August 10, 2023 It rained overnight like they said it would and continued into the morning, but the wind wasn’t as bad as they said it was going to be. We set the alarm for 7:00 just to give us enough time to do our morning routine and walk Auggie. It stopped raining altogether around 9:00, so the day was looking better already. Auggie got his walk and we were ready to leave at 9:30 for our tour of the Biltmore Estate. On our drive, we could see the clouds hanging over the mountains.
Our timed-reservation was for 11:00, but we knew it was at least a 20-minute drive, depending on traffic, from the campground to the entrance gate and then a 30-minute drive onto the grounds to the parking lots. From the parking lot to the mansion would be an 8-10 minute walk depending on which parking lot you ended up in. Taking that all into account, we wanted to give ourselves enough time and not be late. We headed for Asheville and found the entrance without any problems.
We reached the Gate House and continued on the road to the estate. It was not a very busy place today.
The drive through the lush, green grounds was beautiful!
We reached the admissions gate and checked in with our e-tickets.
We followed the signs to the parking lot which was 3 miles away.
When we reached the parking lot areas (A, B, C), we were directed into Lot A3 which was the closest lot to the estate, so we lucked out. We parked and took the short walk (maybe 5 minutes) to the gate at the mansion grounds.
We took a minute to stand there and take it all in. It was breath-taking!
We walked up to the security check-in point and we were in. There are no restrooms in the Biltmore House, but we found them without any problem in the Stable Courtyard area. We did a quick look around to see what shops and eateries were there.
Bob suggested that we ask if we could enter early since it was now only 10:30. We asked and the guard said we could, so we moved along with the line towards the Entrance Hall.
Waiting our turn to go in only took a few minutes, but we got to examine, more closely, all the details of the mansion architecture outside like these gargoyles and downspout. The architecture was amazing!
We were given some verbal instructions and our Audio Guide. In no time, we were on our way on our self-guided tour. The Biltmore House has 250 rooms, but the tour includes four floors. The Audio Guide provided a description of the each of the rooms, furnishings, and interesting tidbits about the family and their guests when you punched in the number associated with each room. It was a great system! Because everyone was listening intently to the Audio Guide, there was very little talking among the people on the tour. We began our tour at the Winter Garden on the first floor.
The Library was awesome with 1/2 of his 22,000 volume collection all chosen by George Vanderbilt himself.
We climbed the Grand Staircase to the 2nd floor.
On the second floor were the bedrooms. Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom was first and then Mrs. Vanderbilt’s.
We took more stairs to the third floor where the guest rooms were located.
From the third floor, we descended the Grand Staircase and returned to the Main Floor where we would descend again to the Basement. We passed through the Stone Hallway where we could see one of the foundation walls.
The Halloween Room had wall scenes painted by the Vanderbilts for a New Year’s Eve party. Here we read informational boards about the construction of the house and the men who built it.
This floor also contained a 2-lane bowling alley and a 70,000 gallon indoor swimming pool. Unfortunately, the pool did not contain any water because it leaks. The ropes along the sides were for the swimmers to hold on to if they wanted to take a rest.
There was also a gymnasium with workout equipment and 2 Needle Baths along the back wall which are equal to modern shower massages.
At the other end of the floor was the Servants Domain containing pantries, a rotisserie kitchen, pastry kitchen, and main kitchen. It also contained a kitchen pantry, walk-in mechanical refrigerator, laundry and drying room for bedding and linens, and a servant’s dining room.
There were also 2 dumbwaiters–a mechanical one and an electrical one.
The employees received room, board, and uniforms, as well as pay equal to New York standards. We climbed the stairs to the Bachelor’s Wing which included a smoking room and gun room.
That concluded our visit at 12:00. It took us an hour and 1/2 to tour the Biltmore Home. We returned our Audio Guides and walked outside to the Stable Courtyard. I wanted to taste the official Biltmore vanilla ice cream that we had heard about on our tour. It was inspired by the original Biltmore Dairy Bar. It is not made there, but produced by Pet, Inc. using the Biltmore recipe. I had my favorite root beer float and Bob had a cup of butter pecan .
We left there and walked out to see the South Terrace adjacent to the Library. The roof was covered with greenery providing shade.
We marveled at the vines that produced the greenery. They were awesome!
We walked towards The Gardens and Trails.
On the way to The Gardens, we passed these 3 ponds filled with water plants. The landscaping was beautiful.
We had to pass under this gorgeous trellis covered with more of those cool vines.
We decided to save The Gardens for another time and started our walk back to the parking lot.
The skies had cleared and we could see Mt. Pisgah clearly from the estate. What a view they had!
They offer a trolley service for $15/pp to take you to all the places on the estate.
We walked back to the parking lot and followed the EXIT signs to leave the grounds. The drive began by passing through the entrance gate and past the house again for one last look.
From there, the road took us past the Antler Village and Winery (5 miles). There were miles and miles of roads. The Village included the Village Hotel, Winery, and some eateries.
From there, we had an awesome view of the Inn at the Biltmore sitting on the top of a hill.
It was another 2 mile drive past Deer Park to the exit. We noticed this electrified fence to keep in the goats on the estate.
There were fields of sunflowers planted along the edges of the cornfields. It was a pretty sight!
There was a fishing pond and a waterfall on the grounds.
It was actually a long, but pleasant drive around the estate before exiting. We got to see it all.
It was such a pleasant way to spend an few hours of the day. We returned to the campground around 1:30 to enjoy the rest of the day with Auggie and watch some TV outside.
We decided to do take-out from Popeye’s Louisianna Kitchen for dinner. Bob went to pick it up and we enjoyed our meal at the campsite. The evening cooled off nicely to 71 degrees and we had the windows open. Tomorrow we’ll make a visit to Asheville.