This North Carolina mountain town is only open for six months out of the year

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  • Published on April 24, 2023
  • Last Updated June 8, 2023

Little Switzerland, North Carolina is the closest you can get to the Swiss Alps without booking a flight. Visitors enjoy curvy roads and waterfalls.

The mountains of North Carolina are full of surprises. From the endless rolling valleys and serene waterways, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are the perfect backdrop for anyone.

Outside the natural wonders, the mountains are full of little picturesque towns that add even more beauty to the area. One of them is Little Switzerland, North Carolina. The small town sits at mile 334 of the 469-mile stretch between Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Travel & Leisure stopped in on the charming town and shared some history and fun things to do about the remarkable little town. Little Switzerland was the brainchild of a North Carolina Supreme Court justice that stumbled across the small village in 1910. His vision for the rural area was to build a resort town with elements resembling Switzerland. The town’s aesthetic is the closest you can get to the Swiss Alps without booking an international ticket.

Known as the “jewel of the Blue Ridge Parkway,” Little Switzerland sits at an elevation of 3,500 feet overlooking the rest of the region’s valleys and mountaintops. When planning a trip to the town, book your night in the Switzerland Inn. The town’s first building still provides some of the best accommodations.

There are several must-see stops in the town. Locals and visitors enjoy the Little Switzerland Books and Beans, a three-story bookstore and coffee shop that encourages browsing through the stacks and its maze of rooms. Souvenirs and kitschy items are available at The Little Switzerland Trading Company is the perfect place to pick up your souvenirs and mementos of your trip.

The historic mining city, Emerald Village, is about 10 minutes from Little Switzerland. The outlet shared Emerald Village features 12 historic underground tours and the opportunity to pan for gems and gold and is home to the North Carolina Mining Museum.

Take in the beautiful Linville Falls and Crabtree Falls, which are both within driving distance of the town. Hiking through the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a given, but the real star is the winding roads up the mountain.

The Little Switzerland Tunnel is one of the parkway’s 26 underpasses. Travel and Leisure mentioned that the Diamondback is a favorite among motorsports enthusiasts. The “curvy NC-226A route is packed with S-curves and switchbacks that twist through the mountains, cresting at Switzerland Inn.”

The town shows pride in the curvy roadways with road signs decorated with winding diamondback snakes.

Good food is also celebrated in the small town. The Chalet Restaurant and Fowl Play Pub & Tap Room inside the Switzerland Inn serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all overlooking the nearby mountain range. Typical pub food, including burgers and wings, can be found at Fowl Play.

The Swiss Shoppe – also inside Switzerland Inn – is the answer for any sweet tooth offering candy, sweet treats, and locally made ice cream. For something you can only find in North Carolina, the Switzerland Cafe and General Store is known for its iconic barbecue and smoked trout BLT sandwich.

The resort town only welcomes guests from mid-April through October. The ideal time to visit is late spring, summer, or early fall. The best time to visit is during the fall when the apple trees are ripe for picking and leaves change to beautiful variations of oranges and reds.

Martie Bowser is a journalist and public relations professional in Charlotte, NC. She enjoys amplifying the voices of POC and women that fill a void within their community. Her bylines include “person of interest” interviews, small business highlights, pop culture commentary, entertainment features, and everything Beyonce.

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This story was originally published April 24, 2023 1:40 PM.