Summer in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective
I used to dislike summer. The weather just had no right to rise above 80 degrees, so far as I was concerned. Since then, though, I’ve had the pleasure to spend summer in some places further south and quite a bit hotter than Asheville. As it turns out, the weather here in my hometown really isn’t ever that bad.
Combined with the fact that we’ve all been living like hermits for the past couple months, I can tell you I am downright ecstatic at the prospect of next season. Even if things don’t shake out until the fall or later, well, summer comes around every year or so. Whenever the time’s right for you to enjoy summer in Asheville, allow me to provide some suggestions to make the most of your visit.
1: Go Blueberry Picking at Graveyard Fields
I’ve been told that blueberries don’t just grow in Graveyard Fields but other places as well. Be that as it may, a trip to Graveyard Fields is worthwhile, regardless of the fruits. A variety of environs—open spaces, rumbling creeks, shaded forest—combined with several waterfalls and relatively smooth hiking-conditions have made this site one of the most popular in the area. As such, park authorities ask that you pick no more than one gallon of berries per person and I suggest that you visit sometime other than the oft-inundated weekends.
Full disclosure: I am not much of a forager. In fact, I can’t remember ever having picked more than a quarter gallon, much less a full one. Frankly though, I don’t care. I don’t exactly visit Graveyard Fields to try and turn a profit on the berries. Its enough to summer in Asheville outside.
Where and When: Off the Blue Ridge Parkway, about an hour away from downtown. Open weeklong.
Late spring can be somewhat of a monsoon-season here in Asheville, but by June, things have dried out, and you can enjoy some outdoor dining without a rain poncho. Now, I’ve written before on outdoor dining. And rooftop dining. And dining in general. I stand by all those recommendations. The question then, is what to do afterwards. I speak of course of desert.
For a delightful rounding-off of your summer dining in Asheville, I’d suggest visiting Dobra Tea’s downtown location. As it happens, some of Asheville’s best restaurants are clustered in downtown, so you should be able to reach this final destination on foot. If the weather’s cool enough, Dobra opens their broad, street-side windows, letting in a pleasant cross-breeze. Order a glass of chilled tea—perhaps my personal favorite, the staroborshov—and some matcha cheesecake. There are few ways I’d rather end a summertime dining-expedition in Asheville.
Where and When: Off North Lexington Avenue, in downtown. Open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 10pm, Friday through Saturday 9am to 11pm, and Sunday from 11am to 9pm.
3: Catch Some Live Music at Ben’s Tune-Up
Like outdoor dining, Asheville’s live music is something I’ve mentioned from time to time. There’s no shortage of places to choose from, all operating year-round. What then, has this got to do with summer?
Well there a few venues in town that offer outdoor seating and summer’s the best time to capitalize on them. Specifically, I suggest Ben’s Tune-Up, a former auto-shop converted into an Asian-fusion beer-garden. They host live, free music on Tuesdays through Sundays and since they’re located in Asheville’s South Slope brewing district, the music can be enjoyed with house-made sake. If that doesn’t say summertime fun in Asheville, I don’t know what does.
Where and When: The South Slope, near downtown. Ben’s recurring “Good Vibes Sundays” reggae show can be caught from 6pm to 9pm. Most other music-events land in similar timeframes.
A panel of scientists have confirmed that I’m among those many individuals who sink in water, as opposed to floating. It’s a terrible evolutionary disadvantage, I’m afraid. Luckily modern technology can help. With the aid of a tube, even I can enjoy a gentle float down the French Broad river.
A tube rented from French Broad Outfitters costs just $20 and is good for the two-to-three hour trip downriver. Their route takes you past the River Arts District and Carrier Park, some of the best river-side scenery in town. If you’re interested in some summertime tubing in Asheville, you can book your float at the website linked above.
Where and When: French Broad Outfitters is located in the Montford Historic District, northwest of downtown. Their tubes take off sharply at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Mondays through Thursdays and 10am and 3pm on Fridays on Saturdays.
5: Grill with Local Meat and Produce
As it turns out, most hotel-rooms don’t come with a grill. Seeing as you can’t barbecue with a minifridge and a complimentary coffeemaker, I’d suggest booking a stay at Asheville Cottages. Not only do our cabins come with grills but also hot tubs, which are excellent for making vast quantities of iced tea.
Where then to get the ingredients? Well Asheville has a proud commitment to local, organic produce, so there’s a plethora of worthy vendors. I’d suggest visiting the Asheville City Farmer’s Market (once they return to regular hours), either downtown on a Saturday, or in South Asheville on a Wednesday. Here you can find cuts of red meat, fish, salad components, and even the perfect jun to pair with your cooking extravaganza.
If you can’t find your way to the farmer’s market, or if the right vendors aren’t at hand, I suggest the Chop Shop Butchery. It seems they’ve got every kind of cut imaginable, from beef to duck, plus plenty of cheeses and local spice-rubs.
Wherever you end up buying your ingredients, for the best results you’ve got to keep it local. It’s the Ashevilleian thing to do.
Where and When: The downtown farmer’s market is open on Saturdays from 8am to noon, with free parking at the HomeTrust bank. The South Asheville market is held at Biltmore Park on Wednesdays from noon to 4pm. The Chop Shop is open on Mondays through Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm.
Dobra Tea Downtown
78 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
195 Hilliard Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
French Broad Outfitters
704 Riverside Dr, Asheville, NC 28801
Chop Shop Butchery
100 Charlotte St, Asheville, NC 28801