Appreciating all that makes America special

Travel: Biltmore House

Front facade of the Biltmore House. Flickr photo by lee-mccain-photorama.

Front facade of the Biltmore House. Flickr photo by lee-mccain-photorama.

Suppose you visited a remote town, and you thought, “I like the view here. I think I’ll buy an acre or 125,000 and build myself a modest little 250-room bungalow.” The town was Asheville, North Carolina and the bungalow is a little something called the Biltmore House.

Imagine having more than four acres under roof. With 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. All in your second home. That’s what architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead (who also created Central Park) designed and built for tycoon George W. Vanderbilt.

Biltmore small by weddingsscIt took six years to get the home to a place where Vanderbilt could move in, but construction continued for years. It included items that were almost unheard of in the 19th century, such as elevators, warm air heating, fire alarms, and intercom systems.

More than a million visitors now come to Biltmore House annually. In addition to house tours, they stay at an Inn on the property, dine at one of four restaurants, browse through the interesting shops, and enjoy the products of the Biltmore House Winery. Though the grounds are now “just” 8,000 acres (much of the rest was donated to the surrounding National Forest), its gardens and plantings are still breathtaking.

It’s called the largest private home in America. And you know what? I’m going to take their word for it. It costs $47-60 to tour the Biltmore Estate, but you’ll get a good taste in the video below.

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