River Arts District

#9 in Best Things To Do in Asheville, NC
River Arts District picture
Misha Schmeidke

Key Info

Riverside Drive

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
3.8scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

When artists came to Asheville to soak up the natural beauty and free-spirited atmosphere, they had to find large spaces to work. Enter the River Arts District. Comprising 22 former industrial and historical buildings – including a former tannery and a cotton mill – near the French Broad River, the area keeps the art scene alive in Asheville. Guests can stroll around the district to meet artists and enjoy works from more than 200 artists in various mediums like textiles, ceramics and paintings, as well as photography and jewelry. It's also a great place to pick up a unique souvenir from your time in the city.

Visitors to the district say local artists are always willing to chat, but the hotbed of creativity could use better signage as some galleries in old warehouses are difficult to distinguish.

Keep in mind that artists and studios generally keep individual hours; many are closed on Sundays. Twice a year (the third full weekend of May and the second full weekend of November) the district hosts Studio Strolls, where all studios are open and free trolley service allows visitors to navigate the mile-long stretch.

You'll find the River Arts District about 2 miles west of downtown Asheville. For more information or to find individual artists, check out the River Arts District website

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#1 Biltmore Estate

This enormous French Renaissance-style estate of George Vanderbilt has a storied past dating back to 1889. Considered America's largest private home, the 250-room estate – with 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and a whopping 65 fireplaces – took six years to construct. The 8,000 acres of gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (the same landscape architect responsible for Central Park) and feature 2 ½ miles of walking paths.

Amassing 125,000 acres at its peak, 87,000 acres were sold after Vanderbilt's death in 1914 to form what is now Pisgah National Forest. But its history doesn't stop there: During World War II the estate stored pieces from the National Gallery of Art, and in the 1970s a winery was added. In the 2000s, inns and hotels were opened on the property.

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The Biltmore Company
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