What's New in Asheville in 2022
New year, new you, new Asheville adventures! Asheville welcomes 2022 with meaningful travel experiences and major milestones.
From blockbuster Biltmore exhibitions to highly anticipated restaurant openings, from cultural tours to cool accommodations, here are 22 new experiences in 2022 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville.
From the 1950s through the 1980s, so-called “urban renewal” policies demolished many landmarks of Black culture in Asheville. In 2022, through the ingenuity and creativity of Black entrepreneurs, chefs, makers and artists, Asheville’s Black history and culture is being reclaimed in bold and exciting ways.
1. Black Wall Street Brings Makers, Artists and Indie Entrepreneurs to the River Arts District: The owners of Grind, Asheville's first, modern-day Black-owned coffee shop, have launched Asheville Black Wall Street, a collaborative that serves as a mentorship program, an incubator, a nucleus for networking and advocacy and a physical marketplace for more than 60 Black businesses in Asheville. In 2022, check out the first-ever Black Wall Street AVL headquarters (8 River Arts Place), which is located in Asheville's River Arts District. The new space serves as a maker, art and indie business marketplace. ALSO: Don't miss GrindFest (Ma 27 - 30, 2022), which returns for its second year, a celebration of Black entrepreneurship and culture that coincides with Juneteenth.
2. Community Reclaims an Iconic Black Landmark Through Soul Food and Music: Chef Clarence Robinson, with deep ties to Asheville's historically Black Southside neighborhood, will lead a new soul food restaurant at the newly revived building formerly home to Rabbit's Motel. Rabbit’s was a Green Book-era landmark that provided safe lodging and good food for traveling Black luminaries such as Richard Pryor and Duke Ellington. When Robinson was 10 years old, he would come to the screen door of Rabbit’s Motel to watch Ms. Lou Ella Byrd cook up chitterlings, sizzling fish and stewed-all-day greens. In 2022, Robinson will open a new restaurant, Areta's Soul Food, that will feature Southern classics like sweet potato-battered pork chops and golden mac ‘n’ cheese. Until Areta's opens, stop by Robinson's food truck, Soul on the Road, for his famous comfort food. You'll find the food truck in the parking lot of SoundSpace@Rabbit's.
3. Star Chef Ashleigh Shanti Set to Open a New Restaurant: Former chef of Benne of Eagle, will make another stamp in her famous Afro-lachian cuisine with her new restaurant, Good Hot Fish, slated to open in the South Slope District in 2022. Good Hot Fish is a classic Southern seafood eatery that will feature fish camp classics like deviled crab, hush puppies and fried fish sandwiches. It will also include Shanti’s trademark blend of spicy, citrus flavors, foraged mountain vittles and the occasional kombucha cocktail.
4. Citywide African American Heritage Trail Soon to Launch: In late 2022, look for the launch of a new history trail that will feature unsung heroes, underrecognized achievements and Black community contributions complemented by a multimedia trail guide.
Neighborhood On the Rise: The Block
5. New Walking Trail Highlights Work of An Expert Brick Mason: Born to an enslaved mother and an enslaver father, James Vester Miller became a master brick mason with his own successful construction company. During the darkest days of Jim Crow segregation, Miller constructed dozens of magnificent brick buildings throughout downtown Asheville and beyond, including the YMI Cultural Center and Stephens-Lee High School (the pride of the East End neighborhood and the only public high school for African Americans in Western North Carolina). Established by his granddaughter, local photographer Andrea Clark, the James Vester Miller Historic Walking Trail is a series of nine sites throughout downtown Asheville, including The Block and the historic East End neighborhood. In 2022, a digital version of the trail will be launched on ExploreAsheville.com.
Learn more about other cultural stories and the neighborhood on the rise in Asheville.
Sustainability has a long history in Asheville — thanks, in part, to the minds behind Biltmore Estate. Dating back to its founding ideals, George Vanderbilt had a desire that Biltmore be a self-sustaining estate. His wish was to preserve the surrounding beauty and nurture the land and its resources for years to come. The movement continues today.
6. 200th Anniversary of an American Landscape Luminary: 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Biltmore’s iconic gardens and grounds, as well as the inspiration for the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. Olmsted was known as the “father of American landscape architecture,” with New York City’s Central Park, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and the White House and Boston’s Emerald Necklace among his most well-known projects. To celebrate, a new attraction is coming to Bitlmore. The Olmsted Walking Trail is currently in development on the grounds of the Estate and will highlight Olmsted's collaboration with George Vanderbilt and Richard Morris Hunt, architect of Biltmore House.
7. A Sustainable Stay Along One of the Oldest Rivers in the World: A sustainability-minded accommodations option, the Wrong Way River Lodge & Cabin Campground is set to open in the summer of 2022, joining a vibrant outdoor scene on the French Broad River Greenway. Consisting of 16 A-frame cabins with efficient floor plans, practical amenities and all the creature comforts to relax and recharge, the unconventional concept is designed to be a communal gathering space. The campground will also include a gear and provisions store, a bar and cafe, indoor and outdoor lounge seating, a conference room and event space.
Learn more about Asheville's sustainable spaces.
Expanding Food Culture Scene
Renowned for its highly creative and collaborative food scene fueling national interest in Appalachian cuisine, Asheville food is undergoing a culinary transformation in 2022. From Hawaiian barbecue to French-Latin crepes, and from The South to South Africa, a new generation of gastronomic auteurs is expanding and diversifying Asheville’s famous food scene.
8. Hop on the Black Mountain Ale Trail: The brand-new Black Mountain Ale Trail features a guided bus tour of area breweries complete with tastings and an opportunity to learn why the area’s mountain streams and rivers make local beer taste so good.
9. New Restaurants to Add to Your Asheville Bucket List:
- Hawaii in the Mountains: Huli Sue’s BBQ and Grill, newly opened in the historic Grove Arcade, explores the intersection of Southern barbecue and island cuisine. Diners can enjoy house-smoked Texas brisket served alongside sustainably caught fresh fish, or feast on poke tuna while sipping a tropical cocktail and leaving with a slice of oversized country pie. When pitmaster Ben Kruegar and partner Lisa Vann moved to Asheville from Hawaii, they were determined to bring with them the culture of their hometown of Waiomea. Huli Sue’s is part of “Restaurant Row” at the Grove Arcade.
- Neng Jr.’s Combines Filipinx and Southern Flavors in West Asheville: In 2022, Chef Silver Cousler will open Asheville’s first Filipinx restaurant, Neng Jr.'s, named after an affectionate nickname for Cousler given to them by their grandmother. Look for a Filipino-style hot dog, trout roe served with pork rinds and traditional dishes served with sides like collard greens with coconut milk. The new West Asheville restaurant will share space with DIFFERENT WRLD, a BIPOC-owned artist incubator, gallery and creative hub designed to break down barriers of entry to the creative industry, especially for artists of color.
- Big Flavors at New Latin American Craft Kitchen: In Latin America, a “chango” is a small bird with a voracious appetite. And, that’s exactly how Chef Iris Rodriguez, chef and co-founder of Little Chango, wants customers to enter. Newly opened in an intimate space on the South Slope, with a bar and ample patio seating, Little Chango adds to the growing list of Latin American cuisine options in Asheville. The dishes are a fusion of the owners’ heritage and diverse Latin American flavors and styles. Arepas, the star of the menu, are a dish made from maize patties. They originate from Venezuela and Columbia, but Chef Rodriguez, in a nod to her Caribbean heritage, incorporates flavors from Cuba and Puerto Rico. Look out for the uber-popular ropa vieja, Cuban-style shredded flank steak served up hot with a side of sofrito black bean mash, sweet plantains and queso fresco.
10. Upgrade Your Munchies With a Food and Dispensary Tour: Stu Helm, the Asheville-famous food blogger whose coveted endorsement is sought by local eateries, is launching a new food tour. The Asheville Food and Dispensary Tour is for anyone curious about local dispensaries and the products they offer, including CBD, CBG, Delta 8, 9 and 10, and most recently, THC-O. Visitors will tour all five (soon to be six) downtown dispensaries, gaining knowledge and trying samples along the way. After an elevating tour of the dispensaries, guests will be treated to gourmet twists on traditional “stoner food” like pizza from Manicomio, cheeseburger flights from Twisted Laurel and curry from Blue Dream Curry House.
11. Hemp Farm Cred: Franny Tacy — the first woman to farm hemp in North Carolina — is growing her dispensary and CBD-product “hempire” across the region with nine locations of Franny’s Farmacy. The organic farmer is now opening a new concept in the South Slope, Franny’s Farm Foods.
Jump Off-the-Beaten-Path With Immersive Art, Culture & Tours
New exhibits, tours and trails showcase the well-established creative spirit that extends across the Asheville area, as well as under-the-radar experiences and narratives of nearby neighborhoods and towns.
12. Masterpiece Art in Multisensory Form: Biltmore’s yearlong exhibition series — Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore — kicked off in November 2021 with “Van Gogh Alive” (through March 5, 2022) and continues with timeless works of art and design by Monet and Da Vinci. “Monet & Friends — Life, Light & Color” (March 9 to July 10, 2022) will pay homage to Claude Monet and fellow Impressionist painters as their masterworks come to life in a rich display of light, color and sound. Next up, “Leonardo da Vinci — 500 Years of Genius” (July 14, 2022, to Jan. 8, 2023) will highlight the artist-inventor’s brilliance and varied extraordinary achievements as they are brought to vivid life. The immersive events will also weave in ties to George Vanderbilt’s collection of treasures on display at Biltmore.
13. New Tours Curated by Experts:
- Dive Into Asheville’s Deep Music Scene: A new tour, offered through Airbnb Experiences, takes participants on a musical journey of Asheville. Led by Alli Marshall (former arts-and-entertainment editor for local indie pub Mountain Xpress), the Asheville Music History Walking Tour explores downtown Asheville through the stories of bands, musicians, sound innovation and creative culture and comes with an accompanying soundtrack. Stops along the way include the areas of Lexington Avenue and The Block, as well as the Moogseum (honoring electronic music pioneer and longtime Asheville resident Bob Moog), Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and legendary Asheville venue, The Orange Peel.
- Go Behind the Scenes of a Radical Experiment in Education: Tours are now available of the historic site of iconoclastic Black Mountain College, which indelibly impacted the world of arts, culture, education and craft. This one-hour tour covers campus buildings including The Dining Hall, Lodges, The Quiet House and The Studies Building as well as the iconic and recently conserved frescos painted by Jean Charlot and BMC students in the summer of 1944. The tours are the result of a partnership between Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (in downtown Asheville) and Lake Eden Preserve (in nearby Black Mountain).
- Asheville Free Walking Tours Expand: The city’s only tip-based walking tour, is adding a West Asheville tour to its lineup of downtown and River Arts District excursions. The tours cover history and how Asheville came to be the vibrant mountain berg it is today, with free tastings and advice for budget-conscience guests.
Learn more about new tours and cultural experiences coming to Asheville.
Major Sporting Event Returns to Asheville Under New Name
Asheville’s back on the international stage with the return of a world-class tennis event whose new name aligns it with a global icon who has dedicated her life to fighting injustice, inequality and discrimination in all forms.
14. International Pro Tennis Competition Returns to Asheville: The United States’ Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas (formerly the Fed Cup) will take place April 15-16, 2022, at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, playing host for the third time in five years. The competition will be a qualifying matchup versus Ukraine. Asheville will become the second U.S. city in history to be selected to host the event three times.
Save on Serenity and Self-Care in a Wellness Wonderland
Asheville has been a self-care escape since long before that term was trending. For more than a century, the fresh mountain air, crystal clear waterfalls and stunning natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains have drawn travelers looking to heal and rejuvenate.
15. Asheville’s Winter Refresh: Between January and March 2022, Asheville is celebrating its luxurious and highly creative self-care scene with a “Winter Refresh” promotion. Travelers will enjoy special spa deals, relaxing wellness packages and some of the best hotel rates of the year.
16. Forest Bathe in the Light of the Full Moon: This spring, Asheville Wellness Tours will offer Twilight Forest Bathing Walks. These walks will take place in the Botanical Gardens at Asheville and a private retreat center in alignment with the full moon. This gentle and restorative walk is suitable for most ages and activity levels and will not exceed a 1-mile round trip.
17. Elevating Self-Care | Customized Aromatherapy & Spa Day Essentials: Healed Skin and Candle, a Black woman-owned business on Lexington Avenue, is a make-your-own lotion candle shop dedicated to making skin and self-care a priority for all. Founder Traci Taylor is committed to all-natural, vegan skincare and wellness education around the healing effects of customized aromatherapy. Healed now offers a bespoke Spa Day Box consisting of skincare products, candles, whipped body butters and other personalized self-care items. Additionally, Healed is offering a new Wax and Wine bar where guests can create custom candles and skincare products while sipping BYOB wine.
Learn more about new ways you can tap into your self care routine in Asheville.
Ancient Asheville: Celebrating the Cherokee Influence on Southern Appalachia
For thousands of years, the Cherokee thrived in ᏙᎩᏯᏍᏗ (To Ki Ya Sdi), “the place where they race,” or Asheville, as it is known today. Despite centuries of oppression, exploitation and genocide, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) remains a cornerstone of Western North Carolina culture. In 2022, several cultural initiatives will pull forward the often-overlooked story of how the Cherokee influenced and continue to shape the culture of Southern Appalachia.
18. Exhibit: Cherokee Artists Honor Language Through Art: The Cherokee Syllabary is a system of writing invented by Sequoyah in the early 1800s. Cherokee people embraced the new “talking leaves” as a form of communication, documentation and resistance. A Living Language: Cherokee Syllabary and Contemporary Art at the Asheville Art Museum features over 50 artworks by more than 30 Cherokee artists. A partnership with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, A Living Language runs through March 14, 2022.
19. Immersive Public Art Experience | The Basket | Building Cultural Understanding: The Basket is many things. A work of public art. A “parklet” in the middle of downtown Asheville. A celebration of traditional Cherokee craft and an invitation for cultural understanding. Opening in 2022, The Basket is a joint venture between the Center for Craft and artist ᎺᎵ ᏔᎻᏏᏂ Mary Thompson. The Basket will occupy about 750 square feet streetside on Broadway in downtown Asheville. Inspired by ancient Cherokee basketry, the art parklet will provide people a space to gather outdoors, commune with family, friends and even strangers, and learn about the contributions of Cherokee culture to contemporary Asheville.
Learn more about how the Cherokee legacy is being honored in Asheville.
Beyond Beer City: Craft Beverage Capital
Ever since Oscar Wong opened Highland Brewing in the basement of Barley’s Tap Room in 1994, the stage was set for Asheville’s rise as one of America’s top beer cities. With more breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S., it is no wonder Asheville is called “Beer City U.S.A.” In 2022, Asheville’s mature craft beverage community has expanded into a destination for (free) spirits of all kinds.
20. Bob Ross-Inspired “Hoppy Trees” Bar Opens in Weaverville: With nostalgia and ironic tributes to the public television personality reaching a fever pitch, it was only a matter of time … Welcome to a Bob Ross-themed bar! Like its inspiration, the newly opened Hoppy Trees in Weaverville (a quaint yet colorful town 10 minutes north of Asheville) is warm, welcoming and a little wacky. Featuring a seasonal menu of craft beer and spritzes (its current Autumn Spritz consists of Aperol, Prosecco, club soda and sweet vermouth infused with nutmeg and cinnamon), Hoppy Trees lines its walls with local artwork — and the occasional Bob Ross quote — making it a fun and friendly destination.
21. Unusual, Upcycled Beer Garden in the River Arts District: The RAD Beer Garden is the third Asheville location for Hi-Wire Brewing. Located in the River Arts District (RAD), the new, 5,000-square-foot beer garden is composed of nine repurposed metal shipping containers. The containers’ walls are cut out to create open-air seating in this colorful, street-art adorned urban courtyard. Recently opened, this unique beer garden offers quick access to Asheville’s newest riverside greenway in this buzzworthy arts and entertainment district.
22. Bartender Opens New High-End Mocktail Bar: Asheville bartender Ron George has an impressive resume, award-winning credentials and a genuine love for his craft. He also doesn’t drink. Who better to capitalize on the growing trend of drinks without booze? That’s why, in 2022, George is opening Mocktail Bar, a downtown establishment that will match the rest of Asheville’s night spots in location, flavor and vibe – minus the alcohol. The Mocktail Bar menu will include “mock-a-ritas” made with Fluere Smoked Agave, a mescal alternative, as well as the Touch Me Gin-tly, crafted with house-made star anise aquafaba and Blue Thai Flower extract, which is said to be a mood enhancer. The bar will also serve electrolyte-enhanced beverages for those looking to hydrate, as well as nonalcoholic beer and wine, including brands that have won gold medals in competitions with alcoholic spirits.
BONUS: New Asheville Lodging
New Asheville lodging options in 2022 will reference Asheville’s rich and varied history and pay homage to the neighborhoods where they’re located. From century-old cottages on the Biltmore Estate to a trendy boutique in the middle of downtown, these new accommodations are more than places to lay your head at night – they are destinations in and of themselves.
- Historic Cottages Provide New Accommodations at Biltmore Estate: In 2022, historic cottages from Biltmore’s agricultural past will accommodate overnight guests with classic luxury. The charming Line Houses, now booking for stays beginning in January 2022, were originally built in 1900 as three-bedroom residences for the Biltmore dairy workers. Renovation design includes areas for relaxing on the covered front porch overlooking the farm and the French Broad River and al fresco dining and entertaining nestled in the back of the cottages. Close proximity to Antler Hill Village makes these cottages convenient to America’s most visited winery at Biltmore.
- New Hotel in the Heart of Downtown: The Restoration will open in August 2022 in the old Bank of America building in the heart of downtown Asheville directly across from Pritchard Park, the location of a 20-year local tradition of music and dance, the Asheville Drum Circle. The 60-room hotel will not only provide lodging in the heart of Asheville, but also a restaurant on the ground floor and upper-level views of downtown and the surrounding mountains.