Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on October 17, 2023.
Looking for things to do in Downtown Asheville, NC? Our guide is here to help you explore the center of this incredible city!
Downtown Asheville is the city’s heart, featuring a well-preserved history (through its buildings and streets), an elevated culinary scene, and educational and engaging things to do for all age ranges.
We keep returning to this part of the city because of its eccentricity and liveliness, and we think you’ll enjoy a visit here, too!
Asheville sprawls out to numerous neighborhoods and districts, but this guide focuses specifically on downtown Asheville. This guide will cover the best things to do in Downtown Asheville, and here’s how we’ve organized it:
- Where is Downtown Asheville?
- Places to Stay
- Annual Events
- Things to Do in Downtown Asheville This Weekend
- Things to Do Nearby
- More NC Travel Guides
If you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we know this guide will help you. Also, if you live in the area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me in Downtown Asheville?” get ready to add some new attractions to your list!
Where is Downtown Asheville?
Asheville is the county seat of Buncombe County and is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a premier landmark of the state. With a population of 94,589, it is the largest city in Western North Carolina.
Downtown Asheville is an expansive area, primarily encased by Patton Ave to the south and US Hwy 70 to the north. The zigzagging streets in this slice of the city are lined with boutique stores, elegant restaurants, and more.
Parking in Downtown Asheville
As with many large cities, parking in Asheville is a little tricky. Street parking is available throughout most of downtown, but if you can’t find any spots available, check out these parking garages:
- Biltmore Avenue Garage
- Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville Garage
- Rankin Avenue Garage
- Wall Street Garage
More information about those parking garages and other parking lots can be found here.
Places to Stay in Downtown Asheville NC
If you want to be right in the center of all the action, then one of Asheville’s downtown hotels and lodgings would be perfect.
- We have enjoyed stays at Aloft Downtown Asheville (51 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC). Aloft is near the Biltmore Avenue Garage, has exceptional service, and is close to great eateries like Blackbird and Double D’s Coffee and Desserts.
- The upscale Windsor Boutique Hotel (36 Broadway St, Asheville, NC) is a gorgeous building on Broadway Street within walking distance of most downtown attractions.
There are also numerous rentals and Airbnb’s in and outside the city, but here are a few companies we’ve partnered with and trust.
Annual Events in Downtown Asheville NC
Here is what to do in Asheville NC, depending on the time of the year:
- Asheville Tourists Baseball Games (April to September): The Asheville Tourists have played Minor League Baseball in the city since 1897. Since 2021, they’ve been a part of the Houston Astros farm leagues.
- Friday Drum Circles (April to October): Of all the days to be in downtown Asheville, choose Friday at around 6:00 p.m. That’s because the weekly Drum Circle begins then!
- Asheville Art in the Park (held in June and October): This event presents some of the finest artists in the area. Nationally known local artists exhibit at this event, which is one major reason why this is one of the best things to do in Asheville.
- Chow Chow Culinary Festival (September): Chow Chow Culinary Festival brings award-winning chefs from North Carolina and beyond to join the biggest and best of Asheville’s food scene.
- LEAF Downtown Asheville (August): This is one of the best free things to do in downtown Asheville. Held every August, you can join LEAF in Pack Square Park. Over two days, there is international music, art, workshops, food and drinks, and more!
- The North Carolina Ceramic Arts Festival (October): During the NC Ceramic Arts Festival, 40 national ceramic art vendors are joined by food trucks, raku demonstrations, and more.
Keep up with everything happening in Downtown Asheville with the NC Tripping Events Calendar.
Things to Do in Downtown Asheville This Weekend
Those annual events are hard to beat. However, you can enjoy these things to do in downtown Asheville this weekend and throughout the year.
- Art Galleries
- Music Venues
- Downtown Asheville Tours
- Asheville Art Museum (2 S Pack Sq, Asheville, NC): The art museum is one of the most underrated institutions in Asheville; its focus on preserving American history, combined with exhibits of contemporary art, makes it a thought-provoking and enriching experience. The permanent collection contains over 7,000 works on Western NC history and ten special exhibitions at any given time.
- Asheville Museum of Science (43 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC): Just a block from the art museum is the Museum of Science. This museum is excellent for kids in Asheville, given the many opportunities to engage in experiments and hands-on learning.
- The Moogseum (56 Broadway St, Asheville, NC): The Moogseum is a relatively new museum and the hallmark project of the Bob Moog Foundation. Bob Moog transformed the electronic music industry with his synthesizers, and his foundation aims to continue inspiring innovation via the Moogseum.
- Thomas Wolfe Memorial (52 N Market St, Asheville, NC): Writer Thomas Wolfe’s life and achievements are commemorated at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, also recognized as a historical landmark. The Memorial was also Wolfe’s childhood home and the setting of his novel Look Homeward, Angel.
- Asheville Pinball Museum (1 Battle Square Ste 1b, Asheville, NC): On a rainy day, we could easily spend hours in the Pinball Museum, a place filled with arcade games and machines. Some machines may also be for sale if you want to bring the fun home! I strongly advise you to arrive at least 30 minutes before this place opens because it’s a very popular Asheville attraction.
Shopping in Downtown Asheville
Downtown Asheville is known for its streets dedicated to shops and stores. Rather than tacky touristy stores, downtown has over 200 boutiques, local restaurants, and specialty stores.
- Grove Arcade (1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC): In 1929, Grove Arcade became Asheville’s first indoor shopping mall and has remained a downtown staple nearly a hundred years later. Grove Arcade is a gorgeous mall, with an open roof and a chic white look decorated with greenery. The historic place is a one-stop-shop for a mix of eclectic galleries, restaurants, and shops.
- Malaprop’s Bookstore (55 Haywood St, Asheville, NC): This independent bookstore is one of our favorite local businesses. Founded in 1984, Malaprop’s has curated a selection of fiction and nonfiction works for kids and adults. Stop by to browse the shelves and grab a cup of coffee from their cafe.
- Kress Emporium (19 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC): Kress Emporium is a vast art collection with ample opportunity for shopping. Over 80 artists showcase their work here, selling everything from jewelry, clothing, paintings, and more.
Some of our favorite boutique shops in downtown Asheville include:
- Hummingbird Candle Company (82 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC): This woman-owned business started in Fayetteville and has expanded west to share its sustainable and eco-friendly candles. Not only are the candles incredible, but you can also join in a candle-making class!
- Asheville Bee Charmer (32 Broadway St, Asheville, NC): There aren’t many places with a boutique honey store, and Asheville is one of them! Curating the best pure raw honey from around the globe, go in ready to taste a variety of infused honey.
The Downtown Asheville Art District comprises over 20 shops and galleries representing Asheville’s diverse arts scene. Some that you shouldn’t miss include:
- The Asheville Gallery of Art (82 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC): The Asheville Gallery of Art was the first fine arts gallery in the city, representing 31 regional artists working in a variety of media.
- The Ariel Gallery (19 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC): The Ariel Gallery focuses on fine craft and features glassware, pottery, and more.
- Woolworth Walk (25 Haywood St, Asheville, NC): This is a unique Asheville experience, with a gallery located in a large historic building and a soda fountain!
Just as artists flock to Asheville, so do musicians! Several live music venues downtown host frequent events and could be a great thing to add to your itinerary.
Here are some music venues that rank among the most iconic in the state:
- Asheville Music Hall (31 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC)
- Harrah’s Cherokee Center (87 Haywood St, Asheville, NC)
- Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar (22 N Market St, Asheville, NC)
- The Orange Peel (101 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC)
- Rabbit Rabbit (75 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC)
- Scandals Nightclub (11 Grove St, Asheville, NC)
Downtown Asheville Tours
Some of Asheville’s most incredible spots are those only found with the expert knowledge of a local. Thus, we recommend trying one of Asheville’s specialty tours to dive into a specific aspect of Asheville’s culture.
- Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour: Taste Carolina is a well-known company that offers a Downtown Asheville Tasting Tour. It’s the perfect way to sample Asheville’s delicious food while stopping at eclectic restaurants, bars, and specialty stores.
- Gray Line Trolley Tours: A Gray Line Trolley Tour is one of the most comprehensive explorations of the city. It’s an excellent activity for the whole family, and guide Uncle Ted has a lively enthusiasm and storytelling that is hard to beat.
- Hood Huggers International Tours: Hood Huggers celebrates Black history in Asheville’s downtown and historic neighborhoods. Throughout the tour, you’ll walk or drive through neighborhoods known for their arts, music, and grassroots initiatives.
- LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours: This is the perfect way to tour downtown Asheville while laughing uncontrollably. Tours range from 60 minutes to 3 hours, with an option for kids to enjoy!
Downtown Asheville NC Restaurants
As mentioned, Asheville is a mecca for international cuisines, flavors, and spices. Restaurants featuring food and drinks from all over the world line the streets of downtown.
Every meal here is an experience, whether you stick to your tried and true favorite meals or step outside your comfort zones
- Jerusalem Garden Cafe (78 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC): We still haven’t gotten over the hummus and tasty creations at Jerusalem Garden Cafe, a family-owned Mediterranean restaurant. The cafe serves authentic Middle Eastern cuisine in a striking dining space downtown.
- Early Girl Eatery (8 Wall St, Asheville, NC): This breakfast restaurant has multiple locations across Asheville, including downtown. We’ll be coming back for their delicious shrimp and grits.
- The Blackbird Restaurant (47 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC): Trust us when we say you’ll want to make a dinner reservation for the Blackbird. Their Southern menu emphasizes modernity and local suppliers and always blows us away.
- Capella on 9 (10 Broadway St, Asheville, NC): Located on top of the AC Hotel, Capella on 9 is one of the best rooftop restaurants in Asheville. Dining here in the glow of the setting sun is an unforgettable experience, but their brunch and lunch menus are also perfect for foodies.
- Chai Pani (22 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC): Chai Pani is a whimsical yet affordable restaurant offering up Indian fare. Rather than your traditional Indian dishes, Chai Pani serves upscale street food comprised of chaat, sandwiches, uttapam, and thali.
- Cúrate (13 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC): Pronounced Coo-rah-tay, Curate is a Spanish-influenced eatery serving tapas, small plates, and gluten-free options. We love the sophisticated style of head chef Katie Button.
- French Broad Chocolate (10 S Pack Square, Asheville, NC): After visiting French Broad, no other chocolate will ever compare again. All the chocolate products here, whether decadent chocolate cake, truffle, or drinking chocolate, are rich and delicious.
- Red Ginger Dimsum and Tapas (82 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC): Red Ginger is a foodie’s delight! The tapas-style restaurant specializes in authentic Chinese dim sum, with flavorful dumplings and noodle dishes. For a filling meal, expect to order 2-3 dishes per person and sample the whole menu.
Downtown Asheville NC Breweries
The sheer number of Asheville breweries blows me away. Big names and smaller ones stand side by side throughout the city, but the South Slope Brewing District dominates the scene downtown.
Here are some of our favorite breweries to check out in the heart of Asheville.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Asheville Brewing Company (77 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC) opened its second Asheville location in the South Slope district and now houses the 15-barrel and 7-barrel brew houses. The food selection includes various burgers, vegetarian/vegan options (seasonal and locally grown), and pizza.
- Burial Beer Co (40 Collier Ave, Asheville, NC) is now home to a 20-barrel brewhouse with 60-barrel fermenters, a barrel-aging facility, a winery, and the Forestry Camp restaurant. There’s also a Burial Taproom in Raleigh, if you’re seeking one of their tasty beers in Central North Carolina.
- Catawba Brewing Company (32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC) welcomes visitors with a dog-friendly brewery and many craft beer and hard seltzer options. There is a light snack menu and special events, including trivia nights and food trucks that stop by.
- Green Man Brewery (2 South Slope locations) offers all-natural English style and newer flavored beers from its main ingredients of malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. Of all the breweries in Asheville, Green Man is one that you’ll likely see in bottle shops throughout North Carolina.
- Highland Brewing Company (56 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC) is Asheville’s original brewery and today has two locations: the brewery (and Meadow) and, most recently, the downtown taproom in the S&W Market.
- Hi-Wire Brewing (197 Hilliard Ave, Asheville, NC) offers flagship beers, seasonals, specialties, and sour & wild ales. Hi-Wire has other locations in North Carolina (in Durham and Wilmington), in Tennessee, and Kentucky, too.
- One World Brewing (10 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC) began below Farmburger, an incredible Asheville restaurant owned by the founder’s brother. This downtown Asheville brewery believes in fostering a community for all walks of life and bringing everyone together. You’ll get that vibe as soon as you walk inside.
- Twin Leaf Brewery (144 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC) offers an assortment of pale ales, sours, Belgian tripels, IPAs, German beers, and more. We also love Twin Leaf because it’s dog and kid-friendly, and the brewery offers a light snack menu.
- Wicked Weed Brewing (91 Biltmore Ave and 147 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC) might be one of the best-known breweries in Asheville, and they have taprooms in downtown Asheville (the BrewPub and Funkatorium). The BrewPub houses the original 15-barrel brewery, a full-service restaurant, a downstairs beer bar, and a bottle shop. Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium is also in the South Slope District and is a spin-off featuring the many sours that Wicked Weed offers.
Downtown Asheville NC Cideries
Downtown Asheville also hosts some lovely cideries, including one of the biggest names in America.
- Bold Rock Ciders (39 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC) produces many ciders, including premium dry, vintage dry, and more. There are also hard seltzers and cocktails available.
- Urban Orchard Cider Co (24 Buxton Ave, Asheville, NC) offers tasty aged ciders from Hendersonville apples, snacks, cheese, charcuterie, and more to enhance your visit.
Things to Do Near Downtown Asheville NC
While downtown is overflowing with sights and things to do, Asheville is much larger than this single district.
Here are some places and districts near Downtown Asheville, starting with America’s largest home.
- Biltmore Estate
- Biltmore Village
- River Arts District
- West Asheville
Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC
After you’ve imagined how you’d utilize each room as your own, head outside for a walk around the beautiful gardens surrounding the house.
If you’re traveling west toward Asheville on I-40 (eventually I-240), Biltmore Village is one of the first parts of town you’ll pass through.
Historic buildings like the Cathedral of All Souls (9 Swan St, Asheville, NC) complement the collection of stuccoed buildings housing local businesses, craft breweries, restaurants, and more.
River Arts District
The River Arts District (RAD) encompasses the best of Asheville’s creativity and artistry, with over 270 artists residing in the historic buildings. We love visiting RAD and browsing all the art galleries and displays.
West Asheville sits across the river from RAD, and Haywood Road will take you through it. You’ll see colorful buildings filled with restaurants, quirky shops, and more fun places to visit.
Parking is also tight in West Asheville, but some restaurants and shops offer on-site parking.
Day Trips from Downtown Asheville NC
- Black Mountain
Distance from Asheville: 16 miles (19 minutes)
Lake Tomahawk Park is a great stop for outdoor days, and White Horse is a must-visit music venue.
Distance from Asheville: 26 miles (31 minutes)
Hendersonville is south of Asheville and worth exploring, especially for its wonderful downtown and tasty restaurant scene! Don’t miss the fantastic apple orchards in Hendersonville during late summer and early fall.
If you’re around during Labor Day, the NC Apple Festival is one of the biggest events in Western NC.
Distance from Asheville: 34 miles (45 minutes)
Don’t skip Brevard’s cool downtown, shops, and places to eat. Of course, you’ll want to head to Brevard College for a “chance” at seeing one of those famed white squirrels.
Stay at the Pines Country Inn in nearby Pisgah Forest for lovely views and delicious breakfasts to start your day!
More Things to Do in Downtown Asheville and Nearby (Travel Guides)
We’ve created many more NC travel guides that feature these fun things to do in downtown Asheville NC and nearby! Here are a few of them.