By Kirby Rucker
February marks Capital at Play’s annual real estate edition. While the real estate market is ever-changing, something that remains a constant in Asheville is the charm and bliss that this city has to offer. The town itself offers so much to its residents: a fantastic outdoor scene, endless foodie opportunities, and, quite literally, the most breweries per capita in the Southeast. But something else that makes Asheville so unique is its wide range of communities and neighborhoods.
You can imagine Asheville’s five main sectors as a compass, with Central Asheville being the center. From there, you’ll find North, South, East and West Asheville all in their respective places. Each of Asheville’s areas offer up pros and cons for the person looking to find their very own spot in the city. The most urban areas start in Central Asheville, home to downtown, and slowly fizzle out to a more rural landscape around the borders. West Asheville is known for its art and music scene. South Asheville is home to the Biltmore Estate and its surrounding Village and properties. East Asheville is a hiker’s paradise, home to many trails off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. And up North, you’ll find yourself close to Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and some of the highest elevations in the city.
Within these sectors are where you will find Asheville’s neighborhoods. We’re highlighting our five favorite Asheville neighborhoods, one for every corner of the city.
1. Central Asheville – Five Points
Welcome to Five Points! This vibrant and historic neighborhood in Asheville is adjacent to both downtown and UNC Asheville. UNC Asheville is home to many public events and lectures and is the location of the North Asheville Tailgate Market.
You’ll never go hungry in Five Points. Merrimon Avenue is lined with sustainable and old-fashioned eateries, along with your usual chain restaurants. Five Points Restaurant is a hidden gem, and Plant serves all vegan food. There’s also plenty of outdoor scenes to be discovered, especially in the Botanical Gardens, home to the native species of North Carolina, a flowing creek, and multiple walking trails.
The neighborhood really began to thrive in the 1990s, but dates back to the early 1900’s when George Pack built his estate here. The houses in this area are mostly 1920’s bungalows, some of which still hold their vintage charm, and others have been renovated to meet modern aesthetic standards.
Pros: Close proximity to restaurants, bars, and grocery stores; easy commute to downtown and UNC Asheville; bike and walking friendly, with plenty of sidewalks.
Cons: Narrow streets; Merrimon Avenue often has traffic congestion.
Average Home Price: $335,000
2. North Asheville – Lakeview Park
Welcome to Lakeview Park! This appropriately named and affluent neighborhood in North Asheville borders Beaver Lake and Bird Sanctuary. This community is ideal for the person who enjoys spending time outdoors, but doesn’t want to go far from home. Beaver Lake is easily accessible to fishermen, kayakers, and more. If you’re not much of a water-goer, multiple walking trails skirt the banks of the lake.
Though you’re less than ten minutes from downtown Asheville, you’ll find some smaller eateries nearby, such as Nick’s Grill, which specializes in American and Greek food. The closest grocery stores are Fresh Market and Ingles, a straight shot on Merrimon Avenue. Weaverville is about a 10 minute drive away.
The neighborhood’s history dates back to before the 1920s, when Beaver Lake was known as Baird Bottom. In 1923, Beaver Lake dam was constructed and Merrimon Avenue around the same time. Those who maintained the lake became the community of Lakeview Park, and that is still true today.
Pros: Close proximity to restaurants, bars, and grocery stores; easy commute to downtown Asheville, UNC Asheville, and Weaverville; plenty of outdoor recreation in the area.
Cons: Merrimon Avenue often has traffic congestion; the neighborhood becomes crowded because the park is open to the public; there is an HOA; it is on the more expensive side.
Average Home Price: $695,000
3. South Asheville – Biltmore Park
Welcome to Biltmore Park! Though it’s about a 15 minute drive to downtown Asheville, depending on traffic, this village-esque community has everything you could possibly want and need. The center of this community, Biltmore Park Town Square, is home to a large array of local and chain restaurants and shops, as well as entertainment such as a movie theater and occasional outdoor concerts. With its close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the French Broad River, it’s not difficult to get in touch with your outdoorsy side.
Biltmore Park was designed with an old-time village in mind: a place where everything is central and a feeling of community is present. That’s exactly what this 42-acre neighborhood has achieved. Though this community is fairly new—constructed only in 2009—the modern homes pair well with Asheville’s natural beauty.
Pros: Everything you need is centrally located; plenty of restaurants, shops, and entertainment; close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the French Broad River; right off of I-26.
Cons: Longer commute to downtown Asheville; traffic is often heavily congested on I-26; there will be a moderate amount of noise in the Town Square; the homes are expensive, but condos are often much less.
Average Home Price: $759,000
4. East Asheville – Haw Creek
Welcome to Haw Creek! While East Asheville remains one of the most undeveloped sectors of the city, Haw Creek offers the best of both worlds. Its close proximity to Tunnel Road, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway, gives you the experience of both city and rural life.
This neighborhood sits less than ten minutes from downtown Asheville and Tunnel Road, one of the oldest and most popular retail areas in Asheville. On Tunnel Road, you’ll find the Asheville Mall, as well as superstores like Wal-Mart and Target. To the east of the neighborhood is where you’ll find more rural landscapes off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Nearby is also the Folk Art Center and Southern Highland Craft Guild.
The neighborhood has a pretty even combination of both newer construction and old. Haw Creek dates all the way back to the 1800s, when it was originally settled as a farming community. Today, it’s still quite quiet, with no roads to other communities for thru traffic.
Pros: Easy commute to downtown Asheville and Tunnel Road; right off of I-240; plenty of nearby shops and eateries; close to rural settings off of the Blue Ridge Parkway; a quiet community; one of the more affordable areas in Asheville.
Cons: Crime rates tend to be higher near Tunnel Road; less walkable than other neighborhoods.
Average Home Price: $347,500
5. West Asheville
Welcome to West Asheville! Yes, this neighborhood is quite aptly named. A neighborhood which was once considered the “worst” area in Asheville remains that no more. Haywood Road, the community’s very own “downtown,” is full of the hustle and bustle of typical city life and looks quite cool doing it.
While very much a tourist destination, West Asheville is at the same time a local’s paradise. The streets are lined with local restaurants and shops like the Sunflower Diner and Instant Karma Asheville. And of course, don’t forget about bars such as the Haywood Country Club. Mural art is the norm here—no two buildings are quite the same. Speaking of art, the River Arts District is a short drive away, just across the French Broad River.
The community itself is both old-school and quaint. Most of the homes built here are historic bungalows. There’s no doubt that this community has grown, and keeps growing, since its incorporation in 1913.
Pros: Plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars along Haywood Road; right off of I-40; less than ten minutes to downtown Asheville; considered very “hip.”
Cons: Haywood Road becomes quite populated by pedestrians, especially in the warmer months; noise is common closer to Haywood Road; almost all parking is street parking.
Average Home Price: $350,000