Best Things To Do in Marshall, NC

a photo of the French Broad River is the center focus of the photo. The town of Marshall, NC is in the background. Leaves are on the ground and slightly blurred out in the foreground.

Marshall, North Carolina is about a 25 – 30 minute drive (a little over 20 miles) from downtown Asheville. In other words, it’s a great spot for a day trip from Asheville! The downtown area of Marshall is fairly small. A quick drive down Main Street will only take a few minutes but it’ll give you a good overview of the town. Find a place to park and get out and walk to explore some of the shops, restaurants and cafe’s. After that, consider hopping back in the car and checking out some of the other places on our list, all of which have a Marshall address but that aren’t in downtown. Keep reading to see our list of the best things to do in Marshall, NC.

French Broad Adventures | 9800 US Highway 25

Rafting, ziplines, canyoneering, and climbing…what more could you want in an adventure center? The best part about French Broad Adventures is that you just have to show up. You don’t have to own any of the gear. They’ll get you outfitted and paired up with a guide so that you can have a fun and safe adventure. They flung open their doors in 2002 and are now the largest outfitter on the French Broad River. Want to do more than just one adventure? If you book a whitewater rafting and ziplining tour during the same week you can save 10%. Visit their website for more details.

French Broad Exchange | 63 South Main Street

a glass window has several items taped to the window. the largest, at the top of the window is a white sign that says "French Broad Exchange: Used Books and Other Stuff." Below that are comic strips that have been taped to the window as well as hand-written quotes. A tiny bit of the brick building shows at the right hand side of the photo.
Long live independent bookstores like this one in downtown Marshall, NC.

The French Broad Exchange is formerly known as the Marshall Junk Shop. It’s a fun and interesting collection of odds and ends, paintings, books, magazines, cast iron skillets, trinkets and more. The French Broad Exchange is a great place to stop by when you’re in Marshall simply because you never know what you might find.

Madison County Arts Council | 90 South Main Street

The Madison County Arts Council is a place of information as well a place of gathering. They host events such as A Tribute to the Madison County, NC Fiddlers and offer youth classes such as ballet and theater. In addition to these events and classes, they also work hard to promote local artists through shows. One of the coolest things they help out with is wART FM, a local radio station that is actually currently seeking volunteer DJ’s. Click here to learn more and visit their events calendar to see what they’ve got coming up.

The following places are some of the best things to do in Marshall, NC but they’re not downtown. You’re going to need to drive to get to them. We think they’re worth the effort, though.

Mad Co. Brew House | 45 North Main Street

Small craft batch beers and pizza, what more could you ask for? Going to Mad Co. Brew House is one of the best things to do in Marshall. It’s a great spot for a post-hike beer or bite. It also lays claim to being the first brewery in Madison County, having opened it’s doors in 2016. There’s often live music, karaoke, and trivia so check out their calendar online before you go. And if you don’t feel like drinking there you can get a growler or two to go.

Marshall High Studios | 115 Blannahassett Island Road

a photo of the exterior of Marshall High Studios. The building is two stories tall and made of brick. A yellow handrail goes up to the building and a white sign with yellow letters says Marshall High Studios.
This old high school in Marshall, NC has been converted into art studios and is one of the best places to visit in Marshall.

One of the best things to do in Marshall, NC is to visit the Marshall High Studios. They’re located on the 10 acre Blannahassett Island inside the old Marshall High School. The building itself is a 27,000 square foot school that has been turned into a lovely light-filled space for artists and makers. Each studio and artist maintains it’s own hours so be sure to call or e-mail before you visit to make sure they are open. Also, consider visiting the Marshall High Studios Facebook page to see if there are any upcoming events such as the Potters of Madison County, the Marshall Handmade Market and more.

Mossy Mountain Bikeworks | 133 South Main Street

A photo of the inside of Mossy Mountain Bikeworks. There are two bikes hanging from the ceiling in the right hand corner of the photo. On the ground are many bikes lined up neatly. There are tires in a row hanging from the ceiling at the back of the shop. Brown ceiling fans also hang from the ceiling. Some t-shirts that are bright green and blue are on a rack and lots of small bike parts are on the wall.
Put this bike shop in downtown Marshall, NC on your list of things to do!

Your one stop shop for all things cycling in Marshall is located on main street. They sell bikes both new and used, perform repairs, and lead guided tours. They also have information on self-guided tours. If you decide to ride bikes in Marshall, definitely wear a helmet and use lights. There aren’t many bike lanes in this part of North Carolina and the shoulders of the roads are often non-existent. Still, if you’re up for it, the scenery is gorgeous and the hills will get your heart rate up!

Prama Institute & Wellness Center | 182 Ananda Girisuta Drive

a blue and white sign on a wooden pole points the way towards the Prama Institute. The blue arrow points to the left towards a dome shaped building made of wood. A slate gray path made of stones winds its way towards the building.
A quite place for reflection awaits you at the Prama Institute

If you’ve been looking for a place to deepen your yoga practice, you might have already heard of the Prama Institute. It’s one of the premier wellness retreat and conference center’s in the southeast. The retreats combine yoga, meditation, and juicing. They also hold silent meditation retreats. Both the Institute and the Wellness Center are located on 120 acres of really beautiful property with trails and many places to walk, sit, meditate and gather one’s thoughts. To sign up or learn more about their classes, visit their website.

Sandy Bottom Trail Rides | 1459 Caney Fork Road

One of the best things to do in Marshall, NC is to get out of town and go for a horseback ride through some of the most beautiful country in Madison County. Sandy Bottom Trail Rides will get you set up with a guide and a horse or even an ATV if you are unable or do not want to ride on their Polaris. On rides that last 2, 3 or 4 hours, you will be treated to a stop at the Little Pine Garnet Mine which is a historic 200 year old mine. While there you’ll have time to dig for garnets and explore the mine. We think it’s one of the most unique and interesting things to do in Marshall.

Star Diner | 115 North Main Street

An old-fashioned metal sign stands on a metal pedestal and reads "Sorry NO GAS". Behind the sign is an old truck with wooden rails and a wooden truck bed. Star Diner is on the truck. Behind that is a two-toned old car with a yellow hood and green paint. Behind the cars is a brick building painted white. Red signs point the way into a restaurant advertising Steaks, Seafood, Bar.
Visiting this old gas station turned restaurant, Star Diner, is one of the best things to do in Marshall, NC.

While there aren’t a ton of dining options in downtown Marshall, the ones that exist are awesome. Headed north and west along Main Street, keep your eyes peeled for the old gas station that’s been converted into a restaurant. You’re looking for the Star Diner, one of the best places to eat in Marshall, NC. If you’re walking or your windows are down, you’re likely to smell it before you spot it! Sunday brunch is a solid option for kicking off your weekend. You can also visit the Star Diner Wednesday through Saturday for lunch or dinner and order anything from the lobster fettuccine to the spice crusted sea bass to the buttermilk cheese pie. This is the place to go if you want delicious food owned by locals.

Van Life Conversions | 216 B South Main Street

a photo of the exterior of the building housing Van Life Conversions. The building is slate gray with some horizontal wood paneling. There is a blue dolly with red wheels propped up against the building. A yellow and brown banner hangs about two navy blue doors. The foreground is gravel.
Camper van conversions are happening in Marshall, NC!

Being that this is a van life blog we love going to Marshall to check out what Van Life Conversions has on their lot! Every single time we’ve visited they’ve had a number of rad looking vans in various stages of progress. And in addition to custom camper van builds and they even work on skoolies. Check ’em out and make an appointment with ’em if you’d like to discuss a build.

Walnut Island River Park | 3042 Old Marshall Highway

Technically this river park is located in Alexander, NC but we put it on our list of the best things to do in Marshall, NC because it’s only 7.3 miles south of Marshall. It’s a great spot for a picnic, grilling out, accessing the river with your kayak, and even fishing. It’s open during daylight hours, seven days a week.

Zuma Coffee and Provisions | 7 North Main Street

Great drink and comfort foods await at the cute corner coffee shop in Marshall. Zuma recently celebrated 20 years in business! Plus, they’re one of the best places to eat in Marshall. They’re open Monday – Saturday and you can get everything from coffee, smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, soup, and more. They’ve also got take-home and bake options. Be sure to check out their daily specials and if you’re in a rush, order online and it’ll be ready when you arrive.

Best Things to Do in Marshall, NC Recap

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Looking for other fun day trips near Asheville? Check out our posts on Weaverville and Black Mountain!

Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are travel writers, photographers and the authors of Authentic Asheville.

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Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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