West Virginia – Swiss Village of Helvetia
I love finding hidden gems and telling my readers about them. I believe that every state in our country has something unique and special worth visiting that most people don’t know about. One such gem is the quiet little village of Helvetia, tucked away in the mountains of West Virginia. Helvetia was settled by Swiss immigrants in 1869 and many of the village’s current residents are descendants of the original settlers. They take pride in their Swiss heritage and preserve the traditions passed down from their ancestors.
It isn’t a large village, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm. Flowers on the bridge welcome you to the tiny village.
A cute signpost points you to the various buildings in the village.
Our visit to Helvetia was in the evening and by the time we had arrived, the shops had closed for the day. We weren’t able to shop, but the buildings were so cute that I had to snap some pictures. Here’s the Honey Haus.
According to the village’s website, the Honey Haus serves coffee, tea, and pastries and sells a variety of locally produced honey, jams, and jellies. They also sell teapots from around the world. My kids and I love to drink tea, so I’m really disappointed that we missed it. I guess that’s one more reason for us to go back.
The Cheese Haus is just as cute, but is no longer making the village’s specialty cheese. We were told that cheese production has been contracted out elsewhere, to a company who follows the same traditional recipe.
Our primary destination in Helvetia was the village’s authentic Swiss restaurant, The Hutte.
The inside was just as charming as the outside, filled with antiques. There are several dining rooms.
The menu includes a selection of sandwiches on homemade bread, soups, and Swiss Country Meals. There are just five Swiss Country meals to choose from: Their own sausage, Baked Ham, Morgan Henalie (more about that later), Bratwurst, and Zurich Sauerbraten. All of the meals are served with rosti (hash brown like potatoes), vegetables, hot applesauce, kraut, and homemade bread. I opted for the Morgan Henalie which was chicken breast marinated (I think they said for 3 days) in what tasted like a fruity spiced wine that is served around Christmas. My daughters both ordered soup. One had the Homemade Split-pea Soup and the other had the Stout Country Soup. I shared my homemade bread and Helvetia cheese with them and they each ordered a side, and then seconds, of the applesauce, which was really, really yummy. I had a small salad which came with delicious homemade dressing. Everything was delicious and I couldn’t finish my meal.
The dessert menu includes peach cobbler and a seasonal cherry tart, but we just didn’t have any room left. Next time I will save room! On Sundays, they serve a brunch buffet.
Helvetia is just 15 minutes from Holly River State Park and perfect for a day trip, but if you’d like to stay longer, there are a few different accommodations to choose from. The nice folks at The Hutte let me know that they rent rooms on the upper floor of the restaurant. A short walk away is The Beekeeper Inn which has three bedrooms with private baths. And the Kultur Haus, the building which also houses the General Store and Post Office, contains the Alpen Lodge which has four bedrooms.
The village has several fair and festivals throughout the year. I think it would be really interesting to visit during one of those to learn more about the Swiss traditions. Outside of the festivals, Helvetia is a very restful place. It’s a wonderful day trip from Holly River, but I’m not sure my active kids would enjoy staying there for any length of time. It would, however, be a great destination for couples to get away from it all.
I do have one caution about Helvetia and that’s getting there: Under no circumstances should you use your GPS to find Helvetia. My GPS didn’t know the difference between real roads and pitted, dirt paths that aren’t fit for vehicles. Get a real, paper map and use it. This is one of those times you just have to trust me.
Ready to Visit?Swiss Village of Helvetia Village Website The Hutte Restaurant (304) 924-6435 You might also be interested in: West Virginia – Holly River State Park West Virginia – State Wildlife Center
This post is part of Friday Daydreamin’ at R We There Yet Mom?