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Asheville’s Arts Scene Has Deep Roots and a Bright Future

Asheville is a hub for traditional crafts and emerging arts and major upgrades occurring throughout the River Arts District.

By Kevin Litwin on November 30, 2022

Visitos walk past the giant pink dog mural painted on the side of Pink Dog Creative in Asheville, North Carolina.
Jeff Adkins

One of Asheville’s signature gathering places is the River Arts District, or the RAD, and city officials have planned many upgrades to the area.

Situated between West Asheville and downtown, the RAD features multiple galleries and studios open to the public in more than 20 former industrial buildings. The district sits along the banks of the French Broad River, and its revitalization is outlined in the city-drafted River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project or RADTIP.

Officials say a complete overhaul of the riverfront area will allow visitors better access to meet the artists and view their works, making it a place to easily get around via biking and walking. Even though construction continues, the district is still very much open and active.

Highlights of the RADTIP initiative include the addition of the 2.2-mile Wilma Dykeman Greenway, which officially opened in April 2021. In addition, many public art works and interactive displays have been installed for people to view. Plus, the project includes adding renovated stormwater infrastructure and a wetlands habitat.

Other improvements include adding tree-lined sidewalks, botanical gardens, traffic roundabouts, more parking, street lighting and benches for sitting. There is also a mile of protected bicycle track dedicated to two-way bicycle traffic separated from automobiles and pedestrians.

Directional signs by the Wilma Dykeman path in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC with the setting sun behind it.
Lynne Harty

All construction is expected to be completed in 2023, but in the meantime, there are still many things to see and do in the RAD — even all in one day, if you like. For example, you can grab a coffee and breakfast at Ultra Coffeebar, then get some good exercise and see beautiful scenery by walking the new 2.2-mile Wilma Dykeman Greenway.

Tap into your creative juices by taking a unique class at North Carolina Glass Center, then treat yourself to some good food by grabbing an early lunch at RosaBees, which serves Polynesian cuisine with a pastry chef’s flare. In the early afternoon, take time to admire the unusual art exhibits found at Pink Dog Creative, then gaze at the gorgeous outdoor murals scattered throughout the RAD before enjoying a shopping excursion at the several boutiques in the area.

Order a couple of pepperoni slices for an early dinner at All Souls Pizza to wrap up your exciting day in the district. Then, top off your festive adventure by enjoying some craft brews at Wedge Brewing Co. — try the cherry-raspberry wheat.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to learn more about the Asheville area, check out the latest edition of Livability Asheville, North Carolina

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