Nestled in the southern section of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is the ultimate destination in North Carolina to immerse yourself in nature and discover the charms of the South. Outdoor adventures and city attractions combine to keep every visitor busy for days – whether you want to go hiking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park or discover the Art Deco architecture of the historic Downtown. There is no shortage of unique things to do in the place known as “The Land of the Sky” or “Beer City”.
Two of the most iconic experiences in Asheville are floating down the French Broad River – which is the world’s third-oldest river – and sampling beers at homegrown microbreweries. This mighty river flows through both North Carolina and neighboring Tennessee for 219 miles, and offers plenty of opportunities for recreation such as rafting, tubing, canoeing and fishing. Many interesting wildlife species can be found around the river including fish, otters, beavers, turtles, herons, geese and eagles.
Asheville also boasts the second most breweries per capita in the US, with 17 breweries per 50,000. With this fact in mind, it’s no surprise that the city has built a reputation in recent years for producing quality local crafts. Beer aficionados can do it all here: from sipping on experimental brews at quaint establishments, to attending bustling beer festivals with live music, to venturing on river brewery tours with Cedar Rock Adventures. Indeed, brewery-hopping on the river is a great way to spend the day with friends!
Why Go on a River Brewery Tour in Asheville
Beer and nature are two quintessential parts of Asheville, and with Cedar Rock Adventures you can tick them both off your bucket list on the same excursion. Their river brewery tours please beer lovers and nature enthusiasts alike as you will be able to witness the beauty of the French Broad River, sample local craft beer and make new friends if you book a small group tour. These trips are ideal for special events like bachelor or bachelorette parties and team building, as well as just for standard tourism.
Drifting down the French Broad River is a highlight in itself. It’s one of the few rivers in the US that flows north. Each section offers something different. Some spots have speedy rapids, while others are calm and serene. Impressive rock formations around the fault line of the Appalachian Mountains also surround the river, creating epic views throughout. Cedar Rock Adventures can cater to those who want a gentle raft ride or an action-packed canoe paddle on the more adventurous sections of the river.
Owner and guide, Cody Kelly, leads the outfit. He is a former Outward Bound wilderness instructor who has lived in Asheville for almost 30 years now, taking guests on trips here since 1996. Cody and his fantastic team which include Tim, Walker, Kevin, Levi and Rachel are all seasoned raft and canoe guides. They make you feel safe aboard whichever vessel you choose and share their knowledge of the area’s incredible beer scene.
River Brewery Tours with Cedar Rock Adventures
Floating Bar Crawl Tour
Bar crawls don’t get any better than on the French Broad River with Cedar Rock Adventures. Traveling by raft, you will float down the river in a leisurely fashion – stopping off at some of the best bars and breweries in the country during the four hours. The first pitstop is at Cascade Lounge where a large selection of local drafts and cocktails can be enjoyed. Next up is the Wedge Brewery Bar known for its honest approach to beer-making. The final spot is New Belgium Brewery which offers a lovely view of the river.
In between these bar/brewery visits, you will have the chance to float down the river, and soak up the sun and scenery. Up to 20 people can be accommodated but larger groups can be booked with advanced notice. You need to be 21 or older to drink, however minors are welcome as long as they come with their parents. The tour includes a professional guide, commercial raft with paddles, life jackets, a cooler with ice and ponchos (if needed). Make sure you bring cash or a card for the food and drink!
Private Raft Brewery Tour
The Private Raft Brewery Tour follows the same itinerary as above but this time you benefit from a more personalized and private experience. With a minimum group size of eight, this tour is perfect for special events such as birthday parties or wedding celebrations. It’s recommended that you bring a maximum of two beverages per person for the river ride because the bar and brewery stops give you the opportunity to order plenty of beers. Admiring the river views with a beer in hand is a classic Asheville activity!
Canoe the River to Local Craft Breweries
Canoeing on the French Broad River is a superb alternative to rafting as you get the independence to paddle where you want and can soak up the sights by yourself or with a partner. Naturally, canoeing requires more effort than rafting – so you can view it as a chance to do some exercise too. After paddling for a while, your appetite builds and you will be eager to head to a brewery for drinks and treats. Luckily, the guide takes you to Asheville’s best riverside bars and eateries on this canoeing adventure!
The tour begins at a meeting point near the River Arts District where you meet the guide and get kitted out with gear. You don’t need to be a skilled canoer as the section of river you paddle on is considered easily navigable. Each trip can be customized to suit the tastes of the group, the weather conditions and what is open during the time of year you visit. Most tours include two breweries, a couple of eateries and perhaps a winery. Four people is the minimum number of participants for the tour to go ahead.
Stellar Customer Reviews & Testimonials
Cedar Rock Adventures has many 5-star reviews on platforms such as Google and Tripadvisor from both locals and visitors alike, so don’t just take our word for it when we say these are some of the best river brewery tours in Asheville! Customers love the mix of nature immersions, outdoor adventures, and brewery selections that Cody and his team provides. Have a browse through some of the real customer reviews and testimonials below to see what you can expect from a tour with Cedar Rock Adventures:
“Cody is an awesome guide. We did the raft/brewery tour down the French Broad River and had lunch at 12 Bones Smokehouse, hit up a few breweries, roamed through the River Arts District and popped into a museum. Cody has been a guide since the 90s and definitely knows what he is doing. The price is more than fair, and he is such a fun guy and has some funny stories from over the years. He taught us some local history which was cool, too. Take a ride with Cody! You won’t regret it!” – Emily.
“My boyfriend and I went canoeing to a couple of breweries down the French Broad River over July 4th weekend. The trip ended up being just us and our guide, Cody. It gave gorgeous views and he introduced us to a few breweries we probably wouldn’t have found ourselves. We enjoyed our time on the river and the conversations with Cody. I would highly recommend it! We plan on joining them next time we are in Asheville for the Floating Bar Crawl Tour – just so we don’t have to work too hard!” – Janin Marie.
Final Thoughts on the River Brewery Tours
It’s so easy to experience Asheville’s natural wonders and craft beer scene on one of the river brewery tours with Cedar Rock Adventures – just book on their website or contact Cody directly. No matter your group size or preferred activity, his team of passionate guides and travel experts will help you have a fun day out in the sun in North Carolina. Saying cheers together with your friends on a historic river is about as American as it gets. With summer just around the corner, there has never been a better time to go!