We’ve all been there: Someone’s trying to give you directions by describing 10 lefts, 20 rights, and a jumble of cardinal directions. Isn’t it easier to just point out a landmark?
That’s exactly what we’re doing. We have 13 of the most recognizable Asheville landmarks — from the Jackson Building to the RAD silo. Not only are these local icons easy to remember, but they’ll also get you where you need to go in a jiffy.
Pack Square pigs + turkeys
Address: N. Pack Square
Nearby: Asheville Art Museum, Pack Square Park
Sure, you could just say, “Take a left at the Pack Square Plaza median” if you’re telling someone where to go, but we prefer the idea of saying, “Turn when you see the pigs.” These bronze pigs and turkeys, which are called “Crossroads” and are part of the Urban Trail, wander a path that represents the road traveled by Native Americans and later those herding livestock across the mountains.
The Jackson Building
Address: 22 S. Pack Sq.
Nearby: Asheville Fire Department, Pack Square Park
This steel-framed Neo Gothic brick + terra-cotta structure was the first skyscraper in Western North Carolina and holds the record for the tallest building on the smallest lot (its lot is only 27 x 60 ft. and it’s 140 ft. tall). If the receiver of your directions has good eyesight, you can point out the grotesques at the top.
Dolly and RuPaul mural
Address: 783 Haywood Rd.
Nearby: Westville Pub/All Sevens Brewing, Orbit DVD
Dolly Parton was paired up with the only other icon worth her weight in wigs, drag performer + singer RuPaul when Gus Cutty finished his addition to the mural on the side of West Asheville’s Beauty Parade in April 2021. This mural is in a prime Haywood Road spot — and easy to point out to lost wanderers.
Basilica of Saint Lawrence
Address: 97 Haywood St.
Nearby: I-240 Haywood Street exit, Harrah’s Cherokee Center - Asheville
A design of the famous architects Rafael Guastavino + Richard Sharp Smith, this gorgeous structure is hard to miss as it welcomes you downtown with an expansive dome and Beau. It was completed in 1909 and remains WNC’s only basilica (which is a special designation given by the Pope because of a church’s historical importance or significance).
River Arts District silo
Address: 1 Roberts St.
Nearby: French Broad River, Baby Bull
It’s worn many messages over the years, but no matter what it says, the RAD silo is instantly recognizable (and a common backdrop for photos). The message murals — among them, “Stay Weird,” “Good Vibes,” and “Stay True” — were created by local muralists Ian the Painter Wilkinson + Ishmael.
Address: 1 Page Ave.
Nearby: Asheville Pinball Museum, Wall Street Parking Garage
Grove Arcade has been many things over the years — a public market, the headquarters for the National Climatic Data Center, and now a visually distinctive collection of shops, restaurants, and apartments. Fun fact to throw in while you’re pointing someone in that direction: the original design called for a five-story base and a 14-story tower.
The Flatiron Building
Address: 20 Battery Park Ave.
Nearby: Pritchard Park, The Grove Arcade
If you’re using The Flatiron Building as a directional guide, you could pick a lot of different attributes to set it apart — its triangular shape, its Beaux Art design, or even the large statue of an iron out in front of it (also part of the Urban Trail). Fun fact: It used to be home to Skybar, a rooftop bar that was spread out over three balconies on the top three floors.
WNC Veterans Memorial
Address: 60 Court Pl.
Nearby: Pack Square Park, Buncombe County Courthouse
Along College Street, in the shadow of the County Courthouse + Asheville City Hall, sits this memorial to area veterans. It includes an arch and pillars as well as a statute of a maternal figure in the middle, sculpted by Jodi Hollnagel-Jubran.
Address: 39 Patton Ave.
Nearby: S&W Market, Asheville Music Hall
An ornate homage to Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, resident of Asheville and the first woman in the country to receive a medical degree, this bench includes an arbor of medicinal herbs and a bust of the doctor on top of the Caduceus. It’s a popular photo op — if you ever wander down Patton without paying much attention, you’ll probably find yourself accidentally in the foreground of someone’s glamour shot.
Local icons that probably won’t help with directions
Omni Grove Park Inn
Address: 290 Macon Ave.
Nearby: Weaver Park
Remember the Grove Arcade from earlier in this article? Well that’s not the only iconic local building that E.W. Grove is responsible for. Now the Grove Park Inn sits above the city with a stunning view of the mountains, so unless you’re going to a house in the adjacent neighborhood, its location probably won’t help with getting you anywhere quickly — but it’s still a sight to behold. Fun fact: Grove made a fortune with his Tasteless Chill Tonic, which was quinine suspended in syrup with the ad slogan, “Makes Children and Adults as Fat as Pigs.”
Address: 1 Lodge St.
Nearby: Biltmore Village
This French Renaissance chateau home changed Asheville entirely, so even though the drive from the front gate to the main house will be a couple of miles, and as a landmark, the house likely won’t help anyone get anywhere, we’d be remiss not to include it. What is now America’s largest home, the 250-room mansion is about 4 acres and took almost six years to build.
Fender Bender mural
Address: 304 Lyman St.
Nearby: Asheville Waste Paper Co.
This mural by NYC artist Jerkface is a mashup of Homer Simpson and Futurama’s Bender — and one of RAD’s most recognizable pieces. In true RAD industrial fashion, there’s not much around it, but it’s still a landmark worth knowing.
Address: 201 Beaucatcher Rd.
Nearby: Ingles at 29 Tunnel Rd.
A frequent haunt of author Thomas Wolfe when he was a child (so much so that it’s included in “Look Homeward, Angel”), Helen’s Bridge is in a residential area crossing over College Street. But might also be home to the spirit of a distraught mother, mourning the death of her daughter.
What local landmarks do you use to get around the city? Let us know.