The Asheville area’s entertainment scene is one-of-a-kind, offering a surprisingly wide array of options often reserved for much bigger cities. From theater, comedy and music to sporting events, arts districts, and athletic adventure centers, there’s never a shortage of things to do and see in Western North Carolina. Following is just a small sampling of some of the area’s long-standing spots.
Orange Peel, named one of the top five music venues in the country by Rolling Stone magazine, features a range of world-renowned acts, as well as homegrown musicians, in the heart of downtown Asheville. https://theorangepeel.net
Grey Eagle, Asheville’s longest-running all-ages venue, has hosted over 10,000 different bands and artists. https://www.thegreyeagle.com
Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville/Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, a complex featuring Western N.C.’s largest arena, as well as an intimate auditorium, draws music concerts, conventions, expos and sports events to downtown Asheville. https://www.harrahscherokeecenterasheville.com
Brevard Music Center, in Brevard, N.C., features a range of performances from classical to jazz to bluegrass and beyond. https://www.brevardmusic.org
Performance and movie theaters
The Fine Arts Theatre in downtown Asheville is an art deco cinema showing first-run, art and independent films. http://www.fineartstheatre.com
Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, in the heart of downtown’s Pack Square Cultural District, is a three-venue complex comprising Diana Wortham Theatre, Tina McGuire Theatre and Henry LaBrun Studio and features everything from dance to music to theatrical performances. https://www.worthamarts.org
Montford Park Players performs Shakespeare and other classic plays for free during summer months at the outdoor Hazel Robinson Amphitheater in the Montford Community Center Complex. https://www.montfordparkplayers.org
Flat Rock Playhouse, in the village of Flat Rock, N.C., is renowned for quality productions of popular musicals, comedies and dramas. https://www.flatrockplayhouse.org
Asheville Community Theatre, the oldest continuously operating theater in Asheville, features well-known plays and musicals, classes and more. https://ashevilletheatre.org
Sports and adventure centers
Climbmax offers indoor and outdoor climbing walls, youth programs and more, at both its River Arts District and downtown Asheville locations. https://www.climbmaxnc.com
The Riveter, in Mills River, puts the adventure in fitness with a climbing gym, progressive bike park, and modern yoga and fitness studios. https://www.riveternc.com
Asheville Adventure Center and Kolo Bike Park offer Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures; an on-site bike trail system; Asheville Treetops Adventure Park’s elevated obstacle course with five levels of difficulty; and KidZip, America’s first zipline adventure designed for kids under 10. https://ashevilletreetopsadventurepark.com
Asheville’s River Arts District is home to 240 studios, offering a vibrant array of art forms: everything from painting to ceramics to glass blowing to fiber arts. Artist studios are open year round, keeping individual schedules and hours.
The Downtown Asheville Art District is a conglomerate of fine art and craft businesses dedicated to showcasing the arts in downtown Asheville. In addition to downtown galleries, the DAAD includes visual and performing arts entities.
Penland School of Craft, near Spruce Pine, N.C., offers total-immersion workshops in 16 fully equipped studios along with artist residencies, a gallery and visitors’ center, and community programs. https://penland.org
From cutting-edge clothing boutiques to eclectic art enclaves to unique gift shops – anchored by such local institutions as Tops for Shoes https://topsforshoes.com – downtown Asheville is brimming with plenty of interesting stores to find quality wares singular to the city. But one-of-a-kind shops aren’t limited to Asheville: quaint Main Streets are the hallmark of many Western N.C. towns, such as Hendersonville, Weaverville, Brevard, and Waynesville, to name just a few.