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

 

 

Bank on a Feast at Asheville's Many Riverfront Restaurants and Breweries

Asheville Riverside Bars and Restaurants

One of the many perks of living in Asheville is the city’s access to the French Broad River. The third-oldest river on Earth, the French Broad slices through the center of Asheville, offering plenty of opportunity for fun on, and along, the famed waterway – including an abundance of riverfront dining and drink venues. Visit one of these spots to take in some tastiness as you absorb the relaxing riverside atmosphere.

Zillicoah Beer Company

Zillicoah, located in Woodfin on the eastern bank of the French Broad River, specializes in open-fermented farmhouse ales and lagers. The brewery’s open-air tasting room rotates up to 12 taps, including in-house beers and guest taps. Zillicoah’s partnership with Taqueria Muñoz means you can savor tacos, tortas and tamales along with the river views. 870 Riverside Drive.

Asheville Riverside DiningWhite Duck Taco

This restaurant’s flagship recently moved a block from its original location to the east bank of the French Broad River, with ample parking, indoor and outdoor seating, and pet-friendly waterfront access. Enjoy such fare as Banh Mi tofu, Thai peanut chicken, or mushroom, potato and romesco sauce tacos, as well as sides like green chile black beans and watermelon with mint. 388 Riverside Drive.

High Five Coffee

This outpost of High Five offers a place to enjoy your coffee overlooking the water, and has a take-out spot if you’re paddling down the river. High Five offers classically prepared espresso drinks as well as house-made syrups for creative concoctions, and a variety of brewing methods for the cup, as well as whole beans. The café serves both savory and sweet, locally prepared fare, as well as several local beers on tap. 2000 Riverside Drive, in the Mill at Riverside

Salvage Station

This riverfront bar, restaurant, concert hall, and special events venue features a relaxed outdoor setting in the River Arts District along the French Broad River.

The restaurant boasts eclectic Southern and Appalachian-inspired choices of in-house smoked meats, sandwiches, and lighter fare. Full bar, vegan/vegetarian options, late-night menu, live music almost nightly, and a family-friendly atmosphere make Salvage Station a year-round favorite. Large sweeping open areas of grass for family outings and multiple viewpoints from the river’s waterfront location provide a unique opportunity to combine music, food and fun. 466 Riverside Drive

Asheville Food and Drinks by the RiverSmoky Park Supper Club

The largest shipping container restaurant in the U.S., Smoky Park Supper Club is situated on the French Broad River on close to 2 acres of land in the River Arts District. The restaurant features seasonal, wood-fired farm-to-table fare, craft beer, cocktails and live music. Arrive by bike, boat or car for riverside dining outdoors on the lawn or deck, or inside the creatively constructed eatery. 350 Riverside Drive.

New Belgium Brewing

Nestled along the French Broad River, New Belgium features a 5,100-square-foot tasting room, as well as a massive outdoor space comprising a large lawn perfect for picnic and play, a fire pit, plenty of picnic benches and high-top seating on a large deck, and Adirondack chairs facing the river with a view of the River Arts District and Chicken Hill neighborhood. A rotating roster of food trucks, live outdoor music in warmer weather, and the array of beers New Belgium is famed for mean you can make a day of it with family and friends. Extremely kid- and dog-friendly (although dogs are not allowed inside the tasting room), New Belgium is also an ideal stop after a bike ride along the greenway. 21 Craven Street.

HomeGrown West

Enjoy locally sourced and updated American cuisine across from the French Broad River Greenway in West Asheville, near Carrier Park. Favorites include such dishes as buttermilk fried chicken and catfish po’boys, as well as sides like sautéed sesame greens and grit cakes. Dine at outdoor picnic tables behind the restaurant, or get your food to go and amble across the street to the park for a riverside picnic. 219 Amboy Road.

For information about Real Estate in Asheville, contact Mosaic Realty owner Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com, or call him anytime at 828-337-8190

Search: Real Estate in the River Arts District

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