Largest home in the United States.  250 rooms.  8,000 acres. This is the Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina. While the French chateau is quite impressive, the estate has a lot more to offer.  Walk through the gardens.  Take a horseback ride.  Or walk your dog.  Yes, dogs are allowed to visit the estate, too.  They can’t go in the house, but they’re welcome to visit the gardens with you.  I love it!

A slice of the Biltmore

The outside of the spiral staircase

Outside the library

The details are amazing

The Biltmore Estate was opened to the public during the depression by George Vanderbilt’s daughter with the intent of raising funds to maintain the estate and drawing tourists to the area.  They continue to expand the attraction, with a shopping and dining village now onsite, as well as a winery.  Be sure to stop in for a free wine tasting.

I visited the Biltmore in the fall, long after the height of the bloom season.  There were still plenty of beautiful plants and flowers to see in the gardens and conservatory.  While the myriad of roses in the walled garden and famous collection of azaleas must be fantastic in June and July, the late summer show from the cannas, grasses, and coleus was mesmerizing as well.

Portal view of the walled garden

Vibrant colors in the walled garden

Isn't this turtle cute?

As you enter the estate and make your way towards the mansion, you will drive through a serene woodland area that was fully planned and established as a naturalistic garden.  Experienced gardeners will recognize it as a planned experience, but this does not detract from the peace that you feel as you travel the one-way lane on your way to the mansion.  In the immediate vicinity of the mansion, there are four main garden areas…the Italian water garden, the natural garden, the walled garden, and the flower carpet.  The flower carpet warrants a bit more explanation.  It is a sunken garden area adjacent to the mansion that is replanted every year in a different design.  The year of my visit, the flower carpet was planted to depict a stained glass window.   There is also a wonderfully designed conservatory adjacent to the walled garden.

Flower carpet with the mountains beyond

The Conservatory

There were a few roses in bloom; June-July would be a better time to experience them

I want one of these seating arrangements in my backyard

The first thing to greet me inside the mansion was the winter garden conservatory.  It’s one of my two favorite places in the mansion.  The glass dome with rich wood frame was spectacular.  The other place I really love is the indoor pool in the basement.  I’m not sure why it intrigued me so much.  Maybe because it was so cozy with the white tiles, close ceiling, original lighting, and the adjacent dressing rooms.  I’m sorry you won’t see any pictures from my tour of the mansion in my post…photos are not allowed indoors.

What intrigues you about the Biltmore?  Have you been there?  Hope to go someday?  Do you think it’s over the top?  Add your comments below!

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