Every year, I plan a budget friendly road trip that appeals to the whole family. It’s not easy when you’re traveling with two teens. But we got lucky. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, had something for everyone. I wanted gardens. My husband wanted trains. And the girls just wanted to be somewhere other than Illinois. By the end of the Biltmore experience, we all were blown away.
You can’t grasp the enormity of the place until you pass the entry gate. It was then that I realized we had entered a different world. One where the roads are lined with an impenetrable bamboo thicket and the forest leading up to the estate is pristine and full of enormous trees. Even the small stone bridges were worth admiring. So much care and thought had been put into this very grand, but incredibly natural landscape. Frederick Law Olmsted, considered the father of American landscape architecture, was the mastermind of the Biltmore landscape.
The Vanderbilt Home
Before we entered the Biltmore, we spent a few extra bucks for the audio guide which provided in-depth information on the artwork and history. Without it, we would still have marveled at the visual details, but hearing all the nuances of the unique rooms and people made it so much more interesting. While there was much to marvel at in this 250 room home, I was most struck by the beautiful light of the Winter Garden and the library containing half of Vanderbilt’s 22,000 volume collection.
The Biltmore Gardens
As any plant nerd will attest, a garden tour is a highlight of any trip. The Biltmore certainly didn’t disappoint. I loved the use of texture. The juxtaposition of broad leaved plants and airy grasses. Silvers and reds were prominent in the center of the Walled Garden planted out in geometric beds of sharp angles and long lines.
The Biltmore Gardens Railway
A G-scale railway runs throughout the exotic plantings and miniature estate replicas housed in the conservatory. It’s pretty cool and the attention to detail on the buildings was exceptional. We chose the perfect year to visit the Biltmore as the railway is on display until Sept. 29, 2019.