Little Switzerland NC is a summer colony high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Located about an hour north of Asheville, it offers a great stop along the Parkway at Milepost 334 for food at the Switzerland Cafe and a little shopping at the General Store or the Book Exchange. This small village celebrates its 100th birthday in 2010, with many special events during June. Little Switzerland was named because of its sweeping panoramas of deep valleys and distant ranges resembling those of the foothills of the Swiss Alps. Ride along Highway 226A to see some of these vistas.
The elevations here, ranging from 3,200 feet in the village to 4,000 feet at the top of Grassy Mountain, offer incredible views of Mt. Mitchell to the west, Table Rock, Hawsksbill and Grandfather Mountain to the east, and the valleys of the South Toe, Turkey Cove and the bustling Catawba Valley.
There is much to see and do in the Little Switzerland area:
Emerald Village: This complex of multiple buildings and mines is North Carolina's #1 gem mining attraction, located just three miles from the center of Little Switzerland and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Enjoy a spectacular mountain setting in historic real mines. Tour a real underground mine at the NC Mining Museum. Search for genuine gems and keep what you. Many free exhibits. See our Emerald Village Guide.
Crabtree Falls: Located in the Crabtree Meadows Recreation Area at Milepost 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 70-foot waterfall is accessed by a 2.5 mile moderate loop hiking trail. See our Crabtree Falls Guide.
Orchard at Altapass: This 101-year-old apple orchard turned Appalachian Cultural Center celebrates the people, music, art, and natural beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina. On the Parkway at Milepost 328.3. See our Orchard at Altapass Guide.
Christmas Tree Farms: Find the perfect holiday tree at one of the many area Christmas tree farms, such as Little Switzerland Fraser Firs. It's an experience the whole family will enjoy. There's a cozy fire while roasting marshmallows and enjoying hot cider or cocoa. Then you head to the field to select your tree, finishing up by visiting Huck the farm dog while the tree is bailed. Open mid November through mid December.
Penland School of Crafts: This national center for craft education offers one-, two-, and eight-week workshops in books & paper, clay, drawing, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking, textiles and wood. The school also sponsors artists' residencies, educational outreach programs and a craft gallery, open to the public. See our Penland School Guide.
Diamondback: Find more than 190 steep, climbing curves in just 12 miles for your next motorcycle ride or drive in your sportscar! Sweeping curves, amazing scenery and cool mountain breezes make the Diamondback, NC 226A, one of WNC's last great mountain roadways, going right through Little Switzerland. The Diamondback is loaded with switchbacks looping almost 360-degrees. Runs of s-curves climb and twist sharply as they snake through lush green Pisgah National Forest in route to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Find more motorcycle drives.
Museum of NC Minerals: Located at Milepost 331 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this small museum (free admission) introduces the treasures found in the state and the local Spruce Pine Mining District through interactive displays on the wide variety of minerals and gems found in the region. See our Museum of NC Minerals Guide.
Spruce Pine: Located about six miles away, find some great shops and restaurants in a quaint downtown. See our Spruce Pine Guide.