intro: You may be more familiar with Asheville, North Carolina's natural beauty than you know. It's cascading mountains and majestic scenery have appeared in the films such as "Forrest Gump," "Hannibal" and even "Dirty Dancing." In April 2010, President Obama and his family vacationed in Asheville.
Located on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville features a funky and eclectic downtown, more than 30 art galleries, a large culinary scene and one of the most spectacular estates ever constructed in this country.
"GMA" viewer Alan Ostmann of Candler, N.C., nominated the small city as one of "Good Morning America's" Most Beautiful Places in America.
"I live just outside of Asheville, N.C., [bordering] the Pisgah National Forest in possibly the oldest mountains on the planet," Ostmann wrote in his submission. "Four miles from my home is the Blue Ridge Parkway. The forest and parkway allow some of the most spectacular views I have seen anywhere in the world. I hike and bike the area daily and am always amazed at the beauty nature can reveal to us."
Here are three must-see places to visit while in Asheville.
quicklist: 1 title: Blue Ridge Parkway
text: Blue Ridge Parkway, dubbed "America's Favorite Drive," winds its way 469 miles through mountain meadows and seemingly endless rivers. The Parkway, which connects Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Shenandoah National Park, makes a great launching point for tourists looking to hike, bike or go rafting.
title: Biltmore Estates
text: Asheville is also home to Biltmore Estate. The 250-room mansion, built by George W. Vanderbilt and completed in 1895, is modeled after the 16th century chateaux Blois, Chenonceaux and Chambord in France's Loire Valley. The grounds of the original 125,000-acre estate were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York's Central Park. At the entrance to the estate rests Biltmore Village, a unique community that offers plenty of one-of-a-kind shopping opportunities. The village has tree-lined streets, brick sidewalks, open air dining and plenty of historic homes dating back to the 1900s.
quicklist: 3 title: Downtown Asheville text: Downtown Asheville is an eclectic mix of unique galleries, shops and food. But what's really awe-inspiring in this hub is the architecture. The city of 69,000 residents has more art deco architecture downtown than in any other southeastern city outside Miami. The Grove Arcade, a giant market built in 1929, has wine tastings and live music. A foodie will thrive in downtown Asheville, enjoying a truly thriving culinary scene.