No discussion of American historical homes and gardens is complete without mention of Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. My wife, Drue, and I recently had the opportunity to visit the estate.
Our experience started with check-in at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, which offers luxurious accommodations, first-class dining, and gorgeous views of the natural surroundings.
After settling in, we took a walk down to Antler Hill Village, where visitors can enjoy several dining and shopping options. There is also another lodging option there, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate. We grabbed a table at Cedric’s Tavern, where I enjoyed some top-notch fish and chips, accompanied by live music (and when asked, yes, you want the pretzel rolls).
After a supremely restful night, we went downstairs to The Dining Room for breakfast. I don’t typically go the buffet route, but I couldn’t resist … and I have no regrets. The selection of made-to-order omelets, waffles, and other items was worth the dietary splurge.
Next up was the centerpiece, Biltmore House, which we traveled to via a convenient shuttle. The home, the largest private residence in the U.S., is both sublime in scale and exquisite in its attention to detail. Each room has its own story to tell, and each is furnished and decorated as it would have been at the start of the 20th century.
The available self-paced audio guide was a perfect virtual tour guide through the many rooms on the tour, giving us a glimpse of the daily lives of the family, their guests, and employees. We also found the on-site human guides quite knowledgeable when questions arose.
In addition to the home itself, the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed gardens and grounds are works of art in their own right. Although it was winter when we visited and the outdoor gardens weren’t in bloom, the indoor Conservatory delivered an eye-popping array of flowers, plants, and trees from a variety of climates. In April and May, the Biltmore Blooms self-guided tour highlights the ever-changing blossoms in the gardens.
From the house and gardens, we caught another shuttle back to Antler Hill Village to wrap up our day with wine tastings at Biltmore Winery, the most visited winery in the U.S. I’m no expert by any means, but I enjoyed our selections, and it appeared that they have something to complement any cuisine or to suit any palate.
There are many other available activities at the estate, including specialty tours, horseback riding, bicycling, falconry, kayaking, and more. There is also the Farmyard, where kids (or adults, if you’re like us) can meet and pet a variety of farm animals.
Biltmore continues to carry out the 1888 vision of George W. Vanderbilt III, respecting the beauty and traditions of old, while implementing new innovations and features to provide guests an experience they will not soon forget.
For additional information on Asheville, read our City Spotlight story, Asheville: Adventure meets art.
Top photo: The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Photo by The Biltmore Company