We’re two queer women who are always on the lookout for LGBTQ+ safe spaces and resources. We’ve shared our experiences on other platforms but have recently created a space on our own site for people to use as a resource when they’re visiting Asheville, North Carolina or when they’re on the road.
Asheville, North Carolina
Unlike some other cities, there aren’t too many spaces or places in Asheville that cater specifically to the queer community – o.henry’s and Banks Ave are the exceptions. Instead, there’s a saying in the southeast, “y’all means all” that gets used around a lot. And in a lot of instances, it’s true. But the reality is that there’s still a legitimate need (not just desire) for members of the queer community to seek out queer-friendly spaces. The list below of breweries, bars, cafés, and shops in large part is, in our opinion, open to everyone in a come one, come all kind of vibe.
While no experience can be absolutely guaranteed and while this list is completely objective, the places listed below are places that we have been, know, feel good about, and where we feel comfortable going and being ourselves. We hope that they bring you some peace and a sense of community in your travels.
Breweries and Bars
7 Clans Brewing (Biltmore Village-ish)
12 Bones Brewing (Arden)
Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours (Downtown)
Banks Ave. (South Slope)
Bottle Riot (River Arts District)
Burial Beer Co. (South Slope)
Catawba Brewing (Biltmore Village + South Slope)
Different Wrld (West Asheville)
Eurisko Beer Co. (South Slope)
Funkatorium (South Slope)
Highland Brewing (East Asheville)
Hi-Wire Brewing (River Arts District + Biltmore Village)
Leo’s House of Thirst (West Asheville)
Marked Tree Vineyard Tasting Room (Downtown)
Marked Tree Vineyard (Flat Rock)
New Belgium Brewing (River Arts District)
Olde London Road (River Arts District)
One World Brewing (West Asheville + Downtown)
Oyster House Brewing Company (West Asheville)
Sweeten Creek Brewing (Biltmore Forest-ish)
The Odd (formerly known as The Odditorium) (West Asheville)
The Whale (West Asheville)
Wedge Brewing Co. (River Arts District)
Wicked Weed Brewing (Downtown)
Zillicoah Beer Company (North Asheville-ish)
BattleCat Coffee Bar (West Asheville)
Firestorm Books and Coffee (West Asheville)
High Five Coffee (Downtown and Woodfin)
Grind Coffee (River Arts District)
Odd’s Cafe (West Asheville)
Pennycup Coffee Co. (River Arts District)
Summit Coffee Co. (Downtown + River Arts District)
Ultra Coffeebar (River Arts District)
Yellow Mug Coffee Lounge (Weaverville)
12 Bones Smokehouse (River Arts District + Arden)
All Souls Pizza (River Arts District)
Baba Nahm (Downtown)
Baby Bull (River Arts District)
Benne On Eagle (Downtown)
Chai Pani (Downtown)
Cucina 24 (Downtown)
Cultura (South Slope)
District 42 (Downtown)
ELDR (North Asheville)
French Broad Chocolate Lounge (Downtown)
Grey Eagle Taqueria (River Arts District)
Hole Doughnuts (West Asheville)
The Hop Ice Cream Café (North Asheville, West Asheville, Downtown, Black Mountain)
Isis Restaurant and Music Hall (West Asheville)
Nine Mile (West Asheville + Montford)
OWL Bakery (West Asheville)
PIE.ZAA (River Arts District)
Pop Bubble Tea (North Asheville)
Rosetta’s Kitchen (Downtown)
Smoky Park Supper Club (River Arts District)
Sovereign Remedies (Downtown)
Sunny Point Café (West Asheville)
Taco Billy (West Asheville)
The Admiral (West Asheville)
The Hop Handcrafted Ice Cream (West Asheville, North Asheville, Downtown, Black Mountain)
The W.A.L.K (West Asheville)
Trashy Vegan (West Asheville)
Universal Joint (West Asheville)
West End Bakery and Café (West Asheville)
White Labs Kitchen and Tap (Downtown)
Wild Ginger Noodle Bar (Arden)
Shops and Makers
Asheville Bee Charmer (Downtown)
Battery Park Book Exchange (Downtown)
Blue Spiral 1 (Downtown)
Downtown Books and News (Downtown)
Emote (West Asheville)
Flora (West Asheville)
Garden Party (West Asheville)
Jus’ Running (North Asheville)
Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café (Downtown)
More To Love Plus-Size Consignment (West Asheville)
Mtn Merch (South Asheville)
Noir Collective (Downtown)
Palm and Pine (West Asheville)
Patton Avenue Pet Company (West Asheville, South Asheville, Downtown)
Pink Dog Creative (River Arts District)
Playdate (West Asheville)
Purl’s Yarn Emporium (Arden)
Reciprocity (West Asheville)
Regeneration Station (South Asheville)
Screen Door (South Asheville)
Second Gear (River Arts District)
Twin Denim (West Asheville + Pop Ups)
Villagers (West Asheville)
Voltage Records (Downtown)
Ware (West Asheville)
Health, Wellness, and Personal Care
Asheville Community Yoga (North Asheville)
Beauty Parade (West Asheville)
Fusion Day Spa (West Asheville)
Shoji Spa (South Asheville)
Farmer’s Market Vendors
Chef J Chong
Lane in the Woods
Princess Anne Hotel (Downtown-ish)
Sweet Biscuit Inn (Kenilworth neighborhood)
Wedding and Event Vendors
Amelia Fletcher Photography
All The Things Ceremonies
Carolina Love Events
Chelsea Lane Photography
Haiku I Do
Layered Custom Cakes by Lex
LGBTQ Wedding DJ’s
Rising Fern Events
Real Estate Agents and Related Services
Holly Aracich of French Broad Real Estate
Tralala Interiors – Home Staging and Design
Asheville LGBTQ Resources and Groups
Asheville Gay Men’s Chorus
Asheville Lesbian Social Club
BIPOC+LGBTQ+Ally Run Crew
Blue Ridge Pride Center
Campaign For Southern Equality
Hendersonville’s LGBTQ+ Social Group
LGBTQ friendly businesses
Trans in the South: A Directory of Trans-Affirming Health and Legal Service Providers
LGBTQ Events in Asheville
In addition to the places mentioned above, Asheville also is home to a handful of LGBTQ events that are scattered throughout the year. Click on the links below to learn more and find out how you can participate.
BIPOC + LGBTQIA2S + Ally Run Crew
Erin started a safe space run club in June 2022. The group grew to about 10 people who met each Friday morning at a different location around Asheville. Over time, it became to good of a thing to keep to ourselves so we opened it up to the community. The first one is to take place on February 25th and will include runners and walkers. The event is FREE and all paces are welcome – a WAIVER IS REQUIRED. Click here for a waiver.
For more info on these runs, follow @authenticasheville and @e.mcgrady on Instagram.
Asheville City Soccer Club Pride Night
Each year in June the Asheville City Soccer Club hosts a Pride Night. It’s typically a doubleheader match with the women’s and men’s team each playing on the same night. In 2022 there was a Pre-Match Party and then a March scheduled for before the games.
In 2016, we started a free photography event called the Asheville Instameet. We learned about the concept from two Texas-based creators, @mjvc.rocks and @victoriaglafira. The idea is to gather a group of people together with the very loose goals of making new friends and making new pictures. No special photography equipment is needed and the event is open to all skill levels. We did not hold the event during Covid but have hopes to resume it as soon as possible, so stay tuned by following us on Instagram at @authenticasheville and/or following the hashtag #AshevilleInstameet.
Asheville Drag Brunch
The incredibly talented, funny, and entertaining DIVINE, the Bearded Lady, and her friends frequently team up to put on one of THE best drag shows in the Asheville area. You can catch this ever-changing show at several venues around town. Proceeds from the Asheville Drag Brunch shows goes to a non-profit, often an LGBTQ non-profit. As always, bring your dollar bills so you can tip away!
Blue Ridge Pride Festival
The annual Blue Ridge Pride Festival is a family-friendly event for all of Western North Carolina. Allies are welcome. You can expect music, entertainment, food, lots of vendors, floats, a parade, and an all-out celebration of the LGBTQ community. Volunteers are always needed, click here for more info. This event typically occurs in the fall.
Chow Chow’s Pride Brunch
Chow Chow is three weekends full of food and fun that celebrates the food culture in the region. It’s full of both locally and nationally known chefs. It also happens to have an event that specifically celebrates the LGBTQ community in Asheville with a Pride Brunch. Two of our favorite Asheville chefs, Michelle Bailey of Smoky Park Supper Club and J Chong, have participated in the past.
Krewe de Pride
Though we’re a ten-hour drive from New Orleans, not to worry! Asheville has it’s own little Mardi Gras celebration and members of the LGBTQ community can participate by joining the Krewe de Pride team (aka Blue Ridge Pride) and being part of the parade downtown. For more information, click here. This event occurs in the winter.
The Lizard Bookclub, a part of Youth OUTright, is a space that aims to connect young queer people with literature that reflects and expresses their communities and selves. The club meets online on the last Sunday, every other month. Completing the book is not required to join the space.
Miss and Mister Gay Latina Asheville
Once a year a pageant occurs in downtown Asheville at the Diana Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. But this isn’t just any pageant. This one is called the Miss and Mister Gay Latina Asheville and it highlights members of the LGBTQ community who perform in front of a live audience.
There are four categories:
For the Miss: Interview, National costume, Talent, and Evening gown.
For the Mister: Interview, swimsuit, talent, and formal wear.
You can join in on the fun and watch contestants vie for the title of Miss and Mister Gay Latina by purchasing a ticket (either regular or VIP). Learn more about this event on their Facebook page.
Youth OUTright Queer Prom
This is not the kind of prom that most have heard of or even attended when you were in high school. This is a queer prom and all LGBTQ+ youth ages 14-20 are invited to join in on an affirming evening in a safe space that not only accepts you but celebrates you. Tickets are offered on a sliding scale and no one is turned away due to lack of funds.
LGBTQ City Guides
In addition to sharing about LGBTQ+ businesses in Asheville, we’ve also spent the last couple of years creating LGBTQ+ city guides. Our guides help fellow queer travelers find safe spaces and community. Plus they give you a head start on some of our favorite fun things to see, do, and eat.
Amelia Island, Florida
Crystal River, Florida
Durham, North Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
St. Augustine, Florida
The Florida Keys
Lake Tahoe, California
Road Trip in the Pacific Northwest, Part I: Oregon!
Road Trip in the Pacific Northwest, Part II: Washington!
Pittsburgh + Pittsburgh PRIDE
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley filmmakers, photographers, writers, content creators, and the authors of Authentic Asheville.
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