ROADTRIP: 10 Free Or Cheap Things To Do In West Asheville

By D. Lanier Shook                    October 8, 2016

When you’ve got a hit, you’ve got a hit. The technical department has informed that you all love my article Free And Cheap Things to do in West Asheville, so I decided it was high time to update it, and include a few new things. So here’s a list of, free and cheap things to do if you are in West Asheville.

1. Haywood Road

Haywood Road is the heart of West Asheville and is seeing some of the most dynamic growth in all of Buncombe County. I like to refer to West Asheville as Asheville’s “family friendly” downtown. This isn’t an insult to Downtown Asheville. If I wanted to join some friends for nightlife in clubs, hotels, and gourmet restaurants filled with interesting people I’d pop downtown and might take a cab back home. If I want to walk up the street to a coffee house or pub, West Asheville is the place I’d choose to hang out.

Quite frankly, Haywood Road is a slightly slower side of Asheville’s eclectic culture. Haywood Road is quickly is becoming the center of a community of families and couples who want this walk-ability factor. (There are plenty of sidewalks along Haywood Road.) If you’re visiting Asheville, this district is worth visiting for the restaurants, music venues, and shops that line it.

I could tell you about the Isis Music Hall, Sunny Point Cafe,or even The Hop Ice Cream Shop. But I’m only on Free-Or-Cheap Thing Number One, so here are some links to visit for more reasons to visit Haywood Road.

2. Asheville Outlets

When I wrote the original “Free and Cheap” article five years ago The Biltmore Square Mall was going strong. Today the Asheville Outlets has replaced the venerable Mall and its going even stronger. This is not just a great place to shop, its also a wonderful place to walk, to meet friends, or to just sit and read the Wall Street Journal under the shade. I’d tell you about a few of the stores, but they’d adding stores and restaurants and coffee shops so fast I’d probably miss one or two or three or four. So just click here to visit their website to get absolutely all the details.

3. North Carolina Arboretum

Just south of the Asheville Outlets is the North Carolina Arboretum, a must see for everyone. First, the Arboretum is home to beautiful gardens — they say there are 65 acres — where you can spend hours. Second, the grounds are home to over ten miles of trails. Third, the Arboretum hosts all kinds of exhibits each year, including ones involving Lego building blocks. Fourth, there’s alot more and I have seven more things to list so click here to visit their website where you can learn all the details.

4. Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market

Whether you’re local or not, whether you’re shopping or not, you still need to visit the North Carolina Farmer’s Market. It’s actually free to visit and its a place you can spend hours. They also hold incredible events they at different times of the year. And the Farmer’s Market is one of the original “farm to table” retailers. In the past I’ve written about their retail buildings in this article, but you can find out even more — including a list of events — by clicking here to visit their website.

5. Celebrities Hot Dogs

Why am I mentioning one awesome restaurant in a town full of awesome restaurants. The NASCAR memorabilia they display on the wall is worth checking out if you’re a racing fan. Click here to visit their Facebook page and find out more.

6. Asheville River Arts District

Soooo, technically speaking the River Arts District is across the French Broad River but its sooooooo close and its soooooo awesome I just havvvvvvvve to include it. Seriously, the River Arts District is so chock full of studios and so much more, including a national acting school. So here are a few websites to guide you into the RAD.

7. Moose Cafe

Once again I’m mentioning one restaurant in a town of awesome restaurants, but once again I have a reason. This isn’t just a regional acclaimed restaurant, its a photo op. There’s a moose statue out front and a moose statue inside you and your friends will love to get a selfie with. Find out more (and see the moose in their photo gallery) by clicking here to visit their website.

8. Carrier Park

Carrier Park is asset unique not only to West Asheville, but the entire region. Its a sprawling sports complex that includes everything from a trails to a circular bicycle track to a playground to a street hockey court to a baseball field to picnic pavilions — and more. Whether you’re a local or a visitor this is the place to go if you enjoy outdoor activity.

The history of the park, though is nearly as fascinating as the park itself. It is named after Edwin Carrier. I learned about Mr. Carrier when I researched the Sulphur Springs Hotel, which he rebuilt in what is now West Asheville’s Malvern Hills neighborhood. That hotel also burned down — maybe due to the curse from a dying Cherokee warrior — and I rebuilt it for the last chapter of my spy thriller CODE NAME: Emerald Green. (Yes, that’s a self promoting plug, so go ahead and click here to read the first 3 chapters of the thriller for free or you could just go ahead and buy it for $2.99. Okay, promotion over.)

Mr. Carrier was a Michigan industrialist who came to Asheville to build a hotel, a bridge, a power plant, an electric railway, and a racetrack to race horses for his guests’ enjoyment. Yes, he was enthusiastic. The race track was later replaced by an airport, which was replaced by a drag strip, which was replaced by a stock car racetrack. Today a velodrome (bicycle track) sits where the racetrack did. (Find out more about the Velodrome by clicking here.) For more information about Carrier Park— or reserve a picnic pavilion —  click here to visit the City of Asheville website.

9. The French Broad River Dog Park

  • If you live in West Asheville or are visiting here with your canine friend, you need a place to spend quality time together. That’s why you need to visit the French Broad River Dog Park, located just down the street from Carrier Park. Here’s all the information you need to know about it.
  • City of Ashevile page about French Broad River Dog Park.
  • BringFido’s page about the French Broad River Dog Park.

10. The Architecture

West Asheville is a very old area and many of the buildings don’t just reflect this, they’re a window in to the soul of West Asheville and the people who’ve lived there. From the churches and stores on Haywood Road itself to some of the houses on the side streets, you can read the history of this part of the city. There are far too many buildings to mention, but I’ll give you a very few of my favorites to get you started. Please remember that this is a living, vibrant community and not a museum, so please respect the people who live and work here as you enjoy looking at the architecture.

  • Trinity United Methodist Church, 587 Haywood Road
  • Oyster House and Sunny Point restaurants, 625 Haywood Road. (Love the tile roof and the front of Sunny Point.)
  • The storefronts from Dunwell Ave to Sandhill Rd.  (Great examples of 1920 architecture.)
  • Houses along Vermont Avenue. (Remember, people live here.)
  • New condominiums on corner of Mitchell Avenue and Haywood. (Incredible example of the modern architecture that is the most popular style in West Asheville right now.)


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