My Biltmore Saga

Sweeping View from the Enchanting Veranda

Sweeping View from the Enchanting Veranda

Since I moved to the states, North Carolina has been home and I’ve always lived no more than 2 hours away from Biltmore Estate. After I went back to Biltmore twice this summer, I reckoned a record of six visits over the course of 19 years.

The first visit happened summer of 1990 when I was a graduate student at Western Carolina University. A friend who was in the area on a business trip from New York enlightened me when he mentioned his plan to visit Biltmore. He was understanding but nevertheless surprised that I, being only 45 minutes away, had no knowledge of the site. That had to be fixed. He generously offered to take me along.

Good things come in pair. Before winter break that same year, the university organized a group tour to Biltmore for a bargain price. Some friends who had signed up goaded me to go along. The inducement was the holiday décor so I went. The imposing Christmas ornaments did impress me exceedingly and justified the money spent. It turned out to be my only visit during the holiday season.

Already having two visits to boast, I wasn’t thinking about going back. Eleven years and many vicissitudes later however, I did go back, with my parents and my son. As the avid traveler I had became by then, I continually conjured up traveling ideas52C far or near. In addition, I wanted to show my parents around during their visit. One day, a tree turning red prompted me to the idea of taking the family to the spectacular fall foliage along Interstate I 40 and Blue Ritge Parkway. As the planning moved forward, Biltmore House came up. Including Biltmore in the trip was definitely a good idea for my parents’ sake despite the fact I was going back the third time. At the end, all turned out well. My parents were impressed. My dad commented to a friend over the phone: “The big house was outstanding and worth visiting.” As for myself, it was almost like being there the first time, besides the vague and grand impression, I had managed to forget a lot about it.

The most memorable visit to Biltmore has to be when I went back with my husband in spring of 2006. I was planning a surprise weekend get away for our anniversary. With its growing reputation, Asheville together with Biltmore promised much enjoyment and appeared to be an excellent option factoring in distance and length of stay. And this time, I included in the itinerary to spend time exploring the city itself.

Our first day in town was a Sat; walking the downtown area and driving around the city, we discovered the city’s many charms. Asheville is a small city with big attractions. I like its relaxing, friendly and artistic ambience, its history, picturesque surrounding, fine dining and shopping. A photo journal is attached at the bottom.

Last day of this trip was for Biltmore. Having been there five years ago the third time, I had planned to be there just for my husband and not to expect much for myself from this fourth trip to Biltmore. Biltmore, however, proved that it could still impress and excite. That was a gorgeous, perfect spring day; the e~tire ground, verdant by the new growth, colorful by the spring blooms, radiant by the sun shine, was the most happy and exhilarating that I had ever seun it. Moreover, the estate so extensive, the house so massive, there was ample opportunity for new discovery. A photo journal is attached at the bottom.

When I visited Asheville in 2006, I thought “This is a place I can return to.” My husband and I did go back in Apr. of this year. We stayed at one of the renowned Asheville bed and breakfast inns, The Lion and the Rose, but no Biltmore this time.

Summer of 2008 was a lot of fun. Besides summer camps, family vacation, socials, free movies in the parks and watching the Olympics, I had some very special guests from China. First a friend from college and her son came to visit, and then my sister and nieces came and stayed with us for a couple of weeks. The good hostess that I am and the lure of Kids Free special over the summer, guess what, I took them to Biltmore, respectively. Therefore, I was at Biltmore twice this Aug. My reward? They all loved it. But I have to be honest, I figured out how to have some fun myself too. Between my chauffeuring duties of dropping them off in front of the house and picking them back up in front of the house, I got to stay on the ground free. I enjoyed walking the trail by the corn field bordered by a swath of vibrant sunflowers, having lunch at the restaurants by the winery, visiting the stable and finding new path back to the house from the winery.

So, will I go back to Asheville and Biltmore again? Probably so. Asheville is not only a nice get away itself but also an excellent spot to hop to other attractions near by. A quiet weekend on Biltmore Estate exploring its beautiful ground sounds pretty good too.

Asheville, North Carolina

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Site

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Site


The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Site was the boyhood home of the novelist and is right next to Renaissance Hotel where we stayed in 2006.
Pack Square

Pack Square


Pack Square is on top of the hill at Biltmore Ave and Patton Ave in the heart of downtown. Surrounding Pack square is an interesting mix of historic and contemporary buildings, dominating the center an outstanding granite obelisk, the Vance Monument. Standing on the edge of the square on Biltmore Ave, long vistas can be seen to the north and south stretching out to mountains in the distance.
Salsa’s Mexican and Caribbean Food

Salsa’s Mexican and Caribbean Food


Salsa’s Mexican and Caribbean Food on Patton Ave. is one of the restaurants and cafes around the square. The place is vibrant and chic, with warm bright orange red and abstract paintings on the wall. My husband loves Mexican food and we had lunch there during the 2006 trip. I ordered fried trout that came with a big plate full of salsa, beans and salad. It was so deliciously piquant that it still makes my mouth water when I think of it. My husband ordered a beef burrito and he liked it.
The Noodle Shop

The Noodle Shop


The Noodle Shop is a Chinese Restaurant right on Pack Square. We had dinner there one evening in Apr. 2008 and had the best seats for the street entertainment that came into life the fullest at dusk. There was a girl singing with her guitar, a magician, a clown, a group of youngsters in black exerting martial arts and another group performing acrobatic dances and doing fire tricks.
Buildings on the Streets

Buildings on the Streets

Largest Iron I've Ever Seen

Largest Iron I've Ever Seen

Kress Emporium

Kress Emporium


The dazzling pieces through the windows of Kress Emporium on corner of Patton Ave and Lexington Ave stopped me and I went in to check it out. It is a fantastic art gallery with dozens of booths featuring beautiful paintings, sculptures, glass, photographic arts, ceramic, jewelries and etc.
Central United Methodist Church

Central United Methodist Church


An impressive stone tower rising above the roofs of buildings ahead lured me to follow. We found a couple of churches on Church Street a few steps off Patton Ave.
First Presbyterian

First Presbyterian

Outdoor Theater

Outdoor Theater


Live Performance at the square on Patton Ave and Haywood St.
Grove Arcade from Battery Ave and Page Ave

Grove Arcade from Battery Ave and Page Ave


Grove Arcade is the crowning jewel in downtown Asheville. It was created by E. W. Grove who also built Grove Park Inn. It is an outstanding building and unmistakably an elegant, exciting setting for shopping, dinning and regional crafts under the same roof. If you are an architectural buff, this online tour offers elaborate details on the building’s architectural features: http://www.grovearcade.com
The Splendid Interior of Grove Arcade

The Splendid Interior of Grove Arcade

The Winged Lions on the North Entrance

The Winged Lions on the North Entrance

Basilica of St. Lawrence

Basilica of St. Lawrence


Basilica of St. Lawrence is between Grove Arcade and the Civic Center

Mobilia


Mobilia is a contemporary furnishing store on Haywood St. Haywood St. is popular for its various boutiques, shops, galleries and restaurants. While strolling through the street, we also visited a glass shop and picked up some goodies from Chocolates Fetish.
A City with View

A City with View


A view characteristic of Asheville’s fantastic mountainous surrounding could be seen off Haywood St.
On the way back to our hotel leaving Haywood St., we stumbled across Lexington Park Antiques on Walnut St. The little antique ‘insight’ that I have, I get from loosely following the Antique’s Road Show. If nothing else, it is just enough to get me really curious about antiques. So I pulled my husband in with me. It was a big shop to wander through. There were numerous items, furniture, grandfather clocks, glass, china, jewelries, dolls and clothing. I keenly felt the limit of my antique ‘expertise’: with no antique pundits to demystify and no intriguing history to foil the items, I couldn’t make them as interesting.
Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa

Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa


Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, opened in 1913, is another proud jewel of the city. Happily situated on a hill top overlooking the city from the north, it is a beautiful resort that boasts serene location, imposing interconnecting buildings featuring distinctive granite stone exterior and undulating red roof, great services and fantastic cuisine.
Sunset from Blue Ridge Dinning Room

Sunset from Blue Ridge Dinning Room


Blue Ridge Dinning Room is one of the fine restaurants at Grove Park Inn. It serves scrumptious dinner buffet. This beautiful sunset accompanied us the first time we were there in 2006. We liked it so much we went back again during our 2008 trip. Reservation for dinner is required.
The Lion and the Rose

The Lion and the Rose


Asheville has the most Bed and Breakfast per capita. The lion and the Rose on Montford Ave. a few minute’s ride from downtown is one we stayed this year and loved it.
Dinning Room at the Lion and the Rose

Dinning Room at the Lion and the Rose


In the morning all guests gathered and had breakfast in the dinning room. The breakfast was great and changed daily. I enjoyed meeting other guests and having conversations with them.
NC Arboretum in Asheville

NC Arboretum in Asheville

A Lookout on Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville

A Lookout on Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville

Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina
Biltmore House’s Imposing Façade

Biltmore House’s Imposing Façade


Fountain and Courtyard in front of the House

Fountain and Courtyard in front of the House


Biltmore, the largest American home since its completion in 1895, is a grand architectural achievement that embodies the Vanderbilt saga, particularly that of its creator George Vanderbilt, and his love for the area and French architecture. Its ground is immense, beautiful and auspicious. Exterior of the house resembles a magnificent and romantic French chateau. Its 250 plus room interior is opulent with sumptuous furnishings, tapestries and arts. The house includes an enormous, spectacular Banquet Hall, an ornate library, a lavish winter garden, an amazing 70,000 gallon indoor swimming pool on the ground level, bowling area, indoor gym and a complex of food storage and preparation. Photo taking is not allowed inside the house but you can get a glimpse from its website: http://www.Biltmore.com
The Back of the House

The Back of the House

Sweeping View from the Enchanting Veranda

Sweeping View from the Enchanting Veranda

Terrace by the North End of the House

Terrace by the North End of the House

The Garden in spring Presenting Seasonal Tulips

The Garden in spring Presenting Seasonal Tulips


The walled in garden features exuberant fields of blooms, a wooden pergola in the center and an outstanding conservatory on the north end.
The Conservatory

The Conservatory


One Glimpse into the Conservatory

One Glimpse into the Conservatory

The 3Mile Approach Road through Lush Green

The 3Mile Approach Road through Lush Green


The 8,500 acre ground of the estate is awe inspiring. The drive from the welcome center to the house on the 3Mile Approach Road and leaving the house to the winery on Winery Road give evidence to its vastness. But imagine that it had been 125,000 acres before Mrs. Vanderbilt sold the bulk of the land to the government, which became the present day Pisgah National Forest.
Brilliant Azaleas Adorned Winery Road

Brilliant Azaleas Adorned Winery Road

The Remarkable horses for our Carriage Ride

The Remarkable horses for our Carriage Ride


We took a carriage ride in 2006. The carriage horses were mighty but obedient, awesome creatures. Our guide was funny and informative. As we rode through the quiet path, one of our ride companions asked if the descendants of George Vanderbilt, who manage the estate, live on the estate and our guide gave an oblique affirmation.
One View from our Carriage Ride

One View from our Carriage Ride


One of many Houses on the Estate

One of many Houses on the Estate


Inn on Biltmore Estate

Inn on Biltmore Estate

River Bend Farm

River Bend Farm


The River Bend Farm has something for every one, a small petting zoo for kids and a farm house complex where one can learn about the estate’s the farming operations in the past and George Vanderbilt’s fascinating vision of a self efficient country retreat.
Farm House

Farm House

The Winery

The Winery


Wine tasting and tour are included in the admission to the house where you can try up to eight different wines. We picked up a few bottles from the wine and souvenir shop right next door on the way out of the tasting room. Cheers!
Fermentation Room

Fermentation Room

Cornfield Bordered by Swath of Sunflowers

Cornfield Bordered by Swath of Sunflowers


The mile long trail wraps around French Broad River and the corn field that ends at the River Bend Farm.
Historic Biltmore Village
The Cathedral of All Souls

The Cathedral of All Souls


Biltmore Village, right across the street from the main gate to Biltmore Estate, is a historic community constructed in late 1890. Chief architect of Biltmore House co-designed this village. The Cathedral of All Souls is an extraordinary building. The quaint houses in the village are now homes to shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants. It is a delightful place to visit.
Houses on in Biltmore Village

Houses on in Biltmore Village

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3 Responses

  1. Great pictures and beautiful trip!

  2. Perhaps you will consider yet another visit to Biltmore to show your Mother and Father-in-law someday ? It looks awesome ! I wonder if the Christmas decorations will be in place at Thanksgiving time.

  3. Great minds think alike 🙂
    Let’s look into that. That will be great fun!

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