Nightlife in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective
Ah, night-time. The moon is out and the coyotes howl. It’s the perfect time of day for some of my favorite activities. Namely watching movies, reading quietly, eating a bagel, and falling asleep.
But a few times each year, I admit I may be coaxed into hitting the town, enjoying all the strange and fabulous things that you can find in a city at night. Like cocktails. And punctual uber drivers.
For those who know Asheville, they know that “strange” and “fabulous” are my hometown’s fortes. Still, some ask, does Asheville even have nightlife? I chafe at this question. Of course Asheville has nightlife. And if you want to discover some of the best nightlife in Asheville, just read on.
Asheville’s South Slope brewing district is one of the downright liveliest parts of town after the sun’s gone down, and with its bevy of bars and brewpubs, specializing in local beer, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out why.
You can read my past musings on the subject here and here. These posts should provide a comprehensive introduction, but if you want to truly stuff your South Slope survey to bursting, be sure to tack on the Urban Orchard Cider Company for locally brewed cider, Antidote at Chemist Spirits for chic specialty cocktails, and Ben’s Tune Up for Japanese-American fusion and live music all weekend long.
It’s a lot to take in for sure, but as my final recommendation: visit earlier in the evening to check out Little Chango and Daddy Mac’s Home Down Dive, two of Asheville’s best new restaurants.
Open the Latest: Storm Rhum Bar, serving sophisticated drinks until 2am every night of the week, and a late-night menu until 1am. Reservations recommended.
I don’t know about you, but after the first couple hours of galivanting through the late-night streets with ten to fifteen of my closest friends, I tend to work up an almighty appetite. Asheville’s not what you’d call a big city, and with 24/7 diners largely being a thing of the past, it can be a challenge to find late-night food in the Paris of the South. But, if you know where to look, such foraging can pay dividends, big time.
Introducing downtown’s College Street, the hotspot for late night dining. About halfway between the Grove Arcade and Pack Square, you’ll find the Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge, named for its location inside a renovated bank vault. Their late-night menu—served from 11pm to 2am, Fridays and Saturdays—includes a la carte tacos, chili cheese dogs, smash burgers, and Vietnamese hoagies. In short: everything a growing boy needs, plus, of course, a selection of local beers and craft cocktails.
Just a few steps down the block from the Rankin Vault, you'll find the Med, one of Asheville’s most iconic brunch-eries, which moonlights as a night-diner with their walk-thru window. Gyros, fried chicken baskets, and gravy fries until 2:30am. If that doesn’t help you survive a night on the town, I don’t know what will.
Open the Latest: The Med, Friday and Saturday nights.
3: Visit the Clubs of Downtown
The South Slope may be Asheville’s top spot for local brews, but when it comes to bona-fide nightclubs—dance floors, lightshows, and the like—you're going to have to venture north to downtown proper.
For reasons best left to the experts, downtown’s foremost clubs are all found at the furthest edges of the district, as if some kind of magnetic repulsion prevents them from gathering too close. So, unless you’re willing to trek across downtown’s length as part of the night's frivolities, I suggest you pick a direction and stick to it.
In the east, just off of Pack Square, you’ve got Room Nine, a traditionist club featuring a broad dance floor, VIP tables, the whole ten yards.
In the west, just on the edge of downtown, you’ll find the 27 Club, a self-described “Rock-and-Roll dive-bar.” A couple blocks closer to the city’s core, you’ll find the Grove House Entertainment Complex, containing no fewer than three distinct clubs. They’re always hosting special events; check out their calendar for details.
Finally, at the north end of town, you’ll find Tiger Mountain: local brews, live music, foosball and pool tables. That's a night's-worth of fun right there.
Open the Latest: Tiger Mountain and 27 Club tied for 2am, every night of the week.
I bet you didn’t think this’d make it as some of the best nightlife in Asheville. After all, “Craft beer and driving up dark roads into untouched mountain wilderness don’t mix well,” as the old saying goes.
But this is my article, and if I say stargazing counts as nightlife, then by golly it counts. You’re alive at night. What more do you want? Plus, it’s something different, something off the beaten path, and something, dare I say, romantic.
For Asheville’s best stargazing locations, check out the header. As an addendum, I’ll say I’ve had good luck driving north up the Blue Ridge Parkway from the entrance near the NC Arboretum, conveniently close to Asheville Cottages. Simply find an overlook, park the car, and breathe in that fresh mountain air.
Open the Latest: The stars have no limit to their hours of operation. Even during the day, they’re still there, invisible and waiting.
5: Get Tickets for Some Live Music
If there’s one way in which Asheville’s entertainment scene excels, it’s the music. Perched on the edge of the South Slope and downtown, you’ll find Asheville’s famous Orange Peel venue, hosting national acts from Modest Mouse to Bob Dylan, while hiding a cozy members-only bar beneath the dance floor, offering exclusive entry for only $2 a year.
Up north on College Street, wedged between some of downtown’s best late-night eateries, you’ve got the Asheville Music Hall, featuring up-and-coming artists of every genre imaginable, along with a late-night kitchen of its own.
Out in the River Arts District, far off from the crowds of downtown, you’ll find the Grey Eagle, a laid-back, all-ages venue, proud to host local and rock-star talent alike. Don’t miss out on their taqueria for arepas, house-made carnitas, and fried plantains with Cheerwine aioli.
No matter which part of the city you choose to indulge in Asheville’s nightlife, tickets to a live show are sure to jazz up your night.
Open the Latest: The Asheville Music Hall, wrapping at 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Urban Orchard Cider Company - South
24 Buxton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Antidote at Chemist Spirits
151 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Ben's Tune Up
195 Hilliard Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
134 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Daddy Mac's Home Down Dive
161 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Storm Rhum Bar
125 S Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge
7 Rankin Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
57 College St, Asheville, NC 28801
124 College St, Asheville, NC 28801
180 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
11 Grove St, Asheville, NC 28801
112 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
The Orange Peel
101 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Asheville Music Hall
31 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
The Grey Eagle
185 Clingman Ave, Asheville, NC 28801