In 1910, Judge Heriot Clarkson established a summer escape in the Blue Ridge Mountains, naming it “Little Switzerland” because of the surrounding slopes’ resemblance to the Swiss Alps. The community that grew up around Clarkson’s resort took the name to heart — many of the buildings have incorporated Old World-style Swiss chalet architecture.
More than 100 years later, Little Switzerland is an iconic stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway (at Milepost 334), where you’ll find delicious food, eclectic shopping, warm Southern hospitality and sweeping, uninterrupted mountain views.
Wander among unique shops to find books, souvenirs and locally crafted art and decor. Stop for smoked trout, barbecue or prime rib, or order a cocktail and raise a glass to the sun setting over the mountains. At the end of the day, unwind in a room with a view at one of three historic, family-run inns.
Step into Geneva Hall on Saturday evenings in July and August to join the community square dance and try your luck at the cake walk, or head up the parkway to the Historic Orchard at Altapass for live music on summer weekends and U-pick apples in fall.
Nearby, experience the thrill of the hunt at Emerald Village, where guests of all ages will love gem mining and exploring the historic underground mine. Pack a picnic (shop for meats and cheese at the General Store) and head to Crabtree Falls for an unforgettable hike.
Road cyclists, this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is an amazing ride with scenic overlooks and stops. Motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts won’t want to miss The DiamondbackNC, a 12-mile route packed with 190 twists and turns.