Cool ideas for another hot North Carolina weekend

A summer escape on Jordan Lake.

Another warm weekend is on tap, with highs around 90 forecast for much of the state. Typical for August, but still, by now most of us have had our fill of hot. How about some cool alternatives for a change?

Good idea — and we’ve got several.

On the water

Our favorite option for simultaneously savoring and beating the heat is to play on the water (something we’ve been doing a lot of lately). If you’re an accomplished paddler, you already know where to go. If not … .

  • Got your own boat? If you’ve got your own canoe or kayak but are something of a novice, we suggest checking out your local North Carolina State Park. Twenty-three of our state parks offer paddling access, most of which is good for novice paddlers. Find the paddle-friendly park nearest you, here.
  • Don’t have a canoe or kayak? Then check out’s handy list of 37 places to rent a canoe or kayak in the state.

(My personal swimming hole on the Haw River.)

In the water

On one of the alluded-to summer paddle trips, our shuttler, Joe Jacob, proprietor of Saxapahaw’s Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. mentioned a spot on the river with a particularly nice swimming hole. (“I think it might be spring fed,” he confided in reference to the spot’s cooler waters. Sure enough when we found the spot (by a pair of big rocks, river right, just downstream of the Puryear Dam below Swepsonville) the water did indeed feel refreshingly cooler. So how, besides word of mouth, do you find out about the state’s top swimming holes? Try’s North Carolina section, which lists 76 sweet wet spots statewide.

It's never been above 81 stop Mount Mitchell.

Go high

Did you know the temperature atop Mount Mitchell has never exceeded 81 degrees? That happens when you’re over 6,000 feet in the air. And Mount Mitchell isn’t the only place in the high country that tops 6,000 feet in elevation: According to the South Beyond 6,000 project, a joint effort by the Carolina Mountain Club and the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, there are 40 such spots in the Southeast (mostly in North Carolina). Some are easier than others to reach, and “easier” is a relative term in this case. Find the 40 here.

You're always cool in a climbing gym (Morrisville's Triangle Rock Club, in this instance).

Climb the walls

Of course, you can always have a great outdoors experience indoors, at your local climbing gym. We’ve got a list of those statewide as well. Just go here for the gym nearest you.

Oh, there’s a chance of rain this weekend as well. Remember your poncho.

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