Asheville River Arts District: Best Things To Do, Eat, & Drink

Explore all that you can do in the Asheville River Arts District, including galleries, breweries, and restaurants – from locals.

One of Asheville’s most famous neighborhoods, you literally cannot miss the River Arts District (RAD).

From the Asheville Silo that greets visitors on the I-240W bridge to the vibrant street art and specialty restaurants, RAD is happily an in-your-face kind of place.

In fact, it is so rad, the Obamas dined here.

As AVL locals, we frequent the River Arts District for food, outdoor fun, and shopping at the artists’ studios.

Although a popular visitor area, many of RAD’s coffee shops, breweries, and wine bars stay quieter, especially on the weekdays. Plus, there’s loads of parking and a plethora of personality.

Heck, did you know that you can watch indie movies here? Or, wander for hours in a European-style decor market with drinks?

How about eating the most indulgent charcuterie board, ordering a baller wine bottle, and devouring the best burger the city has to offer?

Ride your bike down the new greenway and float along the French Broad River in a unicorn tube. Let’s not forget about the craft beer. How about the coolest tacos in town? You might even catch a street artist in the act.

If you are new to Asheville’s RAD neighborhood, though, the area can be a little overwhelming. You don’t want to get lost in the sea of warehouses.

So, keep reading for our local’s guide on the best things to do in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC. We’ll start with studios, galleries, and shops.

Then, we’ll dive into where to eat, drink, and sleep. Let’s get started!

Asheville River Arts District North Carolina with warehouse with troll and art from Jerry Cahill
See what to do in the Asheville River Arts District with our guide to shops, galleries, studios, restaurants, and more. Be sure to catch artist Jerry Cahill’s troll, a flashback to the 80s, and his RAD studio.

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Asheville River Arts District Studios & Shopping

Explore famous art galleries, studios, and stores in the most eccentric art district in Asheville, RAD. Meet local artists as you peruse some of the city’s coolest historical buildings. For visitors, this is a popular AVL tourist attraction, but we also frequent the area as locals; it’s one of our favorites.

Artist Studios, Galleries, & Shops

This former industrial area has been brought to life with working studios for local artists. If you are wondering what to do in the River Arts District first, we highly recommend checking out the public and open studios.

A few terrific River Arts District studios with shops to get you started:

  • Foundation Woodworks (17 Foundy St Ste 10) – Our personal favorite Asheville art gallery, studio, and shop, uncover jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and home items with an emphasis on gorgeous woodwork. You’ll find items for all budgets at Foundation Woodworks. We own earrings, tiny vases, and a beer flight board from here.

  • North Carolina Glass Center (140C Roberts St) – Attend a glass-blowing workshop for couples or a class series. Shop for gorgeous blown-glass creations. And, if you appreciate blown glass, be sure to dip into Lexington Glassworks in Downtown Asheville, another one of our favorites.

  • Foundation Studios (27 Foundy St Ste 10) – Home to working artists and Asheville’s art community, rent a studio, attend a class for basket weaving or oil painting, and enjoy an event like a gallery show. The building is covered in local mural artist, Jerry Cahill’s, colorful works; he has a studio here. Find t-shirts, pottery, and even bear paintings.

  • Asheville Cotton Mill Studios (122 Riverside Dr) – Showcasing numerous artists, makers, musicians, and creatives, find The Asheville Guitar Bar, which is great for live music and an older crowd. There is also Red Rabit Tattoo as well as photographers and painters.

  • Riverview Station (191 Lyman St) – Riverview Station houses more than 60 individual artists. Shop for original artwork along with handmade gifts and plants. Some of the artists offer a variety of workshops and classes for both individuals and groups. We love walking the space and poking our heads into studios to chat with friendly artists.

  • Curve Studios & Garden (3 River Arts Pl) – Located in historic industrial buildings, explore eclectic art studios with crafts and fine art for sale. Art mediums include fiber arts, fine photography, ceramic sculpture, and pottery. Uniquely, if you are looking for things to do in the River Arts District, catch a skate jam or learn the art of chair caning. Plus, the garden is open from dawn until dusk.

If you are more local or just happen to be in town, the River Arts District Artists host events like an Annual Studio Stroll. Or, book one of their Asheville Art Studio tours, including glass and clay experiences; customize your own tour.

RAD Stores & More

Asheville is full of the best shopping districts. If you love art, home decor, and more, why not shop local? This is the area to do so.

Two great places for shopping include:

  • Marquee (36 Foundy St) – Newer to RAD, this warehouse transformed European-style market is filled with artists’ goods, home decor, and creative vendors from around Western North Carolina. Encounter vintage pieces, jewelry, pottery, lighting, and more. We could spend hours wandering the stalls, which change frequently. There is ample parking in this area, most of which is gravel lots. Marquee and the surrounding studios are a great stop on a rainy day.

  • Second Gear (99 Riverside Dr) – Newer to Asheville, shop for gently-used, outdoor gear. This consignment shop donates 1% of sales to its non-profit partners. We’ve also bought brand new gear here, including fanny packs, workout skirts, biking gloves, and outdoor wildlife protection accessories.

Where To Drink In Asheville’s River Arts District

Visitors certainly won’t go thirsty in the Asheville Arts District. And, true to our namesake, we are pros here. Discover the best River Arts District breweries, coffee shops, bars, and wine stops.

River Arts District Breweries

Asheville is famous for its craft beer scene. With over 50+ breweries across the city, it’s pretty hard to pick one or two, whether you are a visitor or a local. Below, enjoy our favorite breweries in the River Arts District, most of which boast easy access, plentiful parking, large outdoor space, and delicious beer.

Terrific breweries in the River Arts District:

  • Ginger’s Revenge (829 Riverside Dr. Suite 100) – If you are looking for something different in Asheville’s brewery scene – along with keto and gluten-free beer (we are a half-Celiac household) – select from unique ginger beer flavors. We just love that ginger drummer wall mural too.

  • Wedge Brewing Company (Wedge Studios: 37 Paynes Way, Suite 001 & Foundation: 5 Foundy St, Ste 10) – With two RAD Asheville locations, Wedge at Foundation is one of our overall top AVL breweries and a delicious River Arts District brewery. Sit inside or out. Drink local craft beer. Both locations are pooch-friendly and have nearby food trucks.

  • New Belgium Brewing Company (21 Craven St.) – For River Arts District things to do nearby, why not tour a nationally known brewery; Fat Tire, anyone? Sit along the French Broad River, and enjoy lunch from one of the rotating food trucks at New Belgium Brewery. Just because this is one of Asheville’s more “touristy” breweries, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t head here. A few food trucks we love to catch: The Smokin’ Onion (a delicious gluten-free and vegan food truck) and Cecilia’s Kitchen. You can also access New Belgium from the French Broad River Greenway now.

  • Hi-Wire’s RAD Beer Garden (284 Lyman St.) – Sit in refurbished shipping containers painted with brilliant murals as you enjoy another one of Hi-Wire Brewing’s AVL locations. This is one of our top River Arts District breweries for outdoor beer drinking. On rainy and cold days, sit indoors in their giant warehouse space. They have a terrific on-site food truck, Foothills, for all of you meat lovers.

  • River Arts District Brewing (13 Mystery Street) – New in Asheville (2023), this RAD brewery has great indoor and outdoor space along with rotating food trucks. You might find the occasional gluten-reduced beer here too.

  • Zillicoah Beer Co. (870 Riverside Dr.) – Technically, Zillicoah resides in Woodfin. However, this not-to-miss local brewery sits just north of Ginger’s Revenge along the French Broad River. Enjoy some of the best beer in Asheville. Just know that they are 21+ except on Sundays, which are family days.

For more beer-related things to do in the River Arts District in Asheville, enjoy both the French Broad River and RAD breweries on this unique and guided brewery canoe tour. About 4 hours long, visit places like 12 Bones, Wedge, and New Belgium along with artist studios.

Wine In RAD

If beer isn’t your jam, know that Asheville is also a great spot for wine drinkers. In fact, Western North Carolina is full of top wineries perfect for wine tastings, especially if you head out toward the Hendersonville vineyards (Stone Ashe and Souther Williams are our favorites). You can also find some of the best wine spots in the Asheville River Arts District.

Where to drink wine in RAD:

  • Bottle Riot (37 Paynes Way #009) – A swanky fun AVL wine bar, Bottle Riot serves up wine in glasses as big as your face. Find a constantly rotating menu of wine by the glass or go big with a baller bottle. Tapas and spirits included. Consider making dinner reservations at Bull & Beggar next door.

  • pleb urban winery (289 Lyman St.) – For unique Asheville wineries, explore organic wines that focus on minimal intervention winemaking. This wide-open space is filled with Gus Cutty art. Or, sit outside at a picnic table. We highly recommend ordering a flight. This is one of the best places in Asheville to meet up with friends.

River Arts District Bars

We are all about Asheville’s ritzy, quirky, and even dive bars. The River Arts District bars are perfect for live music and art shopping.

Bars in the River Arts District in Asheville to check out:

  • Saint Brighid’s Bar (36 Foundy St in Marquee) – One of the River Arts District’s newer bars, head inside Marquee for local cider, meads, wine, and beer. Saint Brighid is the Celtic Saint of beer. Grab a drink and shop at Marquee. Trust us, shopping and booze are a dangerous combination.

  • Asheville Guitar Bar (122 Riverside Dr suite D) – This is a great bar for live music in an intimate space with an older crowd. There is indoor and outdoor seating. We’ve enjoyed a local bevie or two here with a band.

  • Great Wild Nowhere (122 Riverside Dr Suite A) – Local artist Andy Herod owns an art bar. Drop in, and see his dogs – in fact, Linda stars in that famous mural on the side of The Asheville Cotton Mill. We own a red hog screen-printed tee from here. Look for Herod’s sloth mural at Foundation and trash panda outside near Second Gear.

  • Anoche (176 Clingman Ave) – One of the newer bars sitting at the entrance to RAD Brewing, head here on a date for all things tequila.

RAD Coffee Shops

Like its breweries, there certainly is no shortage of indie coffee shops across the city (along with a few franchises). We especially love the coffee shops in the River Arts District for their strong brews and ambiance.

Asheville River Arts District coffee shops to visit:

  • Summit Coffee (4 Foundy St. Suite 20) – One of our favorite spots for coffee in AVL, enjoy a matcha latte on Summit’s patio overlooking vibrant street art. The inside is rustic and cozy. Be sure to check out Andy Herod’s sloth mural nearby. You’ll see plenty of digital nomads here.

  • Ultra Coffeebar (242 Clingman Ave Ext) – Train watch from the patio, enjoy a smooth brew, and grab a light breakfast or lunch – with vegan and gluten-free options.

Of course, if all of these drinking options seem overwhelming, you can also opt for a tip-based walking and guided tour of the River Arts District. Tours might head to The Grey Eagle, pleb, and Wedge.

Where To Eat In The River Arts District

Did you know that Asheville is nicknamed “Foodtopia?” We have some of the best local restaurants, some of which are James Beard award-winning and nominated, and others that are lesser-known. Each AVL neighborhood hosts specific and must-eat-at restaurants, including the Asheville Art District.

Top RAD Restaurants

We have an entire guide to eating in the River Arts District that is filled with restaurants, cafes, breweries with food trucks, and more. That’s how many places there are to choose from. Find tacos, that famous North Carolina BBQ, and all of the meats. However, we’ll name just a few highlights below.

A few of our favorite River Arts District restaurants include:

  • 12 Bones Smokehouse (5 Foundy St. Ste 10) – One of Asheville’s most famous BBQ joints, enjoy BBQ ribs, pulled pork or chicken, and smoked turkey, just like the Obama’s at this 12 Bones Smokehouse RAD location. Barack and Michelle Obama ate here and hiked Craven Gap. Sit inside with walls signed by visitors or outside on their picnic tables overlooking all of RAD. 12 Bones is a terrific kid-friendly food option, too, especially with those “just a taste” portions.

  • RosaBees (27 Foundy Street, Suite #20)- For memorable Asheville restaurants, don’t skip RosaBees. This is a Hawaiian restaurant featuring Polynesian dishes with spicy and tropical-flavored entrees. RosaBees is a lesser-known AVL restaurant serving dinner.

  • The Bull And Beggar (37 Paynes Way #007) – One of Asheville’s most romantic restaurants, enjoy a decadent charcuterie board and all of the meats. You’ll appreciate the dim lighting, warm ambiance, and fine dining experience.

  • Baby Bull (1 Roberts St.) – For the best burgers in AVL, Baby Bull is a no-frills burger and handheld joint overlooking the Asheville silo. Their menu is perfectly small, and be sure to catch “Burger Monday.”

  • White Duck Taco (388 Riverside Drive) – One of the most famous Asheville taco spots, choose from unique taco creations as you sit along the French Broad River. White Duck Taco Shop’s parking lot is huge – just like the line out the door.

  • All Souls Pizza (175 Clingman Ave) – Many locals will tell you that All Souls is one of the best pizza spots in Asheville. Sit outside and catch a view of The Grey Eagle while devouring massive salads, steaming hot soup, and – of course – artisanal pizza.

RAD Food Trucks

Of course, no foodie scene is complete without food trucks. Along with the rotating food trucks mentioned above – The Smokin’ Onion and Celicia’s Kitchen, especially – know that the area has a few permanent food trucks as well.

For delicious food trucks in the River Arts District, try:

  • Chop Shop Food Truck (5 Foundy St) – The Chop Shop is a delicious North Asheville butchery. Their RAD food truck sells hot dogs and burgers with salad options and GF bread. Pair a giant hot dog with a Wedge beer. Sit outside on the covered picnic tables.

  • Foothills at Hi-Wire’s RAD Beer Garden (284 Lyman St) – Foothills meats are truly a local experience. Select from a variety of Smokehouse meats, BBQ, burgers, and hot dogs. Foothills is based out of Black Mountain (a must-visit mountain town); they also have a third location in Biltmore Village.

  • Guajiro Cuban Comfort Food (122 Riverside Dr) – Newer to AVL (2022), this Cuban food truck serves up the best breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Select from egg dishes, handhelds, and platters. Of course, order a Cuban sandwich with fried plantains and yucca fries.

Many of these restaurants are also a great stop around Biltmore Estate, another top AVL attraction for its wine tasting, allegedly haunted home, and beautiful gardens.

Best Things To Do In The River Arts District In Asheville

Besides eating, drinking, and art shopping, if you are still wondering what to do in the River Arts District, the list is pretty endless. Float down the French Broad River, and bike along the newly renovated Riverwalk.

Then, watch an indie movie, and listen to live music. If you are visiting Asheville with kids, tour a chocolate factory or hop on a skateboard. Go on a scavenger hunt looking for the coolest urban art.

Asheville is full of things to do for locals and visitors.

Some of the best River Arts District things to do:

  • Asheville Silo (1 Roberts St) – You cannot miss the Asheville Silo as you drive over I-240W into Asheville. This old grain silo, sometimes painted by Ian Wilkinson (Ian the Painter) & Ishmael, might just have an ever-changing slogan. Since we moved to town, the silo has read “Stay Weird,” “Good Vibes,” “Stay Home,” and “Stay True.” Of course, it’s an Instagram hot spot.

  • Best RAD Murals – Asheville is famous for its urban art scene. Jerry Cahill, Jerkface, Ian the Painter, and Gus Cutty are just a few of the fabulous mural artists in this area. Walk around the Foundation Walls Project and surrounding areas. Look out for Homer Simpson, the Goat Snake, and so much more.

  • French Broad River Tubing – All summer long, look to the water. You’ll see gaggles of people laughing and floating down the French Broad River. A few popular tubing companies include French Broad Outfitters and Zen Tubing. Full disclosure: we have yet to do this. The water is a bit murky for our tastes.

  • Uncommon Market – In the spring through mid-fall, don’t miss RAD’s Uncommon Market. This is Asheville’s largest curated pop-up and outdoor market filled with vintage decor, jewelry, antiques, and art.

  • RAD’s Riverwalk (Lyman St) – Newly renovated (2021), walk or bike along the French Broad River. This gorgeous 10-foot wide, 2-mile greenway allows room for bikers, walkers, and skaters to safely get outdoors along the river. Along the way, find swinging benches, picnic spots, and of course, all of RAD’s studios and galleries. Find parking lots along the greenway. Also, know that the Riverwalk connects to the French Broad River Greenway and Carrier and French Broad River parks. Read more about Asheville’s biking trails.

  • Grail Moviehouse (17 Foundy St) – Asheville’s best-kept secret, enjoy an indie film and vote in a documentary contest from comfy chairs and couches with popcorn. The Grail is alternative cinema at its best. Find even more great Asheville movie theaters.

  • Foundation AVL & RAD Skatepark (37 Foundry Street) – Hop on a skateboard or rollerblades in the middle of Asheville’s urban art scene. This skating park is run on donations and maintained by volunteers. Read more about Asheville’s parks and gardens.

  • French Broad Chocolate Factory (821 Riverside Dr #199) – For top Asheville desserts, take a tour of AVL’s most famous chocolate factory. You may have visited their delicious cafe in Pack Square. French Broad Chocolate makes mouthwatering truffles, hot chocolate, and more. Read more about Asheville’s chocolate cafes and stores.

  • Salvage Station (468 Riverside Dr) – With indoor and outdoor stages, this is one of Asheville’s best places to catch live music. Grab drinks and grub. Play a game of cornhole.
  • The Grey Eagle (185 Clingman Ave) – Whether you are craving incredible tacos or love live music, this is the place for you. Catch new and emerging artists in an all-ages event space.
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Where To Stay Near The River Arts District

If you are looking for where to stay in RAD, you’ll find yourself on the edges of the district around Downtown AVL, North Asheville, and West Asheville. Read our complete Asheville, NC hotel guide if you need more suggestions.

A few hotels near RAD we recommend include:

  • Aloft Asheville Downtown – With stellar renovations, we love this gorgeous and colorful Marriott hotel. Swim in the rooftop pool. Enjoy coffee on their Ledge overlooking all of Downtown Asheville.

  • Country Inn & Suites by Radisson (Westgate) – A 3-star hotel, we stayed here before closing on our Asheville home. Find sleek, clean, and modern rooms, breakfast, and great amenities without breaking the bank.

  • Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts – If you are looking for a more posh resort with a pool, golf course, spa, and restaurant, be sure to check out this Crowne Plaza.

  • Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown – For a stylish hotel in a great location, Hotel Indigo is pet-friendly and offers a parking package. Enjoy their boutique bar and breathtaking views.

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville Downtown – This AVL hotel is famous for having one of the best rooftop bars in Asheville, The Montford. Close to the historic Grove Arcade, enjoy sprawling mountain vistas.

  • Kimpton – Hotel Arras – If you are looking to splurge, find a centrally located, upscale hotel with a Mediterranean restaurant (Bargello), a gym, and a classy bar called District 42.

More Nearby Neighborhoods To Explore

Asheville is famous for its unique neighborhoods and districts. Each has its own set of restaurants, murals, activities, and attractions.

For more things to do near the River Arts District, check out these great areas:

  • North Asheville – Home to Beaver Lake and the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, enjoy a more residential area with terrific neighborhood restaurants. Find breweries and even a distillery. North Asheville also boasts easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, including popular hiking areas like Craggy Gardens and Craggy Pinnacle.
  • West Asheville – If you love bookstores or want to catch that famous mural of Dolly and RuPaul, head to West Asheville. Home to mouthwatering restaurants like Nine Mile, Gypsy Queen Cuisine, and Neng Jr.’s, you’ll also love Odd’s Cafe and Thai Pearl. Haywood Common is our top pick.
  • Historic Montford – Pay homage to O. Henry and Thomas Wolfe at Riverside Cemetery. Watch Shakespeare in the Park. This gorgeous residential neighborhood is filled with historic homes and Bed & Breakfasts.

What are your favorite things to do in Asheville’s River Arts District?

What is your favorite River Arts District brewery, gallery, and restaurant? How about the best mural and RAD coffee shop? Let us know in the comments.

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Christine Frascarelli

Christine (pronouns: she/her) is the owner and lead writer of Uncorked Asheville. After falling in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and her husband Tom decided to call Asheville, North Carolina home. When her pointy Italian nose isn’t stuck in a book, Christine is adopting all of the kitties, getting lost in the forest, and drinking an ESB. She has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. Christine also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.

2 Comments

  1. Very thorough description of Asheville. Can’t wait for my house to sell in Sarasota so I can get back to the mountains, art and music scene. Chris and Tom, keep up the great work. 👏🧘🧘🏻‍♂️

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