Little Switzerland, North Carolina: Everything You Need to Know!
If you’re an avid motorcyclist, visiting the Southern Appalachian mountains is probably high on your bucket list. I recently took a trip to the area to ride the entire Blue Ridge Parkway and made sure to stop at the most recommended motorcycle destination along the route: Little Switzerland!
Whether you’re riding the entire Blue Ridge Parkway or looking for a day ride from the greater Asheville area, Little Switzerland will likely come up in any conversation you have with a local. In this blog, I’ll cover everything you need to know about Little Switzerland so that you have some tips for planning your own motorcycle trip!
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About Little Switzerland, North Carolina
Considered the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Parkway,” North Carolina’s Little Switzerland is more than just a town with a population of 46 people.
People visit Little Switzerland for numerous reasons. Some are simply looking for accommodations along the Blue Ridge Parkway, while others are looking for a leisurely mountain getaway from the city. The town is largely popular for car and motorcycle enthusiasts looking for a great meal and a scenic drive on the weekends.
If you’re traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, Little Switzerland is located at milepost 334. It’s roughly an hour from Asheville, North Carolina. (That is if you don’t stop to see any of the attractions along the way.)
I made the Switzerland Inn my first night’s stop during my Blue Ridge Parkway ride, which I had started in Robbinsville, NC that morning. “It’s a haul, but you can do it” was what my local friends told me when I was planning my trip, and they were right. It took an entire day to get there with a few stops along the way due to how slow-paced the Parkway is. (You can watch my full YouTube video from the trip to see more from that day’s ride, by the way!)
You can also take route 226a from Marion, North Carolina to reach Little Switzerland. However, I overheard a woman at the Switzerland Inn telling her girlfriend that “she ain’t built for driving that crazy mountain road!” If extremely windy roadways aren’t your thing, you may want to slow down and take the leisurely route up the Blue Ridge Parkway.
When to visit Little Switzerland, North Carolina
The Spring and Summer months are known to bring plenty of rain and fog to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spring brings cooler temps and wildflower blooms while the summer tends to bring warmer weather in addition to more rain. It’s just a part of life in Southern Appalachia. All of the rain helps bring the trees and plants in the area to life with those vibrant blue-green hues the area is known for. (The “blue’ in Blue Ridge is created by Isoprene produced by the trees, but that’s a scientific story that you can Google.)
Fall is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable times to visit Little Switzerland and the surrounding area. It’s the most popular time of year for people to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway due to the area’s vibrant Fall foliage and favorable weather conditions.
In the Winter, most of the town closes due to snow and ice along the roadways, which dwindles visitor traffic. The resorts and restaurants are typically closed from November to April, but you can check their respective websites for official opening dates and closures!
Where to Stay
The Switzerland Inn is undoubtedly the most iconic lodging option in Little Switzerland. Established in 1910, it’s the only commercial property along the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. (Everything else directly on the parkway is managed by the National Park Service). This is where I chose to stay for my first visit to Little Switzerland.
The Switzerland Inn is more of a resort than a lodge. There are three restaurants on-site, an ice cream shop, gift shops, firepits, tennis courts, and more. If you’re looking for an ultimate Little Switzerland experience, the Inn is where you’ll find it.
As far as lodging goes, the Switzerland Inn features dozens of cabins and rooms, as well as a motorcycle-specific building known as the “Diamondback Lodge.” This motorcyclist lodge is where I stayed during my visit to the area. It’s small, but it’s nice to know that your neighbors are all riders as well.
The Switzerland Inn was sold in early 2024 after being family-owned and operated for three generations, but rumor has it that the new owners are ready to keep traditions alive at the resort.
Another popular lodging option is the Big Lynn Lodge, especially for motorcyclists. The rates tend to be more affordable than the Switzerland Inn and you can park directly in front of your room as it is set up just like a regular motel. It’s only a few miles down the road from the Inn.
The Skyline Village Inn is another iconic and historic hotel in the area and was recently remodeled. It will feature a restaurant on site in 2024.
Lastly, The Alpine Inn is a small, 12-room hotel located along 226a. They have extremely limited parking as it is built right on the side of the mountain.
Food at Little Switzerland
Little Switzerland may be a small mountain town, but it’s a popular stop for anyone looking for food in the area. There are three, technically four, places to eat in Little Switzerland. The Switzerland Inn is home to The Fowl Play Pub, Chalet Restaurant, and Terrace Dining. All of these restaurants share a kitchen but offer different dining atmospheres and slightly different menus.
The Fowl Play Pub is what you would expect: a bar and grill with a small outdoor patio. The Chalet is much more upscale, offering indoor dining with a panoramic view of the mountains. Lastly, the Terrace is an outdoor bar and dining area that’s open depending on the weather and time of year. I visited in late October, and it was closed for the season.
Just around the corner, the Switzerland Cafe is a popular destination for motorcyclists and automobile enthusiasts. Their menu features BBQ, trout, sandwiches, and all sorts of homemade pies and cheesecakes. On the weekends, you can expect the parking area to be packed and for there to be a wait at times.
>>> Read Next: How I find places to eat on motorcycle trips
If you want to use Little Switzerland as a “home base,” there are plenty of small towns that are within 15-20 minutes of Little Switzerland that offer food. During my trip, I made sure to visit Spruce Pine and Marion, North Carolina. Both towns have breweries, coffee shops, ice cream, and just about anything else you might want!
Nearby Motorcycle Rides and Scenic Byways
One of the things that makes Little Switzerland such an iconic destination is its proximity to some of the best motorcycle roads in the area.
- The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most notable scenic byway for this area. You can’t visit the Blue Ridge Parkway and not stop at Little Switzerland!
- North Carolina route 226A has been nicknamed “The Diamondback” and features over 190 curves in roughly 12 miles. It’s a popular route for cars as well as motorcycles. Little Switzerland is very proud to be located along the Diamondback and you will see plenty of signs and memorabilia for sale promoting it when you visit.
- A section of North Carolina’s Highway 80 is nicknamed “the Devil’s Whip.” Once 80 intersects the Parkway, it quickly carves 2,500 feet down the mountainside via a few switchbacks.
- Trans-America Trail: If you’re an adventure rider and enjoy getting off the pavement and into the dirt, the “TAT” runs through Little Switzerland.
>>> Read more Scenic Byway Blogs, here!
Want to find more motorcycle roads in North Carolina? I’d recommend buying a Butler Motorcycle Map! These maps have PLENTY of ride options and are great to keep on hand.
Other Things to Do Near Little Switzerland
- Mount Mitchell: If you want to stand atop the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains, then you’ll want to visit Mount Mitchell State Park. You can ride (or drive) to a parking lot near the summit, then take a short walk up to a viewing platform, where you’ll stand 6,684 feet above sea level. Little Switzerland has the closest lodging to Mount Mitchell, by the way!
- Craggy Gardens: “Craggy” as the locals call it is a popular stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially when the wildflowers are blooming.
- The Orchard at Altapass: I noticed this Apple Orchard on my trip but had never heard of it beforehand. Turns out, it’s quite historic! This is more of a family-friendly destination, but I’ve since been told that their apple pie and other treats are worth stopping for!
- Museum of North Carolina Minerals: If you’re a fan of rocks, this is a must-stop! The mountains near Little Switzerland are among the richest in minerals and gems in the United States! There are over 300 varieties on display. The museum is operated by the National Park Service and is free to visit as of 2023.
- Linn Cove Viaduct & Grandfather Mountain: The most photographed area of the Blue Ridge Parkway is just 45 minutes up the road from Little Switzerland. The Linn Cove Viaduct was an engineering marvel and was once the final stretch of roadway needed to complete the entire 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway. The viaduct straddles Grandfather Mountain, which is home to a fragile ecosystem with lots of geological importance. You can also walk across the famous “Mile High Swinging Bridge” at the top.
- Linville Gorge: If you’re comfortable riding on gravel-covered Forest roads, a stop at the Wiseman’s View Scenic Overlook to see the Linville Gorge is worth the adventure.
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