You know, I’m always harping on Asheville’s fair weather, but even here in the Paris of the South, it's been a scorcher of a summer. Some days I walk outside, and as soon as that blazing sun brushes my skin, I do a full one-eighty, lock the door, crawl inside the refrigerator, and contemplate what choices led me there.
As you might guess, I’m not particularly well adapted to the heat, but even if you’re made of stiffer gelatin than I am, I’m sure one and all could benefit from some of my discoveries on surviving the summer. So read on and discover five of the best methods to beat the heat in Asheville.
Your visit to Asheville this summer would simply be incomplete without a pilgrimage to Sliding Rock, one of the most time-honored traditions of life in WNC. As everyone knows, rocks are nature’s insulation, and this particular rock is perpetually chilled by a flow of fresh mountain water, forming what geologists have called a “Naturally occurring waterslide, the finest in its class.” Indeed, the water here rests at fifty to sixty degrees even at the height of the season, making for an excellent escape from the heat.
Speaking of the season, lifeguards and changing rooms are available here between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Entry costs $5 per person (cash and card accepted). To not only beat the heat, but beat the crowds, visit on a weekday, between 10am and noon.
Alternatively: If you are less of a “water slider” and more of a “water relaxer,” take your choice of watercraft for a float down the French Broad River.
Longtime followers of the blog should be familiar with this one. Come rain, hail, and especially the sweltering sun, I for one am perpetually in the mood for ice cream, and in Asheville’s it’s always practically within arm’s reach.
First off: downtown Asheville’s Sunshine Sammies. To whoever first had the idea of sticking ice cream between two cookies and calling it a “sandwich:” you both frighten and delight me. Sunshine Sammies nails this summertime delicacy with small-batch flavors and artisanal pairings, which elevate the humble ice-cream sandwich into a dessert to remember.
Next up, Sugar and Snow Gelato, down in the River Arts District. Not only do they sell their egg-enriched namesake, but also a variety of fresh-pressed paninis, coffee, and salads, making it an excellent stop whether you’re after a casual lunch or a cool-off, before returning to the sights of the RAD.
Finally, the Ultimate Ice Cream Company. Known for their community fundraisers and activism, their North Asheville location lies a short drive away from the historic Grove Park Inn, while their West location is just down the road from the WNC Nature Center. Location is king, and these are some kingly locations. Add on flavors like brown sugar maple-bacon, and the intriguing goat-cheese and cherry, and you have an ice-cream parlor well worth your time.
Alternatively: Any number of the creameries found right here.
In times like these, I give thanks that I live in a place and an age where not only is AC available, but if I wanted to sit beneath a unit just to bathe in its icy-cold winds, well, nobody could stop me. Indeed, nobody does.
And so ironically, this suggestion begins with a reference to this old article on what to do in Asheville during a rainy day. As it turns out, both an overabundance of water and an overabundance of heat have the same solution: hide inside. I believe that’s why houses were invented.
Among the best indoors amusements in Asheville has to be the Grove Arcade. Boutiques, gem shops, and all other manner of local sundries paired with some of the best restaurants around. It’s truly the downtown experience in a nutshell—an airconditioned nutshell. From there, I suggest checking out the Well-Played board game café, escape rooms, and finally, a visit to one of Asheville’s most fascinating museums.
Alternatively: Visit the Biltmore Estate. Sure, there’s a lot to see on their grounds, but if you focus on exploring the mansion’s interior, you have yourself one of the most elegant and educational ways to beat the heat.
In the words of one of my former professors: “If I see a sign that says ‘cold beer,’ they got me. It’s an instinct. Cold beer? That’s all I need to hear. I’m there. I’m involved.” We called him “Professor O,” and for his class I designed a half-dozen flags promoting the sanitation of microwaves. Life is strange like that.
Anyways, if Asheville is famous for one thing, it’s hiking, and if it’s famous for a second thing, it’s locally brewed craft beer. For some of the best and most plentiful breweries in Asheville, all within walking distance of each other, look no further than the South Slope brewing district. It pairs well with some of the other methodologies on this list, namely a visit to downtown’s Grove Arcade—just a short drive further downtown—or to Sunshine Sammies, right on the edge of the Slope.
Alternatively: Visit a local café for chilled coffee, chai lates, or some mouth-watering pastries.
Now, in total contradiction to beat the heat method number three (hide inside), I suggest the following: go outside. Specifically, outside and upwards, into the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the temperature can drop as much as twenty degrees.
From recent observations, once you clear 5,000ft—or around the area of Graveyard Fields, south on the Blue Ridge Parkway—you can kiss those sweat stains goodbye. I’ve even seen snow in April up there. It’s a rarity, but just goes to show how much of a difference elevation can make.
Other high-altitude hikes include Black Balsam, Craggy Gardens, and Mount Mitchell. Maybe throw in some waterfalls for good measure, and not only do you have yourself an excellent means of beating the heat, but a journey through some of the most stunning wilderness in the country. It’s what a visit to Asheville is all about.
Alternatively: Picnic at elevation. More of an addition than an alternative, but for my two cents, its hard to find something better than a good old hike.
99 S Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Sugar and Snow Gelato
99 Riverside Dr, Asheville, NC 28801
Ultimate Ice Cream (North)
195 Charlotte St, Asheville, NC 28801
Ultimate Ice Cream (East)
1070 Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805
1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Graveyard Fields, Canton, NC 28716