River Arts District, Asheville
As downtown Asheville gentrified in recent years, one side effect was the displacement of artists and artisans who occupied old commercial buildings. They dispersed to Weaverville, Black Mountain and other satellite communities - and to the River Arts District, formerly an industrial area southwest of downtown along the French Broad River.
Nowadays, more than 160 of them make and/or display their work in an eclectic assortment of buildings. The disciplines are far-ranging: ceramics, painting, jewelry, furniture, glass, photography, mosaic and more. Any Monday through Saturday, at least a dozen welcome visitors between late morning and 4 p.m. (only a few, however, are open Sundays). Several offer morning or evening classes.
You can see their work at various craft shows, but in the River Arts District you can see many in one visit - and often as they work.
A prime weekend is coming up: The River Arts District Studio Stroll is Nov. 12-13. It's staged in 19 historic buildings along the river; there will be artist demonstrations and hands-on activities throughout the weekend.
Greyline Trolley will give free shuttles among the studio buildings on both days, with various convenient stops. Strollers can take a break at one of two eateries in the River Arts District: 12 Bones Smokehouse, and Clingman Café (coffee/sandwich shop), White Duck Taco Shop (unique varieties - including a Bangkok Shrimp taco), The Junction (farm-to-table bistro fare) and The Magnetic Field (bistro at a performance venue). Wet your whistle in the District at the Wedge Brewing Company.
Stroll brochures are available at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, River Arts District studios and at galleries around town. There will be an information booth at the intersection of Clingman, Lyman, Roberts and Depot streets.
Target audience: Art lovers, holiday shoppers.
Directions: From downtown Asheville, drive west on Patton Avenue and follow the signs to Clingman Avenue.
Travel time from Charlotte: A little more than two hours.