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7 must-see places in U.S. for nature lovers

By: Shea Gunther on July 12, 2011, 7:06 a.m.
hikers look out to mountains

Photo: Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Asheville, N.C.

Asheville, N.C., is regularly ranked as one of the coolest cities in the country to live in. Self Magazine named it the "Happiest City for Women," Outside Magazine dubbed it one of the "Best Outside Towns," while Rolling Stone called it the "New Freak Capital of the U.S." The Blue Ridge Parkway, a beautiful scenic route, runs through Asheville, and the surrounding mountains are rife with hiking, fishing and other outdoor opportunities. The French Broad River, a popular rafting and kayaking destination, also runs through the town. Travelers with flush bank accounts can stay at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, while those on more limited budgets can choose from a handful of hostels, including Sweet Peas.