The River Arts District (or RAD) is a creative hub located within a couple of miles of downtown Asheville. RAD is home to a vast array of artists and working studios in 23 former industrial and historical buildings spread out along a one-mile stretch of the French Broad River. Most of the studios are within walking distance of each other, you can also take advantage of the free trolley that runs from one section of RAD to the other every 15 minutes. Most studios and galleries are open from 10 am–6 pm, and you can ride the free trolley from 11 am–4:30 pm. A helpful map for the area is located on RomanticAsheville.com's site.
Grab a Bite in The Rivers Arts District
If you want to feast on more than art, there are many great restaurants located in the River Arts District, including All Souls Pizza, RosaBees, Vivian, White Duck Taco Shop, Baby Bull, and 12 Bones Smokehouse. There are also some great coffee shops for that morning brew or afternoon pick-me-up including GRIND, Ultra, PennyCup, and Summit.
Drinks in The River Arts District
The River Arts District also has you covered when it comes to breweries, cideries, and wine bars. Check our Hi-Wire's RAD Beer Garden, New Belgium, Bottle Riot, plēb, and Urban Orchard. The Wedge Brewery also has two brewery options—both in the River Arts District. The original Wedge operates out of the bottom of Wedge Studios and the Wedge Foundation location is a quick drive away in a complex called the Foundation that is also home to some really amazing graffiti murals within the complex.
Shopping & Entertainment
In addition to working artist studios that offer plenty of opportunities to shop small, the River Arts District is home to The Marquee, an indoor marketplace of curated vendors from around the region and beyond that offer unique antiques, vintage and artful decor, jewelry, and more. There are also a few vintage stores: Splurge, Wildflowers, Sunnyside Trading Co., and House of Kismet. Asheville's Outdoor Adventure Gear Consignment Store, Second Gear is also nearby. On the entertainment side, you'll find music venue The Grey Eagle as well as our local theater, Grail Moviehouse, which shows indie films and cult classics.
For the skaters in your group, there's the indoor and outdoor RAD Skate Park. The newly-renovated Riverwalk is perfect for skating, biking, or simply walking alongside the French Broad. On those hot summer days, you can also float down the French Broad River through Zen Tubing. Another great entertainment option is taking a tour through French Broad Chocolate. You can take their standard Bean to Bar tour and opt for a Wine + Chocolate Tasting or even book a private tour if you have a group of 7 or more.
For fellow creatives, several of the art studios in RAD offer special classes so you can join in the making process. Pink Dog Creative Studio, Ignite Jewelry Studios, ArtPlay Studio, and NC Glass Center are a few of our favorites.
Events Throughout the Year:
- The River Arts District Studio Stroll takes place twice a year, during May and November, and includes an open door into nearly 280+ art studios and galleries over a two-day period in Asheville's popular River Arts District. For two days, visitors, art buyers, and spectators alike can visit over 25 historic industrial buildings that have been transformed into artist headquarters to view live demonstrations of painting, glass blowing, hand-building or throwing pottery, and much more. The strolls also give interested visitors the ability to ask artists about their craft or art as well as purchase original artwork or prints.
- In addition to the two annual Studio Strolls, on the Second Saturday of each month, the River Arts District holds gallery walks with demonstrations, workshops, live music, wine tastings, delicious food, and more! Most of the participating artists will be on hand to describe or show you their techniques and share their inspirations.
The River Arts District is proof that art has no bounds, and while you'll find plenty of art within studio walls, there's also plenty of art spilling onto the streets in the form of sculptures, unique steel fences, and clay mosaic murals!