The secret is out. Over the last five years, Asheville, North Carolina, has received accolades from dozens of publications, including Forbes Magazine, MSN Money, USA Today and Barron's. Money Advisor says Asheville is "one of the five best places to retire," and that sentiment is echoed by AARP Magazine, which ranks it as one of the "Top 15 Dream Towns."
When you do your research, it does seem that life is but a dream in Asheville. Located on the French Broad River with the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains as a backdrop, the climate is mild year-round, allowing for participation in a variety of outdoor sports. Most important is the vibrant city itself, which has something for everyone.
The largest city in western North Carolina, Asheville offers an outstanding quality of life. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities or cultural events, you will find that there is no shortage of things to do in and around Asheville. The downtown area features art deco architecture, which houses an eclectic variety of restaurants and boutiques. Also downtown is Pack Place, western North Carolina's center for education, arts and science. There you'll find the Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum, The Health Adventure and the Diana Wortham Theatre.
"The largest city in western North Carolina, Asheville offers an outstanding quality of life."
Outdoors, the "Land of the Sky" beckons nearly everyone. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the nation's most popular scenic highway, and statistics show that more motorists enter the highway at this point than anywhere else along its 470-mile length. It's a great vantage point for leaf-watching in the fall and enjoying the colorful blooms of spring.
Just a few miles outside of town, Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River, at 6,684 feet. South of Asheville, in the Pisgah National Forest, is a national historic site known as the Cradle of Forestry.
George Vanderbilt was drawn to the North Carolina mountains and built the largest private residence in America in Asheville. Completed in 1895, the mansion boasts 250 rooms and is modeled after a 16th century French chateaux. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, landscaped Biltmore Estate, which welcomes thousands of visitors each year to enjoy the extravagant house and lush gardens.