I barely slept at all our first night in Asheville. I was so excited to be on vacation for the first time in four years! And I always have difficulty sleeping away from home. However, the breakfast buffet in the morning more than made up for my lack of sleep. Lex and I are both huge fans of buffets – not only do we get to choose whatever we want, but we can eat as much of it as we can fit in!
As soon as we finished breakfast we headed off to see the Biltmore Mansion. George and Edith Vanderbilt built the Biltmore in the late 1800’s on 8,000 acres. I can only dream of that much land! I can’t say I’d want to clean the 135,000 sq ft house, though. (Although, the two-story library might make it worth it.) Since we were going in the off-season, I was able to get tickets for the three of us for $60 – that includes a tour of the mansion, the gardens and Conservatory, the farm, winery, and Antler Hill Village for shopping and restaurants. A pretty good deal, I think!
After driving down the incredibly long, winding driveway, we found a place to park. Coming around the corner, the mansion was even bigger than I expected. With 255 rooms, I suppose it would have to be! Out of the 255, we probably saw 25. I can’t imagine what purpose you could have for so many rooms (maybe five rooms set aside just for shoes?), but the ones we did go see were fascinating! Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me take pictures inside, but I got some good outdoor shots! The second one is a view from one of the home’s balconies. I would love to wake up to that every morning!
I liked walking through the gardens and the greenhouse as much as the mansion itself. If we had come a few weeks later, all of the outdoor gardens would have been in bloom, but while we were there, mostly everything was still hibernating. Inside the greenhouse was amazing, though! I didn’t even know flowers could look like the ones growing in there. No flowers I plant ever turn out that pretty!
After we toured the house and gardens, we had lunch at a little outdoor cafe and then drove over to Antler Hill Village where they had a farm with a petting area, some exhibits including Edith Vanderbilt’s car, and a winery. We took the wine tour before we left, but didn’t stay for the tasting. I’d never been on a tour like that before, but I’d definitely do it again!
After we left the Biltmore Mansion, we went back to downtown Asheville for some shopping. Our first day when we tried to go shopping, we didn’t get to do much because I didn’t realize that most of the shops close at 5:30. One in particular that I’d been recommended to was the Mast General Store that’s been around since the 40’s. I have an antique suitcase that I like to put stickers on from everywhere we travel to, and I was told this place would probably carry touristy stuff like that. I didn’t find my sticker there, but I did find some cute Cracker Barrel-esque stuff for my kitchen.
After doing some more shopping and finally finding my sticker at one of the boutiques downtown, we had dinner at Ed Boudreaux’s Bayou BBQ. I was so exhausted by the end of the day. I don’t think I’ve ever walked/stood that much in one day before. I grabbed a couple pictures of downtown, though, before we headed back to the hotel. I love the one of the side of the building. This town is so artistic!