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It's been called the grandest home in America.
You'll certainly want to make a visit to the Biltmore House and estate a part of your stay. The Dry Ridge Inn is just minutes away, the interstate expressway to Asheville all that separates you from an enchanted visit with the Vanderbilts, whose creative vision and gracious ways married to create this magnificent manor. Completed in 1895, George Vanderbilt's 250-room house rivaled the great houses of Europe, on which he modeled his French chateau. He and wife Edith Vanderbilt spent years traveling to outfit the house with 16th–century tapestries, art by famous painters (including Renoir) and Napoleon's chess set. Their lavishly paneled library grew to 10,000 volumes, and their banquet hall, with its 70–foot ceiling and triple fireplace and massive pipe organ, shown with the chivalry of the gilded age, the family crest displayed proudly above diners seated at the 64-place table.
The day's admission includes entrée to the estate's new Antler Hill Village, which includes the popular Biltmore Winery. Guests enjoy free tastings (and grape juice for the little ones!), as well as guided tours through the estate's cellars to learn how vintners make the assertive reds, rosy roses and clean, refreshing whites. Get a bite to eat at Cedric's Tavern in the village, and enjoy some entertainment there on the Village Green. Take advantage of Antler Hill's shopping choices to bring a bit of Biltmore back to your home.
Everyone, especially the children, will enjoy the estate's working farm at Antler Hill Village, where interpreters spin colorful tales of how the work and social lives of the employees melded in the 1890s and beyond. The staff will entertain children by helping them make crafts – activities are listed in the village barn, where gentle farm animals await a friendly scratch behind the ears.
Also at Antler Hill Village is the estate's Outdoor Adventure Center, which offers biking, carriage rides, guided horseback excursions, fly fishing classes and a Land Rover driving school, among other popular options.
You can easily spend a day (or more) on the Biltmore grounds and gardens. Designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, oft described as the architect of America's first great urban parks, the gardens burst into color beginning in April with the Festival of Flowers (the estate's website Garden Guide gives a month-by-month listing of what's in bloom).
The stateliness of the Italian Garden contrasts elegantly with the painstakingly informal look of the ancient woods (the nation's first managed forest) that surround the Biltmore House. The All America Rose Garden features more than 250 varieties, many of them heirloom varieties of those George Vanderbilt purchased for his estate in 1895. Nearby is the Conservatory, a glass-ceilinged structure designed by Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt. Inside the Conservatory is the Palm House, with its mature palms and ferns from all over the world.
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