The city of Asheville is nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. Asheville serves as the county seat of Buncombe County. The city is the largest in Western North Carolina with a population of approximately 75,000 and a metro population of 417,012.
According to Lonely Planet, "This Jazz Age gem of a city appears like a mirage out of the mists of the Blue Ridge Mountains". Asheville is a popular tourist destination and is known as a liberal, artsy community. It was named one of the world's top 12 must-see destinations for by Frommer's travel guides. This "Paris of the South," has also been described as the "San Francisco of the East," "New Age Mecca," and "Land of the Sky." It's a city of which Rolling Stone magazine dubbed "America’s New Freak Capital." But Asheville is by no means simply a haven for Hippies and 'Out There's', as Money magazine has called Asheville one of the "Best Places to Retire," and AARP cites it as one of the "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life." Self magazine proclaims Asheville as America’s "Happiest City." PETA lists Asheville as "America's Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small City." Author Lee Pantas, in his guidebook The Ultimate Guide To Asheville & The Western North Carolina Mountains says it all in describing Asheville "as a city not easily forgotten once visited". In 2007, Asheville was named one of the top seven places to live in the U.S. by Forbes, and in 2011 Asheville was picked as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America” by Good Morning America.