The Biltmore Estate
Somehow, I spent my entire youth living less than five hours from Asheville, North Carolina and never paid it a visit. My family has traveled all over the world, but for some reason we never ventured up to North Carolina for vacations. After hearing people rave about Asheville and the Biltmore Estate year after year, we decided it was time for a visit. The day after Christmas we packed up the car and headed north for this long-overdue trip. Each of us was excited for a different reason, because between the culinary scene, the craft breweries, the Biltmore Estate and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has so much to offer.
We packed in a lot of activities into a short trip, but I’ll have to say my favorite experience was our day spent at the Biltmore Estate. After finally visiting, I can see why people visit it over and over again (I’m sure I will go back). The estate’s 125,000 acres are topped with restaurants, shops and two hotels, all in addition to the actual mansion. My Biltmore House and Gardens view was extra spectacular because we visited right after Christmas, so the entire mansion was filled with Christmas decorations. I have never seen so many lights, Christmas trees, wreaths and festive displays in my life. It made the estate that much more magical. I think the Biltmore is marvelous at any time of year, but I highly recommend going during Christmas time, if possible. I promise it will outdo any Christmas display you’ve ever seen.
The Biltmore House and Gardens tour is self-guided, but you can purchase an individual audio guide for an extra $11, which is hands down the best investment you can make while you are there. For every room in the house, there is a story to be told, and listening to each of them as I walked through made it feel like I had traveled back in time to when the Vanderbilt family actually lived in there. The family’s story, and their home are so fascinating, that I was captivated by every moment of the tour. I learned so many interesting facts, that I wanted to share a few with you:
Did you know:
-The 250-room estate began as a bachelor pad for George Vanderbilt. He later married Edith and they had one daughter, being the only 3 residents of the mansion
-There are 33 guest rooms
-There are more than 2,000 books in the library
-One of the costumes that Rose wore in the Titanic is on display in the house, because it was modeled after Edith Vanderbilt’s wardrobe
-During the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the music room in the Biltmore House became a hiding place for artwork transported all the way down from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
-Not all rooms of the house were even complete during George’s lifetime
-George and Edith had separate bedrooms, down the hall from one another
-George was so appreciative of the architect and landscaper he contracted for his house, that he honored them both with near life-size paintings of them in his home
-There are 65 fireplaces…SIXTY FIVE
-In the 1930s, George and Edith’s daughter, Cornelia opened up the estate to the public, giving people employment opportunities after the Great Depression by creating a variety of jobs to maintain the house
Although I tried to capture the Biltmore experience through these photos and a few short paragraphs, you have to visit for yourself; the property is a true marvel, and I hope hope I’ve inspired you to take a trip!