Good morning, Asheville! After a lovely breakfast at the inn, start the day with a downtown tour from Hood Huggers
(currently only offering walking tours). These small, interactive tours explore African American resilience through history and art, touching on subjects including “Affrilachians,” the early prosperity of Asheville’s Black communities such as the historic business district, “The Block,” their decimation in the 70s, and reform underway today. (Recent efforts include a unanimous city council vote to provide reparations to Black residents in the form of investments, and a proposed renaming of the city after tennis great Arthur Ashe, a descendant of enslaved people owned by the governor for which it’s currently named.)
You can also choose to guide yourself this morning, taking the Asheville Urban Trail
. (Or consider one of the many other tours
available, from art to distilleries.) This 1.7-mile route includes 30 stations, each with illuminating information about downtown Asheville’s storied architecture and history. Don’t miss The Block and its important YMI Cultural Center, the stunning Art Deco S&W Building just up the way, and the Basilica of St. Lawrence, home to North America’s largest self-supporting elliptical dome.
For something with a story behind it to take home, consider stopping at the Noir Collective AVL
, a shop and gallery in The Block featuring the creations of Black artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs such as painter Jenny Pickens. Also in The Block, the LEAF Global Arts Center’
s store is a chance to take in some culture while supporting the community. In walking distance, there’s also LGBTQ-owned Asheville Bee Charmer
, a local honey store with a tasting bar featuring over 50 varietals, and L.O.F.T.
, an eclectic, woman-owned gift shop offering a little bit of everything and then some. To explore more of the city’s small businesses, check out this directory
This afternoon, you’ll head to the River Arts District (or R.A.D.) to experience some of the 200+ working artist studios and galleries
. Check out work by Ken Vallario, Matt Wegleitner, Jen Gordon, and many others who show at John Payne’s Wedge Studios
, which also houses a brewery by the same name—because no exploration of “Beer City USA” culture today would be complete without craft brews
. For a little pick-me-up of coffee and snacks, check out Black-owned Grind AVL
If you’re hungry on the early side, go for dinner at the woman-owned 12 Bones Smokehouse
, a destination for baby back ribs that was a favorite of Barack Obama (and we say early because it closes at 5pm). If you’re not quite ready to eat by that time, there are plenty of other great spots in the R.A.D. like RosaBees
for Polynesian cuisine and cocktails.