Comprised of antique factory buildings turned to studios, the River Arts District is a prime example of Asheville’s creative bend. Artwork that spans multiple genres, phenomenal studios, and exceptional dining are just the beginning of what you’ll find here.
Below are 10 great ways to spend a day in Asheville’s River Arts District. If you are looking for more, download our free Chimney Rock Vacation Guide! Our guide includes over 100 top attractions, things to do, and places to see in the area.
10 of the Best Things to Do in the River Arts District
1. Glass Blow at the North Carolina Glass Center
Glassblowing is a fascinating artistic display, and the North Carolina Glass Center is the best place to experience it. Watch an in-house artist create a masterpiece, or try your hand at glassblowing with one of their classes.
Get directions to The North Carolina Glass Center.
2. Check Out Kristin Foley’s Studio
Kristin Foley’s contribution to the River Arts District is phenomenal. Here, you will find unique pottery and clay creations, publication design work, and beautifully detailed paintings of flowers and the human figure.
Get directions to the Kristin Foley’s studio.
3. Furniture Shop at the Silver River Center for Chair Caning
Silver River crafts chairs with rustic appeal through an old process known as “chair caning”. They offer a variety of workshops, repair services, and a museum dedicated to the history of four-legged furniture. Purchase a chair, educate yourself, or just stop by!
Get directions to the Silver River Center for Chair Caning.
4. Find Unique Jewelry at Monty’s Follies
The work at Monty’s Follies is comprised mainly of three-dimensional metal shapes, including copper, fine silver, and gold. Owner Mony Phillips then applies a vitreous enamel, and the results are stunning. If you are searching for one-of-a-kind, floral-inspired pieces of jewelry, Monty’s Follies is the place to go.
Get directions to Monty’s Follies.
5. Buy Handmade Clothing and Fashion at Cara May Knits
Handmade clothing possesses an appeal that factory made goods can’t capture, and Cara May’s garments are no exception. Here, you will find an assortment of tasteful items, from cardigans to tunics and tanks tops, all handcrafted with natural materials. This is the perfect place to update or add something special to your current wardrobe. Her studio is located in the Riverview Station building.
6. Shop the River Arts District Farmers Market
If you visit Asheville any time between the beginning of May through the end of November, then you’re in luck! The River Arts District Farmers Market runs on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. every week, rain or shine. You will find dozens of local farms, creameries, and bakeries here! From Sweetheart Bakery to Spinning Spider Creamery to Dry Ridge Farm and beyond, the River Arts District Farmers Market is where the Asheville community showcases some of the best food in the area!
Get directions the River Arts District Farmers Market.
7. Take a Class at Mark Bettis Fine Art
Mark Bettis uses a variety of mediums in his paintings, including cold wax and oil paint. His work is both tasteful and inviting. Here, you will find modern works, animal portraits, and more. When you stop by his space in the Wedge Studios, you will also see works from fellow artists Jacqui Fehl, Constance Williams, and Grant Penny. Oil and cold wax classes and workshops are available.
Get directions to the Mark Bettis Studio and Gallery.
8. Explore the District’s Color Graffiti Art & Murals
The graffiti, murals, and paintings that you will find in the River Arts District are a testament of the city’s deep appreciation for art, culture, and history. One of the best places to go for brilliant street artwork is the Foundation Walls. This project began in 2016 and is a place where graffiti artists are encouraged to paint the outside walls of the old warehouses at 339 Old Lyman Street. These huge canvases showcase everchanging designs and are spread over 13 acres.
Get directions to Foundation Walls.
9. Have a Flight at Wedge Brewing Company
After a day of exploring Asheville’s amazing artwork, there couldn’t be a more refreshing way to end the day than with a cold beer at Wedge Brewing Company. Craft beer is an art that Wedge has perfected. Whether you are craving an extra hoppy IPA or a robust and chocolatey stout, this River Arts District brewery that has it all. Guests can enjoy live music every Saturday at Wedge Studios.
Get directions to Wedge Brewing Company at Wedge Studios.
10. Indulge at 12 Bones Smokehouse
Asheville and the River Arts District are full of great restaurants, and 12 Bones Smokehouse is one of the best. North Carolina is known for BBQ and smoked meats, and 12 Bones lives up to expectations. Pulled chicken, sliced beef brisket, and many more mouthwatering items are on their menu. Stop by their location near the Warehouse Studios!
Get directions to 12 Bones Smokehouse on Foundy.
Where to Stay
The River Arts District is only 40 minutes away from the Esmeralda Inn, making it perfect for a day trip during your stay. Our inn enjoys a unique combination of Western North Carolina’s peaceful country mountainside along with proximity to Asheville’s vibrant downtown. All guests have access to our hot tub with an outdoor wood burning fireplace as well as complementary daily breakfast.
Book a Traditional 2 Queen Room and enjoy a high-definition television, Bose Wave music system, wireless internet access, and a private bath. This room also offers luxury linens, environmentally friendly spa toiletries, and two extraordinarily comfortable queen beds. Check our availability today! We can’t wait to host you at the Esmeralda Inn & Restaurant!
Don’t forget to download your free vacation guide to find more great things to do in Asheville and the River Arts District!