Too bad there is never, ever anything to do in Asheville, NC. Notice the sarcasm? We are fortunate to not only reside in one of the most beautiful areas in the country (hello, Blue Ridge Mountains!) but in one of the most vibrant cities in the South. Exceptional restaurants, shops, galleries, museums, and a music scene that is second to none. What are some of the best venues in Asheville, NC? Glad you asked! We’ve curated a list of our favorites.
Asheville, NC: The Next Music City!
Our great location, extensive variety of venues, and reputation among musicians (Asheville even inspired a Broadway show!) is setting our little slice of awesome to become the next big music city. Nashville who?
The magical thing about Asheville is that there is music everywhere: music halls and theaters, pubs, an erstwhile car dealership from the 1940s, the street….
101 Biltmore Avenue
Rolling Stone magazine ranks the Orange Peel as one of the “Top Five Rock Clubs in the Country.” It’s hosted everyone from Black Label Society, the Beastie Boys, and Ice Cube to Bob Dylan, Smashing Pumpkins, Ben Folds, and Kings of Leon. This is one of those venues that, no matter where you sit, you get that up close and personal feel.
If you’re from Buncombe County, the Orange Peel also some “Love for Locals.” Enjoy some great perks for residents. And if you’re not from the area, reserve some tickets for an upcoming show and come see what all the buzz is about.
185 Clingman Avenue
Right in historic Downtown Asheville, Grey Eagle is the city’s longest-running venue for all-ages. Over 10,000 artists and bands have played here, including Ralph Stanley, Band of Horses, Frank Black, Lake Street Dive, Slick Rick, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Darrel Scott, and Deen Ween. Local talents also get the crowds going. The Grey Eagle features a large dance floor, great patio area, flat screens in the performance room, one of the best sound systems in the city, and an in-house eatery with a creative menu and plenty of beer.
87 Haywood Street
Harrah’s Cherokee Center (formerly the US Cellular Center) is the oldest venue in Asheville - and today, it’s two venues in one, the large 7000-person arena and the smaller 2500-person Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Bob Dylan, Elton John, Phish, and other renowned acts have played here, and top comedians like Jerry Seinfeld have taken the stage as well. The Asheville Symphony also calls Harrah’s Cherokee Center home.
Thomas Wolfe is ideal for seated, intimate shows, and during larger shows at the arena, the floor is open for dancing.
We also love hidden gems and under the radar venues like:
1045 Haywood Road
Oddballs, misfits, and outcasts welcome. The Odditorium specializes in metal, alternative, hardcore, and punk - with stand-up and burlesque thrown into the mix. Prepare for a great dive bar atmosphere, deafening music, a stellar collection of oddities and curiosities, and a crowd of Asheville’s coolest people. Loud and low-key, grab a PBR and embrace the odd.
5 Walnut Street
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a wine bar with great music and zero pretension? Such a place exists at 5 Walnut Street, Asheville, NC. Not only is the setting fantastic (especially the large rollback windows that open onto the street), there are $5 wine specials and free live music every day starting at 8 pm (get there early). Ragtime, traditional Americana, and Afropop are on the menu, along with a variety of cheeses, charcuterie, and other local fare.
701 Haywood Road
Your friendly neighborhood hotspot features a full liquor bar and plenty of local beers. Grab a drink and enjoy local and international rock and electronica. Indie and alternative acts are big here (Parquet Courts, Matthew E. White, Small Black, Tills, Doc Aquatic, and more have played here). As a “music first” venue, you’ll enjoy a fantastic sound and light system to make the most of each show.
39 South Market Street
A groundbreaking establishment, THE BLOCK off biltmore is Asheville’s “First Eco-Vegan, Social Justice, Solidarity Bar.” Multicultural, progressive, and vibrant, THE BLOCK off biltmore strives to be “a place for people to converge in order to build a more compassionate community and inclusive friendships between diverse movements, where socially-impacted issues are discussed, actions formulated, and deep, radical magic happens.”
THE BLOCK features local musicians, in addition to poets, authors, and filmmakers and is a wonderful place to meet socially-conscious people with diverse thoughts, opinions, experiences, and musical tastes!
22 North Market Street
Every night is a different experience at Off the Wagon. An all-request format can be risky for a live show, but these experienced musicians have a repertoire of thousands of songs from the last 50 years. Go ahead, test them. The sing-along, party atmosphere makes good moods contagious, and the drinks certainly don’t hurt either. An Asheville institution, Off the Wagon guarantees a memorable night.
Asheville is North Carolina’s music hub, and we’re fast becoming a music city that attracts acts from all over the country and world. Whether you live here or want to visit, make sure to hit these exceptional - and exceptionally cool - venues.