Biltmore Estate

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“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Biltmore Estate is one of the most gorgeous places in America. http://www.biltmore.com/

My parents were both teachers and decided summers were a good time to drag my brother and I around to historic places- in particular historic homes. We visited so many homes of presidents and inventors, I have the mixed up in my head. But, Biltmore Estate is in a class by itself. While most other historic sites are on a crowded downtown street, this estate is not only the largest in the US, but has extensive grounds with surprises in every corner.

If you are visiting for more than a day, get the annual pass. I promise, it is worth it. It’s not cheap to go into the estate because of the incredible upkeep they have, but the annual pass is a deal and a half! Your children get in free with the annual pass and there are tons of discounts.

We live a few hours away from the estate. We wouldn’t go so often without it. I often use the excuse with my husband that we need to get our money’s worth, so we need to go visit as often as possible. But, truly, he doesn’t need to be persuaded.

We are not exactly wine drinkers (Guiness forever!), but if you are, this is close to paradise in North Carolina’s Asheville as you can get. With a winery on the grounds with free wine tasting and a tour through the tunnels of the winery, it’s a cool spot.

There are wonderful restaurants to choose from, but if you can get there on a weekend, you absolutely must go to the Deerpark. It has an incredible buffet. It’s a little expensive- completely worth it- but, kids under 9 are free (in fact, in the summer, children are free). You can make reservations at Open Table or call them.

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Deepark restaurant is filled with little white lights and flowers. Renovated from the old stables, it has wood beams throughout. In the center of the restaurant is an open atrium with large oaks. They hire blue grass singers to play quietly in the park-like setting. The food is absolutely wonderful and we have never had bad service.  Annual pass holders receive a discount.

Also, with the annual pass, you can get a hotel room on the grounds (how cool is that!) for very little. We have seen prices climb well above $300 for the least expensive room and have gotten it for $159 because we are passholders. You need to call them directly, though, as their website won’t give you that discount as far as I can tell. It’s always better to talk to a person, anyway. The room we stayed in was absolutely lovely and comfortable and much better than any other hotel around.

A gorgeous river called the French Broad runs through the Biltmore Estate. This same river is very rough in some areas of North Carolina (we went white water rafting on it farther up and I was sore for weeks), but at the Biltmore, the river mimics the pace of the place- quiet and steady.  We rented kayaks for $25 a piece.  A van took us to the drop off site. The Biltmore employees took the kayak off the van, put it in the water and held my hand getting in. Other than carrying me in their arms like I was their baby, it couldn’t have gotten any better. I got in the kayak and barely had to do anything, the river took me right down.  I made friends with a bumble bee who slept on my paddle (that’s how little work I was doing). They picked us back up at the end, helped us out, and drove us back. I don’t think I burned 10 calories.  It was well worth it and totally relaxing.

There are wonderful shops at the estate. You really don’t see the same kind of old fashioned stuff or handmade craftsmanship anywhere else. One of my favorite shops is the Garden Shoppe.  IMG_1627 IMG_1631 IMG_1628

They even have classes (like how to make a wreath) available. Lots of fairy stuff. My favorite thing, though, is that you can take a plant home with you. So, you can grow a rosebush from the estate!

The gardens are incredible.  I don’t know how else to describe them. The rose garden is massive. My advise is to get out of your car and look into the “faces” of the roses. That is one flower you must appreciate up close.

The greenhouse is something out of a dream. They actually employ a man who’s only job is to look after the orchids. Because there is an orchid room. In. The. Greenhouse!  You will want to take more pictures than your phone can possibly handle.

There is a small farm where you can meet and talk to the animals.  A donkey who fell madly in love with our dog.

The house itself is beyond wonderful. Think Downton Abbey. You will think you are actually living it.

I recommend going at the end of May or September because otherwise it is crazy busy. That is the slowest time.

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