*I was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*
Cornelius Vanderbilt was powerful, wealthy, ruthless (he had to be), and quite frankly made quotes like this, “You have undertaken to cheat me. I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you.” Nice guy, right?
Well, a few generations later his grandson, George Washington Vanderbilt, decided to build a stellar mansion in the rolling mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.
In 2016, Cain and I spent our first week at the Biltmore and it was unforgettable. We’ve traveled all over the world, but The Biltmore is still one of our top vacation spots. We can’t get enough of it! While preparing for our trip this year, we discovered that not only are the gardens a big deal in Spring, but it’s pet friendly! You don’t have to leave anyone behind for this family vacation. The estate has kennels on a first-come, first-served basis and they allow you to walk and bring your pet with you on the grounds (leashed of course). In Antler Village, pets are allowed on the patio area of Bistro and Cedric’s Tavern, so while you enjoy a nice brew or cappuccino, Fido can take in the scenery and feel like a Vanderbilt pooch.
Our first trip to ole George’s mansion consisted of house tours galore and nonstop history lessons on the Vanderbilts, so this year we wanted to do things a little differently. This time we decided to appreciate the landscape meticulously created by Frederick Law Olmsted. Fun fact, he is the landscape architect who created Central Park in NYC. Everything planted on the approach to the house has a purpose and is part of a master plan by Olmsted. You don’t actually see the Biltmore until you turn a corner and go through a gate; it’s a serious ‘wow’ factor.
Like I said, we wanted to focus on the grounds this time around. The Blue Ridge Mountains were breathtaking from the estate, and as the sun set in the evenings, a purple hue could be seen overtopping the trees and mountains. The temperature hovered around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and a small breeze carried the smell of Spring while we walked the trails.
- Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting
- Upstairs-Downstairs Specialty Tour
- Rooftop Tour
- Audio Guide Tour
- Horseback Riding (1 Hr)
- Carriage Ride (30 Minutes)
- Biltmore Massage at The Inn on Biltmore Estate
- Land Rover Experience (1 Hr)
Let’s break it down
The wine and chocolate were delicious, but our guide lacked a sense of humor. She wasn’t the friendliest person, but overall I enjoyed the actual product presented. Hello, it’s chocolate and wine.
The speciality tours of the house were great, especially if you wanted to learn more about the Vanderbilts and the house itself. The staff was well-trained and our dear Ann was the sweetest tour guide. She was so passionate about the story; she made me feel like I was there in 1865.
Cain actually went horseback riding with our friend Morris, and he came back happier than a kid on Christmas. He claims that next time we are all going on a three-hour horseback riding tour….we’ll see.
The carriage ride was more my style. We all went in one carriage and had it all to ourselves. The horses were beautiful and the guides extremely kind. We saw the house from a different perspective and parts of the estate we hadn’t seen before. Other than walking aimlessly around the estate by myself with coffee, this was my favorite part of the trip.
I personally wouldn’t recommend a massage at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. This is my second one, and both subpar. Maybe I didn’t get the right person, I’m not sure; however, for the price, the surcharges and the gratuity, I would stick with your person at home that you like. They did have a really good cucumber water though in the waiting area.
Ok, I’m sneaking the Land Rover Experience in here. We actually did this one last time, but if you can afford it, do it! It was so much fun, and other than test-driving, when are you going to be able to drive a $100,000 car on a crazy trail in the woods and have your heart in your throat?! Exactly.
Counting down the days till next time
So, a little bird told me that we might be going back next year to frolic in the gardens and grace the halls of GV’s bachelor pad. In addition to the Biltmore bliss, I plan on experiencing a little bit of the Asheville culture, too. Apparently life exists outside the estate…who knew!