We visited the Biltmore Estate in lovely Asheville, North Carolina, and had a great time. If you were a bachelor from one of America’s riches families and grew up in New York City, of course America’s biggest house on 125,000 acres (now only 8,000) in North Carolina would be a dream.
We visited the fairly land house and really enjoyed our time. We did manage to stay the evening prior to our tour at the newly constructed (2015) Village Hotel and loved the accommodations.
The tour the evening before included a drive around the grounds from an Estate driver (tour vans hold about 20 and we had it to ourselves), a walk on the grounds, and wine tasting in Antler Village. It was a perfect evening and the food, locally grown on the estate, was tasty.
We did tour the estate. Wow! We were up before the tours start and decided to bike on the estate. We were not the only riders out that morning. It was a fun time and we enjoyed the wildlife and the quiet scenes along the French Broad River.
After breakfast and checking out of our room, we took the van to the estate. George Vanderbilt, and later his wife and daughter, lived in Vanderbilt’s 250-room French Renaissance chateau after it was completed in 1895. The finished home contains over four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. We loved the in-ground pool with electric lights and the bowling alley. Our favorite rooms were the library with over 10,000 books and the porch that had great views of the country side.
After the tour we strolled through the conservatory and gardens and walked to the Bass Pond dam as well and saw the Glen Bridge on, of course, Glen Road. We needed a picture! Kim enjoyed the waterfall from the dam and we were all set to enjoy more waterfalls.
I did run into a former co-worker who had just completed the Rooftop Tour and loved it. Our tour was of the main house and it was almost overwhelming. We did the audio package and it was well worth it.
I said fairy tale house; I met a man whose 5-year-old daughter thought that the house was a fairy tale castle. She had on a princess dress as we went into the wine tasting. We did see the 5-year-old girl on the tour the next day and she was in heaven enjoying the house in her princess dress.
A few travelers shared their advice and thoughts on how they get along in retirement.
One of our van drivers on the estate was retired. He moved back to the Asheville area after retiring and loved the Biltmore.
- He was glad to hear we were not moving to town as he said too many already have.
- His thoughts were to find what you love.
- He grew up in the area and does not consider driving on the estate work. He indicated that the Biltmore will have to pry him out of his seat to get him to leave.
After our house tour we ate lunch with another retiree who had just come up for the day with his season pass.
- This gentleman had been retired for a year and was looking to get back into the workforce.
- He missed people and wanted to get back into society. He thought the Biltmore did not pay enough. Interesting contrast to the van driver in his outlook.
- Lesson learned–try things out and keep active. It is harder to re-start.
Other highlights: Several of the local residents have season passes and come often to the grounds. We can see why; we plan to come again for another season of the landscapes in the fall or for Christmas.
Trip by the numbers:
Travel days: July 18-19
Visited two states, Tennessee and North Carolina
- Biking miles: 8.3 miles, 1 ride.
- Hiking/Walking 3.4 miles, not including the house—all around the estate.