Biltmore Estate, North Carolina

RR November 8, 2010 No Comments

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Welcome to America’s largest home

Biltmore Estate, spread over 8000 acres, is a national, man-made wonder nestled among the gorgeous Blue Ridge mountains in the town of Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore House North Carolina

George Vanderbilt's dream country house

 

As you drive through the estate’s winding, tree-lined roads you will pass lawns, gardens and water features along the way and feel warmly welcomed by the serene, natural setting that surrounds you from the minute you enter the gates. All of this, of course only serves to build up the anticipation for the real reason you’re there – the crowning jewel of the Estate – Biltmore House – a 250 room mansion that housed some of America’s wealthiest before being thrown open to the public as a tourist attraction. 

Biltmore House was George Vanderbilt’s dream country house. Known for his wealthy inheritance and his love for art, literature, music and beauty, George Vanderbilt built the house to extend his hospitality and share his love of all things tasteful and rich with guests, friends and family. His interest in the arts spilled into every aspect of the house he built with painstaking attention to detail and enjoyed sharing with family and friends including some very famous ones. Apparently he traveled around the world to bring back some of the finest, most exquisite items from various countries to furnish and decorate every corner of his magnificent house. Today, the house is managed by his family and is a popular attraction in the area and one of the most beautiful in the country. 

‘Awe-inspiring’ is the word that comes to mind when describing this immaculate house and estate, which I had the opportunity to visit twice while living in another Appalachian town in NC. 

Everything about Biltmore Estate is grand – its location amidst the breathtaking Blue Ridge peaks, its expansive lawns and gardens and other outdoor features and the many ways it offers to explore it – on horseback, bikes, scenic walks, drives and boat rides and more. George Vanderbilt’s house was and remains a symbol of luxurious decadence, but you don’t have to be royalty to experience it. A visit to Biltmore Estate and Biltmore House allows us to see and experience its history, the extravagance, the indulgence and the artistic taste that makes Biltmore Estate not just the country’s largest home, but also an American symbol in its own right.
Biltmore House Tour 

Biltmore House North Carolina

how do you visualize 250 rooms?

 

 Your tour of the house begins as you walk through its grand entrance into a large, open space that leads to a winter garden featuring a glass roof over a fountain and sculpture. A banquet hall, a breakfast room where original Vanderbilt family china and crystal ware are set out on the massive breakfast table, a gallery of tapestries, a library with over 20,000 books, a salon, dressing rooms, lavishly decorated bedrooms, a grand spiral staircase underneath a mammoth-sized iron chandelier, numerous bathrooms, guest rooms, kitchens, pantries and laundry rooms are just some of the stops you’ll make as you take the grand tour. 

The handiwork of some of the world’s greatest and most renowned artists adorn these rooms in addition to larger-than-life portraits and paintings of members of the Vanderbilt family. Refer to the guide book that you receive when you purchase tickets to help you through the self-guided tour. You could also take an audio tour or a specialty guided tour for an extra charge, which give you additional details about every room and some not-so-commonly known facts. 

Magnificent Biltmore House North CarolinaSpend as much time as you like taking in every indulgent detail of the house and visualizing the scenes, conversations and people that filled them just over a hundred years ago. Keep your eyes open for rare and interesting artifacts like a chess set that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte and old-fashioned equipment such as a rolling rack in the Drying Room and the dumbwaiter in the kitchen. 

Walking through Biltmore House is like walking back in time..somewhat like exploring a museum, except that you’re constantly aware that people – men, women, families and children – actually lived and breathed in the very spaces and rooms you now walk through, using the items on display in the very same settings. It’s hard to describe the immense size and grandeur of the house in words…how do you visualize 250 rooms?
Although a tour of Biltmore House in itself is likely to take at least 2 hours and is likely to blow you away, remember, you still have the rest of the Estate to see. The house occupies a relatively small area of this 8000 acre attraction, if you can believe it. 

As you step out of the house, you will have plenty of photo ops in front of it where a huge lawn lined with flowers leads up to the entrance. Challenge yourself to capture the entire house in one frame and have fun finding the best spot to do it! 

Biltmore Estates Botanical GardensA tour of the house is sure to leave you ravenous, so treat yourself to a hearty bite at the Stable Cafe next door or at Deerpark Restaurant before you set off to explore the rest of the attraction. The gardens of Biltmore Estate have been ranked among the world’s top Botanical Gardens by Travel and Leisure. And you will wholeheartedly agree when you experience the immaculate landscaping and serenity in these lovely gardens for yourself. 

A trip to Biltmore Estate is not complete until you have experienced the fantastic outdoor activities and adventures it offers. To do this, head to Antler Hill Village, where you will not only experience the extension of warmth and hospitality that you see everywhere else on the estate, but also find many more ways to enjoy the thousands of acres at your own pace. Horseback riding, biking, segway tours, carriage rides, river-float trips and Land-Rover adventure rides for kids and adults are some of the ways you can experience Biltmore Estate’s inviting outdoors. Biltmore Estate’s famous winery and an array of eateries and shops are all part of this experience. Allocate at least a couple of hours to visit charming Antler Hill Village where you can simply relax and unwind or enjoy an afternoon of activity – whichever suits your group best – or enjoy a little of both. Don’t miss touring the historic cellars and the complimentary wine tasting session. Those who don’t drink and children will appreciate the complimentary house grape juice that is no less delicious! 

A trip to Biltmore Estate offers something very rare – an opportunity to experience history, appreciate art, architecture and nature and to explore the beautiful outdoor settings of the Appalachian mountains – all in the same location in a scenic North Carolina town. If any of that sounds good to you, a lovely French Chateau in America awaits your visit.

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RR writes on intentional parenting, holistic living, travel and other topics. Visit her blog on reading to kids

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