These Fun Things to Do in Little Switzerland, NC!
There you have it – 18 impressive things to do while visiting Little Switzerland, NC.
I hope this guide has you excited about your trip and that you have an unforgettable experience! If you have any questions or feel that we’ve missed anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us or leave us a comment in the comment section.
Finally, check out the rest of our awesome North Carolina articles in our East Coast USA Series to help you with your travel planning.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.