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, burger joints, 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 in RAD? Or, wander for hours in a European-style decor market?
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 AVL beer, and 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!
Read more about all of Asheville’s unique neighborhoods.
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Where To Shop: Asheville River Arts District Galleries, Studios, & Shops
Asheville’s infamous art galleries, studios, and shops await you in RAD. We cannot possibly name them all, but a few River Arts District galleries to get you started:
- Marquee (36 Foundy St) – Brand new to RAD, this warehouse transformed European-style market is filled with artists’ goods and top decor and creative vendors from around Western North Carolina. Explore vintage decor, jewelry, pottery, lighting, and more. We could spend hours wandering the stalls.
- 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.
- North Carolina Glass Center (140C Roberts St) – Attend a glass-blowing workshop for couples or class series and shop for gorgeous blown-glass creations.
- 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.
- Asheville Cotton Mill Studios (122 Riverside Dr) – Showcasing numerous artists, makers, musicians, and creatives, find The Asheville Guitar Bar, Red Rabit Tattoo, and photographers, painters, and an alteration sewing studio, Sugarcane Studios.
- Second Gear (99 Riverside Dr) – Newer to Asheville’s RAD, shop for gently-used, outdoor gear. This consignment shop donates 1% of sales to its non-profit partners.
Where To Drink In Asheville’s River Arts District
There is certainly not a shortage of River Arts District breweries, coffee shops, and wine places. Just a few to try include:
- 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 bevies — select from unique ginger beer flavors. Ginger’s Revenge also hosts delicious gluten-free and vegan food trucks like The Smokin’ Onion and The Trashy Vegan.
- 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 for wine by the glass or go big with a baller bottle. Tapas and spirits included.
- Wedge Brewing (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 top AVL breweries and a delicious River Arts District brewery. Sit inside or out.
- 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.
- 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.
- New Belgium Brewing Company (21 Craven St.) – A West AVL/RAD brewery known nationally (Fat Tire, anyone?), take a tour, sit along the French Broad River, and enjoy lunch from a food truck at New Belgium. Just because this is one of Asheville’s more “touristy” breweries doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it once.
- Zillicoah (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.
- 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 personally one of our favorites for outdoor beer drinking that is just slightly more off of the beaten path. On rainy and cold days, sit indoors in their giant warehouse space.
- Saint Brighid’s Bar (36 Foundy St in Marquee) – One of the River Arts District’s newest 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.
Where To Eat In The River Arts District
The River Arts District restaurants are plentiful and delicious. Below, find just a few that we frequent, and be sure to check out our ultimate guide to eating in RAD.
- 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. Sit inside with walls signed by visitors or outside on their picnic tables overlooking all of RAD.
- 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. This is a lesser-known AVL restaurant serving dinner and Sunday brunch.
- 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 handhelds joint overlooking the Asheville silo. Their menu is 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. Their 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 all of Asheville. Sit outside and catch a view of The Gray Eagle while devouring massive salads, steaming hot soup, and – of course – artisanal pizza.
- Chop Shop Food Truck (5 Foundy St) – The Chop Shop is a delicious North Asheville butchery, and their RAD food truck sells hot dogs and burgers. Pair a giant hot dog with a Wedge beer. Sit outside on the covered picnic tables.
More Things To Do In The River Arts District In Asheville
What are some of the best things to do in RAD?
Besides eating, drinking, and shopping, you can float down the French Broad River, bike along the newly renovated Riverwalk, watch an indie movie, and listen to live music.
Tour a chocolate factory or hop on a skateboard. Go on a scavenger hunt looking for the coolest urban art. A few more ideas, hot spots, and things to see:
- Asheville Silo (1 Roberts St) – You cannot miss the Asheville Silo as you drive over I-240W into Asheville. This old grain silo, painted by Ian Wilkinson (Ian the Painter) & Ishmael, has 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.
- 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 in 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. Read more about Asheville’s biking trails.
- Grail Moviehouse (17 Foundy St) – Asheville’s best-kept secret, enjoy an indie film or vote in a documentary contest from comfy chairs and couches with popcorn. The Grail is alternative cinema at its best.
- Foundation AVL & RAD Skatepark (37 Foundry Street) – Hop on a skateboard 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.
Where To Stay Near The River Arts District In Asheville, NC
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.
A few hotels near the River Arts District to check out include:
- Aloft Asheville Downtown – Newly renovated, we love this gorgeous and colorful Marriott hotel. Swim in the rooftop pool and enjoy coffee on their Ledge overlooking all of downtown AVL.
- 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 ammenties 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.
Save This RAD Asheville Guide For Later:
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.
For more information, you can also head over to the official River Arts District Artists website.