The Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounding mountain communities in both Virginia and North Carolina have a long and storied history as an arts and culture destination. Traditional artisans practice their crafts to this day, while up and coming artists forge ahead in new techniques and cutting edge creativity.
Planning a Parkway trip around all the art there is to see (or purchase yourself from art galleries and artist co-ops) could fill many days with adventure.
Read on for just a few of the art and craft stops to see on your Blue Ridge Parkway trip – including classes and shops with supplies for crafters.
Arts & Crafts on the Parkway
The Southern Highland Craft Guild began in 1928 and continues to serve and educate new generations in the importance of handwork to the mountain communities today. The Southern Highland Craft Guild manages the official Parkway craft centers in Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Centers.
The Folk Art Center at MP 382 is the Guild’s oldest craft shop, and its Parkway Craft Center is located in the historic Moses Cone Manor at MP 294. Both are curated and managed by Southern Highland Craft Guild and offer regular demonstrations of traditional artisans and their crafts. The Guild also hosts craft fairs annually.
Self-Guided Art Trails
The Appalachian Mural Trail features over 60 murals in North Carolina and an ever-growing collection of murals in Virginia. The vision of its founders is to follow the Blue Ridge highlighting existing historic murals – and also to help communities create new outdoor Appalachian murals to beautify and honor their areas’ unique histories.
The Bedford Artisan Trail includes information on all things art-related in the shadow of the Peaks of Otter. Artisan studios, art venues, agri-artists and farms, community theatre, art festivals and more are all compiled into one place for visitors to the Bedford, Virginia area.
Art Galleries and Artist Cooperatives
Crossnore Weavers and Gallery is a working museum. Crossnore Weavers was created to “preserve the Appalachian art of hand-weaving, to give an economic opportunity to women, and to promote Crossnore School & Children’s Home through the sale of beautiful hand-woven goods all over the world.” Sales from the gallery support foster students transitioning into independent living.
Grovewood Village is on the National Register of Historic Places and once housed Biltmore Industries weaving and woodworking. Today it includes Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum, the Grovewood Gallery, working artist studios, a sculpture garden and an antique car museum. Grovewood Village is located in Asheville, NC adjacent to the Omni Grove Park Inn.
One of a Kind Art Gallery (OOAK) features the works of over 150 local artists and craftspeople and is located in the nostalgic Old Micaville Country Store. Among the artist wares available are pottery, jewelry, paintings, photography and more. OOAK also hosts the Micaville Music Thursday Concert Series.
Qualla Arts & Crafts is the oldest Native American Cooperative. Founded in 1946, Qualla Arts and Crafts showcases the traditional arts and crafts of the Eastern Cherokee with works of over 250 members. Among the works available to purchase are baskets, pottery, wood and stone carving, and beadwork.
Art Classes, Demonstrations & Craft Supplies
Penland School of Crafts is world-renowned in arts and crafts quality and education. The school offers events, workshops, artist residencies and traditional crafts across multiple media.
The mission of the Floyd Center for the Arts is to “facilitate and showcase artistic endeavors and creativity; to provide education in the arts throughout our rural community and region.” The Center offers workshops, working studios, events, galleries and a gift shop.
Foam & Fabrics Outlet carries fabrics and supplies for quilters, upholstering, leather work, sewing and fiber artists. There are two locations in Western North Carolina.