The axe-throwing craze has taken the nation by storm — and it’s thriving in Asheville. Why do people throw axes at a target? It’s cathartic, fun, and anyone can learn to hit the target, with the proper coaching.
“It’s ridiculously addicting,” said Axeville Throwing Club co-founder and co-owner Ryan McClenny.
Don’t be afraid of trying it. Expertly trained coaches (“axperts”) help first-timers get the rhythm of the throw to safely hit the target.
“The first time people hear the ‘thunk’ of sticking the target, they get the feeling of ‘that was cool,’” said Axeville Throwing Club co-founder and co-owner Glen Merchant. “Don’t overthink the throw. It’s the simplicity of throwing something at something.”
“When people first come in, they don’t know what to expect,” said McClenny. “Then they are all smiles when they hit the bullseye.”
If cupid was uncharitable to you this year, or you’re simply not the paper-hearts-and-roses type, you may find all the hoopla around Valentine’s Day to be a bit saccharine.
Amy Zimmerman, co-owner of Axeville Throwing Club, said there are plenty of people in Asheville just like you. The club, where people pay to throw small axes at wooden targets in chain link fence-lined lanes, has been a big date night hit, and Valentine’s Day should be no exception.
“Asheville is a cool town, and this sort of thing pops into people’s thoughts as an option,” she said. “In a conservative town, maybe not — Asheville loves different, and we’re different.”
Alright now ladies…yeah!? Bachelorette season is upon us + it’s time to get the girls together. So if you’ve been given the task (or taken it upon yourself) to plan your bestie’s bachelorette party, a reunion with the gals, sister trip, etc. – why travel far when you can have a killer party right at home? We’ve got the rundown for a packed 48-hours in Asheville – making for the best girls’ weekend, from where to stay, eat, drink to what to do.
Where to stayFirst things first, no weekend trip can begin without a killer place to stay. Asheville has a number of hotels fit to accommodate your group. Check out Cambria, The Omni Grove Park Inn, Aloft Asheville Downtown + Doubletree Hotel Biltmore, just to name a few.
If you want to stay like a local, Airbnb is a great option. Airbnb is also good if you have a larger group + you all want to stay together in one house. Check out our Airbnb roundup for our local suggestions.
Asheville Glamping offers unique vacation rental experiences with the chance to stay in a dome, yurt, tipi, safari tent, airstream or tree house.
A stay in the dome. | Photo by @Callangcarpender
FridayAfter everyone has unpacked, it’s time to get ready to go out on the town together, because time is short + there’s a lot to show them here in Asheville.
A few easy + delicious dinner options for a group of any size include:
Buxton Hall BBQ |32 Banks Ave. | Voted North Carolina’s best BBQ joint by Southern Living, Buxton Hall is an Asheville #MustDo.
Farm Burger |10 Patton Ave. | Farm Burger is counter service + build-your-own burger style, made from all farm fresh ingredients.
Papa’s + Beer |17 Tunnel Rd. | A local favorite, who doesn’t love mexican food + margs?
After enjoying your first meal of the weekend together, why not finish off the night with drinks or treats?
Hemingway’s Cuba |15 Page Ave | This rooftop bar has views of the city + mountains, and makes for the perfect photo op spot for squad pics + cocktails.
District Wine Bar |37 Paynes Way | With an eclectic vibe + over 50 wines, District is a great place to relax after traveling earlier in the day, catch up + get ready for the weekend ahead.
Sunshine Sammies |99 South Lexington Ave. | Handmade, custom ice cream sandwiches with vegan + gluten free options available, plus “after school treats” like homemade Twinkies + Pop Tarts.
The Hop |640 Merrimon Ave. or 721 Haywood Rd. | Made from scratch, dairy-free ice cream + sorbet with all the options you could want.
If you’re really ready to get the party started, book a Pubcycle for your group and take a tour of the city while drinking, singing + pedaling your way around.
A ride on the Asheville Pubcycle. | Photo by @Skylar_b_miller
SaturdayWake up on Saturday + get ready to pack the day full of all the activities.
Spend the morning hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A few close hikes that are beautiful + appropriate for any level are:Craggy Gardens, Black Balsam Knob, Frying Pan Tower + Crabtree Falls. Find more hikes here. This is a great way to get away from the busyness of the city + truly take in the beauty of the mountains you came to see. Those times spent taking in nature with friends can be some of the most bonding, plus it’s free.
To get the most out of your outdoor experience, you could book a group guided mountain or waterfall yoga hike with Namaste in Nature.
A hike with Namaste in Nature. | Photo by @namaste_in_nature
If you’re looking for a little less active way to spend your morning check out one of Asheville’s many tailgate markets+ spend time browsing homemade, local goods.
After a little morning activity, try one of these places for lunch:
Well Bred Bakery + Cafe |6 Boston Way | House-made sandwiches + sides + more. Plus, delicious fresh baked goods.
Conner Kitchen |3 Boston Way | Conner Kitchen |3 Boston Way | This sweet, historic home in Biltmore Village offers a full breakfast menu with some classic plates as well as original creations.
White Duck Taco Shop |12 Biltmore Ave. or 388 Riverside Dr. | The most unique, gourmet street tacos you’ll ever find.
Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack |1455 Patton Ave. or 3749 Sweeten Creek Rd. | Fried chicken that puts all other fried chicken to shame + a selection of sides so good, you’ll have a hard time choosing just one.
Spend the afternoon at the Biltmore Estate. Tour the house, spend time walking through the beautiful blooming gardens + conservatory, and make sure to stop by the winery for a complimentary wine tasting. See our guide here. Continue the afternoon with shopping in Biltmore Village across the street.
Or, spend the afternoon on a brewery tour at Sierra Nevada learning the history + process of beer making, then enjoy drinks on their backyard patio that will have you swooning.
Before dinner, spend an hour or two testing to see if the #bridesquad has enough teamwork to take on the wedding day in an Escape Room (like Breakout Asheville) or see which friend has the best throwing skills + let off some steam at Axeville Throwing Club.
And if you chose to stay in on the first night, or are ready for round two, get dressed up, take a few mirror selfies, call an Uber + get ready for an eventful Saturday night.
Axeville Throwing Club, Asheville’s first axe-throwing bar (yes, you read that right), opened last week at 99 New Leicester Hwy. The 3,400-square-foot space has multiple lanes for throwing, plus a beer + wine bar, cozy seating areas (where you can chill out or catch a lumberjack tournament on the big-screen TVs) + a photo booth. Bonus: They may eventually have live music + will feature local artists on their walls.
It’s been a long time coming – the owners signed the lease last April, but were delayed by renovations + permitting that took longer than expected. Now, they’re fully up and running – and the results are axe-ellent. ⛏️
Who’s setting up shop + shutting their doors in a fast-growing city like Asheville is hard to keep up with. Here at the office, we often wonder: “What’s up with all of those businesses we announced last month?”
So we figured our readers are wondering, too. Back in December we dished on 15+ businesses that were closing, soon-to-come, or had just opened– and for our fourth round of #Openings and #Closings, we’re here with alllll the updates.
So, go ahead + bookmark this list for the next time you’re in the mood to try something new.
Glen Merchant, Amy Zimmermann and Ryan McClenny hear the same joking question over and over: who thought it was a good idea to let people throw hatchets in a bar?
The three co-owners of Axeville Throwing Club are quick to answer: their emphasis is on safety first and foremost, with Axeville as a destination to enjoy the art of throwing axes.
Yes, there will be beer taps, a lounge area and a fun photo-op station complete with fake beards and axes. But the entrepreneurs say they’ve done everything they can to be sure patrons will have danger-free fun along Axeville’s 12 throwing lanes.
“We’re not serving liquor. We’re not going to be open until 2 a.m. There’s fencing around every throwing lane. We’ve done our homework,” says Merchant.
Anticipation has been building since last year, when the Axeville crew opened social media accounts and announced their location in the former Xcapades topless bar – information that set off another wave of joking, as well as a perfect hashtag: #axecapades. (Axeville is located at 99 New Leicester Highway, about half a mile from the road’s intersection with Patton Avenue.)
Merchant, Zimmermann and McClenny have been working ever since to remake the space into a comfy space. The group faced a number of permitting and construction issues that have slowed them down. In addition to that, the crew has been holding down day jobs. Merchant does IT work for a local travel company, while McClenny is a senior production scheduler at Manual Woodworkers. Zimmermann’s extensive work experience is in special event production and social media marketing.
ASHEVILLE — When Axeville Axe-Throwing Clubopens in Leicester, it will have regulation targets and lanes, per the National Axe Throwing Federation.
Yes, there is such a thing as the NATF, established just two years ago. But its existence supports one undeniable fact: ax-throwing bars are trending and, with them, ax-throwing leagues.
Which of course begs the question: aren’t alcohol and axes strange bedfellows? No more so than darts, said Axeville co-owner Glen Merchant, who describes ax throwing as what might happen if darts and bowling had a baby.
“You have lanes, like in bowling, fencing on the side and, like darts, you’re throwing something at a board,” he said.
Unlike a typical game of bar darts, however, Axeville employs a surprising — and comfortable — number of safeguards, including limiting the amount of alcohol participants can imbibe.
Employees called “axperts” — which Merchant describes as “somewhat like babysitters” — will be stationed with each group of players to make sure things go smoothly, monitoring each pint purchased and sharing the formal rules of the game.
The wooden ax-throwing lanes, designed to be visible from anywhere in the building, will protect spectators and players with high chain-link fencing, Merchant said, adding, “There’s almost no way a hatchet can get loose.”
Roland Zilberman, an Axpert at Kick Axe, a Brooklyn-based ax-throwing bar. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)
Axeville’s owners, Merchant, his partner and cousin Ryan McClenny, and Merchant’s girlfriend, event planner Amy Zimmermann, are careful to point out their venue is an ax-throwing club first. It’s one that just happens to serve beer.
“This is Asheville,” Merchant said. “When I go to my barber, he has four taps. It’s just expected you’ll have beer wherever you go.”
The first time you throw an ax, it will most likely end in two different ways. There’s the thud if you fail to connect, the ax clanging to the floor anticlimactically.
But should that happen, the desired end will be more satisfying: the satisfying thwack of connection, the metal head embedding itself firmly in thick planks of pine.
How to make that happen is a combination of footwork and, obviously, throwing skill, both of which go hand in hand. Then there’s simply knowing how to handle an ax.
Most Ashevilleans know how to handle an ax, Ryan McClenny told me.
McClenny, with his cousin Glen Merchant and Amy Zimmermann, will open Axeville, Asheville’s first ax-throwing club, on Leicester Highway sometime in mid-March.
I like that McClenny takes for granted I fall in the comfortable-with-an-ax camp, even though it prevents me from bragging about my wood-chopping prowess (which I am instead choosing to do in this article).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — One of the first tools developed by early humans was a means to cut wood and hunt prey. Many Celtic tribes reportedly had axe-throwing competitions, but even through the founding of America axes continued to have a practical purpose.
Lately, however, a new trend has been popping up in bigger cities across the country: axe-throwing bars. “There’s something just primal about it,” smiled Glen Merchant, co-owner of Axeville Throwing Club. “That thud appeals to everyone!”
Axeville Throwing Club is the latest new thing on the WNC scene.
Merchant and his girlfriend Amy bought the old Excapades building on Leicester Highway, along with Ryan McClenny and his wife.