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Asheville, NC (Population: 72,789)

Asheville, with an estimated population of 72,231 (2005), is a city in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Asheville is most noted for its natural aesthetics, as well as the Biltmore Estate, which is the largest home in America. This massive structure attracts thousands of tourists to Asheville every year. Other notable edifices in Asheville includes its art deco city hall and numerous buildings in the downtown area.

Asheville and the surrounding mountains bring tourists and new residents who enjoy the exquisite beauty and a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. A great many of these activities take place along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through the area, as well as in Pisgah National Park. From whitewater rafting and kayaking to hiking and camping along the Appalachian Trail, there is always something to do outdoors in Asheville.

Asheville's downtown and surrounding neighborhoods have undergone a renaissance over the last couple of decades. Wall, Haywood, and Lexington Streets offer rows of boutiques, antique shops, galleries filled with the work of local artists, book and coffee shops, restaurants offering everything from vegan to international cuisines, and taverns and bars that feature local musicians.

Local institutions of higher education include the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Western Carolina University, South College, Brevard College, Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Warren Wilson College, Montreat College, and Mars Hill College.

Asheville is host to numerous clubs, performance venues and outdoor festivals, such as Bele Chere and the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival, which features local art, crafts and music. One of the most popular annual events is "Shindig on the Green," which occurs on Saturday nights during July and August at City/County Plaza. The city is also home to the Asheville Symphony and the Asheville Lyric Opera There are also a number of bluegrass, country, and traditional mountain musicians.

Other points of interest in Asheville are the North Carolina Arboretum, Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Asheville Urban Trail, Riverside Cemetery, Grove Park Inn, Grove Arcade, Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center, and the Smith-McDowell House Museum.

Asheville is a well known destination for outdoor enthusiasts, health seekers, and even leaf-peepers. It is said that people from all over seem magically drawn to the beauty of the area. Furthermore, the city has been lauded again and again as an excellent place to live in retire. Asheville was designated as one of the world's top 12 travel destinations by Frommer's in 2007.