After completing our morning hike around Abbott Lake at Peaks of Otter lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we began our drive south to Asheville, North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway actually continues into North Carolina and just passes to the east of Asheville. While that would’ve made for an incredible drive, we decided that we needed to save that drive for another trip where we had more time just to explore that area. We would hate to rush the incredible drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
So, a quick 4 hours and 40 minutes later, we arrived at our campground in Asheville. We stayed at Asheville’s Bear Creek RV Park & Campground. The campground was in a great location next to the highway and the people were kind and helpful. It was pouring rain when we checked in so we decided to grab a quick, delicious dinner at a local Greek restaurant, Apollo Flame Bistro, and then early to bed for a big day at the Biltmore Estate.
The Biltmore Estate
Our first day in Asheville, we woke up early and drove the short 10-minutes over to the Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore Estate is absolutely dreamy and breathtaking. The Biltmore home, built from 1889-1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II, is the largest privately owned house in the United States. The 8,000 acres of land surrounding the house, with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, are meticulously manicured and maintained. After purchasing your tickets at the visitor center, you can walk or ride from the parking lot up to the grounds. Upon coming up the hill, a gorgeous view down the front lawn to the magnificent 250-room house is a welcome greeting.
Touring the Biltmore House
We came down the beautiful staircase and then strolled along the lawn up to the front entrance of the house.
We purchased headsets for $11 each and began our self-guided tours. There are also kid-friendly headsets available for the tour. Each room is unique and tells a story about the people who lived and worked in this incredible place. We saw the dining room fit for a massive dinner party, a music room, bedrooms, bathrooms, sitting rooms and more. The house tour took us about 2 hours to complete.
The original furnishings, paintings, grand architecture, and expansive views are incredible, but there’s only so much entertaining you can do for small children while touring the house. We were able to bring the stroller through a good portion of the house tour, and the audio tour was interesting for them to listen to. But, 2 hours is a long time to be quiet and listen. So, as we entered the basement we were dealing with some hungry, fussy children. We enticed them with quick views through some of the more interesting rooms. The indoor pool (without water), the gymnasium, the kitchen and walk in coolers, and the first private home bowling alley. Then made our exit for some lunch in the outdoor cafes.
My favorite room during the tour was the library. Thousands of books lined the two floors of shelves. The Venetian ceiling painting and intricate carvings of the wall panels along with the interesting antique furnishings make it quite a sight to see. Of course, the kids liked the gold leaf walls in Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, the porch rocking chairs with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and especially the indoor bowling alley. But, when the tour ended, they were thrilled to get outside and explore the vast gardens!
Touring the Biltmore Gardens
After our delicious lunch at the outdoor café, we set off to explore some of the grounds surrounding the largest privately owned home in the United States! Over 8,000 acres is a lot of land to explore, so we started with the gardens directly adjacent to the home. Just the manicured gardens alone have over 2.5 miles of paths to explore! First, we enjoyed the water gardens in the Italian Garden. The water lilies overtop the koi and goldfish swimming in the pond below were fascinating for the kids. They loved the long pathways along the pools for running off that energy stored up during the house tour.
Once we convinced the kids to move away from the water gardens, we made our way through the shrub garden to the beautiful walled and rose gardens. The vine-covered arbor paths are picturesque and the flowers blooming throughout the year are stunning. We enjoyed the vast number of flowers in bloom and then entered the conservatory where exotic orchids, ferns and palms are grown.
Following our tour of the conservatory, we made our way through the azalea garden. I imagined the smell to be heavenly in the early spring during azalea blooming season. We continued to the trail around the bass pond to the waterfall on the far end. Here we played in the water while we waited for Todd to run back and grab the car. We realized how far we had strayed down the garden paths as we were entering the azalea garden. We knew it would be a tough climb back up the hill to the car with the kids and the stroller. So, Todd graciously agreed to go get the car and meet us at the end of the trail near the bass pond.
Antler Hill Village & Winery at Biltmore Estate
After joining back up, we drove around the rest of the property making stops at several scenic overlooks including one with a view of the back façade of the house and one overlooking fields of sunflowers before visiting Antler Hill Village & Winery. Wine tasting is available and we were able to view a special exhibition – The Biltmore Legacy – Fashionable Romance – showcasing wedding fashion throughout the Vanderbilt History. We also took a break for some ice cream from the Biltmore Farms Dairy. A visit to Antler Hill Village & Winery is included in your admission ticket to Biltmore Estate. The old working farm is also in this area. Here you can learn about the Biltmore Estate workers who lived and worked on the grounds during the 1890s. There are also games and animals in the Farmyard for kids to enjoy as well as a playground!
Our visit to Biltmore Estate was incredible! The beauty of the entire Estate is hard to describe. We had a fantastic day, but were thoroughly exhausted after a busy day. We enjoyed a quiet dinner at the campground while reflecting on the awesome day we had!
Our last morning in Asheville was slow-moving after a busy day at the Biltmore Estate. After packing up, we took a quick trip to downtown Asheville. We had just enough time to explore the unique stores, historic buildings and statues before checking out of the campground and continuing on to our next stop in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.