Daytripping through River Arts District

By Fay Grant Guide contributor | May 28, 2014
Photo by: Fay Grant Take a stroll by the galleries, brewery and restaurants in the River Arts District.

Sitting quaintly along the French Broad River and just minutes from downtown Asheville, the unique neighborhood known as the River Arts District has much to offer locals and tourists alike.

Described as “a jewel in the crown of Asheville” by the former Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, it is home to more than 170 artists with working studios in 22 industrial buildings and consists of galleries, restaurants and much more. Take a day trip and explore the artsy side of Asheville with these helpful tips.

Why go now: The second Saturday of each month (May – December) a multitude of talented artists will be sharing their creations for A Closer Look. With a focus on a different medium each month and a full day of artist demonstrations, classes and open studios, it’s a great way to get outside and appreciate the abundance of creativity the River Arts District has to offer.

Where to park: Parking in the district is free so you can park anywhere on the street or in any of the designated lots outside of studios. Make sure to keep an eye out for any tow signs in certain parts of the district.

What to do: Put on some comfortable walking shoes and hit the streets! There are many artists to meet and mediums to admire so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore. The district is family friendly and most of the studios offer classes and live demonstrations. If you’re interested in a specific medium, make sure to do a little research ahead of time and get the names of the studios you want to visit. Be sure to experience the fascinating process of glassblowing at the Asheville Glass Center where visitors are always welcome for walk-in workshops. Visit their impressive gallery or stop by and make your very own blown glass artwork.

Where to eat: Fresh, creative and affordable food is what White Duck Taco Shop is all about. Located in the Hatchery Studios, their salmon-colored building above the flood plain is hard to miss. With a conveniently large parking lot, picnic tables, umbrellas and pet-friendly courtyard, it is the ideal place to stop for lunch. Get adventurous and try their Jerk Chicken and Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos. With such a wide variety of eccentric and mouth-watering flavors, they will surely keep you coming back for more.


Take a stroll: Explore the creative process with more than 170 artists in 25 buildings during the Studio Stroll on June 14 and 15. This event takes place only twice a year and is a great way to support your local artists. Make sure to mark your calendar so you don’t miss out on a fun-filled weekend of art, creations and artist demonstrations.


Grab a beer: Located in the lower level of the Wedge Studios and adjacent to the railroad tracks, Wedge Brewing Co is a favorite to many beer-savvy locals. With its unique industrial modern décor and dog-friendly outdoor seating area, it’s the perfect place to spend an entire afternoon.

Their award-winning Iron Rail IPA is so popular it has its own private outdoor ordering station and people line up early to get a taste of their classic brews made from the best-sourced ingredients. After exploring the many galleries and beautiful art the River Arts District has to offer, grabbing an ice-cold beer and a bite to eat before heading home is the perfect ending to a fabulous day. Just sit back, sample their many beers on tap, snag a bite from the local food truck, play cornhole with the kids (or your friends) and watch the trains roll by.

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