The Biltmore Estate. Asheville, North Carolina
I’ve lived in the south for 13 years and have to say I never ventured to Asheville. I’m more of a beach girl and the mountains while beautiful just didn’t really call me. Despite that, I really wanted to go see the Biltmore. My son had gone in elementary school and loved it and really wanted to make another trip.
Well, I’m sold! Before we even left Asheville we were talking about our next trip and what we wanted to do. We actually made a second trip within a week and are hoping to plan at least one more for 2017.
However, for today we are at the Biltmore! I enjoyed every single second of this trip. I took around 150 pictures and was in awe the entire time. I purchased our tickets online for the self-guided tour so that we could drive up to the gate without having to make a stop and stand in line.
We gave the snappily dressed gate man our tickets and followed the arrows through the woods to our parking lot and waited for the shuttle. They do have valet parking for a fee of course and one parking lot which you can walk from to the main house. However, every other lot is entirely too far to walk. The bus driver tells you some history on the drive to the main house and drops you right at the door. This you will come to realize is a blessing in itself. Comfy shoes are a must-have on this trip and I carried my trusty travel sling bag to keep everything at reach but allowed me to be hands-free. One of these days we will talk about what’s in my dedicated travel bag. I’ve learned from my many traveling mistakes!
As I mentioned previously I took over 150 pictures so there will be a second post coming that will strictly be a photo tour.
Most people have heard of the Biltmore but most people don’t really know the history of the Estate. The Biltmore construction was started in 1889 by George Vanderbilt and finally opened on Christmas Eve of 1895. It’s made up of four floors if you count the basement and 250 rooms. If you want to learn more about the history of the house I highly encourage you to check out the estate history on their website.
While we visited they had a special exhibit of period clothing borrowed for display from movies. They were phenomenal. It was so neat to see pieces from some of our favorite movies up close and personal but what really made you think was that the clothing displayed was period to when the Biltmore was built and thriving. It was being worn on a daily basis by the Vanderbilt family and friends. It was fascinating to see and connect to the home. I could have just closed my eyes and almost heard the music and envisioned the feasts and parties.
We each had a different room that struck us as our favorite. My husband’s was the gun room, my son the gym and bowling alley. The equipment in the gym looked a lot like torture devises then work out equipment but it was extremely fascinating.
My favorite was hands down the library. If I lived in that home I’d never leave that room. It was stunning and just gave off a warm vibe. The woodwork was fabulous and I was so envious of the steps for getting books from the higher shelves. I just can’t even fully describe how much I loved this room. Unfortunately, the lighting in this room is a bit tough for pictures and you’re not allowed to use any flash photography in the home so I came home sad that most of the pictures in that room were less than fabulous.
When we came in the front door they had this fabulous book tornado. Folks, if you could peak into my head. This is what it looks like.
I also thought the music room was lovely but the books got me. It took us around 2 hours to really explore the house before we headed out and into the court yard. The court yard area has food, shopping and places to sit and rest. It was a hot day and it was hot inside the house. So we took a quick 10 minute brake for a treat before tackling the gardens.
The estate house alone is a lot of walking. My fitbit quickly told me I had hit 10,000 steps before we even made it into the garden. So the seat and treat was wonderful and to relax and look at the map to see where we wanted to go next in the gardens. We started with the side of the house before circling down to the other gardens on the property.
When you look at the house from the outside you have this beautiful domed piece beside the main entrance. From the inside this is actually the spiral staircase to the upper floors. There are 9 sets of 3 windows and below what looks from the outside to be just some pretty architectural embellishment to frame each set of windows. The reality is that those are steps on the outside of the building. They do not rap around or go anywhere but each set of windows has one that is a door and leads to those steps. I was completely intrigued and decided beautiful yes, wanted to be the person hanging from them to clean those windows… no thanks!
There was not one child that climbed those steps that didn’t ask their parents if they could go out the door and not one mother not in panic mode as she yelled, “Good Lord NO!!”
My son thought the fountains in the gardens were pretty “cool”. They were full of pennies and sweet wishes of children hoping that the magic the Biltmore estate seemed to have would make their wishes come true. Because the reality is the Biltmore Estate really does have a mystery and wonder all of its own. There is something special to the home and the area that comes from its history. For me that magic comes from imagining and realizing that at one point this house was alive with family, parties and children running around and laughing. It was a home not a museum and it hums with many years of memories. It was a perfect reminder for me to make sure I continue to collect moments and leave the materials for someone else.
This path along the garden was stunning and I could picture lots of games of hide and seek for the family in the gardens. It brought just another wave of fairytale magic to the house. We stopped for a quick brake on a bench while our son explored the fountains and tunnel.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the gardens and the bass pond. The rose garden could be smelled from the path before you even turned the corner to go in the gate. It was colorful and if you’re a plant lover you could spend hours just walking around the grounds looking at all the different trees, plants and flowers.
I snapped one last picture of the house as we were walking out of the gardens. My son had walked ahead to examine the wall because two people had just walked out of it and he felt sure it was a secret passage. It wasn’t but I was just happy he too had gotten caught up in the magic and wonder that is the Biltmore House.