Cabins & Villas Nestled in the Mountains
This community along the Blue Ridge Parkway in northern McDowell County earned its name for a reason. With an elevation range from 3,200 feet in town to 4,000 feet at the top of Grassy Mountain nearby, magnificent year-round views draw visitors here starting in the spring. This is mountain country, and renowned peaks nearby are visible, among them Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River, which rises to the west and beloved Grandfather Mountain to the east.
Little Switzerland, formed in 1909 by a group of Charlotte businessmen, is a small community but offers a pleasant mixture of activity. Though some people are permanent residents of the village, Little Switzerland was created as a vacation site and most businesses are open generally spring through fall to accommodate tourists. The village is located in both McDowell and Mitchell counties. The Switzerland Inn even has rooms in both localities.
In addition to the century-old inn, Big Lynn Lodge has hosted families since 1932. Other accommodations include mountaintop cabins and villas, some from the turn of the century, which boast dazzling scenery.
Little Switzerland is a music town, and visitors enjoy summertime square dancing at the community hall and live mountain music every weekend. One venue for music—and much more—is The Historic Orchard at Altapass, just outside Little Switzerland on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The century-old orchard, a nonprofit, is a hub of mountain culture with cloggers, regional artists, storytelling, hayrides and, of course, apples.
You’ll find more Appalachian culture in Little Switzerland’s stores, which include a gift shop with locally made jewelry and pottery and a bookstore, gems, blown glass and other fine works from nationally-renowned craftsmen in the region. Browsers of Little Switzerland’s unique shops will also be enticed by ice-cream and homemade chocolate. Many visitors consider Emerald Village, just outside Little Switzerland on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a jewel. The attraction includes underground mine tours and gem mining, and the Museum of North Carolina Minerals is off the parkway nearby.
A treat for outdoors enthusiasts is a short hike near the center of town to Grassy Creek Falls, a 30-foot waterfall beside an old quarry.