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: 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. Jack of the Wood (acoustic sessions) and Tressa's Jazz & Blues are longtime favorites. 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.