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Highlands, North Carolina

No longer just a summer retreat for wealthy retirees and their families, Highlands, North Carolina, has become a year-round destination for the young and upwardly mobile. Dubbed the Aspen of the East, the small mountaintop town charms visitors who come to shop the high-end boutiques and galleries, dine at white- tablecloth restaurants, and stroll picture-perfect Main Street. Even former naysayers have begun uncrossing their arms and embracing the transformation as Highlands Hits Its StrideDriving the change are passionate locals, many of whom vacationed here before deciding it was simply too lovely to leave.

Photos by Jeremy Harwell