One thing is always true of Asheville: She’s unafraid to be exactly who she is. Tucked away in the quiet majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville brims with an authenticity that draws you in.
Her wondrous natural surroundings and vibrant neighborhoods invite locals and visitors alike to live their truths. We’re sharing our LGBTQ+ residents’ favorite places and pursuits in Asheville, including bars and restaurants, fun outdoor activities for couples, arts and cultural events, and beloved businesses that are LGBTQ+ owned.
Get Married in the Mountains
With stunning scenery and remarkable venues, Asheville is a gorgeous place to start your next chapter, and our community welcomes all couples with open hearts and proudly supports marriage equality. Several officiants specialize in LGBTQ+ weddings and elopements, including the Rev. Gina Angel of All the Things Ceremonies. Gay-owned wedding planning and floral design shop BobbyMark’s Designs even offers full-service event coordination for your big day. Want to keep the party going all week long? Read on for more Asheville favorites to incorporate into your celebration.
Asheville’s culinary scene could broaden the palate of even the most experienced foodie. Try traditional Filipinx delicacies at the intimate 17-seat Neng Jr.’s. Stop in for a bite at White Duck Taco, a growing chain with roots in Asheville. Also high on our list is the cuisine of Sovereign Remedies, which draws from the local bounty of Appalachia. This restaurant belongs to Charlie Hodge, a proud LGBTQ+ entrepreneur who also owns two nightlife favorites: Asheville Beauty Academy and Getaway River Bar.
Beverages Crafted by Hand
Whether your libation of choice is beer, wine, tea, coffee or something else, you’ll find a custom drink that delights you in Asheville. Wicked Weed Brewing provides innovative, high-quality sours, ales and IPAs to its region-wide aficionados. If wine’s your wish, be sure to take in the views and top-tier vintages at Marked Tree Vineyard with locations in downtown Asheville and in beautiful Flat Rock. And for a quick pick-me-up, stop by Pennycup Coffee Co., a small-batch coffee roaster with four locations in the Asheville area.
Light Up the Night
A visit to Asheville would be incomplete without a stop at O. Henry’s, the oldest gay bar in North Carolina (est. 1976). The club’s legacy of activism and entertainment makes it a welcoming haven to all who visit. Locals also enjoy spectacular high-energy drag performances at Scandals Nightclub. Looking for something more laid-back? Pop by the previously mentioned Getaway River Bar and sip a drink on the serene outdoor patio.
Outside and Proud
Come experience the rejuvenating power of Asheville’s natural wonders. From hiking to mountain biking and zip-lining, you’ll find a way to get moving outside that invigorates your spirit. Immerse yourself in the scenery and encounter winding trails, glorious waterfalls and stunning vistas, many of which can be seen from your car as you drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take in the mountain air on a romantic picnic for two and discover how nature can nurture you.
A Trove of Treasures
Thriving local shops line the historical downtown streets of Asheville, some of which have been open for decades – take Malaprops, an independent bookstore founded more than 40 years ago. The shop cultivates the joy of reading by hosting author events and book clubs. Firestorm Books and Coffee, another top book shop, is a worker-owned, queer-feminist collective dedicated to radical inclusion and providing space for social movements
Fine Arts and Live Performances
Asheville’s deeply rooted community of artists spark creativity in all who stop in for a visit. Once home to bustling mills, the River Arts District now hosts 270+ working artists in studios and galleries. Take a workshop in painting or glassblowing, then select an original work by a local artist to add to your collection. For live music, make your way to Pritchard Park on a Friday night and join in Asheville’s Drum Circle, a free event that’s all about creating harmony in music and with one another. There’s also LEAF Global Arts, a music education nonprofit located in the historical Black business district called The Block.
Celebrate With Us
Asheville keeps Pride Month going all summer by hosting the Blue Ridge Pride Fest every September. Over 10,000 LGBTQ+ community members and allies fill the streets near Pack Square Park to celebrate, enjoy live performances, eat delicious food and engage with educational programming. Though the main event is in September, there’s plenty to do in June, from the Stonewall Anniversary Dance Party at O. Henry’s to numerous drag brunches, with some donating proceeds to local nonprofits.
Reach Your Peak in Asheville
We hope you’ll join us for your next big adventure in Asheville. Plan your visit and learn more at ExploreAsheville.com