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Downtown Asheville Guide

Also see: Top 20 Cool Mountain Small Towns | Downtown Photo Collage | Downtown Snow Photos | South Slope District | Beer Guide

Downtown Asheville NC
Vance Monument marks the center of town - with our favorite Jackson Building in the background.

Downtown Asheville
Looking down at Pack Square Park from the Jackson Building

Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig, Masterminds
See the film locations for the movie Masterminds.

LOFT Store

Asheville Pubcycle
Amazing Pubcycle

Adventure Center of Asheville
At the Adventure Center of Asheville across the river from downtown, ride 11 ziplines, play in treetops, mountain bike and more.

What a great place to explore, hang out and people watch! Asheville's lively downtown has wonderful architecture, great locally-owned stores, a huge variety of restaurants, interesting museums, fun street performers and many free festivals. The diverse mix of culture, music and art has led to our city center being dubbed by many as the "Paris of the South."

Downtown Asheville Top 15 Things to Do

1. Shopping: This is a shopper's paradise with 200+ locally-owned stores and boutiques. You won't find tacky tourist shops. You will find a world-class selection with something for everyone. You could spend a day browsing the big variety of retailers, antique stores, book stores and art galleries.

2. Dining: Choose from 80+ independently-owned restaurants, many using local ingredients by world-class chefs with menus inspired from regions around the globe. Many have outdoor dining! See our Top 50 Restaurants.

3. Beer: With more than 50 local taps, you won't go thirsty! Take a walking tour of craft breweries or just hang out at one of the many pubs and taverns. See our Asheville Beer Guide.

4. Wine: If you prefer wine or cocktails, go to the very romantic Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar in the Grove Arcade. Or enjoy a drink atop the Flat Iron Building and watch the sunset at the Sky Bar. Read more about these and other great choices in our Asheville Wine & Cocktails Bar Guide.

5. Chocolate: In addition to finding decadent chocolate desserts at our restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries, stop by the several chocolatiers for serious chocolate therapy. The Chocolate Fetish is a long-time favorite. Or join the crowds at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge and tour their factory. Read more: Downtown Asheville Chocolate Tour.

6. Art: Browse 40 galleries that showcase work of hundreds of local artists. See our Gallery Guide. Also tour the Asheville Art Museum and attend one of the many art festivals, including Art in the Park (June & October) and Spruce Street Market (July-September).

7. Live Music & Theatre: From the national touring acts at the Orange Peel concert hall to local jams in the smaller venues including pubs and restaurants, there's plenty of music to enjoy. Plus, see a show at NC Stage Theatre. And enjoy the talents of street entertainers, particularly abundant on warm weekend nights! Read more about these and other live music venues.

8. Drum Circle: Every Friday night (except winter), gather with dozens of drummers and hundreds of spectators and dancers. Feel the beat! See our Drum Circle Guide.

9. Architecture: For a walking tour of the fascinating history and impressive collection of historic buildings, take the 1.7-mile Asheville Urban Trail with wonderful sculptures and art at each stop. Did you know we have the largest collection of art deco in the southeast outside of Miami Beach?

10. Best Museum: Tucked away and missed by many is the fascinating Thomas Wolfe Home, now a house museum about the novelist's boyhood home and setting for "Look Homeward, Angel." See our Thomas Wolfe Memorial Guide. Another hidden "gem" of a museum is the Colburn Earth Science Museum. The aSHEville Museum opened in 2014.

11. Grove Arcade: See one of the first "malls" in America at this beautifully restored treasure. Find local art, gifts, fresh food, crafts, and more at the Grove Arcade city market with dozens of locally owned shops and restaurants.

12. Festivals & Concerts: Enjoy many festivals and events, including summer favorites Shindig on the Green and Downtown After 5. Enjoy a festival or have a picnic in Pack Square Park. The US Cellular Civic Center & Thomas Wolfe Auditorium host many major concerts and events. See a play at Asheville Community Theatre. See our favorite festivals for Spring, Summer, Fall.

13. Comedy Bus Tour: Wave at walkers and diners from the purple bus on this zany tour of Asheville landmarks. Get ready to laugh! Check out LaZoom Tours.

14. Basilica: See one of Asheville's architectural treasures, the Basilica of St. Lawrence with the largest freestanding elliptical dome in the country. See our Basilica of St. Lawrence Guide. Walk by more beautiful churches on Church Street (of course).

15. Outdoors Adventure: Looking for outdoor adventure? Ride zip lines at Asheville Zipline Canopy Tours near downtown with views of the skyline and mountains. Play in the Treetops Adventure Park. Or watch a Asheville Tourists Baseball game.

Special for 2015: Masterminds Movie Locations
See the film locations downtown for the movie Masterminds that will be released in August 2015. Read all about it.

Up and Coming in 2015: Check out the progress in South Slope District, home to seven breweries and more.

The Amazing Pubcycle
Ride through downtown on a wicked-cool 13-person pedal powered (motor assisted) contraption like no other. Imagine riding your bike sideways, hanging out at your favorite pub on wheels. Join for mixer tours of downtown or private party tours. Pubcycle is a BYOB activity, so get your brew on! Seven days a week April-October, weekends November-March. Go their Web site.

Where to Park? See our parking tips below.

Asheville NC Downtown Photo Tour

Downtown Asheville Skyline
Asheville Skyline

LaZoom Bus Tour
LaZoom Comedy Tours (yes, be ready to see a cross-dressing nun drinking beer or riding a huge bicycle.)

Drum Circle
Friday night Drum Circle

Blue Spiral 1 Gallery

Downtown Asheville Shopping
Grove Arcade: This renovated historic building is worth a visit to admire the architecture alone, but it's also a wonderful place to wander, shop or visit galleries. The dining options range from Chicago-style hot dogs to frozen custard, wine bars to coffee shops, upscale restaurants to sidewalk cafes.

Haywood Street: From chocolate to contemporary furniture to wigs, you can find it all on Haywood. See the works of 150 artists at Woolworth Walk, browse Malaprops Bookstore and get your craft supplies at the Earth Guild.

Wall Street: This picturesque side street features a mix of unique shops and some great restaurants like Early Girl and Market Place.

Broadway & Biltmore This street changes name at the monument, with Broadway to one side of Patton Avenue and Biltmore to the other. It is lined with local institutions like Mast General Store and Blue Sprial I gallery, along with many restaurants with outdoor dining.

Lexington Avenue: It's described as "funky and eclectic" and "hip and happening." The street has adopted the motto "where world culture meets counter culture."
See a map of downtown.

Grove Arcade Market
Outdoor market is open every day at the Grove Arcade.

Thomas Wolfe House
Left: See professional theatre at NC Stage | Right: Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Grove Arcade
Grove Arcade

Downtown Asheville in snow
See photos and video of downtown Asheville blanketed with snow.

Shindig on the GreenFlat Iron Building, Asheville
Left: Shindig on the Green | Right: Flat Iron Building

Sky Bar
Sky Bar

Street Musicians
Originality is the benchmark for downtown musicians. Remember to tip if you stop or enjoy or take their photo!

Double Decker Bus Coffee Christmas Tree
Left: Double Decker Bus Coffee | Right: Holidays in Asheville

Mast General Store
Must Stop: Mast General Store

Tupelo Honey
Dine al fresco! Have you been to Tupelo Honey?

Asheville Art Museum
Asheville Art Museum

Hotel Indigo Suite
Check out the best Downtown Hotels: Aloft Hotel | Hotel Indigo | Haywood Park Hotel

Wall Street
See more Downtown Photos | See our Downtown Snow Photo Collage

Parking in Downtown Asheville

The easiest solution to parking is using on of the four city parking decks. In all city parking garages, parking booths are attended Monday-Friday, 10 AM-7 PM. During these times, customers may pay for hourly parking and also pay parking citations. During other hours, payment is made when exiting from the garages using the exit pay-in-lane stations. Both the attendants and stations accepts coins, cash, validation tickets, and Mastercard or Visa credit cards. The reasonable amount is a flat fee and depends on the garage as listed below.
- Civic Center Parking Deck is entered from Haywood or Rankin (550 spaces)
- Rankin Avenue Parking Deck is entered from Walnut or Rankin (262 spaces)
- Wall Street Parking Deck (adjacent to Grove Arcade) is entered from Otis Street near Patton Avenue (232 spaces)
- Aloft Hotel Public Parking Deck is at 51 Biltmore Avenue (412 spaces)
There are a couple of privately owned parking garages in Asheville downtown that are usually more expensive, but very convenient.

Downtown Asheville AssociationON STREET PARKING
There are more than 700 on-street metered spaces in downtown Asheville. All meters are for short term parking (two hours or less, as marked) at a cost of $1 per hour. All meters accept coins only. The metered spaces are enforced from 8 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Saturday. Parking is FREE each Sunday and City holidays. Designated City holidays include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Friday after Thanksgiving, and Christmas (3 days). There is no need to "feed the meters" on these days. However, regulations for Handicapped Parking and Loading Zones are still enforced.

Downtown Asheville


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Writing & Photography By Mark File - ©2003-2015 File Investments, Inc - All Rights Reserved