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Five Best Things to do in East Asheville—A Local’s Perspective

The compass turns now towards the inestimable east, the section of Asheville most steeped in mystery. What lies in those unknown realms, those undriven roads? As a local, I’m ashamed to say that for a long time, I couldn’t tell you. I simply had little reason to explore the east. Or so I thought.

As it turns out, with a little contemplation of the old Google Maps, many of my favorite places in Asheville actually lie in this “unexplored” region. I’m afraid I’ve underestimated east Asheville. To prevent you from making this most tragic of errors, I invite you to read on and discover the five best things to do in east Asheville.

Technically, I think this is the closest thing Asheville has to a zoo. But personally, I never regarded it that way. Rather than showing off far-flung animals, divorced form their favored environs, the WNC Nature Center endeavors to preserve local species, and provide Asheville’s community with a healthy dose of natural education.

For the price of $11 a ticket for adults, or $7 for kids fifteen and under, here you may peruse the habitats of such magnificent creatures as grey wolves, otters, barn owls, bobcats, and black bears (the best kind of bear). The Nature Center also boasts an astonishing variety of goats and surprisingly, a few red pandas. Apparently WNC’s temperate rainforests closely resembles the panda's homeland, half the world away. Who knew?

If you can’t tell, I am downright enthusiastic about this place. I believe it’s on account of childhood memories. If you’re visiting Asheville with kids, or if you yourself have a strong interest in the natural world, an afternoon at the WNC Nature Center must be one of the best things for you to do in east Asheville.

Embrace Local Customs: Speak to the animals in their own tongue. Form an alliance with the birds. They will help you when you most need it.

Now personally, I don’t see the mall as the most chic place for shopping in Asheville. It’s got to compete with downtown, you see. But gosh darn it, if you want some good old fashioned American mall fun, well, east Asheville’s got you covered.

Denigration aside, the Asheville Mall does boast a two-story Barnes & Noble. You know how many books you can fit in two stories? Let me tell you: its more than you’re imagining. Outside of this bastion of books, Earthbound Trading Company offers a taste of Asheville’s fair-trade retail, while H & M has the honor of having sold me my favorite belt.

Of course, the mall has far more retailers, snack-stops, and activities than I can mention here. These are just a few of my personal favorites.

Embrace Local Customs: Set up your yurt in the heart of the mall. Assert dominance over the land. Subsist on pretzels and smoothies. Demand tribute.

Antiquing happens to be one of my favorite things to do regardless of the city but I do think my hometown hosts a particularly good selection of shops. Incidentally, they’re pretty much all clustered around Swannanoa River Road.

Does this area even qualify as east Asheville or merely south-east-central Asheville? I don’t know. What I do know is I’m never going to write about the best things to do in south-east-central Asheville, so I might as well call it one of the best things to do in east Asheville.

Whether you’re looking for a souvenir, a gift, or furnishings for your new home, antiquing offers a chance to find wares with character and history. In this regard you will find the old is far superior to the new. A more in-depth analysis of Asheville’s antique scene may be found here, courtesy of yours truly.

Embrace Local Customs: Declare yourself a “curator.” Bring a monocle and/or magnifying glass on your antiquing adventure. Make noises like “Hmm,” and “This is clearly a forgery!”

I’m going to level with you: I don’t know anything about golf. That said, seeing Asheville’s Municipal Golf Course does give me an inkling of the attraction.

Located on that same Swannanoa River Road of antiquing fame, these rolling fields are split evenly between long-distance drives, and more technical, accuracy-based sections, ensuring a variety of experience. When the leaves turn in fall, the course’s edges explode into color, making it a surprisingly enticing place to enjoy the crisp air.

The course is open daily from 7am to 6pm. Such a wide schedule make it easy to include a little golf, if you’re so inclined, into your purview of the best things to do in east Asheville.

Embrace Local Customs: Play golf with a kilt and a caber. This custom calls back to the region’s Scotch-Irish ancestry, and I assure you, it is taken deathly seriously.

This homey café moonlights as a hyper-hip speakeasy, earning it my award for “Most Ashevillean Concept.” Plus, I like the name. “Indulgence Bar.” It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d come up with.

With a focus, of course, on filo pastry, here one can enjoy a rich range of pies, cakes, coffee, and tea, as well as baklava and gluten free dolci di maria’s cupcakes. If you’re in the mood for more substantial, more “lunchy” fare, they also offer quiche, salad, and stuffed baguettes.

But when the sun falls, Filo transforms into one of east Asheville’s chic-est eateries. We’re talking tapas, we’re talking lamb racks, we’re talking prosciutto-fig flatbread with a balsamic glaze. Paired with a vast range of themed cocktails—and access to their daytime pastry counter—a visit to Post 70 is one of the best things to do in east Asheville, whether night or day.

And if you’re truly taken with their pastry performance, Filo does custom wedding cakes.

Embrace Local Customs: Perform spontaneous poetry. Its no use waiting for an open mic night. A true artist takes matters into his own hands.

Businesses Mentioned

WNC Nature Center


75 Gashes Creek Rd, Asheville, NC 28805

Asheville Mall


3 S Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805

Asheville Municipal Golf Course


226 Fairway Dr, Asheville, NC 28805

Filo Pastries & Post 70 Indulgence Bar


1155 Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805


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