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Lesbian-Friendly Asheville, NC

A Lesbian's Guide to Visiting Asheville, NC


Asheville North Carolina

Asheville North Carolina

© zen Sutherland
Written by Brenda Williams, Asheville resident and Herstory Asheville Guide.

Asheville, NC, has been called the most diverse and tolerant city in the South. You might see openly lesbian couples anywhere; especially walking in the eclectic downtown area or in West Asheville. It is definitely a place to visit with beautiful scenery (mountains, waterfalls, breathtaking valleys), great outdoor activities (hiking, river rafting, fly fishing & snowboarding), arts and cultural events (lots of galleries, theatres, festivals), fine dining (everything from upscale to coffee shops and lots of outdoor cafes) , and fun nightlife (most places will be lesbian friendly). Keep in mind that Asheville is still in the bible belt, so if you go a few miles in any direction, it becomes less tolerant.

I’ve included some suggestions of things to do/eat/explore on your next Asheville visit. For more local information, check out www.exploreasheville.com, www.stereotypd.com (formerly Out in Asheville), www.ashevillepurplepages.com and www.sheville.org. Hope to see you soon in Asheville!

Asheville Nightlife:

Scandals Nightclub (11 Grove Street just off Patton Ave downtown) is part of the larger building The Grove House, and Asheville’s premier gay/lesbian club. Getaways is a small back bar from Scandals and provides an escape from the busy dance floor. There are other clubs in the Grove House that tend to lean more toward straight crowds, but all are fairly diverse. You can find drag shows on weekends in Scandals. Tressa’s at 28 Broadway has great live music and dancing and a mixed gay and straight crowd.

Asheville Lesbian Friendly Activities:

Art Galleries are all around, not just in downtown Asheville but also in Biltmore Village and the River Arts District. For more information on galleries, art news, and festival dates, visit the Arts Festivals Guide.

Herstory Asheville is a tour that tells the rest of the story. This 90 minute walking tour of downtown is full of local history and highlights some of the amazing women who helped shape the area. You’ll hear tales of the famous, the infamous and the unsung heroes of the female persuasion.

Malaprop’s Bookstore was voted “Best Independent Bookstore in the Southeast”. It is lesbian-owned and draws a diverse, uniquely “Ashevillian” crowd for readings, poetry slams and live music. It also has a great coffee shop to sit and people watch.

Biltmore Estate is the country’s largest home and you can make a day (or two) of it by touring the mansion, gardens, winery, equestrian center and more.

For great hikes, waterfalls, and swimming holes, check out local hikes and the hiking section of Asheville’s Travel Guide.

Asheville, NC Lesbian-Friendly Dining:

There are so many great places to eat in Asheville. Downtown restaurants are numerous, and you won’t find any cookie cutter chains here. Most restaurants are vegetarian friendly, especially downtown. For straight vegetarian, try the Laughing Seed on Wall Street or Rosetta’s on Broadway. Try Tupelo Honey – great for breakfast or anytime, and Salsa’s on Lexington Ave. For a locals’ hangout, visit West Asheville’s Sunny Point Café. Most tourists don’t know about this “bohemian” gem. Doc Chey’s noodle house on Biltmore can’t be beat and the prices are great. Just three miles north of downtown is the historic Grove Park Inn for a more extravagant experience in dining, sleeping, or a day at the spa.

Asheville Lesbian Groups:

If you are planning a visit, you might check out the yahoo groups, Lesbians in the Mountains and Sheville after Dark, or the website of ALPS (Association of Lesbian Professionals).
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