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The West Family does The Biltmore Estates

{Kathleen}
Today is the first day back in the real world for me after a full 9 days off! It started with a 4 mile run with Rainie (VA is still out of town). It was kinda rainy but I didn't really notice it as we had so much to chat about. With my leg injury and then Thanksgiving it had be almost 3 weeks since I ran with Rainie! Words cant describe how much I missed it either! Running with Rainie and VA is by far my favorite exercise and one of the best ways to start my day.

As I mentioned, my family went to Asheville for the Thanksgiving, and we had a fun filled week in the mountains, and when I say filled I really mean stuffed! My mother should have been a travel agent and she always has our family vacations packed with fun activities. I will make a whole post on the top things to do in Asheville, but I think one of our favorite activities was visiting the Biltmore.

So here is a summary of how the West Family did The Biltmore Estates. 

The Biltmore was the home (completed in 1895) of George and Edith Vanderbuilt. Unlike a lot of historic homes throughout the U.S. the Biltmore is still family owned vs. run by the Historical Society, which I thought was pretty neat.


We arrived at the Biltmore Estates at 9am. We pull into the property and give our tickets to the men at the guards desk. We then drive down the 2 mile driveway, yes you read that right, a 2 mile driveway. We then parked in a parking lot and had about a 5-10 minute walk to the house. They offer a shuttle which would be nice for the elderly, but there was no way I was letting my family take the shuttle, gotta get all the steps :)


We walked in to the front of the house, and a nice lady handed us our headsets. We then started on our self paced tour. In each room there was a number and we just simply pressed the number on our audio piece and we could listen to a summary about what that room was used for, why it was decorated that way, and any other historical facts about that room. You can also opt for just entrance to the Biltmore without the audio piece but I think the audio is necessary. I think you get 1000x more information, history and detail with the audio addition. It was definitely worth the additional $20.00. there is not too many signs or labels to read around the house while you are walking through, there is a simple book that has a blurb about each room but in my opinion it does not compare.


 The tour takes you through the basement and 3 floors of the house. The house has everything from a bowling alley, indoor swimming pool, to a gym, 12+ guest  bedrooms and over 65 fireplaces! 

It took us about ~2 hours to go through the house. We took our time but I don't felt like we moved too slow, the house it just that huge!

After we were done touring the house we walked around the gift shops. They have a couple standard gift shops and a few Christmas ones as well since its the Holiday season.



I could definitely get used to this view in my backyard :)






It was about noon so we headed to lunch at The Stable Cafe. It was absolutely excellent food! It's casual dining, in one of the original sections of the house. 

We all shared a pimento cheese and crackers appetizer. 


Then Kelly and I split 50/50 the Bison Burger and Lentil Burger. Both were amazing! I have never had bison before but it tasted to me just like a typical beef burger. It came with caramelized onions on it so you really can't mess it up! It also had lettuce, tomato, and swiss cheese. It came with a cherry dijonaise as well, which was different but delicious.


The Lentil burger was great as well. It came with mushrooms, onion, tomato, arugula and a parsley yogurt sauce on top. 


After we recharged with lunch we headed to walk around the gardens. 


The gardens were huge and they also had a few greenhouses as well. The only things blooming right now were in the greenhouses, there was not much to see outside but the landscape but it was still pretty. I bet in the spring time the gardens would be even prettier!


There were some pretty flowers blooming inside the greenhouses! 








After we walked around the gardens we walked back to the car to drive the 5 miles to the back of the property where the winery is.  

They have tours every 1/2 hour, all free, included with ticket admission. After the tour we got to the best part, the tasting! We all pulled walked up to the bar and the lady letting us sample all the wine (bar tender?), name was Lorraine and she was hilarious. My dad may or may not have invited her to Thanksgiving by the end of it :) 


You can sample as much wine as you like, and we sampled just about all of them. I tend to lean more towards the sweeter wines, however I feel my taste is maturing some and I enjoyed some of the more dryer wines as well. They had a Christmas Red out which was semi-sweet which was great. 


After we toured the winery, tasted all the wine, then bought all the wine out of the gift shop we went for our final stop at the Biltmore for the day, the history museum.

This was a small little museum/exhibit which took us about 30-45 minutes to go through. It had a nice family tree out front which for visual learners like me made it a lot easier for me to understand the Vanderbilt/Cecil family connections. There was also a video of the history of Biltmore as well which was nice. It was a great way to sum up all the history we learned at the house earlier that day. 

That wrapped up our day at the Biltmore, we were all exhausted so we headed back to the cabin for dinner and to enjoy some of the wine!


You can also stay on the Biltmore property, they have new hotels. Since we are a family of 7 needed more of a house to live in for the week not a room so we opted not to do that but they sure looked nice!  There is also some more outdoor activities you can do (most of which were closed for winter currently), ride horses on their land/stables, go fishing, biking, carriage rides, segway tours, and river float trips.

You can easily make the visit to the Biltmore into more than one day, there is a lot of different things to do! We did all we wanted to do there in one full day but it really just depends on what you want to do on how much time you should spend there. No matter if you want to spend half a day or a week there I would definitely recommend a visit if you ever are near the Asheville area! 



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