Asheville, NC hotel - The Residences at Biltmore

A Hot, Wet July in Asheville

As tourist attractions and swimming pools across the country are closed or not opened to full capacity this summer, it’s good to know that nature never closes! In fact, the lakes and rivers surrounding Asheville are open and available for water play, including canoeing, kayaking, tubing, fishing, and swimming. Not a fan of the water? We’ve got a few ideas for landlubbers, too.

A perk of coming to North Carolina for Independence Day is that fishing is free in any public body of water in the state on July 4. That means anyone can fish for one day without a license. Any other time, all people older than 16 must have a permit.

Rivers

One of Asheville’s most wondrous natural features is the French Broad River. It’s unique not only because it flows south to north, but also because it’s one of the oldest rivers in the world. In fact, it’s estimated to be around 300 million years old, which according to many experts makes it the third-oldest river in our universe. There are numerous activities in which to engage on the French Broad, including a few of our favorites.

French Broad Outfitters offers rentals and sales of kayaking, rafting, tubing, and more gear for river recreation. They offer self-guided and scheduled trips that wind through the Biltmore Estate and the River Arts District, among other Asheville locations. The Outfitters also offer fishing gear and fishing trips. Visit the website to make reservations and to learn more about what they offer.

Asheville Outdoor Center is another purveyor of river trips and floats. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, they are currently only offering kayaking and tandem kayaking floats. The floats meander down seven miles, past Biltmore, and take about 2-3 hours.
Make reservations and find out more information about restrictions on the website.

Two locations of Zen Tubing are currently open, including the Midtown branch, which offers a lazy river float through the River Arts District, with views of breweries, art galleries, restaurants, and more. The South Asheville facility is open for lazy river floats and stops at some private islands along the way. Reservations are required for all guests, and can be made at the website, or by calling 855-936-8823.

In addition to structured river-recreation companies, there are numerous river parks located throughout the county park system. A favorite is the Charles D. Owen Park, which is located on the Swannanoa River, in the northern part of the county. The park offers fishing ponds, space for picnics, athletic fields, and walking trails.

Lakes

The rivers surrounding Asheville often branch out into lakes, and there are several man-made lakes in the area. Although fishing and boating are the biggest draws for the local lakes, a few do allow swimming.

One lake for swimming is Lake Powhatan, which is also a camping destination. The lake offers a beach for relaxing, picnic areas, grills, and boat rentals for fishing.

Lake Lure is a little farther to the south of Asheville, but it’s a great spot for swimming, and also has a beach, a waterslide, and snack bar and picnic tables. It sits in the shadow of Chimney Rock, within the Hickory Nut Gorge, so there’s plenty to see outside the lake. For movie fans, Lake Lure is legendary for its location as a setting for many of the scenes in Dirty Dancing.

Lake Julian in South Asheville is a man-made lake that is perfect for fishing and paddleboating. A large playground, disc golf, picnic areas and more (including some friendly ducks) make it a fun destination for families.

If you like some birds with your lake, take a short drive to Beaver Lake in North Asheville. It’s located within a community, so there is a cost for using the lake for boating or fishing. However, the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is free to visit. The sanctuary is maintained by the local Audubon Society and offers 8 acres of wetland for viewing birds, as well as butterflies, dragonflies, and other winged locals.

Land-Ho!

If staying dry is more your style, don’t miss a tour of Biltmore, the largest private home in the country. Two of its popular exhibits were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, but they are returning for a limited time.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition returns on June 27 and continues through September 7. The immersive multi-media exhibit takes visitors to the fictional Grantham family’s English estate, and includes sets, costumes, and props from the PBS show, as well as videos of cast interviews and the house.

The Biltmore Gardens Railway will run from July 1 through February 15, 2021. The railway is constructed entirely out of natural elements such as twigs, leaves, and bark, and shows replicas of train stations from throughout the U.S. The railway is located in Antler Hill Village on the estate’s grounds.

However you decide to spend your summer months, make sure to take at least a few days to stay with us in beautiful Asheville.

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