Get to know the many sides of Asheville with this blog series, which examines Asheville through its unique, colorful, spirited, and incredibly distinct neighborhoods. Next, we’re exploring East Asheville, which includes East Asheville, Swannanoa, Black Mountain, Haw Creek, and Fairview.
East Asheville comprises several neighborhoods between downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Except for busy Tunnel Road, the communities east of town are quiet, family-friendly, and off the tourist radar for the most part—but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth exploring! With easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and within proximity to downtown Asheville, East Asheville has the best of both worlds.
The Folk Arts Center is a short drive north on the Blue Ridge Parkway, home of the venerable Southern Highland Craft Guild. This juried markers’ guild represents more than 400 artisans spanning nine states, and the caliber of jewelry, textiles, pottery, glass, wood, metal, and more is among the very best in the country. The center also features the Allanstand Craft Shop, a National Park Service information desk, and a bookstore.
Also located in East Asheville is the family-friendly WNC Nature Center, where visitors can encounter 60 species of wildlife living in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The black bears and red pandas are always a hit, but some rare or more elusive creatures include red and gray wolves, a bobcat, cougars, and the Eastern hellbender salamander—the world’s largest!
When it’s time for a refresher, Asheville’s first craft brewery is a destination in and of itself. Highland Brewing’s flagship facility has a tasting room, rooftop bar, food trucks, indoor and outdoor stages hosting live music, and expansive outdoor areas to explore and throw some friendly disc golf competitions.
Traveling farther east from Asheville, you’ll hit a small town named Swannanoa. Although Swannanoa’s downtown is small, it has a long and vibrant history that includes the honor of once being the home of one of America’s largest blanket manufacturers, Beacon Blankets Manufacturing Co. Since the plant closed in 2002, several new businesses have opened in the area and have rebuilt their community into a small but thriving town. Visitors can learn more about the storied past of Swannanoa at the famous Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center.
Start your day with a cup of coffee from Moments Coffee & Eatery or breakfast from Breakfast Shoppe. Go antiquing at Buckeye Antique Mall, a 9,000-square-foot mall with more than 50 dealers selling genuine antique and vintage wares. Find a new scent at Bella & Oliver Soap Co., a handmade soap company that crafts skin care products that are biodegradable, all-natural, and free of artificial fragrances and colors, sulfates, parabens, and palm oil. Window shop at Penland’s Furniture, a local furniture store selling most of what you need for a new home.
For lunch or dinner, stop by Athens Pizza for a slice, Okie Dokies Smokehouse for a plate, La Bamba Sazón Latino for a burrito, or Loot House for a burger. For dessert, Blunt Pretzels serves hot-and-ready authentic German soft pretzels right downtown. And for drinks, you can stop by Jimmy’s On the River—a local sports pub and pizzeria perfect for a quick drink.
Cradled in the Swannanoa Valley, 15 miles east of Asheville, the adorable town of Black Mountain feels like a place where time stands still. The historic whistlestop is easily walkable and has retail shops, craft galleries, restaurants, and dessert parlors. Take a breather while you stroll in one of the many rocking chairs lining the town’s sidewalks.
Situated at the southern end of the namesake Black Mountains—the highest range in the Eastern U.S.—the town of Black Mountain was little more than rural farmland until the railroad was established in 1879. Most notably, the progressive Black Mountain College existed here from 1933-1956 and served as an incubator for many of America’s leading visual artists, composers, and designers of the 20th century.
Don’t miss venturing into Town Hardware & General Store, which has existed since the 1920s and is still locally owned. You can expect to find all the products from a top-of-the-line hardware chain, plus those at an old-timey general store—like housewares, toys, and outdoor living items. Another honorable mention is The Town Pump Tavern, a beloved saloon-style dive bar from the 80s that remains a cash-only establishment and is featured in the award-winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Shoppers can discover the long tradition of Appalachian crafts at several top-notch galleries, including Seven Sisters, which features works from more than 250 artists, and The Old Depot, located in the original train depot. Gifts and remembrances are easy to come by at places like C.W. Moose Trading Co., which sells apparel, gifts, and more, and Element Tree Essentials, which sells locally-made lotion candles and skincare products. If you’re an adventurer, Take a Hike Outfitters is a go-to for gearing up for your next exhibition.
Food choices are anything but sparse in Black Mountain. From the casual My Father’s Pizza & Pasta to the eclectic La Guinguette, serving French and Argentinian Cuisine, to the sophisticated Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails, to the homegrown Louise’s Kitchen, there’s a little something for every taste.
For a night on the town, locals frequent White Horse Black Mountain, a low-key live music venue, and Pisgah Brewing Company, an organic microbrewery with an outdoor stage and bar. Try a pint at Black Mountain Brewing and Lookout Brewing Company, two other fantastic local craft breweries in the area.
Right next to downtown Asheville is the close-knit neighborhood of Haw Creek. Comprising the area from U.S. Highway 70 and Tunnel Road at I-240 to Groce Methodist Church on Tunnel Road, Haw Creek was settled in the early 1700s and named for the many Hawthorne trees that grew along the banks of creeks in the area.
Haw Creek is a very diverse neighborhood, and while it’s primarily rural, it’s still within 15 minutes of downtown Asheville, the Asheville Mall, and so many department stores along Tunnel Road. But you can still venture into several independently-owned retailers, like Mandala Gems, a metaphysical supply store featuring crystals and minerals from around the world, and Haw Creek Forge, a local handmade garden art shop.
In the morning, order a latte at PennyCup Coffee Haw Creek, a local small-batch coffee roaster and cafe with reasonably ample space for customers to hang out while sipping some great beverages. In the afternoon, grab a bite from East Village Grille, a casual bar and grill serving their famous tiger wings, burgers, pizza, and more. In the evening, get a reservation at Rendezvous, a quintessential French farmhouse serving French soul food, or Copper Crown, a warm, contemporary restaurant offering locally sourced New American fare and signature cocktails.
Have you got a sweet tooth? Stop into Silvermoon Chocolate, a local chocolate shop that makes handcrafted chocolate from the finest possible ingredients and focuses on creating raw, organic, dairy-free, and nutritionally intact products.
When the day turns to night, there are a few places you can go out with your friends, like Creekside Taphouse, a neighborhood family-friendly local joint that specializes in great food and local draft brews, and The Whale Outpost, a new beer bar where you can sip and shop. There are eight taps of draft beer and an extensive package list you can peruse; plus, they host several monthly events for visitors to enjoy.
A picturesque farming community in East Asheville, Fairview is embraced by undulating pastoral hills, tranquil mountain peaks, and a vibrant community of innovators, cultivators, and aspiring entrepreneurs; all united in their deep reverence for the region’s abundant land and agricultural legacy.
Fairview focuses on farm-fresh, premium ingredients, with diverse breweries, cideries, coffee shops, and restaurants. Families can indulge in the region’s local agriculture at Hickory Nut Gap Farm or experience the whimsical ambiance of a train-themed brewery at Whistle Hop Brewing Company, complete with a vast outdoor area with mini golf. Explore the art of cheesemaking on the WNC Cheese Trail, or prepare a delightful picnic for a family-friendly hike up Bearwallow Mountain.
In Fairview, exciting culinary adventures also await. Grab a cup of joe from Daymoon Coffeebar in the morning, a sandwich from Trout Lily Deli Market in the afternoon, and a pizza from Sky Mountain Pizza in the evening. Locals rave about the grub at The Local Joint, a diner that serves comfort food alongside beer and wine, as well as the meals on wheels from the Local Buggy Cafe, a food truck that serves a wide array of cuisines from burgers to tacos. Black Bear BBQ is a low-key, quick-serve outpost for your favorites, and Smoky and the Pig is a great BBQ option for pulled pork and pork ribs.
If you still have room for dessert after dinner, grab some creamy, tasty ice cream served with a smile in a charming mountain setting at Hilltop Ice Cream Shop—Fairview’s only handmade ice cream shop.
You’ve also got some great options for a drink after hours in Fairview. Fairview Tavern offers a welcoming setting and a menu of delicious beverages for patrons to enjoy with friends and family. The Joint Next Door is “next door” to The Local Joint and presents a fusion of flavors in a lively atmosphere. Turgua Brewing specializes in artisanal beers and creating a sense of community for beer enthusiasts.
There’s an incredible list of reasons to explore the neighborhoods in East Asheville. Explore more things to do in East Asheville on our A Look at Asheville directory.