One of the most lovely places our family has ever explored is the Biltmore Estate located in Asheville, North Carolina. We’ve been to this breathtaking destination before in the springtime when the gardens on the grounds and the surrounding Asheville area were in their full blossoming glory. Emily was especially enamored with the beauty of this Blue Ridge Mountain paradise.

 

The sprawling estate covers 8,000 acres filled with open spaces and picturesque, park-like landscapes. After seeing the Biltmore Estate in the spring, Emily asked for an opportunity to return and see how the place looked during the Christmas season. We decided to make the trip and were all eager to find out what kinds of holiday decorations would grace the luxurious grounds and mansion. We had heard that there would be plenty of elaborately decorated Christmas trees on display, so we couldn’t wait to see all the beauty and excitement that our visit had in store.

The Estate’s main house was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. With five acres of floor space, this opulent country mansion, patterned after the royal dwelling Château de Blois in France, is thought to be the largest private home ever built in the United States. The landscape architect who designed the Biltmore grounds was Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed such famous parks as Central Park in New York City and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The grounds are characterized by variety, with wooded areas, grassy, rolling hills, and 75 unique formal gardens. In the wintertime, the Biltmore landscape is transformed into a winter wonderland!

First Snow of 2017
We had pre-planned our winter visit to the Biltmore Estate. Those who sign up for the Christmas tour are required to purchase tickets in advance. As it turned out, our trip to the Estate coincided with the first snowfall of 2017 in our area! We left a full day early in order to make sure we would safely reach Asheville before the predicted winter storm swept across the region. We spent the night in a nearby hotel, and woke up to find about six inches of snow lying on the ground outside our window! Since we live in Atlanta, six inches was the deepest snowfall Emily had ever seen. She was overjoyed. The surrounding landscape looked stunning while covered in a blanket of clean, white snow.

Driving through a Winter Wonderland
As we arrived at the Biltmore Estate, we turned onto a lovely lane that started at the edge of the Biltmore Village. It wound across a scenic three-mile stretch to the pillars situated on the home’s Front Lawn. The entire area was coated with fresh, downy flakes of snow, creating a captivating winter scene!

The road was lined with tall evergreens and a little creek ran beside it. Out in the open fields we saw bales of hay covered in heavy snow. Emily was intrigued by the tracks she discovered from various animals dotting the snowy landscape. She also enjoyed seeing the beautiful birds flying around and searching for food.

As we approached the entrance to the mansion, Emily noticed the two stately stone lions that were there to greet us. These intricately-carved beasts are original to the property and made of rose marble imported from Italy. They’re shiny in some spots because of all the years of affection that have been poured out on them from guests running their hands on their backs and heads. Like all the many statues outside on the grounds, the statues are carefully monitored for signs of wear and tear. If the groundskeepers notice that they’re looking a bit worn, restoration experts are brought in to restore them as close to their original condition as possible.


Deck the Halls

Once we were inside the Biltmore Estate, our eyes were dazzled by the elegant, tasteful Christmas decorations we discovered throughout the halls and in every room. Each room we explored had an exquisitely-decorated Christmas tree covered with twinkling lights. Each tree had a specific theme that fit the era of the house and the room. There were a whole host of other decorations, such as large poinsettias and lovely garlands hanging from the chandeliers and doorways. In the kitchen there was an expertly-crafted gingerbread house that smelled amazing. Emily, a cooking enthusiast and food connoisseur, wished she could take just one little bite, but she refrained herself since she knew the gingerbread house was for display only!

Tasty Treats and Snazzy Souvenirs

Since her sweet tooth had been awakened in the kitchen, Emily was thankful when we made a stop at the Biltmore Confectionary shop. There were all sorts of handmade goodies to choose from, including hand dipped chocolates and lollipops. We were able to indulge in some of the delicious treats before making our way to the main gift shop to explore our shopping options.

At the Carriage House we were able to browse around and look at souvenirs such as t-shirts, mugs, and gorgeous holiday decorations. One of our favorite things to do on our family trips is to purchase souvenirs to use as Birthday and Christmas gifts. They bring back such fond memories of the special times we spend together as a family. Emily picked out a pretty Christmas ornament for Gigi (her grandma). If you see Gigi, please keep the ornament a secret, because Emily wants it to be a surprise on Christmas Day!

 

Making Snow Angels on the Biltmore Front Lawn
One of the highlights of our Christmas tour of the Biltmore was when Emily ran and frolicked through the fresh snow on the front lawn. She made a bee-line for the frozen fountain to check on the koi fish she had seen in the pond on her previous visit last spring. She then climbed up the hill that overlooks the lawn and mansion to take in the spectacular snow-covered view. Last, but not least, she flopped down in the snow and made snow angels to her heart’s content. At 19 degrees the air was chilly, but Emily was having too much fun enjoying the Biltmore winter wonderland to even notice the cold!


Additional Outdoor Activities
With all of the many outdoor activities there are to do at the Biltmore Estate, our family plans to go back again for another visit. We highly recommend this beautiful location as a fun, educational, and culturally-enriching experience for the whole family. Some of the activities visitors to the Estate can enjoy at various times throughout the year include:

  • Biking
  • Fly-fishing
  • Carriage rides
  • Horseback riding
  • Segway tours
  • River float trips
  • Land Rover Rides
  • Hiking
  • Stand up paddle boarding
  • Sporting clays

The possibilities for family fun and adventure at this national landmark seem to be almost limitless!

We hope you enjoyed reading about Emily’s adventure at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and that you’ll keep reading her upcoming articles to learn more about beautiful natural areas you and your family could explore on your next vacation.

What: Biltmore Estate
Where: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803