The historic town of Marshall in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and the scenic French Broad River, just 20 miles north of Asheville. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 889 residents celebrates its colorful past while passionately embracing the contemporary. Main Street, lined with original buildings including the 100-year-old courthouse, is home to artists’ studios, galleries, music and dance venues and eclectic shops.
Walk Main Street through downtown. Zuma (7 N Main) is a cool hang-out with organic fair trade coffees, homemade desserts and creative, healthy comfort food. They have live music many nights. Marshall Container Co. (10 South Main) is part neighborhood pub and part artist workshop. Visit with the locals while enjoying craft beer, games and spinning vinyl. Head to Mad Co. Brew House (45 N. Main) for bratwursts, small batch craft beers and deck overlooking the river.
Other top stops: Sweet Monkey Cafe & Bakery (133 S. Main), The Star Diner (115 N. Main), Flow Gallery (14 S. Main), Madison Natural Foods (101 N. Main St) and The French Broad Exchange (63 S. Main). For authentic mountain music and dancing, go to the historic depot (282 South Main) on Friday nights.
Stop by the 100-year-old department store Penland & Sons with a big variety of merchandise.
A quick walk or drive over the river takes you to Blannahassett Island, where you’ll find picnic areas, fishing, and Marshall High Studios, home to many artists.
See our Madison County Guide for more things to do nearby, including whitewater rafting trips down the French Broad. Just 16 miles away is Hot Springs, home to the Appalachian Trail and the mineral springs.
For many more options, go to the Madison County website for 100 things to do.
Downtown Marshall Events 2018
February 13, 2018: Marshall Gras
Start the festivities with King Cake at Sweet Monkey Café at 5 PM. Head north on Main Street with crazy costumes, noisemakers and brass band. Flow, Marshall Container Company, Zuma, and Main Street Cafe will offer food and libation before getting down to New Orleans style jazz by The Resonant Rogues at Mad Co. Brew House from 6-8PM.
June 2, 2018: Mermaid Parade & Festival
Legend has it that for one day each year, mermaids leave their ocean home and travel via French Broad River to Downtown Marshall. They come to gaze at the natural beauty that surrounds them, meet their pirate friends and eat, drink and play at the festival and parade given in their honor. Festival runs 10 AM-5 PM with craft and art vendors, live entertainment and a seafood cook-off. Parade at 6 PM.
September 29, 2018: Art on the Island
Enjoy plenty of local art and music on Blannahassett Island by Marshall High Studios. 10 AM-5 PM.
November 17 & 18, 2018: Marshall Handmade Market
Buy gifts from 40+ artists at Marshall High Studios on Blannahassett Island in the river. Indoor arts festival runs 10 AM-5 PM. Free. Food and music too. 115 Blannahassett Island Rd, Marshall.
Madison County Scenic Drive
French Broad Overview: This scenic byway begins north of Asheville at the Weaverville exit for US 25/70 North from I-26. After a short distance, turn left on Monticello Road to reach the French Broad River. Turn right on Old Marshall Road / NC 215. Winding along the river, you may catch sight of whitewater rafters in the summer months. However, historically the land next to the river was the passage for migrating animals, American Indians and later drovers who took their stock to market. The sheer rocks on the right provide a beautiful contrast to the wide river on the left. The highway continues to Marshall. Continuing on Main Street will bring you back to US Highway 25/70 bypass where the route ends.