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.
Uncover which Asheville neighborhoods are filled with literary history, hide the best eats and brews, and showcase stunning eye candy.
Did you know there is an Asheville neighborhood where you can dine at an old church and watch Shakespeare in the Park? There’s even a castle hidden among the plethora of gorgeous Bed and Breakfasts.
We have a neighborhood in Asheville housing a brewery that plays vintage and new movies at its theater. This area also boasts of an iconic fall pumpkin patch on a hill at a church.
Explore the best neighborhoods in Asheville that the Fitzgeralds frequented for their summer vacations. Learn which Asheville location has the best sunsets.
Don’t even get us started on the best Asheville neighborhoods with the most vibrant street art, strongest coffee, and wildest breweries.
Also, we are not realtors (with agendas). We are just locals and travel writers sharing our firsthand experiences of what we consider to be the best places to live in Asheville, NC (as well as play!).
This Asheville neighborhoods guide is for both visitors and people considering moving to Asheville. Below, tour the coolest neighborhoods in Asheville.
Of course, ‘best’ and ‘coolest’ are subjective. Let’s get started!
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6 Best Neighborhoods In Asheville, NC
We had to start with our personal favorite Asheville neighborhood, Asheville’s Historic Montford District.
Montford sits between downtown Asheville and North Asheville. Parts of Montford uniquely land on the National Register of Historic Places.
Montford 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.
You also don’t want to miss nearby Homewood Manor where the Fitzgeralds and Vanderbilts used to stay. Homewood is one of Asheville’s gorgeous ‘castles.’
While Montford is a mostly residential area, visitors will find a plethora of quaint Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants, and easy access to downtown. For some, it’s only a mile walk to downtown.
Montford For Living
Considered one of the most diverse architectural areas across NC, Montford is home to Neo-Classical apartment buildings, Victorians, Colonial Revivals, and bungalows.
Being from New England, Montford is like a little piece of home.
This is an active Asheville neighborhood. You will always see people running, walking, and biking, even in the cemetery.
There is also a growing young professional population in Montford as well as families with younger children. Throughout the neighborhood, encounter a plethora of charming Free Little Libraries.
Historic Montford For Sight-Seeing, Sleeping, & Eating
As one of the best neighborhoods in Asheville for history and literature lovers, be sure to check out:
- Riverside Cemetery – Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry are buried at the historic Riverside Cemetary. Grab a walking guide as you enter the gates.
- 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. Church-themed libations included.
- Nine Mile – Another must-eat-at Montford area restaurant, enjoy Caribbean-inspired dishes. Nine Mile has multiple Asheville locations.
- Shakespeare In The Park – Performed by a non-profit and North Carolina’s longest-running Shakespeare theatre company, Montford Park Players. We love grabbing dinner at Chiesa and walking over to the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater for a play.
- Black Walnut B&B Inn – Richard Sharp-Smith — Biltmore’s supervising architect — designed and built The Black Walnut Bed and Breakfast Inn in 1899.
- Montford Arts & Music Festival – The largest and longest-running, single-day neighborhood street festival. The bash takes place on Montford Avenue in Asheville’s Historic Montford neighborhood.
2. North Asheville
North Asheville is one of the most overlooked Asheville neighborhoods, which is fantastic if you want to escape downtown’s crowds.
In the fall, you’ll recognize North Asheville by the pumpkin patch in front of breathtaking Grace Episcopal Church. Once those pumpkins are up, you’ll know that Asheville’s most beautiful season has arrived.
North Asheville is one of our favorite areas in Asheville to grab a bite to eat. Here, you’ll see fewer crowds than downtown.
Plus, you have the historic Grove Park Inn, beautiful old homes, and UNC-Asheville’s campus. Kimberley Ave. is full of amazing 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. We call this “Merrimon Mayhem.”
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. Oh, and the black bears live here.
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.
- Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking Access – North Asheville is also one of the best neighborhoods in Asheville because of its easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP).
Within 30-40 minutes driving distance, you can find Craven Gap where the Obamas hiked. Just a bit further down, you have popular Craggy Gardens, Craggy Pinnacle, Little Butt & Big Butt, and Mount Mitchell.
Eating & Drinking
- Asheville Pizza and Brewing – Think arcade games, a theater that plays vintage and new movies, and gluten-free pizza crust with beer. They also have vegan cheese. Asheville Brewing is one of our favorite local AVL breweries.
- 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. In the winter, don’t miss the gingerbread houses. You can also catch dinner at Sunset Terrace or drinks and snacks at the Great Hall Bar.
- 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, and a new spot at Asheville’s food hall. The Hop is just one of many delicious Asheville dessert bars.
- Plant – The ultimate Asheville restaurant for amazing vegan cusinine. Get the cheese plate.
- Luella’s BBQ – A local spot for some of the best BBQ in AVL. The portions are huge.
Save Your Favorite Asheville Neighborhoods For Later
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.
Encounter endless street art, artists’ studios, and a newly renovated Riverwalk along the French Broad River.
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. Wedge at Foundation is perfect for mural-spying.
- 12 Bones Smokehouse River – One of the most famous BBQ spots in Asheville — the Obamas ate here — grab some local beer and try a side of each of their meats.
- pleb urban winery – A unique Asheville winery with “minimal intervention wine-making,” pleb outsources grapes from local farms to create small-batch tapped and canned wines.
- Roseabees – Delicious Hawaiian cuisine.
- Bottle Riot – If you love Asheville’s wine bars, Bottle Riot is a ritzy fun space with some of our favorite bottles.
- 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.
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, including Dolly Parton and RuPaul. Look for Gus Gutty’s The Fox as well as Ian the Painter’s Ella/Joan of Asheville.
Find more of a GenX and Millennial population in this hipster Asheville neighborhood, too — although this is changing. West Asheville has a vibrant LGBQT+ community.
West Asheville is unique with its older buildings that house both new and generations-old establishments. You’ll find organic and gluten-free goods, especially at the West Village Market & Deli.
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 many cottages and bungalows. Million-dollar properties exist here, too.
For Playing & Eating
West Asheville is home to a plethora of amazing restaurants, cafes, and shops, truly making it 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.
- Zia Taqueria – Another one of Asheville’s best taco & Mexican restaurants. Next door, find The Whale with an extensive bottle shop and rotating draft beer selection.
- Green Tea Sushi – One of our personal favorite sushi spots in Asheville along with The Madness AVL.
- Urban Orchard Cider Company West – Unique cider flights and sandwiches with a beautiful outdoor patio. Don’t miss all of Asheville’s sweet cideries.
- 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.
- Murals – Look for Dolly with her newest neighbor, RuPaul. You’ll also find The Dude and Joan of West Asheville, Ella.
- Hole Doughnuts – Another one of the best local donut and coffee shops in Asheville.
- Sunny Point Cafe – Everyone’s favorite spot for Southern comfort food, especially for breakfast and lunch.
- Thai Pearl – A newer West Asheville Thai food restaurant that you’ll never forget.
- Jargon – A quirky fine dining restaurant for modern American cuisine.
- Carrier & French Broad River Parks – Two pretty walking and picnicking parks that connect to each other.
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 Asheville locals, 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.
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.
Personally, we don’t think downtown Asheville is the greatest neighborhood for living in. However, this Asheville neighborhood is certainly the best for playing.
Overall, Asheville is full of the best things to do. We aren’t even sure where to start. Here’s just a few ideas:
- 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? Wicked Weed, 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. Don’t miss our guide to Literary Asheville.
- French Broad Chocolate Lounge – Sip hot chocolate and grab dessert at this not-to-miss chocolate lounge. Crave Dessert Bar is also a must.
- Grove Arcade – Explore a gorgeous historic building filled with shops and dining. Asheville Proper, a steakhouse, resides here.
- All Of The Coffee Shops – Downtown Asheville has endless coffee shops for digital nomads and those in need of a pick-me-up. We recommend Izzy’s, Summit, and Double D’s.
- Best Rooftop Bars – Downtown Asheville is also famous for its rooftop bars, including Capella on 9, Top of the Monk, and The Social Lounge.
- Cultivated Cocktails – One of our top distilleries in Asheville, order a literary libation in Cultivated Cocktail’s newest and swankiest space.
- Prettiest Hotels – We highly recommend staying in downtown AVL if you want to explore all of the breweries, shops, and restaurants. Don’t miss the newly renovated Aloft Hotel. They even have a rooftop pool.
- Unforgettable Restaurants – Dine at one of Asheville’s famous restaurants like Bouchon, Isa’s, Curate, Early Girl Eatery, or Tupelo Honey.
Personally, we love Jerusalem Garden Cafe and Red Ginger Dimsum & Tapas. Chai Pani serves up fantastic Indian street food.
- S&W Market – Asheville’s newest food hall and a great spot for a quick lunch, grab a flight of Highland Brewing beer along with tacos, dumplings, ice cream, and hot dogs.
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.
Save The Best Neighborhoods In Asheville, NC For Later
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. Kenilworth 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 – Woodfin always gets left out of nearby Asheville neighborhoods, and we are not realtors so maybe there’s a reason?!
Woodfin is home to Zillicoah and Riverside Rhapsody Breweries. Find burger joints, outdoor spaces, BBQ, and new bars. There’s been talk about new housing developments out this way.
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!