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Asheville is the largest city in Western North Carolina, with more than 68,000 city residents, and more than 194,000 residents in Asheville and Buncombe County combined. Rand McNally Places Rated Almanac consistently evaluates Asheville as one of the best places to live in the United States among metropolitan areas smaller than 250,000 people.
Outside magazine rated Asheville as one of the top 10 cities "where you don't have to give up good living to live a good life." Touting Asheville's spectacular location, mix of job opportunities, cultural attractions and outdoor activities, Outside rated it number three. Vacations magazine rated Asheville one of its top 10 getaway destinations.
More motorists exit and enter the nation's most popular scenic highway, the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Asheville than at any other point along the road's 470 miles linking Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smokies National Park in North Carolina.
More art deco architecture built in the late 1920s and early 1930s can be found in downtown Asheville than in any other southeastern city except Miami Beach.
One of America's most esteemed authors, Thomas Wolfe, was born and raised in Asheville, later using it as the setting of his most famous novel "Look Homeward, Angel." The home where he lived is owned by the state of North Carolina and operated as the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.
The largest private residence in North America, Biltmore Estate, is located in Asheville. This 250-room mansion built by George W. Vanderbilt and completed in 1895 is modeled after the 16th century chateaux.
Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Asheville make it the premier southeastern destination for autumn leaf watchers. The fall color season extends from late September through early November, with trees turning first at the highest elevations of 6,000 feet, and moving downward through October to Asheville and then to Chimney Rock at 1,300 feet. This significant variance in elevation means there is no "peak weekend" for viewing fall color, and the fall display can be enjoyed for six weeks or more, depending at what elevation it is viewed.
Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet, located about 20 miles northwest of Asheville. The state park is about five miles west of Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 365.
Nine of North Carolina's 11 major waterfalls are located in the western part of the state, including the eastern United State's highest, Whitewater Falls at 411 feet.
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