Getting to Know Asheville’s Art Scene

Asheville’s art scene has an unbelievable amount to explore! From the newly renovated Asheville Art Museum, to the colossal murals throughout the city, Asheville has a special place for creative folk. But the best way to immerse yourself in all Asheville’s artists have to offer is to visit Asheville’s River Arts District.

Sandwhich board sign with RAD logo near Asheville’s River Arts District Shops

The River Arts District (RAD) is located just minutes from downtown Asheville and the Biltmore Estate. World class artists and visionaries have transformed the industrial zone of decaying warehouses and old factories to be immersive workshops and studios! With over 200 artists nestled amongst 22 buildings, there is surely something for everyone to enjoy.

What to Expect

Graphic image map of Asheville's River Arts District

RAD is perfect for every kind of art enthusiast, and has plenty of variety to pique the interest of whoever they bring along. The majority of shops are open 7 days a week, with large sandwich board signs along the sidewalks to welcome you in. While most of the area is walkable, there is on-going light construction as buildings are renovated to host even more businesses, which leaves some areas without sidewalks. Driving and parking is recommended, with ample street and lot parking throughout, making it easy to hop out and explore before moving on to the next section of Asheville’s River Arts District.

Hands-On Experiences

You can make a whole day of watching the artists work in their studios, basking in the creativity. Spend some time gazing upon the gallery collection in the historic Cotton Mill Studios for an amazing look at art inspired by the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. For the more hands on type, several studios have classes that can be scheduled in advance, or even taken as a walk-in. Ignite your own creative fire with a glass blowing class at Robert Streets Asheville Glass center. Their walk in classes provide the opportunity for you to create a masterpiece of your own in the form of a keepsake ornament, paper weight, or cup. Get messy and fun-comfortable trying your hand at ceramics with a drop in class at Odyssey. And if your looking for a way to make your artistic preferences a wearable statement, head on over to  Sugar Britches to explore fashion pieces from local jewelers and designers.

Dining room of The Bull and Beggar

Where to Eat

With all there is to explore in Asheville’s River Arts District, you are sure to build up an appetite. The dining options are plentiful, ranging from high end American fare restaurants like The Bull and Beggar, quintessential Asheville classics at 12 Bones Smokehouse, or a local’s favorite wine bar Bottle Riot. If you’ve gotten your start early, be sure to stop by Penny Cup Coffee or Ultra Coffeebar to fuel your day. Take a mid-day break to enjoy Asheville’s beer scene at the Wedge Brewery, or relax and sip some wine at Pleb Urban Winery. Whatever you are in the mood for, don’t worry, RAD has you covered!

A Memorable Asheville Experience

Not sure where to start? Consider signing up for Asheville Art Studio Tours for a behind the scenes look walking tour, led by a local artist. Whether you are confident in your artistic knowledge or just starting your collection, there are hundreds of unique pieces in a variety of price ranges to choose from! You’re sure to find a local keepsake in Asheville’s River Arts District and take home joyful memories of truly feeling like an Asheville native.