November 27, 2011

Christmas at the Biltmore House

Tim and I gave the Blue Ridge Parkway another chance today and drove part of the way from its terminus at Great Smoky Mountains National Park toward Asheville, North Carolina.  The weather mostly cooperated until we reached the one-mile high point, or 5,280 feet, and then the fog set in.  We had been looking forward to the 360° view of the Great Smokies from Waterrock Knob, but all we saw was a sea of fog.  Luckily, visibility wasn’t as bad as it was last week, and the skies cleared as we descended toward Balsam Gap.  It seems that we just weren’t meant to drive much of the parkway.

Beautiful Views from the Blue Ridge Parkway

And Then, the Fog Started to Roll In

The "View" Near Waterrock Knob

And Then the Skies Started to Clear
We arrived in Asheville and promptly made our way to the Biltmore House.  There are so many superlatives associated with the Biltmore House that it’s hard to know where to start.  It is the largest private house in the United States and contains 250 rooms.  Built in 1895, the Biltmore House was the home of George and Edith Vanderbilt and is still owned by Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil.  December is a favorite time to visit because the house is decorated to the nines for Christmas.

Welcome to the Biltmore House
We couldn’t think about touring the house on an empty stomach, so we had lunch at the Stable Café in the nineteenth-century stables.  The food is surprisingly good, and I chose the Carolina barbeque, while Tim enjoyed a chicken pot pie.  Naturally, we had dessert, and the café features a sampler plate.  How perfect for us!

Barbeque and Pot Pie

A Dessert Sampler
Biltmore House is a bit overwhelming, both in size, architectural style and furnishings. Luckily, we saved our visit for today.  We were told that more than 10,000 visitors toured the house each day on Friday and Saturday.  Today, it was relatively quiet with only about 3,000 visitors.  The tour of the house is self-guided, and we were able to take our time or speed up as we liked.  It was not at all crowded, as it had been the last time I visited.

Biltmore House

Entrance Tower

View from the Balcony
The Christmas decorations are everywhere and are beautiful.  I think there is at least one Christmas tree in every room.  No tree, however, can compare with the one in the banquet hall.  It is absolutely enormous, not just in height, but also in diameter.  What is just as amazing is that the tree is replaced each month.  Christmas starts at the Biltmore in early November and lasts until January 1, so two trees are required.  I only wish that photography had been permitted in the house so I could have photographed that tree.

Even the Lion Was Decked Out for Christmas
I guess the Christmas season has officially begun for us.  It’s going to be fun touring houses that are decorated in holiday finery.  We have no idea at this point where we’ll be for Christmas, but we will enjoy the holiday throughout the month.

Kitty Wonders, "Am I Just a Pawn in Their Day to Day Lives?"


  1. I think Kitty has a checkmate figured out! ha ha

  2. LV, You are probably right. She is a very smart kitty! Sarah