The best things in life are rarely found in the places you plan to go. They typically occur at unlikely times and in places where you least expect to find something special.
That’s exactly what happened when we were searching for lunch on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had packed snacks and drinks but hadn’t planned for our midday meal. According to our trusty map (always carry a map because cell service is unreliable in the mountains), we were approaching a small town called Little Switzerland.
As you exit the Parkway, you will immediately see a resort called Switzerland Inn. It’s home to fine dining, shopping, a spa and more. But if you keep going, there’s a little area on the side of the mountain where you’ll find the village post office and a complex that includes a restaurant, general store and bookstore.
That’s right, friends.
In the middle of the wilderness, in a town populated by approximately 46 people – yours truly found a bookstore.
It was a proud moment.
We were there for lunch, not books, so our first stop was the Little Switzerland Cafe. Here we had the best meal I’ve eaten in ages.
The food was prepared fresh and served by a handful of waitresses who know how to hustle. We did have to wait a few minutes for a table because it was quite busy with locals and tourists including lots of folks on bicycles and motorcycles.
It was worth the wait.
They have vegetarian options and everything is made with what tasted like very fresh ingredients. My quiche had a flaky, buttery crust and was served with a fresh salad and homemade bread. The attention detail was impressive especially for the price which was about $10.
In the general store you’ll find some souvenirs and handmade items as well as some things you might need while out adventuring like aspirin and bandaids.
The bookstore, though, is the stuff that dreams are made of. It looks tiny from outside but the store is multiple rooms that wind around and reach into the basement. It’s packed from floor to ceiling with new and used books and interesting things to see in every nook and cranny.
At this point in the trip I had already purchased an alarming amount of books so I practiced restraint and purchased just one – a lovely little pocket sized copy of Thoreau’s “Walden.”
Little Switzerland was such a fabulous diversion that I badly want to go back to stay at the inn and explore the area (and the bookstore) more.
By the way, people like to think of Appalachia and rural areas as being backward. There are charging stations for your electric car right outside that bookstore.
Little Switzerland Books and Beans can be found online here. Learn more about Switzerland Cafe here. And if you’re interested in staying, there are a few options in the area including Switzerland Inn which we passed on our way on and off the Parkway. Find it here.