In October I went to the Type-A Mom Conference in Asheville, North Carolina, a place with much to recommend it – this is a town with multiple chocolate cafés. While there, I was lucky enough to be invited to visit Biltmore Estate. Since I was there alone, I enjoyed a dreamy tour of the house and a bit of the grounds without having to accommodate anyone but myself. I learned about the Biltmore family, marveled at the many, many gorgeous rooms (it boasts of being “the largest private residence in the United States”), and took a lot of pictures. I can’t tell you how tempted I was to look at things like antique dining tables for my own home after this, but then I figured they probably weren’t conducive to busy family life… maybe one day though!
That last is of Mrs. Biltmore herself – that is, the first Mrs. Vanderbilt to live in the house. That’s her bedroom and dress in the photo above it. I’m thinking she and I could talk hats for sure. And don’t you just love that stone prince? He looks like an actor from a silent film.
I know – this has nothing to do with family travel. Sorry. I got a little caught up in the romance of the place.
Anyway, my visit to Biltmore was without question too brief. There are many things I didn’t get to see including the estate farm and Antler Hill Village, which houses a winery. There are biking and hiking trails throughout the estate that I know would offer lots of scenic fun. Frederick Law Olmstead, who is known for another little project called Central Park, designed much of the landscape including the approach road to the house, as dream-worthy a thoroughfare as you’ll find anywhere.
And today I’m dreaming of returning with the kids. The holidays would be a great time to go. The house itself may not be intrinsically interesting to children (although the lower levels with a bowling alley; indoor swimming pool; and rabbit’s warren of kitchens, laundry rooms, and servant’s quarters would probably engage young historians). But I have a feeling that 52 Christmas trees might make a tour fun for even little ones. And that’s how many you’ll find there right now. The cozy dining room looks something like this:
(In case you were hoping to replicate this look at home, I’ll point out that the ceiling is seven stories high). In addition to the trees, there are holiday lights, flowers, and good cheer abounding throughout the estate. Go at night and you’ll likely see ballroom dancers in vintage costumes and choirs singing carols. Given how magical it was to be there on a foggy October Monday, I’m guessing it’s pretty darn special to go now. The holiday display runs through January 2, and there are deals on tickets including the fact that kids under 9 get in for free – get details here. If you still need convincing:
But wait, there’s more! You didn’t think I’d write a Monday Dreaming post right now without mention my Passports With Purpose prize? Because one of the fantastic destinations that’s covered by the Smart Destinations Go Cards is Biltmore Estate along with a host of other stuff in the area that would be fun for families. Each 10 dollar donation you make to Passports With Purpose gives you one chance to win the cards (which can be used in thirteen other locales across the United States and Canada).
Many thanks to Smart Destinations for sponsoring my prize and to Biltmore Estate for hosting me on a house tour. I’m hoping they don’t mind when I show up to move in. It’s not like there isn’t room for me. Oh, and I’ll be bringing two boys who are likely to play football in the hallway – that’s OK isn’t it?
What’s your Monday Dream? Please feel free to share your link below.
Photos of the Biltmore house dining room and the front of the house courtesy of Biltmore Estate.