North Carolina Mountains - Linville Caverns and Little Switzerland
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A few years ago we realized there was so much more around our area then we really gave North Carolina credit for. Often people think of the Outer Banks and Asheville when they think about the "must see" destinations in our state. The reality is that's it's full of fascinating little towns from the coast to the mountains that are often overlooked so I went searching for a few of those places. You'll see a few of them pop up on our blog over the next few months.
In the fall we took off toward the mountains and ran across Little Switzerland. I fell in love and even my homebody husband said, "Man, we have to come back here again sometime!"
We started out our trip just outside of Little Switzerland at the Linville Caverns. It's not a large cavern system but it has an interesting history and it's a great way to start your trip. Take a jacket! The Caverns stay 52 degrees year round and drip water making for some very chilly conditions. It's a short tour and cost us $8.50 per person. We had read many reviews online about the tour guides but we were blessed with a young lady who was really knowledgeable and seemed to really enjoy interacting with the guests and kids on the tour. With that said, had I just driven 2 hours to do that tour and had no other activities planned I'd probably have been a little disappointed but we had multiple things planned for the day and the caverns were a nice addition to the day.
I would recommend before you venture up there that you check out their website.
The Linville Falls are not far from the caverns and worth the time to hike to see them. But we were heading to Emerald Village next and I'm glad we did because we could have spent the entire rest of our day over there. It was my son's birthday and he loves a good treasure hunt so I knew he would enjoy this.
We got one large bucket for the two of them to share while I got a small bucket of gold to sift. This place fits every budget with so many different options. We had so much fun and if given the time and option they would have sifted through multiple buckets and skipped dinner! They had a blast with each scoop.
They brought home so many interesting pieces that my son took some of his birthday money and bought this rock tumbler from Hobby Lobby. It ran nonstop for 6 weeks!
We also found some great books at the library so he could do some research on what he had found. The book Rock and Minerals by Chris Pellant with the Smithsonian ended up being a great resource.
The Emerald Village has a museum, mineral collection and a little shop on site as well. On our next visit, we will be coming later in the day so that we can stay for the Black Light mine tour. It looks amazing and something I know my family would enjoy. We are looking forward to them opening up again this spring.
When they finally got too hungry to keep sifting we headed back toward Little Switzerland Inn and we are so glad we did. Amazing views and food!
The pictures do no justice to just how delicious the food. What seems like simple fare was absolutely fabulous! Hello and this view while we ate! Just stunning and the perfect way to end our trip. We will be back and the Inn would make a lovely place to stay for a romantic weekend away. It has a pool on property along with a few little shops and what my son will tell you was an awesome chocolate shop.
If you're traveling through the area or just looking for a day trip consider Little Switzerland. It's a small area but it's packed with such a wide variety of entertainment from the mines and shopping to hiking trails and waterfalls it leaves plenty of options for everyone. Check out the website for additional information.