What are the best neighborhoods in Asheville, NC for living, playing, eating, and dreaming? As AVL locals, we are sharing the pros and cons of some of the coolest Asheville neighborhoods.
Full disclosure, first, that I am a little fluid on Asheville neighborhood lines. When making generalizations on the blog, I typically blend the River Arts District (RAD) into West Asheville, and Montford into North Asheville — although they are separate neighborhoods with stellar personalities. Don’t come for me.
But, for the sake of all that is holy and true, and the fact that I am not a realtor, these are what we consider to be the coolest neighborhoods in Asheville. ‘Best’ and ‘coolest’ are, of course, subjective.
See which Asheville neighborhoods are filled with literary history, hide the best eats and brews, and showcase stunning eye candy. This Asheville neighborhoods guide is both for visitors and people considering moving to Asheville. It’s just my opinion, too.
Let’s get started!
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6 Best Neighborhoods In Asheville, NC
Montford sits between downtown Asheville and North Asheville, and parts of Montford are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Monford began to grow architecturally on the verge of Asheville’s big boom — think the construction of The Grove Park Inn and Biltmore.
Rich in history, Montford also housed Highland Hospital, one of the more progressive mental health institutions of its time. Zelda Fitzgerald along with 8 other people died in the Highland Hospital fire. Today, former Highland Hospital consists of commercial businesses.
While Montford is a mostly residential area, visitors will find a plethora of quaint Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants, and easy access to downtown.
One of the most diverse architectural areas across NC, find Neo-Classical apartment buildings, Victorians, Colonial Revivals, and bungalows.
This is an active Asheville neighborhood — you will always see people running, walking, and biking, even in the cemetery.
For Sight-Seeing, Sleeping, & Eating
- Riverside Cemetery – Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry are buried at the historic Riverside Cemetary.
- 1900 Inn On Montford – There are no shortages of Inns and Bed and Breakfasts in Montford, especially with the luxurious 1900 Inn.
- Chiesa – Don’t miss our favorite Italian restaurant in a converted old church.
- Nine Mile – Another must-eat-at Montford area restaurant, enjoy Caribbean-inspired dishes. Nine Mile has multiple Asheville locations.
- Shakespeare In The Park – A non-profit and North Carolina’s longest-running Shakespeare theatre company.
2. North Asheville
North Asheville is one of our favorite areas in Asheville to grab a bite to eat. Here, you’ll see fewer crowds than downtown. Find a ton of Asheville restaurants around Merrimon Ave.
Plus, you have the historic Grove Park Inn, beautiful old homes, and UNC-Asheville’s campus. Kimberley Ave. is full of gorgeous Tudor-style homes.
On the con side, Merrimon Ave. is a bit narrow and becomes a tad congested during rush hour — with some erratic drivers. Road rage is for real out here.
There’s been a lot of work on the older water pipes over the past few years, which, well — we’ll leave that up to your imagination.
North Asheville is known for having some pretty ritzy houses along with the Asheville Country Club — for golfers. You can still find some starter homes nearby along with those multi-million dollar mansions.
You’ll also find craftsman bungalows, Spanish-style villas, Colonials, and Tudor homes. A few North Asheville neighborhoods include Beaverdam, Lakeview Park, and Grove Park. North Asheville has more established neighborhoods.
North Asheville is home to retirees, college students, families, and young professionals. It used to be “old money,” but that is slowly changing.
People looking for homes here are driving up the price of houses here. What once sold for $200,000 may go for $500-$700,000+.
- Botanical Gardens at Asheville – As you drive into UNC-Asheville, don’t miss the quaint and free-to-the-public Botanical Gardens.
- Beaver Lake Perimeter Trail and Bird Sanctuary – We love to walk and picnic around the 2-mile nature trail. Beaver Lake is privately owned but open to the public. You can also birdwatch in the small sanctuary. Leave a donation in the lot.
Eating & Drinking
- Asheville Pizza and Brewing – Think arcade games, a theater that plays vintage movies, and gluten-free pizza crust with beer.
- Edison at The Omni Grove Park Inn – Find seasonal cocktails, lighter fare, and breathtaking sunsets. F. Scott Fitzgerald summer vacationed. Back in the day, the elite would come here for quinine treatments and fresh mountain air.
- Geraldine’s Bakery– For baked treats, Italian cookies, and donuts in Asheville.
- The Hop Ice Cream Cafe – Find vegan ice-cream, soft serve, regular ice cream, and shakes. They have a West Asheville location, too.
Did we make you hungry? Don’t miss this Unforgettable Asheville Restaurant Guide.
3. River Arts District (RAD)
Greeted by the infamous Asheville silo with its ever-changing slogan, the River Arts District is a vibrant artist community filled with endless street art, artists’ studios, and a newly renovated Riverwalk along the French Broad River.
If you are thinking of moving to Asheville, have all of your AVL FAQs Answered Here.
RAD is where you will find a lot of condos and apartments along with hotly contested new construction. Driving into RAD, you have to appreciate that hipster, warehouse vibe. RAD won’t appeal to everyone.
Younger families and professionals tend to reside here.
- Wedge Brewing at Foundation – Another delicious Asheville brewery, there are two locations for Wedge. The one at Foundation is perfect for mural-spying.
- pleb urban winery – A unique winery model with “minimal intervention wine-making,” pleb outsources grapes from local farms to create small-batch tapped and canned wines.
- Roseabees – Delicious Hawaiian cuisine.
- Murals & Studios – Don’t miss hopping between artists’ studios while spying beautiful street art. Can you find Homer Simpson?
- RAD Riverwalk – Newly renovated, stroll down the riverwalk along the French Broad River. Brave people will tube down the river in the summer.
North of RAD and Montford, don’t miss the Woodfin area, too. Here, you’ll find Ginger’s Revenge and Zillicoah Brewing.
If pleb urban winery sounds delicious, don’t miss these other Fantastic Wineries Near Asheville.
4. West Asheville
We love visiting West Asheville — even on a weekend. While Haywood Road is pretty busy and jumping, many of the breweries and surrounding areas remain quieter than downtown Asheville.
For Asheville neighborhoods, West Asheville is one of the hippest and most laid-back. You’ll find some of the best murals — like Dolly — and more of a GenX and Millennial population — although I am starting to feel that this is changing. West Asheville has a vibrant LGBQT+ community, too.
West Asheville is unique with its older buildings that house both new and generations-old establishments. You’ll find a lot of organic goods, too.
Development companies are building many new and contentious housing units in West Asheville, also driving up the price of real estate. It’s a double edge sword, and you’ll see gentrification across Asheville.
In West Asheville, you’ll find more fixer-uppers for families — with the costs increasing — and expensive gated communities. There are a lot of cottages and bungalows. Million-dollar properties exist here, too.
If you love street art, don’t miss the Best Murals In Asheville, NC.
There are a ton of restaurants, cafes, and shops in West Asheville, which is why it is one of the best neighborhoods in Asheville. To name just a few notable places:
- Archetype Brewing West – A delicious brewery with a rooftop overlooking downtown Asheville.
- Urban Orchard Cider Company West – Unique cider flights and sandwiches with a beautiful outdoor patio.
- Upcountry Brewing – Pizza and beers filled with bright murals and a backyard setting. The Odditorium is across the street.
- New Belgium Brewing – A more touristy brewery, grab a beer along the French Broad River and munch from a food truck.
- Endless murals, including Dolly.
- Hole Doughnuts – The local and jumping donut shop.
- Biscuit Head – Popular go-to for Southern biscuits.
- Sunny Point Cafe – Everyone’s favorite, especially for breakfast and lunch.
- Carrier & French Broad River Parks – Two pretty walking and picnicking parks that connect to each other.
If you love Hole Doughnuts, don’t miss these Favorite Asheville Donut Shops.
5. Downtown Asheville
Of course, for the best Asheville neighborhoods, historic downtown is where it is at for *all* of the things to eat, see, and do. Asheville is “Foodtopia,” after all. Personally, I’m not so sure I’d want to live there, but we do live pretty close.
Downtown Asheville is what you’d expect from city life. There are older buildings, both happy and disgruntled locals, loads of tourists in-season, and boho college students. As an Asheville local, we try to visit downtown during off times.
Parking gets a little tricky if you don’t know the lesser-used garages and lots. The city is extremely walkable and has some magnificent Art Deco buildings.
Grab our Asheville Brewery Guide Here.
Downtown Asheville has apartments, luxury condos, and lofts that vary in pricing. Of course, the closer you are to the fun and city, the more you will pay for it.
- Battery Park Book Exchange & Malaprop’s Bookstores – Sip champagne in a used bookstore or visit one of the best bookshops filled with local, indie, and bestseller book titles.
- Breweries, Breweries, Breweries – Which downtown Asheville breweries do we love? Thirsty Monk, Twin Leaf, Asheville Pizza & Brewing, Bhramari Brewing, Green Man, and Catawba.
- Thomas Wolfe Memorial – Tour the Wolfe’s mother’s boarding house and hear all of the juicy stories. Wolfe wrote the famous Asheville-based novel, Look Homeward, Angel.
- French Broad Chocolate Lounge – Sip hot chocolate and grab dessert at this not-to-miss chocolate lounge.
- Grove Arcade – Explore a gorgeous historic building filled with shops and dining.
The above Asheville ‘for playing’ list is truly endless. Uncover the Best Things To Do In Asheville.
6. South Asheville
South Asheville has some pretty wealthy older properties and is, of course, home to Biltmore Estate. There are a lot of shopping centers out this way. Full disclosure: I debated if this was one of the ‘best’ or coolest neighborhoods in Asheville.
What we love about South Asheville is its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway — especially to the Mount Pisgah and Black Balsam area — and all of the hiking and biking trails. South Asheville is great for outdoor adventurers.
South Asheville tends to get a reputation — somewhat like North Asheville — for old money and being an expensive area. For me, North and South Asheville are seeing younger families and millennials moving in, though. There are both new and old builds.
In South Asheville, you’ll find popular Biltmore Park and Forest, which are not cheap and are in high demand.
In fact, while we toured a home here, another real estate agent jumped in our touring time slot and put in an offer on the property for her clients while glaring us down.
The con of South Asheville and places like Biltmore Forest are that they lack diversity — just peruse the U.S. Census.
- The NC Arboretum – We are annual passholders and love Winter Lights, all of the hiking trails, and the beautiful gardens.
- Bent Creek Experimental Forest – Find hiking and mountain trails along with Lake Powhatan.
- Biltmore Estate – Don’t miss touring America’s largest home, which was Edith and George Vanderbilt’s historic estate. Explore the beautiful gardens and hiking trails, grab a meal, and wine taste at Biltmore Winery.
- Historic Biltmore Village – Another destination for shopping, food, and brews.
More Noteworthy Neighborhoods In Asheville (And Nearby Suburbs)
East Asheville – You’ll find more rural areas and older homes and neighborhoods close to downtown and parts of the BRP. The WNC Nature Center is out this way. Oakley is popular here — filled with bungalows and craftsmen-style homes.
Kenilworth – Kenilworth is just south of downtown (a 20-minute walk) — bordering South & East Asheville — and is one of the more popular neighborhoods in Asheville for its 1920s architecture and bungalow and Spanish-style stucco homes. You have access to Tunnel Road — full of *all* of the chain stores and restaurants. Kenilworth is also close to Mission Hospital and has a park.
Woodfin – I feel like Woodfin always gets left out of nearby Asheville neighborhoods, and I’m not a realtor so maybe there’s a reason?! Woodfin is home to Zillicoah and Riverside Rhapsody Breweries. There are burger joints, outdoor spaces, BBQ, and new bars. There’s been talk about new housing developments out this way.
A few favorite suburbs and neighborhoods around Asheville include Fletcher, Fairview, Arden, and Weaverville. People will go as far out to Henderson County and Hendersonville.
What are the best Asheville neighborhoods that you love?
Which neighborhoods in Asheville do you frequent and why? Which Asheville neighborhoods are the coolest? When considering moving to Asheville, which neighborhoods have you looked at? Which ones did you visit for fun? Let us know in the comments!