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Asheville, North Carolina - Where to Stay, What to Do????

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Hi!
I am planning a trip to Asheville, North Carolina for a week at the beginning of October. I am from the US originally, but now live in Costa Rica. First timers to North Carolina, my brother will be attending college in Mars Hill and I would like to see him for his fall break.. Asheville is the closest town.

We love outdoorsy activities - rafting, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, visiting waterfalls etc. Any suggestions on tour companies to use would be greatly appreciated! What are the "must-see" things to do and see in Asheville? I read about a natural water slide, is anyone familiar with that? My boyfriend is a rafting guide here in Costa Rica, and so we would like something that has Class IV or V rapids, does that exist here?

Does anyone have recommendations of places to stay, something nice and close to activities, shops, restaurants, etc but not too over the top expensive? We plan on renting a car, does anyone have recommendations of a good company to use? Since we will have a car, are there any places that you recommend going outside of Asheville for a day trip that aren't too far away? Would it be best to fly into Charlotte?

Thank you in advance for all of the help!

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