After many years of visiting the grand and glorious Biltmore Estate, I finally made it to their much anticipated Festival of Flowers held annually every April and May. The home is the largest private estate in the US but is open year round for the public to tour. The estate is the former home of George W. Vanderbilt of the Vanderbilt family that owns several other mansions that are open to the public as well. The 250 room mansion was open in 1895 after 6 years of work. It is still owned and ran by George’s family. In addition to the mansions, visitors can enjoy the Biltmore Winery and their famed Biltmore Gardens designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted who designed the gardens at Central Park in NY.
Only a few miles down the road, visitors can also enjoy The Smith-McDowell House . The mansion, which is the oldest surviving brick structure in Buncombe County, was built in 1840 for James McConnell Smith. The Smith family were friends of the Vanderbilt family. The home is open to the public to tour.
We also managed in 2 tours on this weekend trip! Our first night we took a tour with Ghost Hunters of Asheville . We took their downtown ghost tour. Not only do you get to hear ghost stories but you get to use those same nifty gadgets such as the EMF meters and dowsing rods just like you see Jason and Grant from The Ghost Hunters use.
Now thoroughly hooked on Segways, we took the Moving Sidewalk Tour with Wes. We toured the downtown area and since it was just John and I, and we know what we are doing, we also got to visit several historic districts.
Since our current President had ate at 12 Bones restaurant, we figured we would too. President Obama and Asheville have a thing or two to learn about ribs though. One night we had some authentic southwest cuisine at La Paz and had some home cooking the next morning at the Corner Kitchen . Both restaurants are located in the historical and charming Biltmore Village , just at the entrance of the estate. We also had pizza at Barley’s Pub and Taproom.
New to Asheville and the village, we stayed in the 4 diamond rated The Grand Bohemian Hotel . While the hotel it’s self is just beautiful, the treatment we received here was one of the worst experiences we have had in all of our years of travels. This is not the place if you do not look like you belong to a country club,
You can always count on my #1 suggestion being start by going to the CVB. Their website is www.exploreasheville.com. You can order one of their beautiful visitors guides to have in your own hot little hands. Or just browse around and see what this entire wonderful city has to offer, see what events or going on while your in town, or read articles on some of the wonderful people, places and things in one of my most favorite places.
While Asheville is known for the Biltmore Estate, and yes you should visit, there is more to see than just the big mansion. Plan to spend a long weekend or more exploring this marvelous place.
Asheville offers up year round excitement. In the winter The Biltmore Estate has their candlelight tours, nearby ski resorts are full, and the mild winter weather makes it a great time to explore. Spring brings beauty everywhere from the famed Festival of Flowers at Biltmore to wildflowers found hiking the Great Smokey Mtn. National Park. Summer brings relief from the muggy summers elsewhere in the Carolinas. Cherokee is nearby and the have their award winning play "Unto These Hills" during summer months. Fall brings people from all over the country as leaf peeping is a popular hobby and hotel fill up with people who just want to go see how nature colors this season naturally.
Look at my past journals. I have several journals on Asheville and the surrounding areas. The mountains of NC hold a special place in my heart and I love to visit and then share with all of you!
Certain times of the year, you will certainly need to make advanced reservations. Fall weekends and the last 2 weekends before Christmas through New Years are extremely poplar times to visit and it is often hard to find last minute reservations.
Love B&B’s? Asheville has plenty. Just look at the CVB website for more information.
If you’re flying in, Asheville does have an airport (AVL) www.flyavl.com. The airport is located about 15 minutes from downtown.
Unless you’re flying in and staying in the downtown area, you will need a car rental to get around. You can pick up one at the airport.
Take the I-40 drive in. It is just beautiful, especially in the fall.
You need a car to get out to the Blueridge Parkway, which is not to far away.
Once you get here, there are plenty of fun and exciting ways to get around. You can get around by Segway, trolley, foot, horseback, balloon, intertube, just to name a few.
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