This past Mother’s Day we took my mother-in-law to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I purchased our tickets online in advance and printed them so that we were able to drive through the gates without having to stop off at the admissions office. Once you are granted entrance to the grounds you will wind through several miles of trees and acreage before you arrive to the parking area, where a shuttle will take you to the estate. The winding road is purposefully breathtaking as George Vanderbilt wanted to create a sense of anticipation as his guests traveled to his home.
The Biltmore Estate, owned by the Vanderbilt’s spans over 8,000 acres to include not only the house but an amazing garden, winery, several restaurants shops and more. A day pass cost $45.00 granting access to the house, gardens, winery, and farm. I would recommend obtaining a two day pass as it is nearly impossible to do the entire estate in one day without over doing yourself. We took the self guided tour through the house, amazed at the incredibly decorated rooms and the towering bookcases in the library. It is amazing to look at the patterns they chose for the wallpaper and the matching furniture. In a smaller home or room the patterns and fabrics would be overwhelming but with towering ceilings and rounded walls the whole thing is luxury. You are not allowed to take photos within the house but you can take an endless number of photos of the vibrant gardens.
We flowed from the house out into the gardens. April through May (check the website for specific dates) they have the Festival of Flowers. During this time all the flowers, many of them azaleas are in full bloom. There are several green houses that have a variety of flowering plants to admire and a helpful staff on site to give information about any of the plants you have questions about. As we were exiting one of the green houses we found ourselves listening to a live trio playing flutes which provided a wonderful background to the popping colors and sweet smells filling the green house.
If you are staying for more than one day, think about taking a picnic with you one day and sitting out by one of the ponds or near the river. We saw a few dogs during our visit; however, I am not sure where they are allowed to go so I would recommend calling ahead and asking questions.
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I am anxious to return to complete our tour, we did not have enough time to visit the winery or the farm. We spent the bulk of our time going through the house and wandering through the gardens and having lunch. There were a lot of people at the estate but somehow it never felt crowded. A few tips : wear good shoes as you will do a lot of walking, check the weather ahead of time, it would be a shame to miss the gardens because of a downpour and finally have a wonderful time.