Asheville and the Biltmore

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I can’t believe it has been almost a year since my trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  But, it has and I haven’t been able to share my experience yet so here goes nothing!

Desiree and I had planned our yearly birthday trip to the estate in Asheville because we wanted something in between where we both live and of course something new.  There are two things Desiree and I love to do on our vacations:  check out cemeteries and tour big, beautiful houses.  I have to say, I think this is the biggest and best house we have ever toured (I will share other houses in upcoming blog posts and maybe some cemeteries too).  So, I traveled the almost seven hours to get to this beautiful home in the North Carolina mountains.

We stayed in the Grand Bohemian hotel in Biltmore Village.  It was like an exotic hunting lodge but very chic and upscale.  The hotel staff was friendly and we even got to sneak onto a floor that usually hosts weddings and dance in an empty ballroom and drink champagne on an outside veranda.  Very magical stuff.  The first night we were there, we dined in Biltmore Village, went to downtown Asheville and hung out at a local bar to play darts…then a hop skip and a jump later ended up in an upstairs lounge listening to live music and enjoying some cocktails.

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Bright and early the next day after breakfast, we drove up to the estate.  The grounds are expansive and the ride up to the house itself was enjoyable.  It wasn’t just a house on a hill, it was an entire inclusive resort.  There was a lodge to stay in, restaurants to eat at, the house to tour, a winery…it was amazing.

 

We parked and walked a few minutes up to the estate and had a breath-taking view of the lawn that sprawled out in front of the building like a pruned, green welcome mat.  We chose to do a self guided tour because we wanted to take in what we could and be able to take lots of photos and just relax.  Sometimes, being shuffled from room to room can be a bit stifling.

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Everything was exactly how I thought it was going to be from the research I had done online before the trip.  But pictures do not do it justice.  The details you get to see when taking a tour of the home are not to be missed.  Everything is elegant and charming and exactly how it stood over a century ago.

There were three floors to tour and I have to say that my favorite room was the basement or what they called the Halloween Room.   It has been hand painted with decorations by the family itself for a New Year’s Eve party.  It was bizarre and beautiful all at once and I got an interesting lesson on pineapples.  There was so much to take in, we could have spent hours in the house and still felt like we didn’t get to read every plaque or peek in every nook and cranny.

Next, we looked at the gift shops on the grounds which feature a candy store, old timey toy store and souvenir shop with wine, paintings, ornaments and novelty tee shirts, etc.

After that, we drove around the estate to capture all the views of the rolling mountains and stopped to run through the sunflower fields like kids!  You could say that we don’t take ourselves very seriously on vacations.  The sunflowers were awesome!  They seemed to go on for miles and behind them horses grazed in the afternoon sun.  It was as pretty as a picture.

We ate at Cedric’s Tavern in the village on the estate and enjoyed some delicious pub fare.  I ate a pork burger and fries and it was one of the best burgers I have ever had.  The pork was raised on site and they make their own pickles that have a unique taste I enjoyed (I even bought a jar to take home in the gift shop).

Our tickets to the estate also came with a free wine tasting.  The walk down to the wine cellars was pretty neat.  We walked through a stone tunnel that led all the way to the tasting rooms and a large gift shop full of wine.  We got to sample from a variety of wines they make on the estate.  It was a great experience I would recommend to anyone visiting.

We had an hour to kill in between our free tasting and our twilight sparkling wine tour that we decided to stroll through the gardens.  I loved the large green house, rose garden, and all the stone work that surrounded the plants.  They even had a koi pond near the house and the fish would swim up and nibble on your fingers.  There were so many spots for beautiful photographs, we filled our hour with snapping pictures in hopes that we would never forget how marvelous it must have been to be able to walk through the gardens every day.

It was then time for our private champagne tasting experience.  The best part about this…we were the only two people on the tour.  Our tour guide took us on an even more behind the scenes look to show us how they make method champagne and gave us so much information about one of my personal favorite things to drink.   My brain was bursting with knowledge…all though after sampling a few full glasses of champagne I don’t remember as much as I had hoped.   We sampled our pairings and learned how to make little bistro chairs from the metal tops of the bottles.  More magic!

Feeling high on life and laughter we went back to the hotel in the village off the estate and got ready for another dinner out in town before retiring to our hotel from the evening and resting from the days activities.  We had a full day on the estate and I can imagine how people can spend an entire weekend there exploring and taking in the breath-taking scenery.  Even though it is a far drive from Hampton Roads, I would recommend a visit to anyone who has a love for stunning architecture, savory cuisine, distinctive wine, glimpses into the past or panoramic views of the Carolina countryside.

Thanks for reading!

A-

 

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