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More Summer in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective

“It’s summertime,” I say to myself as I watch the light glitter across the French Broad River, “And the living is easy.” A soft breeze ruffles my hair. The trees rustle and sway. Wood smoke buffets my face and from far away someone shouts, “You paying attention to the grille?”


It’s easy to get lost in the majesty of it all with summers like we’ve got here in Asheville. So what if you let the barbecue get a little charred? I wouldn’t blame you. We’re given summer to kick back, relax, and take in all the pleasures of nature. 


As I’ve laid out before, summer’s a great time of year to visit Asheville, NC. In fact, I’m so flooded with seasonal enthusiasm and pleasant recollections that here we are again, with a heap load more of recommendations for your own summer visit to Asheville. 


summer in Asheville - waterfall
Image from Wix

Frankly, I can’t believe I forgot to fit this into my previous summertime article. For this egregious oversight, the tourism board has agreed it’s best if I spend the rest of the summer isolated in the heights of the Blue Ridge, living off honey and bird eggs until I learn my lesson. Goodbye, civilized world. I’ll remember you fondly.


Coincidentally, that’s exactly what you'll be saying once you hike your way on up to one of Asheville’s prime waterfalls. You can find an in-depth read on the subject right here, but I’d particularly like to recommend Skinny Dip Falls.


Tucked away up the Blue Ridge Parkway, about an hour from downtown, Skinny Dip Falls consists of a series of shaded pools and bite-sized cascades, perfect for cooling off at the height of summer heat. 


The falls are only about a half mile from the trailhead, so you’ll have plenty of time to wade and relax before you got to pile back in the car and dry off. 


Now if a real tall, whitewater cascade is what you’re after—something more suited for a photo-op than for wading—then go ahead and check out the falls at DuPont State Forest, which again you can read more about right here. It’s certainly more of a time commitment to get there, but by golly if a big ol’ waterfall’s what you want, well, DuPont’s got three of them.


summer in Asheville - ice cream cones
Image from Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired just thinking about all that physical activity. And I'm hot. And I'm sweaty. Summer giveth, and summer taketh away.


There’s but one solution for times like these: hydration in the form of pure all-natural water. But mere water’s not gonna get my ears perked up, no sir. If you want my attention, there’s only one cold treat for the job: ice cream.


If you’re a longtime reader of the Asheville Cottages Blog, then you know what’s coming next, Asheville’s own local ice-creamery au-extraordinaire, the Hop. 


Yes, the Hop and summer in Asheville go hand in hand, like whipped cream and strawberry, or whipped cream and chocolate, or whipped cream, and even more whipped cream. 


With locations in North Asheville, downtown’s historic S&W Food Hall, and two in West Asheville, it ought to be easy to work this local classic into your schedule of summer fun. My personal recommendation? A malted milkshake, of course. It’s a tough decision between that and their banana split, but why use a spoon when you can use a straw? That’s my motto. 


summer in Asheville - walk through woods
Image from Wix

Always one of Asheville’s foremost destinations for visitors, to me the Estate isn’t just the largest privately owned mansion in the entirety of the United States, but one of the best places in town to roam and romp through nature.


If you haven’t taken a tour of the inside of the Estate yet, then you should definitely make that a priority. But if you’re a little familiar with the Estate, if you’ve taken the tour, or if you simply can’t get enough of that summery fresh air and sunshine, well, there’s no better time of year to walk the Estate’s sprawling grounds.


A visit to the conservatory and its surrounding gardens is a must, and from there your options are open. Rent a bike from the Antler Hill Bike Barn, rent a kayak, hire a fly-fishing guide, shoot clays, shoot arrows; it’s practically summer camp. But instead of a dilapidated canteen, you’ve got a host of top-rated restaurants to choose from, and a complimentary wine tasting.


summer in Asheville - ziplining woman
Image from Unsplash

This one’s taking us way back, to one of the very first topics I covered in my tenure as Asheville’s foremost tourist-outreach liaison. Which is my real job title. I know because I made it up myself. 


Anyways, what I put down in words so long ago still stands to this day: ziplining’s one of the best ways to encounter Asheville’s beautiful environs, especially in fine weather like this.


If you want to keep it close to home, giving you plenty of time to fit the rest of these summery ideas into your schedule, then I recommend Adventure Center of Asheville. It’s close enough to downtown you can spend your afternoon ziplining, and get dinner at the Grove Arcade.


Now if you don’t mind going further afield, in search of deeper and richer woodlands, the very heart of nature, if you will, then I recommend Navitat, about a half-hour north of downtown.


summer in Asheville - beers cheers
Image from Wix

I don’t know about you, but after a few days out here enjoying the very best of summer in Asheville, I’m plum tuckered out. But as befits the Paris of the South, Asheville has the answer: a visit to the South Slope brewing district.


Here you’ll have your pick from the best local bars and breweries, from Wicked Weed to Burial Beer, plus a smorgasbord of awesome restaurants (many sporting outdoor seating), including the new location of our own James-Beard award-winning Chai Pani. 


On top of all that, on the northern edge of the South Slope you’ll find live music at the Orange Peel and Rabbit Rabbit. Summer of fun indeed.


Or, if a more quiet conclusion to your summer in Asheville is what you’re after, then a couple drinks and a few hundred rounds of board games at Well Played Board Game Café might be just be the perfect conclusion to your summer in Asheville.


Businesses Mentioned

Skinny Dip Falls Trailhead

(828)-348-3400

Blue Rdg Pkwy, Canton, NC 28716

DuPont State Forest

(828)-877-6527

Staton Rd, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718

The Hop (North)

(828)-254-2224

640 Merrimon Ave #103, Asheville, NC 28804

Biltmore Estate

(800)-411-3812

1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803

Well Played Board Game Café

(828)-412-5788

162 Coxe Ave #101, Asheville, NC 28801


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