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
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,
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
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.