Visiting & Tours of Penland School

Visiting & Tours of Penland School

Visitors are always welcome at Penland. However, to preserve the intense educational atmosphere of our classes, the teaching studios are closed to the public when classes are in session. You are welcome to view the classes from open doorways or participate in one of our guided tours. We suggest you begin your visit at the Penland Gallery and Visitors Center, where staff can provide you with a map and information.

The Penland School Gallery and Visitors Center is our educational center for the general public. Because access to the studios is limited, we created this sales and exhibition center to give our visitors a look at work created by artists associated with the school. The crafts shown and sold at the gallery are made by current and former instructors, students, and resident artists. The gallery is open March through early December; Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am -5:00 pm; Sunday hours are 12:00 -5:00 pm.  

Visitors are welcome to walk through the grounds. Of special interest is the Craft House, one of the largest log structures in North Carolina. You are also welcome to visit The Barns, which houses the studios of the Penland resident artists: full-time craftspeople who live and work at the school. Although the resident artists do not keep specific hours, you will usually find someone working at The Barns.

The area surrounding the school is home to over 100 professional craft artists, many of whom have been associated with Penland. There are six independent studios in the immediate vicinity, which are generally open to the public. There are many others in the surrounding counties, which may be visited by appointment. The gallery staff can provide you with maps and information about these artists.

Please also check the Penland Events page for information about events for the community and visitors and follow us on Facebook.

Please note: Google Maps, MapQuest, and most GPS devices do not provide accurate directions to Penland School. We strongly suggest you use our directions instead.

Public Tours:
Public tours are now offered on Wednesdays at 1:30 PM (replacing the previous Tues/Thurs schedule).  Tours are only offered when classes are in session and reservations are required. For more information or to make a reservation call 828 765 6211 or email

Special Group Tours
Arts, education, and club groups can contact the Penland Gallery and Visitors Center to arrange a special guided tour. These tours are limited to 30 participants and a modest fee is charged. Arrangements must be made well in advance to assure our ability to accommodate your group – dates and times are subject to availability and class schedule. 

The tours gather at the Penland Gallery and Visitors Center to meet the guide, then proceed up to the main campus for the guided tour of the grounds and studios. Penland’s historic campus is located on terrain that is steep and uneven. Tours last approximately 1.5 hours and cover a great deal of territory up and down stairs and on gravel pathways, both indoors and outdoors. We provide accessible parking for the gallery and visitors center and most studios, however we are unable to provide guided tours of the campus for visitors with mobility issues. Visitors can enjoy an informational video about the school and historic information at the visitors center. Tour guides provide information about the history of the school as well as current programming. Due to the nature of the educational environment, planned demonstrations are not a part of the tour, but generally there are students and instructors working in the studios.

Dining at Penland
There is a wonderful Penland Coffeehouse on campus which is open to the public. They serve hot and cold beverages, sandwiches, and sweets. They are open Monday – Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM, Sunday 12 – 5 PM, with limited hours in the winter months. You can reach them directly at 828-765-1083.

The Pines dining hall is primarily for students, but you may make a reservation 24 hours in advance if you wish to join the students for a meal. Please call 828-765-2359 ext #51 for reservations and availability.

Area Travel Information
Toe River Arts Council
Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce
Yancey County Chamber of Commerce
Asheville Tourism Information