What is America’s largest home? The Biltmore, located in Asheville, NC, and it is the subject of today’s post. We had already been planning to go to the Biltmore Estate, but when I found out they were going to have a Titanic exhibit, I wanted to go right then! Everything worked out that both of us and our friends, Travis and Lea, all had the same Saturday off, so we got reservations for a night in Asheville. We drove 3.5 hours, through the mountains from Chattanooga, to get to Asheville on Friday night. Since we got there right about dinner time, we threw the bags in the room and headed to the Wild Wok, a good Asian restaurant that Kyle and I ate at when we were there a couple of years ago. Before we went back to the room, we stopped for dessert at... Starbucks! (Well, It’s basically dessert if you don’t get coffee in your drink). On Saturday morning we made reservations to tour the Biltmore at 11:30, a perfect time because we had to check out of the hotel by 11:00 anyway. Before heading over to the Biltmore, we stopped for breakfast at the McDonalds that is just outside the main entrance to the estate. It wasn’t our first choice, but our first choice was crowded and we needed something quick! This particular McDonalds is pretty famous, having been featured on Travel Channel and several other channels over the years. What's so special you ask? It's located in Biltmore Village where all of the buildings are modeled after a small English village. The inside features a fireplace, a piano, and seating to match the theme of the area.
After eating, it was nearly time for us to tour the house. This was my third time here and it's always a wow moment when you first see the house. Kyle, Travis, and Lea had never been before, so I knew they were in for a treat. They were all amazed at the size of the estate. History has always been one of my interests, and the Biltmore definitely has a story to tell. If the walls could talk...
George Vanderbilt first visited Asheville, North Carolina in 1888, he immediately knew this is where he wanted to build his home. Construction began in 1889 and the estate opened on Christmas Eve in 1895. When finished, the house contained four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. There is also a two lane bowling alley and a swimming pool inside.
From the moment you step inside, you stand in awe. The architecture is just as neat on the inside as it is on the outside. The Winter Garden is one of the first things you see as you walk inside. The glass ceiling is just amazing. Personally, my favorite room in the house is the Banquet Hall. This room has a seven story high ceiling, a 1916 pipe organ, and a triple fireplace.
Glamour on Board: Fashion from Titanic the Movie.
From the time I first read about this exhibit coming to the Biltmore, I knew we had to go see it! Titanic is one of those movies you've probably watched and watched. Until this past weekend, I never knew there was a connection between the Vanderbilt's and the Titanic. George Vanderbilt, his wife and their daughter all had tickets to ride the Titanic, but backed out at the last minute. Reason unknown. Instead, they boarded the Titanic's sister ship, Olympic, a week prior to the Titanic's maiden voyage. Sadly, George Vanderbilt's footman didn't get to change ships and perished in the sinking. This article shares a lot about the Vanderbilt's Titanic connection.
It was so cool to see the actual clothes that were worn during the movie. We did the regular house tour, and in each room there were specific outfits highlighted to go with the room. This exhibit was two years in the making, and it was done perfectly.
Despite the cloudy and rainy weather, we had a fun time exploring the Biltmore Estate! By the time we were leaving, we were already talking about coming back again!
There is so much to see and do on the Biltmore property. After we finished the tour, we went though the gift shop, located in the former stables adjacent to the house, and had some delicious dip and cheeseball samples (I always look forward to this part!). I highly recommend the Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip and the Champagne & Dill Mustard! The Tiramisu Cheeseball Mix is also great, if you want something on the sweeter side! After doing a little shopping, we went back outside and snapped a few pictures of the house. The architecture is just impressive! Click here to see the full gallery!
By the time we left the Biltmore, it was time to find some lunch, a late lunch at that! We already had a place picked out that was in the Historic Biltmore Village. This village was originally called Best, named after William J. Best, owner of the Western North Carolina Railroad. Best was home to Asheville's first railroad station. This station served people traveling to and from Asheville for 15 years until George Vanderbilt purchased the small town to build the Biltmore Estate and village. The station continued to serve passengers on the Southern Railway line until August 1975. Today, it serves as Village Wayside Bar and Grille, a fantastic restaurant that has a little bit of everything! Kyle got the Doc's DeCarlo, a sandwich he loved, which had grilled chicken, bacon, cream cheese, and a Cheerwine BBQ sauce all wrapped in a pita bread shell. I had the Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich and really enjoyed it. We finished off with the Samoa Delight, their interpretation of the famous Girl Scout cookie. We really enjoyed this place and it will be somewhere we will go to on every trip that takes us to Asheville!
For lodging, the Holiday Inn - Biltmore Village was where we stayed here. Pretty standard fare as far as Holiday Inns go, very clean and conveniently located. Since there were four of us, we split the presidential suite, which is awesome for two couples who want to have a common hang out area!
For dining, Wayside Bar and Grille was awesome! Located in the former Biltmore Village depot, this little restaurant has a large variety of unique dishes at great prices.
For shopping, we enjoyed the shops at the Biltmore and the Antler Hill Village and Winery. There is a good variety of unique items at these stores that will satisfy any tastes. In the Biltmore Village area, there are also many higher-end chain stores that are situated around the village for more traditional shopping destinations.