Marshall, NC, Insiders Guide

Marshall, NC

The historic town of Marshall in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and the scenic French Broad River, just 20 miles north of Asheville. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents celebrates its colorful past while passionately embracing the contemporary. Main Street, lined with original buildings including the 100-year-old courthouse, is home to artists’ studios, galleries, music and dance venues and eclectic shops. 

Marshall Main Street

Walk Main Street through downtown. Zuma (7 N Main) is a cool hang-out with organic fair trade coffees, homemade desserts and creative, healthy comfort food. They have live music many nights. Marshall Container Co. (10 South Main) is part neighborhood pub and part artist workshop. Visit with the locals while enjoying craft beer, games and spinning vinyl. Head to Mad Co. Brew House (45 N. Main) for bratwursts, small batch craft beers and deck overlooking the river.

Other top stops: Sweet Monkey Cafe & Bakery (133 S. Main), The Star Diner (115 N. Main), Flow Gallery (14 S. Main), Madison Natural Foods (101 N. Main St) and The French Broad Exchange (63 S. Main). For authentic mountain music and dancing, go to the historic depot (282 South Main) on Friday nights.

Marshall NC Penland Store

Stop by the 100-year-old department store Penland & Sons with a big variety of merchandise.

Marshall, NC

A quick walk or drive over the river takes you to Blannahassett Island, where you’ll find picnic areas, fishing, and Marshall High Studios, home to many artists. The grand, historic home above the Courthouse is Marshall House Inn.

See our Madison County Guide for more things to do nearby, including whitewater rafting trips down the French Broad. Just 16 miles away is Hot Springs, home to the Appalachian Trail and the mineral springs.

For many more options, go to the Madison County website for 100 things to do.

Madison County Scenic Drive
French Broad Overview: This scenic byway begins north of Asheville at the Weaverville exit for US 25/70 North from I-26. After a short distance, turn left on Monticello Road to reach the French Broad River. Turn right on Old Marshall Road / NC 215. Winding along the river, you may catch sight of whitewater rafters in the summer months. However, historically the land next to the river was the passage for migrating animals, American Indians and later drovers who took their stock to market. The sheer rocks on the right provide a beautiful contrast to the wide river on the left. The highway continues to Marshall. Continuing on Main Street will bring you back to US Highway 25/70 bypass where the route ends.

For many more ideas, click here to visit the Madison County Web site. See more of our 35 Coolest NC Mountain Small Towns.

NOC French Broad
NOC French Broad River Rafting
Take a guided whitewater rafting trip near Asheville on the scenic French Broad River with its splashy Class II and III rapids! Ideal for families and groups. The full-day trip finishes with Frank Bell's Rapid, a thrilling Class IV drop.
French Broad Adventures Asheville
French Broad Adventures
Asheville’s closest adventure experience, offering whitewater rafting, ziplines, and canyoneering expeditions just 30 minutes from Downtown Asheville. Experience a fun-filled rafting adventure with knowledgeable guides or choose a milder calmwater trip in the heart of the scenic valley near Hot Springs. Enjoy both indoor and outdoor experiences. Half and full-day trips. 
Barns of Madison County
Barns of Madison County
Drive the country roads of Madison County to see many historic barns preserved by the Appalachian Barn Alliance - five scenic routes take you by farms and mountain views.
Blue Heron Whitewater
Blue Heron Whitewater, Hot Springs
Enjoy rafting trips (or inflatable kayaks) and calm water float trips on the French Broad River with a fantastic combination of whitewater rapids, swimming holes, beautiful scenery, history and wildlife near Asheville. Excellent, fun-loving guides and all the appropriate river equipment ensure a great time.
Laurel River Trail
Laurel River Trail
(7 miles roundtrip, easy) This scenic creekside trail follows Big Laurel Creek as it flows to the French Broad River in Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs.


Mermaid Parade
Mermaid Parade & Festival, Marshall
Saturday, June 4, 2022
The legend is that for one day each year, sea creatures and mermaids leave their ocean home and travel the French Broad River to Downtown Marshall. Parade at 5 PM with costumes and lots of water balloons and guns. Downtown festivities are happening until 10 PM so stick around town and enjoy eats, drinks, and live music at some of your favorite downtown businesses
Art on the Island Fest in Marshall
Art on the Island Fest in Marshall
Saturday, September 24, 2022
A free fall fair of artisans, crafters, and music on Blannahassett Island near downtown Marshall. 10 AM-5PM
Marshall Art Market
Marshall Handmade Market, Marshall
Saturday, November 19, 2022 to Sunday, November 20, 2022
This arts festival & holiday market is held indoors at Marshall High Studios on Blannahassatt Island in the French Broad River, 25 minutes north of Asheville. Classrooms-turned-studios open their doors for 60 artists to share process and art. Food trucks too. Free admission. 10 AM-5 PM
Potters Market Marshall
Madison Potters Market
Friday, April 22, 2022 to Sunday, April 24, 2022
Meet 20+ of the finest potters from Madison County and beyond at Marshall High Studios. This historic high school turned artist studios is on a small island in the French Broad River in downtown Marshall, 25 miles north of Asheville.  Enjoy artisan coffee and pastries from a local baker and delicious lunches from one of Asheville's favorite food trucks. 9 AM-4 PM. Free admission. 
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