As I have gotten older, there are places I want to see and things I want to accomplish before I am no longer able to enjoy them.
I am very fortunate my husband loves to travel and explore the places I find fascinating.
We travel to places on our “Bucket List” and on mine was the Biltmore located in Asheville, North Carolina.
I am also very blessed to have a husband who likes to tag along on my quest to see large historical homes and spend time in the cities where these grand dames reside.
We had a window of opportunity to visit Asheville and the weather was perfect for visiting the Biltmore and all of her glory.
If you have about 3 days to spend time in Asheville, I highly recommend it.
There is an uniqueness to Asheville because of the people who live there and I like to think of Asheville as the southern version of Vermont.
People are extremely kind, laid back, and dare I say, the color gray was not seen in the interiors as much as on the top of heads. Long hair is the preferred length of both sexes.
Perhaps because Asheville and the Biltmore are enjoyed more by adults than little children I saw a lot of Baby Boomers not Baby strollers. (If children enjoy history, they will enjoy the Biltmore otherwise it’s a big old house with old furniture in it.)
The art and craft community is alive and well in Asheville. So are the “Farm to Table” restaurants in Asheville. It is organic and bohemian (hippie) at it’s finest.
Let me share with you my 3 day tour of Asheville:
Day 1- Exploring Asheville
We drove from Atlanta to Asheville in 3 1/2 hours via the scenic route through the Great Smoky Mountains. Checked into the Grand Bohemian Hotel which is part of the Marriott’s Autograph Collection (used Marriott points!!) but not a Marriott owned property. The Grand Bohemian is a wonderful hotel situated in the Biltmore Village about 6 miles from the Biltmore Estate.
The moment you step inside the authentic Old World Tudor style- hunting lodge you quickly get a sense that this could easily be a hunting lodge in any of the ski resorts in America. The antiques,antlers everywhere, dead animals, and twig chandeliers are the main decor themes. The hotel is also one massive art gallery on its own. Every floor had art for sale.
|Grand Bohemian Hotel|
|Grand Bohemian Hotel|
|Bathroom in the Grand Bohemian Hotel
However romantic rose petals in a tub are, it just doesn’t happen after spending 30 years with the love of your life. But the glass of champagne in the tub still does…………
|Grand Bohemian Hotel
|Bedroom in the Grand Bohemian Hotel|
The dining room at the Grand Bohemian was filled with these beautiful red twig chandeliers. To the right going into the kitchen was a massive antler semi flush chandelier.
|Derek Olson Photography|
The altar in the Basilica of St. Lawrence
How fun to see people playing chess in the Pack Square Park..
We headed off to Limone’s (Mexican-California cuisine) for margaritas and dinner. I highly recommend the pomegranate margarita and the 3 cheese Chile Relleno ! Muy delicioso!
Watched the sunset from the Sky Bar overlooking downtown Asheville. The bar is really 3 levels of fire espcapes and to get to the bar you ride up in an old fashioned manned elevator!
Day 2- The Biltmore
This is an all day event or you can break it up into 2 days but it took us 2 hours to tour the gardens, 2 hours to tour the home, and 2 hours for the Biltmore Winery Tour (sampled 10 wines!) and lunch at the Bistro in Antler Hill Village. All part of the 10 square miles that was home to George Washington Vanderbilt.
You begin with a 3 mile drive up the Biltmore’s long approach road through magnificent grounds all designed by the famous landscape architect, Fredrick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York.
You are not permitted to photograph the interiors but you can photograph the exteriors. The Biltmore was designed by the great architect, Richard Morris Hunt who also designed the Breakers in Newport for another Vanderbilt, Cornelius.
Interesting historical note: In 1942 the Vanderbilts hid art for the National Gallery of Art during WWII in the Biltmore.
Purchase the audio tour guide it is worth every penny listening to the history of this fine home.
Italian Garden was the closet garden to the house.
The lily pond in the Italian garden looking towards the estate.
The Walled Garden was my favorite. Here you are looking at the Conservatory in the Walled Garden.
Tending to the flower beds in the Walled Garden was done by gardeners and horticultural students.
Looking through the arbor in the Walled Garden.
Orchids in the Conservatory
Bass Pond and Lagoon
A woman was painting the bridge at the Bass Pond.
It is a 1/2 mile walk back up to the estate from the Bass pond. There are many trails and gardens on this property but these photos are a glimpse of the enormity of Olmsted’s visionary landscapes for the Vanderbilts.
The house has 255 rooms and you only get to see 41 on the tour. But it really was enough to capture the essence of the grand lifestyle of the Vanderbilts. There were incredible antiques, art, and rooms to walk through. I enjoyed every room and have no favorites.
|Banquet Hall biltmore.com
Antler Hill Village and Winery
The winery is located in the old dairy barn on the estate. The grounds were also designed by Olmsted.
Cedric’s Tavern at Antler Hill Village
A view from Antler Hill Village looking up towards the Inn at Biltmore
We enjoyed having a pizza the the Bistro and putting our butts in a chair. The manager laughed when he heard us sighing as we sat. He said that is a very common sound he hears from tourists. Great pizzas!
We ate dinner close to our hotel in the Biltmore Village because we were too exhausted to drive back into downtown Asheville. It was probably the best decision we made for restaurants because the food was so good we went back to the restaurant for breakfast the next day and our last day in Asheville.
This great little restaurant is worth spending time eating at various times of the day. Just enjoyed looking at the menu, but the food and the staff are fantastic!
Historical fact:The Corner Kitchen was the house occupied first by the Waddell Family, who were the parents of one of the Estate’s engineers.
Day 3- Touring Biltmore Village and sneaking into Grove Park Inn
Our last day was quick but I wanted to spend time looking at boutiques, art galleries, and walk around the tiny Biltmore Village which Vanderbilt conceived of the area as a “town center” to support his self-sufficient estate. Richard Morris Hunt, the architect for the Biltmore House, designed four of the original Village buildings, All Souls Church, the Railway Station, The Biltmore Company offices and the Post Office. After Hunt’s death, the job of completing the houses and shops was left to Richard Sharpe Smith who was Hunt’s on-site architect. The street plan and landscape design of the Village was executed by Frederick Law Olmsted (Designer of New York’s Central Park). Initially, the homes were rental units for many of the Estate workers. The shops in the village vary from boutique style to name your poison fashion retail. I never step foot into a name your poison retail shop on a visit to another city. I saw a lot of great funky woman’s clothing stores in Asheville. ( sorry that my husband was tagging along or I would have been a shopping a whole new wardrobe!!)
The Grove Park Inn is a fine example of Arts and Craft Design and is a registered historical hotel.
The hotel sits on the western facing slope of Sunset Mountain, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
This concludes my 3 day tour of Asheville and crossing off the Biltmore on my bucket list. I will return to Asheville because I enjoyed this town of laid back gray haired bohemian artists, the kindness and the fellowship they shared with this interior designer.
I hope you find a reason to put the Biltmore and Asheville on your bucket list too.