I now have a ridiculously unrealistic expectation for the house Dan and I will have.

Biltmore Estate, Asheville

The Biltmore Estate, located in Asheville NC, is an iconic mansion that was opened on Christmas Eve of 1895 by George Vanderbilt. Remarkably, descendants of Vanderbilt, who make it their mission to preserve the estate, still privately own the Biltmore.  Well worth the ticket price of $69, admission to the Biltmore Estate grants you access to three grand floors of banquet halls, sitting rooms, and living quarters. Each room is impeccably dressed, and the preservation remains true to the original style during the Biltmore’s creation.  Dan and I gave ourselves a self-guided tour while reading our guidebook and talking to the hosts in each room for additional information. Although the house is HUGE, we were easily able to pick out our favorite rooms. Dan’s preference was the bowling alley; we have no idea why it took them so long to discover this brilliant game but the Biltmore housed one of the very first ones.  My personal choice was the gorgeous library, covered from ceiling to floor in dusty books. Unfortunately, all the books were pretty dry, consisting of collections detailing European Etiquette and gaming techniques, and Dan was fairly certain he found one of the first editions of Webster’s dictionary. We had a great time exploring the mansion, and while we could go on and on about what we learned (like they used to wear goggles while automobiling, the house has 43 indoor bathrooms while many houses of the same time were lucky to have outhouses, or that D.C. used the estate to house priceless artwork during World War II) we won’t bore you with all the details.

Although you can’t take pictures inside, the views from the porches are gorgeous, so make sure to have a camera handy to capture the scenes of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

A Cruising Couple, Biltmore, Asheville

Biltmore, Asheville

After our tour of the actual house, Dan and I headed to the gardens for a picnic. We found a secluded tree and spent a couple of hours snacking on cheese and crackers. The gardens are gorgeous and you can easily spend a full day either napping, hiking, or biking on the estate.

A Cruising Couple, Biltmore Gardens, Asheville

We finished up our tour of the Biltmore by heading over to the winery for a complementary wine tasting. We quickly made friends with a couple of fellow wine enthusiasts from Oregon, and jotted down some notes on things to do and see when we are in Portland (check back later to see how the recommendations turn out). Somewhere amidst our numerous conversations word got around that we were newlyweds, and we were quickly ushered over to the premium wine tasting, compliments of the Biltmore. We love free stuff, and thoroughly enjoyed our special treatment while sipping on champagne. I could definitely get used to life at the Biltmore.

Biltmore Wine Tasting, Asheville

After thoroughly enjoying the luxuries of the Biltmore, Dan and I spent the following afternoon exploring downtown Asheville. Being avid travelers, we try to avoid labeling cities before we explore them ourselves. But Asheville really does live up to its stereotypes, sending out ‘hippy vibes’ in all directions. Every corner houses a store declaring its love for organic and local products, and you don’t have to walk too far before seeing some teenagers sporting dreads and playing drums. But what Asheville is most known for is its plethora of microbreweries. Recorded as the city with the most microbreweries per capita in the United States, there is no shortage of corner bars with local beers on tap. We decided to have our own “Brews Cruise” (rather than paying $40 each to learn about local beers) and we sampled a few local recommendations that included places such as Jack of the Wood, Asheville Brewing Co and the Wedge.

Our favorite was easily Asheville Brewing Co, and we would suggest sampling their Escape Artist beer, brewed with jalapeño peppers. It definitely has a kick to it!

Asheville Brewing Company

We finished off our night at the UJ (after a ridiculously long walk) where we grabbed some grub. After a satisfying dinner we hopped in the car to make it to Knoxville by midnight, our stepping stone for Nashville. Country Music Hall of Fame here we come!