If you’ve never visited the Asheville’s River Arts District (called the RAD), you need to plan a trip to this unique and quirky artist community. It was originally Asheville’s first industrial hub. Then, the 1916 flood plus the economic destruction of the Great Depression in the 1930s led to the area’s demise. The once thriving factories shut down and left the buildings abandoned. Fortunately, artists seeking cheap rent and plenty of space became attracted to the area in the 1970s, and the neighborhood revived as an artists’ haven.
In 2021, River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project added more life to the area. This $35 million project rebuilt the transportation network along the east side of the French Broad River. As a result, new businesses and residential spaces continue to emerge. Now, the RAD boasts over 280 artists and a variety of food, drink, and entertainment options for visitors.
Ways to Experience the Art of Asheville’s River Arts District
If you’re considering visiting the River Arts District this month, you’re in luck! The 2022 Studio Stroll is happening November 12th and 13th from 10 am – 5 pm. You can experience and collect amazing art in the studios and galleries. The trolley will be running for free so that you can easily get around to all the studios.
If you can’t make the Studio Stroll this month, visit the RAD any month for the Second Saturday. Enjoy gallery walks with demonstrations, workshops, live music, wine tastings, delicious food, and more! A free trolley will be available for this event as well.
Eat, Drink, and Play
You can enjoy more than art at the RAD. The neighborhood boasts 15 restaurants and coffee shops. So, if you’re hungry or thirsty, check out these suggestions:
- Need a coffee pick-me-up? Look no further than Grind AVL for some delicious specialty drinks. Plus, you’ll be supporting the first black-owned coffee shop in the area.
- Taste wine all week at plēb urban winery and pair your flights with food on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays with the RAD Kitchen Food Truck, operated by Mother Ocean Market.
- Grab a pitcher of craft beer and eat from various local food trucks at Wedge Brewing‘s two RAD locations.
- For a date night dinner, visit Vivian, which features local ingredients and American food that gives a nod to the history of European cuisine.
- Craving carbs? Check out the artisan bakery Mother for sourdough loaves, bagels, babka, fluffy focaccia, and jambon beurre.
- Satisfy your hunger with a legendary cheeseburger and chocolate malt at Baby Bull.
Also, the RAD offers unique entertainment options. Here are two of our favorites:
- The Grail Moviehouse provides an Asheville alternative cinema experience. Enjoy art, independent films, foreign films, and documentaries.
- The Magnetic Theatre connects Asheville audiences to original, artist-driven theatre. They support emerging local playwrights and produce exciting work that is new to this region.
Live in the River Arts District
If your visit inspires your artistic side, you can always move to the area! Let’s talk! Our team has expert knowledge of the River Arts District, and we can help you have the best possible experience moving here.
Image credit: Conde Nast Traveler