Asheville was voted the “Most Romantic Place in USA and Canada” by About.com in 2012. And when we spent the day we found it to be a lively, fun, and artistic place to visit. Read on for some of our favorite Awesome Artistic Things To Do In Asheville NC.
Asheville NC Tourist Attractions
When my husband’s half-sister graduated from UNC we spent several days in North Carolina with 4 generations of his side of the family. One day was dedicated to checking out the top things to do in Asheville NC. We discovered there is something for everyone in the Asheville NC area.
Outdoor activities are a staple in the beautiful state of North Carolina. The greater Asheville area is full of outdoor activity opportunities including hiking, mountain biking, birding, flyfishing, and waterfall tours.
Some of the notable nature sightseeing locations are Mount Mitchell (the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi), Linville Falls, Craggy Gardens Trail, and Skinny Dip Falls Trail.
My sisters-in-law were excited to check out the local breweries. In fact, Asheville has the most breweries per capita in the United States. Isn’t that crazy with how popular microbreweries have become these days?
Artistic Things to Do in Asheville NC
Despite all of the other fun things to do in Asheville NC, I had heard about the River Arts District, so this artistic momma was excited to check it out. After my father-in-law lead us on a long walk from downtown, through a less desirable part of town, then past the farmers market, we finally made it to the River Arts District.
There simply wasn’t enough time in the day for me to fully enjoy it and accommodate the rest of the crew. But while the others were debating about our next move I dove into a building that boasted live demonstrations every day as artists are working in their studios.
You can find the Phil Mechanic Building at 109 Roberts St. Asheville, NC 28801 in a large converted 1920’s brick building that once was used for cold storage. Upon entering the building most of the family joined for an art adventure. We all invaded the studio of Stephen L. Lange.
Lange is a self-proclaimed Tape Artist. His unique mixed media technique incorporates strips of reflective sheeting—the kind used for road signs. He plays with synthetic and natural material, color, and of course light. Specifically, he toys with how light reflects from the tiny glass beads, or micro prisms, that are embedded in the flexible plastic surface of the reflective sheeting.
He was a pleasant, matter-of-fact kind of guy. He took the time out of his day to explain a bit of his art and gifted a piece of the reflective sticker to my little girl. We spent quite a while looking at his pieces and playing with the flash on our phones to see how they altered when the light was refracted.
It was a great intro to the building and I was ready to explore. We wondered the halls enjoying the displays from the other various artists. The smell of oil paint, glazing medium, and liquin filled the air. It is a comforting smell to me since it conjures memories of art school and days long gone.
At the top of our exploration, we found painter Elizabeth Porritt Carrington. She was a joy to meet, and truly the conversation we had with her was one of the top things to do in Asheville NC.
She was in the midst of painting a diptych. This very much reflects her artist’s vision to explore the juxtaposition of life and death, dawn and dusk, and express a love of the Earth and the life we live.
I encouraged my daughter to ask her questions, and Elizabeth took the time to answer them and ask her questions in return. It was one of those higher order thinking, teachable moments. I just can’t get over what an awesome significance that 15 plus minutes was to my young, art-loving daughter.
Heading Back to Downtown
Taking our time in the artist studios, and the several flights of narrow stairs, lost some of our multigenerational group on the way. Everyone gathered outside and began the quick walk back to the River Arts District Farmers Market before heading back to the downtown area.
The market was full of locally grown produce, flowers, and honey. There were other handcrafted foods and artworks. It was just the kind of setup you expect from an art-friendly farmers market.
My sister-in-law purchased a cute pressed flower artwork while we were occupied with my daughter at the craft table. Each week there is an artistic activity for children to do. Our daughter was thrilled to explore how she could use pieces of found nature in an ephemeral collage of her name.
Top Things to Do in Asheville NC Downtown
We trudged the long walk back to downtown Asheville, which is doable but with three small children, it was a bit much. If you’re not up for it I would go for an uber.
Downtown is full of independent shops that are chock-full of local merchandise. There was just about anything you could want from a trendy part of town, vintage clothing shops, coffee shops that roast their own beans, and a Ten Thousand Villages location.
We particularly appreciated the family-friendly Shady Grove Flowers. The owner was so kind and understanding as our toddler rolled around on her floor. Not to mention that her products were cute.
A Family Day in Asheville NC Comes to an End
One day seemed to be too little for us to enjoy all the things to do in Asheville NC. But I hope this gives you a glimpse into what artistic awesomeness the city has to offer. If you are looking for more fun art inspired things to do check out the travel section of the blog.