I think travel professionals have the longest bucket lists. We see trips/destinations/experiences we never knew existed and we want to go/visit/experience them all.
One of my longest standing bucket list destinations has been Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. If you know me, you know I L.O.V.E. castles and mansions.
You know how, from a very young age, some girls dream of beautiful weddings, flowing gowns and big diamonds? Well, that wasn’t me! I dreamed of turrets, fireplaces, long stone passageways, grand ballrooms, huge four poster beds, secret rooms and draperies of velvet. I think to say that I dreamed of being a princess would be overstating it….I dreamed of being in a different time and the romanticism that must come from living in a “home” with 250 rooms, 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces.
But let’s be honest – I would probably be a maid or servant in one of these households…but the allure is still there!
I have visited two other Vanderbilt homes – both in Rhode Island – namely The Breakers and Mable House – and I loved them both. They were summer “cottages” and while Biltmore was not lived in 365 days a year, it was a three season home and still remains the largest single family home in America. It was magnificent!
Before I bombard you with photos, let me say the whole grounds were amazing. The gardens, the conservatory (I have never seen such beautiful orchids), the stables and the house itself met all of my expectations. I only have a few interior photos to show – only because I was too busy gawking at everything!
In addition to the standard tour with audio guide, we also did the Back Stairs Tour – which highlighted the lives of some of the folks who kept Biltmore running like a clock. There were even some references to Downtown Abbey – YAY!!!
PS – If you are wondering what it is like to road trip during a pandemic – let me just say that I whole heartedly feel like all necessary precautions are being attended to. Indoors, masks are mandatory and enforced and physical distancing measures are obvious to all. Capacities are being honored in stores and restaurants and sanitation has been something we see happening everywhere – from plentiful hand sanitizer stations to having our temp checked before dining to extensive cleaning in our hotels and inns and other high traffic areas. The crowds are low, the hospitality is wonderful, and we could not have picked a better time to travel and explore the US!