A Day Trip to Biltmore

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On Saturday, my wife and I went to tour the Biltmore house in Asheville, NC. We went there because they have their Christmas decorations out and I had not ever seen the house decorated for Christmas.

This was the first weekend that they have had the Christmas decorations up for this year. As a result (and maybe the fact that the weather was perfect), it was very busy. We got there around 10 AM and had to park in lot C and take a shuttle ride up to the house. This was actually a very nice ride; they had shuttles running very frequently, so there was almost zero wait time. As we were riding on the shuttle, we discussed how different this experience was from that of Dollywood or Disney World. The shuttle at Biltmore was enclosed, everyone had a seat and it was climate controlled, so it was very comfortable - the same cannot be said of the open-air shuttles of Dollywood or Disney World.

It was busy enough that we had to schedule our entrance into the house; we had tickets for 2PM, so our 10AM arrival left us with time to tour the grounds and gardens.

We started off by exploring the "south terrace" - one of our favorite areas on the grounds. Walking out on the terrace it feels like you are on top of the world! You can see the rolling hills for miles. One thing that we have always noticed is that it is very windy on the terrace. I suspect that the location for the house may have been chosen because of the winds at the top of this hill. In the late 1800's when this house was built, taking such things into consideration would make the house much more comfortable in the summer. We figured that this was also the reason for the amazing number of windows and doors around the house.

From there, we went down to the Italian Garden, then followed the path through the Shrub Garden down to the Walled Garden. One of my favorite trees is the Japanese cutleaf maple - there are several in the Shrub Garden, many of them appear to be very old.

The fall colors on the trees and shrubs were beautiful with bright red, orange, yellow and purple leaves, flowers and berries all around. We continued our tour down to the Walled Garden and Conservatory before winding our way back up to the house by way of the Spring Garden.

Back up at the house, we decided it was time for lunch. We enjoyed a great lunch at the Stables. We ate in what was once a horse stall! It still had the rack on the wall to hold hay and water. We had never been in there before and assumed that the "stables cafe" was in the building where the stables were once located, but that things had been totally re-done and you would not recognize the stables at all. On the contrary, it looked like they had just removed the horses, cleaned things up, brought in some tables and chairs and began serving meals. Once again, we noticed how nice of an environment that was established at Biltmore as compared to other tourist attractions to which we have been - everything seemed like a first-class operation. The meal was wonderful, by the way.

It was about 1:30, so we had thirty minutes to wait until it was our turn to tour the house. We walked over to the Front Lawn and joined several other people who were just lounging around enjoying the weather and view of the front of the house.

At 2PM we went into the house on our tour. It was crowded and, despite the outside temperatures being in the mid 50's, was very warm inside of the house. One of the first things that we noticed were the huge interior doors - I noticed how detailed the fitting of the hinges to the doors was. In most any modern house that I've seen, the hinges fit the doors, but it's not a precise fit. At the Biltmore, everyone that I looked at was a perfect fit. You can tell that the house was built by craftsmen who took pride in their work. Throughout the house, you can see multiple architectural styles. Some ceilings such as the one in the Salon are covered with draping cloth while others have a Gothic style arched ceiling.

After our tour, we went over to the gift shop and picked up a few things and we stopped by the Guest Services desk to upgrade our daily pass to a twelve month pass - we'll definitely be back a few times over the next year.

On our way out we stopped by the Bass Pond. This looks like a nice peaceful area to relax and enjoy the scenery.

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