River Arts District Travel Guide

River Arts District

Asheville’s former industrial and warehouse section, just southwest of downtown along the French Broad River, is the up-and-coming art-and-crafts center of the region, with many studios and galleries, plus cafés, breweries, and nightclubs. As industrial companies moved out, artists moved in, seeking cheaper rents for studios and loft apartments. Today the district is home to some 200 working artists—mainly pottery and ceramics artists, painters, fabric artists, and sculptors—and this doesn't include students taking courses. As many as 75 studios in around 20 late-19th- and early-20th-century industrial buildings are open free to the public (hours vary but many are open daily from 9 to 5). You can talk to artists and buy their work, often at lower prices than in galleries. On the second Saturday of each month, studios offer refreshments and demonstrations for visitors. Annually in early November, the district holds a Studio Stroll, when nearly all the studios and galleries are open to the public. Increasingly, restaurants, bars, and coffeehouses are setting up shop here as well, and a large national craft brewing company, New Belgium, opened its East Coast brewery and distribution center just across the French Broad River in West Asheville, overlooking the River Arts District (RAD). The City of Asheville's new $50 million access and infrastructure project, which got underway in 2018, means better access to the river, along with new roads, green spaces, and bike and pedestrian paths. For more information on what’s going on in the neighborhood, see www.riverartsdistrict.com.

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