Asheville, NC has been recognized by many top magazines and newspapers as one of the "Top Ten Vacation Spots", "Top Ten Places to Retire" and "Top Ten Places to Live". Asheville's popularity has grown over the years beginning in the late 1800's when George Vanderbilt purchased over 250,000 acres in Asheville to build his summer home, Biltmore. Today, Biltmore is one of the Southeast's top tourist destinations and has over one millionvisitors annually. Presidents, dignitaries and celebrities have continued visiting over the years to take in Asheville's unique downtown architecture, much of which was inspired by the art deco movement. It thrives today with unique shops, art galleries and over 90 independent restaurants in the immediate downtown area. Other attractions in and around Asheville include The Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville Grayline Trolley Tours, Chimney Rock Park, Lake Lure, White Water Rafting, NC Arboretum, Folk Art Center, Grove Arcade, Flat Rock Playhouse and Pisgah National Forest with abundant hiking and biking trails.
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