Asheville, North Carolina
By Christy Evers
Once an area of warehouses, workshops, tanneries and depots, now you’ll find over 200 artists working in a variety of mediums, from pottery and jewelry to painting and glass blowing.
The River Arts District is located just a few minutes from downtown Asheville, and is home to a variety of galleries, studios, and shops.
One of the most popular mediums in the district is pottery, with several studios offering classes and workshops for beginners and advanced potters alike.
If you’re looking for unique jewelry, you’ll find plenty of options in the River Arts District. From handcrafted silver and gold to beaded and woven pieces, there’s something for everyone.
Glass blowing is another popular medium in the district, where you can find artists working in their shops. Purchase one of their works to take home as a souvenir or try your hand at glass blowing yourself by taking a class.
Of course, painting is well-represented in the River Arts District, with artists working in a variety of styles and genres. One of my favorites is the Jonas Gerard studio. Although the artist passed away in 2020, you can still view and purchase his works on display. Watch the brilliant way he worked with color and played with light. You can also see his work space complete with drums he would play and a microphone that he would use to sing as the inspiration hit while he worked on his paintings.
You’ll also find plenty of public art in the district, including murals, sculptures, and installations.
You’re free to meander through the multitude of corridors and halls that were once warehouses, packing plants, train depots and more that have been converted into studios for local artists. Find unique items like homegrown, homemade plant paper, and pottery that incorporates horse hair in the making process. You can watch artists while they work on their craft, purchase items and even converse with the artists to learn more about their work. Take a class like glass fusing, Bonsai lessons, jewelry making workshops, printmaking workshops, and painting, to name a few. You can even book a walking tour of the River arts District , an electric bike tour or an afternoon with an artist with a private gallery tour.
When you need a break from all the art, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. I highly suggest 12 Bones Smokehouse, a popular restaurant that has been frequented by famous folks such as former President Obama.
In addition to having amazing food with a Southern flare, they also have souvenirs so you can take home their tasty sauces and rubs, and I purchased their cookbook so I could attempt to recreate their mouth watering food at home.
Let’s not forget the river. The French Broad River runs through the district, and there are plenty of opportunities for kayaking, tubing, and other water activities.
If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s near the River arts District, you can stay at the Country Inn and Suites River Arts district which is .6 mile from the River Arts District or about a 6 minute drive.
Downtown is another nearby location. The Double Tree by Hilton or Hotel Indigo are going to be the closest at about .8 miles from the River arts District.and only approx. a 5-6 minute drive. Currently there’s an Embassy Suites that’s being built across the street from Double Tree and is scheduled to open at the end of 2023. Cambria is also just a few blocks further away from this area and is a good lodging choice.
Anywhere downtown is great, but the Next closest with easiest traffic routes would be Aloft Downtown Asheville which is one of the most pet friendly hotels in the area and then the Foundry Hotel and Restoration Asheville which are more upscale.
If you’re looking for a unique and vibrant community of artists and makers and love to browse unique works of art, be sure to check out the River Arts District in Asheville, North Carolina.
I’d love to know if the River Arts District is on your list of places to see when visiting Asheville? Tell me in the comments and please share with someone who’d love to know more about this amazing art scene in Asheville.
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