Asheville’s former industrial and warehouse section, just southwest of downtown along the French Broad River, is the up-and-coming art-and-crafts center of the region, with many studios and galleries, plus cafés, breweries, and nightclubs. As industrial companies moved out, artists moved in, seeking cheaper rents for studios and loft apartments. Today the district is home to more than 165 working artists—mainly pottery and ceramics artists, fabric artists, and sculptors—and this doesn't include students taking courses. As many as 70 studios in around 20 late-19th- and early-20th-century industrial buildings are open to the public (hours vary but many are open daily from 9 to 5). You can talk to artists and buy their work, often at lower prices than in galleries. On the second Saturday of each month, studios offer refreshments and demonstrations for visitors. Twice a year, on weekends in mid-June and early November, the District holds a Studio Stroll, when nearly all the studios and galleries are open to the public. Increasingly, restaurants, bars, and coffeehouses are opening here as well, and a large national craft brewing company, New Belgium, will be opening its East Coast brewery and distribution center here in late 2015. For more information on what’s on in the neighborhood, see www.riverartsdistrict.com.
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