Our very brief stop in Asheville was focused on arts, crafts, and the downtown core of the city. This was our last stop of the summer with urban amenities like Whole Foods and a walkable historic downtown, so we tried to take full advantage of the opportunities.
Quick Montage of Asheville
The arts scene in Asheville dates back generations, and we got a sense of that history by visiting the Folk Art Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This centerpiece of the Southern Highland Craft Guild has a permanent exhibit of historic works, rotating exhibits of new works, and a shop occupying an entire floor selling works made by the hundreds of members of the guild. Membership is by juried application only, so the guild members’ store is basically a gallery of the best artists of the mountain regions working in traditional media like wood, pottery, and textiles.
Meanwhile the downtown area is packed with galleries showing everything from traditional crafts to contemporary pieces. We started our day at Lexington Glassworks, admiring their outstanding creative works and even seeing a little glass blowing in action. Over the course of the day we probably visited eight other galleries. Some of our favorites were Blue Spiral 1, Momentum Gallery, and the Woolworth Walk, set in an old Woolworth building complete with a functioning old-fashioned soda fountain. We haven’t seen this many high quality galleries since our stop in Taos in 2019! In between gallery visits, we admired the engaging mix of historic and newer buildings that sit shoulder to shoulder in Asheville. Several of these relate to Asheville’s native son Thomas Wolfe, including the boarding house owned by his mother and now part of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. After slogging through Look Homeward, Angel in high school it was only right for me to pay a visit to the place that inspired the book. We capped off our day with a stop in the historic S&W Cafeteria Building, now restored and operating as a food hall and the downtown taproom of Highland Brewing, Asheville’s first craft brewery.
Where We Stayed
Campfire Lodgings is a small private campground with fewer than 20 sites located atop a mountain about 5 miles north of downtown Asheville. Being a very short drive from downtown made it easy to enjoy the city’s amenities, while being on a mountain gave us lovely views west into the Blue Ridge. The campground is set up nicely, with a sunset viewing area furnished with benches and Adirondack chairs. It even has some trails running down the mountain from the campground, which we explored one afternoon. The only negative is the treacherous one-lane road running up the mountain to the campground. We only left and entered once each day, just to avoid extra trips on this white-knuckle route.
Next: Two short stops in Georgia before we get home.