July 3, 2014
5 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  - Photo by Jessica Wallser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

I recently had the pleasure of spending 10 days in the mountains of North Carolina with family and friends. While in Asheville, I visited three horticultural wonders: The Biltmore Estate, Lake Lure’s Flowering Bridge, and a lovely little urban restaurant with a quarter-acre garden called Sunny Point. For the next three weeks, I’m going to give you a sneak peek into each one.

Today’s tour stop: The Biltmore Estate. Here’s why this stop is a must-see if you find yourself in North Carolina.

1. An Architectural Wonder
The Biltmore House opened by George W. Vanderbilt on Christmas Eve 1895. The stunning 250-room home on this 8,000-acre estate took six years to construct and served as the family’s home until the house was opened to the public by Vanderbilt’s daughter, Cornelia, in 1930s.

5 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  - Photo by Jessica Wallser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

The home itself has 43 bathrooms, 35 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, a 70,000-gallon indoor pool, a bowling alley, servants’ quarters, numerous kitchens and laundry rooms, a bachelors’ wing, a library, a music room, and several dining rooms and salons.

2. Self-Guided Tours for Kids and Adults
The self-guided audio tour of the Biltmore is well worth the price. The kid’s version, which is narrated by the Vanderbilt’s family dog, Cedric, had my 8-year-old son entranced for two full hours!

5 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  - Photo by Jessica Wallser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

3. Gorgeous Gardens
After we completed the house tour, we headed outside to visit the gardens. Designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, they provides spectacular views and plenty of places to relax. The Italian Garden features three formal water gardens, where koi swim among giant lotus, papyrus plants and assorted water lilies.

5 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  - Photo by Jessica Wallser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

Paths wonder throughout the garden, moving visitors through shrub gardens that originally included over 500 different varieties of shrubs, trees, and other ornamentals. A favorite of mine was the Walled Garden. This 4-acre formal garden is designed in the popular “bedding out” style that was quite fashionable in the late 1800s. Two 236-feet long arbors centering the garden are covered in grape vines while colorful annuals and perennials fill the garden. The kids in my group enjoyed an impromptu garden scavenger hunt, looking for insects, seed pods, and other such items.

5 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  - Photo by Jessica Wallser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

The Conservatory at Biltmore House was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. This glass greenhouse shelters orchids, ferns, and palms among many other plants.

5 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. - Photo by Jessica Wallser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

4. Heritage Farm Animals
The Biltmore was once a self-sufficient farm, and the variety of animals on the property give you a taste of what life was like when the Vanderbilt’s lived there. Plus, the barnyard is another great stop if you have kids in tow. If you don’t have animals on your own farm, this gives your children a chance to interact with goats, sheep and chickens. We were amazed at the variety of chickens they have!

5. The Stable Café
If you make your own visit to Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., you’ll want to spend the entire day there (at least six hours), so lunch will need to be included. I recommend grabbing a bite at the Stable Café—the Carolina barbecue and homemade pickles are delicious.

5 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. - Photo by Jessica Wallser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

In order to get the full house tour, also be sure to visit the winery and bass pond. A visit to the Biltmore will be time well spent, that much I can promise. This national treasure is not to be missed!

See photos from other gardens Jessica has toured:

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