Favorite activities include shopping for fine crafts and watching artisans create them; discovering gems; driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway; visiting sites of cultural and historical interest including the Biltmore Estate; going to music, theater and dance events; shopping at the many outlet furniture stores and antique shops; visiting Asheville; and enjoying sports.
Popular sports include hiking, mountain climbing, golf, rafting, canoeing, tubing, swimming, cycling, skiing, ice-skating, and horseback riding.
Here is some information on these activities:
Shopping for fine crafts and watching artisans create them
The Little Switzerland area is one of the best in the country for these activities. World-renowned artisans and the new generation of upcoming artists practice in the surrounding area. Here are just a few examples. Potter Nancy Livingston has her studio about 2 miles away at Meadow Farm Pottery and Paintings; ironworker/blacksmith Bea Hensley, who received one of 5 annual top craftsmen's awards from the US president, and Harvey Littleton, the father of American art glass, have studios within 5 miles. Many of the artists artists in the area open their studios to visitors; the Penland gallery provides a map to several dozen. The Folk Art Center (southwest on the Blue Ridge Parkway) books artists to do demonstrations. The world famous Nye silver dogwood studio welcomes observers.
Here are just a few of the many places to shop. In Spruce Pine, 10 miles away, The Twisted Laurel sells a fine selection of crafts, including some high-end work. So do the Penland Gallery in Penland and the award-winning New Morning Gallery and Bellagio in Asheville. The Blue Ridge Parkway has two craft stores, The Folk Art Center and Flat Top Manor.
See the Excursions section of this web site, items 13, 19, 27.
If you are alert, you may find tourmaline and garnet on walks. If you want to try for gems at a flume, Emerald Village in Little Switzerland (3 miles) and Jerry Call's Rio Doce Gem Mine in Spruce Pine (4 miles) are good places. Just a mile from your doorstep is a gem and mineral shop, across from the Switzerland Inn. This may inspire you to visit the nearby state North Carolina Minerals Museum (Milepost 331) and The Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum in Asheville .
Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway, "the nation's scenic highway," meanders through spectacular scenery. You will appreciate that strictly enforced laws prohibit advertising, and even restrict buildings within view of the parkway. Of course, there are no traffic signals at all. The speed limit averages a comfortable 45 mph. Many turnouts provide room to pull off the road and enjoy the overlooks.
Driving in either direction from Little Switzerland, you will experience some of the most beautiful scenery and avoid the congestion common to the southwest in the Maggie Valley area and to the northeast approaching the Washington, DC area.
When you take the Blue Ridge Parkway on day trips, you'll find the drive there is pleasurable.
Sites of Historic and Cultural Interest
See the Excursions section of this web site, items 6, 11, 14, 16, 20, 29, 30 and 32.
Music, Theater and Dance Events
See the Excursions section of this web site, items 3, 29, 31, and 32. On alternate Saturday nights in the summer, Little Switzerland has square dances and clogging in the building next to Switzerland Inn.
Outlet Furniture Stores and Antique Shops
Hendersonville and Black Mountain are known for their antique shops with High Point about two hours to the east and Spartanburg seventy miles south, Little Switzerland is located near many furniture design, manufacturing and retail companies. To locate furniture outlets, go online or ask people in the area. In Spruce Pine, the Henredon factory has a furniture/fabric outlet.
See the Excursions section of this web site, item 29.
GOLF: See the excursions sections of this web site, items 2 and 23.
HIKING: Trails near the parkway.
For guidance on hikes, here is a photo gallery of trail wildflowers and a list of those seen recently on the Blue Ridge and Southern Appalachian trail hikes. There is also a wildflower identification book at the tower.
The America's Roof web site lists 41 mountains in the East that are over 6000 feet tall, over a dozen of which are within 40 miles of the the chalet.
HORSEBACK RIDING: For horseback riding, check Springmaid Campground in Spruce Pine and Cedar Creek Stables.
RAFTING: Check the rack in the lobby of the Switzerland Inn for current flyers on rafting, tubing and canoeing. See the Excursions section of this web site, item 17.
SKIING AND ICE-SKATING: See the Excursions section of this web site, section 10.
SWIMMING:For swimming, see the Excursions section of this web site, items 8 and 21.
Be sure to use discretion and caution in all outdoor adventures.