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river arts district

River Arts District Two Day Itinerary

At DoubleTree Asheville-Biltmore, the importance of artistic expression is greatly understood. To recognize this understanding, our lobby and gallery displays an array of gorgeous art from Phil Mechanic Studios for sale. Their studio features art from twenty-plus artists and is just one example of the rich arts scene in Asheville, NC.

One of Asheville’s most celebrated attractions is the River Arts District, or the RAD as it’s known locally. It is a collection of artwork, restaurants, and culture along the French Broad River in a former industrial zone. Just like the rest of Asheville, this area of the city offers a vibrant selection of attractions, entertainment, and activities, easily customizable for your personal travel preferences. Here is our suggested two-day itinerary for your trip to Asheville’s eclectic and high-spirited River Arts District.

Before setting out for the day, we suggest visiting DoubleTree’s own Ducker Tea Room for a wide selection of delectable dishes. Whether you prefer a continental breakfast for a quick bite or a full breakfast with an omelet station, our breakfast is sure to delight. For a truly speedy breakfast, visit the Marketplace in the lobby to simply grab and go.

A great starting point is Asheville’s Gray Line Trolley Tours. Normally, tickets are $29-31 per person, but if you’re visiting on the second Saturday of the month, you’re in luck! On those days, the Trolley allows free rides from 11:00 am until 4:30 pm. By staying at DoubleTree, guests can purchase tickets in the lobby and hop on the tour right outside the front doors. At stop number seven, the Trolley drops you off in the heart of the RAD.

If you haven’t eaten breakfast at this point, opt for a North Carolinian coffee brew at Ultra Coffee Bar. They offer a wide variety of coffee brews as well as an extensive breakfast menu, including vegan options. After that, embark on an exciting art trek. Make sure you’re wearing walking shoes!

Enjoy the outdoors while strolling through the RAD, taking time to admire the sculpture garden at Curve Studios. If you prefer an indoor experience, enter a studio for more hands-on activities. Take a ceramics class at Odyssey Clayworks, and leave with a handcrafted memento to chronicle your time in Asheville. 

Other studios to visit, including Phil Mechanic Studios, are the Jonas Gerard Gallery and Studio, North Carolina Glass Center, Sugarcane Sewing Studio, Ignite Jewelry, and much, much more! Whether you’re interested in furnishings, basketry, sculpture, photography, jewelry, or mixed media, Asheville hosts hundreds of talented and diverse artists. Visit the RAD website for a comprehensive listing of artists and availability.

A great afternoon stop on this artistic journey is 12 Bones Smokehouse. 12 Bones is presidentially-certified, boasting two visits from President Barack Obama. The restaurant offers a vast array of smoked meats, inspired by both Southern and Northern influences, and delicious sides from collard greens to their special recipe corn pudding.

After lunch, venture out to the famous Grey Eagle Music Hall and purchase tickets for an upcoming performance by a local or visiting band. You can also buy merchandise to commemorate the eventful night or eat at their on-site Latin-American restaurant, The Taqueria.

For RAD Day 2, enjoy a locally-sourced menu at Summit Coffee. Thursdays and Sundays host trivia and music respectively for their guests to enjoy. Plus, the caffeine boost may be helpful as you head into Day 2 of art-trekking. Often visitors stand for hours watching glassblowers, painters and more, as they perfect beautiful pieces. You may even stumble upon one of the many art events or festivals of western North Carolina! Allow plenty of time to wander, experiencing the vibrancy and culture of our city.

An itinerary in the River Arts District would not be complete without a mention of an Asheville favorite, White Duck Taco! This relaxed taco restaurant is famous for snacks, soups, desserts, and of course, tacos. They are a pet-friendly restaurant, as are so many in Asheville, making this an ideal stop if exploring the town with your furry family members.

Then, head over to New Belgium or The Wedge for authentic Asheville beer selections. Both brewing companies also offer food trucks if you prefer dining with your drinks, and one of The Wedge locations is positioned beneath Wedge Studios, known for its metal dinosaur sculpture. Alternatively, if you’re craving flavors from abroad, visit Vivian, influenced by European dining. They offer lighter, upscale menu options for an American Southern take on European cuisine. 

Interested in on-stage art? The Magnetic Theatre offers a diverse range of showings. Take a moment to enjoy Asheville’s thriving theatre community in its inspiration and originality. This intimate venue is the perfect way to engage in local performing arts at their finest.

Finally, to end the day on a musical note, take a trip to the Asheville Guitar Bar located in Asheville Cotton Mill Studios. They offer a selection of craft beer and wine list as you enjoy the local artistry performances. As you return to DoubleTree Asheville-Biltmore to prepare for a safe trip home, be sure to stop by the front desk for just a few more of our irresistible cookies for the road.

Day-by-Day Breakdown & Links: 

Day 1:

Day 2: