Take an eight-minute drive from Asheville to the River Arts District to check out the vast array of art studios. This diverse area of the French Broad River is a great place to explore artist studios and restaurants for the afternoon. You may walk over to the river and jump in with your inner tube and float in the water, as the summers can be sweltering.
The River Arts District is home to old industrial and historical buildings spread out over a mile on the riverbank. Once a booming town in the 1920s, it soon felt the hit of the Great Depression. Later many of the industrial businesses left this area, and the buildings sat deteriorating. Many business folks, artists, and landowners decided to bring life back into these structures and started the River Arts District. For the past 27 years, the artists have laid claims in establishing working studios in this once dying industrial park of Asheville.
The city of Asheville has done an outstanding job and very smartly offered incentives to area artists and entrepreneurs to open shops/studios in this “forgotten” area. Such incentives resulted in converting it into a lovely and thriving area of the city.
- Note: Make sure before you go to check out their hours as some days they are not open or have shorter hours.
A few of the studios had the artist inside designing and sculpting their work. We had the opportunity to visit with a few of them as we admired their skills. Some of the artists will walk you through their current creation and share with you what inspired them to create a new work of art. We saw several large art pieces that were commissioned by restaurants in the city of Asheville and elsewhere in North Carolina.
It was great fun photographing this artist as she was working with clay to create her work.
You will find more than 100 artists who work in paint, pencil, pottery, metal, fabric, glass, wax, paper, and much more. All the galleries we visited offered some stunning and unique art pieces. I was tempted to buy a few of them to bring back home, but thankfully my husband helped me restrain my wallet.
One of my most favorite discoveries was the graffiti murals located next to White Duck Taco’s parking area. These old silos have been converted into colorful canvases with sayings such as “Good Vibes.” Some of the murals tell a story of the area, and others are artistic expressions. As a photographer, I found myself working all angles to capture these beautiful mural images.
We managed to visit every one of the galleries open that day. It took us a little over 6 hours to see everything here. I had no idea how fast time had passed, so we decided to grab a bite to eat.
PLACE TO EAT
There are few restaurants to choose from in the River Arts District. I strongly recommend White Duck Taco Shop. The line of people wanting to eat here was out the door and into the street. Everyone seems to be interested in having one of their unique and yummy tacos.
The place looked like a hole in the wall, and I must say I was a bit skeptical, but once I took a bite of my taco, I discovered that it was quite tasty! By the time I finished my delicious taco, I was glad that I waited in line. One warning, the restaurant is small, and most of its seating is outside. All in all, this is a great dining spot while wandering through the River Arts District.
ACTIVITIES TO DO
We did not have plans nor came prepared to float the river. Many locals were enjoying the cold water on this hot summer day. However, this activity will be in our travel plans for our next trip to Asheville.
If you enjoy unique and creative artwork, a River Arts District visit needs to be on your bucket list. Asheville is a city full of artists, musicians, and foodies, all with their individuality.
I must admit, this has become one of my favorite cities to visit for a weekend vacation destination.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.