French Broad River

Rowdy to Relaxing: River Culture in Asheville

Tubing on the French Broad River

photo by JustinAsheville.com

The French Broad River flows through 25 municipalities in Western North Carolina, but it gets the most love in Asheville.  Over the past decade, a burgeoning river culture has emerged around the River Arts District in the center of town.  Passers-by can glimpse that love from the I-240 Smoky Park Bridge headed into downtown Asheville.  The river there is often teeming with river-lovers on a summer day.

Changes

What was once the distinctly industrial area of Asheville is now undergoing a sort of renaissance, spearheaded by artists a decade or more ago and carried along by restaurateurs, brewers and outdoor sports entrepreneurs.  The River Arts District is experiencing rapid changes to infrastructure amenities that will bring more access by road, bike and foot.

Food

Several stalwart eateries forged the way to a growing foodie scene along the river.  Clingman Cafe, overlooking the railroad tracks is a great spot to grab a coffee drink and pastry.  All Souls Pizza, known for their artisan crusts and farm fresh ingredients, was even featured in the New York Times.  

Fine dining establishments such as The Junction, Bull and Beggar and Smoky Park Supper Club are emerging from the rubble via reclaimed buildings and even reused shipping containers.

Asheville Food Park at the River is a shabby chic food truck heaven with new local and regional culinary artists rolling into town daily.  Visitors can sit by a creek, have a microbrew and throw cornhole while eating a delicious affordable meal.

Drink

The River district of Asheville does not lack for an opportunity to savor a craft cocktail or a microbrew.  The Wedge Brewery, long a staple of the area, sits at the epicenter of the river district, with its biergarten style tables overlooking the railroad tracks.  The Burger Bar, Bywater and the Salvation Station all provide riverside or riverview opportunities to get a great cocktail on a budget.  Some of the most delectable craft cocktails in the city can be found at the higher end restaurants mentioned above.

River Arts District train tracks

Adventure

Relaxing or rowdy, whatever your style of adventure can be accomplished along the French Broad through Asheville.  For those choosing not to voyage by vessel, the French Broad River Park now boasts about 5 miles of paved trails for bicyclists and pedestrians. A dog park is situated at one end of the long park and a sports complex rests at the other.   Across from the center of the park, you can find the Smoky Park Adventure Center, a hub for rock climbing, yoga, tai chi and more.  

Zen Tubing is the go-to company for renting tubes and running shuttles.  French Broad Outfitters can equip you for kayaking and paddle boarding.  Many anglers float the river for a day of fishing for smallmouth bass.

Entertainment

Asheville non-profit RiverLink sponsors a free community concert series called River Music on the banks of the French Broad River once a month during the warmer seasons.  Local and regional acts draw thousands of people to these shows.  They also spearhead River Festival and the Anything That Floats Parade in August.

Twice a year, the River Arts District holds an artist’s studio stroll where visitors can see almost 200 artists showcasing their art throughout historically industrial studios along the river.

River Living

The River Arts District is an increasingly popular place to live due to its convenience to downtown and its accessibility to Asheville’s greatest natural and designed outdoor play spaces.  Much of the housing in this area is either bungalow style homes, condos or studio apartments.  

Mosaic Realty would love to help you find your home in Asheville.  For more information on real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at mike@mymosaicrealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

Search: View all homes for sale in Asheville

Search:  View all homes for sale in the River Arts District

 

River Arts District Neighborhood of Asheville = RAD

River Arts District Asheville

Undeniably, the neighborhood in Asheville that is undergoing the most radical change at the moment is the River Arts District.

This district is situated just southwest of downtown Asheville, nestled between the bustling central business district, historic Biltmore Village and funky West Asheville.  The French Broad River defines the neighborhood’s western border and brings with it many eager river adventurers.  However, it has not always been quite the cultural hub that it is now.

History of the River Arts District in Asheville

Historic River Arts District AshevilleBy the late 1800s, Asheville’s industrial district had settled in the low-lying area surrounding the French Broad River.  During this time, the railroad, still active today as the Norfolk Southern, brought scores of people to town.

In the 1980s, as downtown Asheville began to see a slow renaissance and artists faced higher rents there, many of them set up shop in the industrial buildings lining the banks of the French Broad River.  1994 marked the first official studio stroll, and hence the name River Arts District began to take effect.  

Around the turn of the century, a few Asheville entrepreneurs began to recognize the opportunity in the area and set up businesses such as the Grey Eagle Music Hall and the Wedge Brewery, which are still thriving today.  The momentum has continued through the last 15 years with many businesses experiencing success in the area.

Today, there are plans for a Visitor’s Center with public parking and restrooms and many other improvements in the works.  The city was awarded a federal grant titled Tiger VI to improve transportation in and around the River District.  Ahead of the improved infrastructure, many local businesses are looking to be a part of this area.

River Arts District Culture

River Arts StudiosThis neighborhood is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Asheville. (Link)  It’s friendliness to alternative transportation is only increasing as the city is investing more and more in infrastructure for greenways, sidewalks and bike lanes.  

The plethora of craft beers, artisan cocktails, fine dining and casual bites to eat is overwhelming and on the rise.  Our detailed blog post on river culture in Asheville lays out some of our favorite destinations in the River Arts District as well as some outstanding pass times.

Architectural Styles of the River Arts District

 Historic cottages dot the hillside of Chicken Hill, facing west over the river and south over the center of the business district.  In the past few years, some historic industrial buildings have been renovated to include studio apartments near artists’ studio spaces.  

New construction is popping up all along the River Arts District featuring mostly condos and modern style homes.  These homes are designed to reduce urban sprawl and to take advantage of the walkability of this neighborhood.

For more information on real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

Search: View all homes for sale in the River Arts District

Search: View all homes for sale in Asheville

Sources/Further Reading: The History of the River Arts District