“The Biltmore, Decorated for Christmas” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, December 2012

Visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, December 2012

The amazing and impressive Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, North Carolina, served as the residence of George Washington Vanderbilt II and his family; and is known as America’s Largest Home.  Nestled into 100s of acres of woods – known as Biltmore Forest – with picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding it, the Biltmore House is more akin to a royal castle, and is filled with many beautiful and exquisite materialistic reflections of enormously-wealthy Americans of the 1800s.

Nativity Scene at The Biltmore, December 2012

Nativity Scene at The Biltmore, December 2012

In all, I have visited The Biltmore on three occasions, having enjoyed viewing all of the Christmas decorations there twice.  Our visit this month was a surprise for my son who is extremely impressed with this majestic and astounding home.  Experiencing the festive and holiday atmosphere of this gigantic house is very memorable, what with the 57 Christmas trees throughout the home, as well as all of the lights, pointsettias, the nativity scene, and other decorations. 

At the Main Entrance to The Biltmore House, December 2012

At the Main Entrance to The Biltmore House, December 2012

The expense to visit the home is considerable, and thus, the reason that we have not visited often.  Photographs by visitors are also not permitted, and the staff is quick to make a fuss about it.  However, I captured a few memories of our visit, some of which are reflected within this article.  After all, the visit is much more pleasant if one is able to take with them some personal, photo mementos.  It would definitely make the visit more pleasant if visitors could take pictures, especially since the staff desires to photograph every visitor and sell the pricey photos to them as souvenirs.

Holiday Scene at The Biltmore, December 2012

Holiday Scene at The Biltmore, December 2012

In all for this visit, my son and I spent about four hours at The Biltmore, with two hours spent touring it’s several floors and many rooms.  We always enjoy seeing the great dining room with it’s high ceiling, beautiful artwork and furniture, and wonderful artifacts.  The library is always an impressive room with it’s many books, stacked within numerous shelves that it takes a ladder to a balcony-type level to reach at least half of them. 

At the Main Entrance to The Biltmore House, December 2012

A Christmas tree at The Biltmore, December 2012

The basement area that houses the bowling alley and former indoor swimming pool – as well as the kitchen and other areas, including sleeping quarters of maids and butlers – is also very interesting and neat to view. 

Partial View of the Indoor, Unused Swimming Pool at The Biltmore, December 2012

Partial View of the Indoor, Unused Swimming Pool at The Biltmore, December 2012

Walking throughout the home, we enjoyed viewing how it has been maintained and how areas of it have been restored, particularly those areas that involve cloth on the walls and reupholstering of the furniture.  It is great to see that those experts who care for The Biltmore have so closely-matched new upholstering to the original fabrics and patterns.

Doll and Doll Carriage at The Biltmore, December 2012

Doll and Doll Carriage at The Biltmore, December 2012

There are so many artifacts and various works of art, sculpture, statues, clocks, dolls, furniture pieces, tapestries, and other wonderful items to view at The Biltmore that, not only could one consider it an American palace, but also a museum fit for royalty. 

An Artifact in The Biltmore, December 2012

An Artifact in The Biltmore, December 2012

One can buy many books that document and record the countless artifacts with which The Biltmore is outfitted, however it is quite another wonderful experience to personally experience them.  Seeing and experiencing the many, many equisitely-fine pieces truly takes the visitor back to the time of the Vanderbilts, to only dream of contemplating their wealthy, powerful, and influential lifestyle.

Enjoying Some Artwork in The Biltmore, December 2012

Enjoying Some Artwork in The Biltmore, December 2012

With the many rooms of The Biltmore, as well as it’s many staircases – either winding, wide, or narrow – and it’s long hallways, one might easily become pleasantly lost in a maze of architectural and artistic brilliance. 

At a Beautiful Spiral Staircase, Spanning Four Floors, in The Biltmore, December 2012

At a Beautiful Spiral Staircase, Spanning Four Floors, in The Biltmore, December 2012

If it took us at least two hours to tour the home, without being plugged in to the audio devices, imagine how everything might be even more appreciated and valued by the beholder during a longer visit.  Each time that I visit The Biltmore, so much is both familiar and unfamiliar, with some items seeming as though I am viewing them for the first time, particularly since there is such a vast quantity of beautiful and impressive works within the home.

A Third Floor Room in The Biltmore, December 2012

A Third Floor Room in The Biltmore, December 2012

Next to The Biltmore House is The Stable Restaurant; an outdoor eating area; an area to purchase hot dogs, drinks, and pizza; and a number of intimate gift shops that are very crowded with shoppers during the holiday season. 

A Nativity Scene Available for Purchase at The Biltmore Christmas Store, December 2012

A Nativity Scene Available for Purchase at The Biltmore Christmas Store, December 2012

To buy are gifts galore, including a wide array of souvenirs to clothing to toys to nativity scenes to jewelry, and so much more.  The shops are decked out so festively that they are also wonderful places in which to take photos, more of which will follow in this article.

My Son in the Candy Store at The Biltmore, December 2012

My Son in the Candy Store at The Biltmore, December 2012

In all, we did very well in keeping to our budget by only spending about $20 on three souvenirs, all of which were for my son.  One cannot go into a gift shop or souvenir store and not purchase anything, especially for a child! 

Christmas Decorations and Candy in The Biltmore Candy Store, December 2012

Christmas Decorations and Candy in The Biltmore Candy Store, December 2012

However, it was difficult on our tight budget not to spend money in the Candy Store, what with all of the lovely chocolates, maple sugar candy, and luscious sweets!

My Son in a Christmas Gift Shop at The Biltmore, December 2012

My Son in a Christmas Gift Shop at The Biltmore, December 2012

Admittedly, with my favorite occasion and holiday being that of Christmas, it was also difficult not to spend money on the many festive holiday items and gifts for sale in the Christmas Shop.  It is, however, easier not to spend money when one does not have it.

A Festively-Decorated Christmas Tree in the Christmas Shop at The Biltmore, December 2012

A Festively-Decorated Christmas Tree in the Christmas Shop at The Biltmore, December 2012

Another must-see shop at The Biltmore – particularly for my son – was the Toy Store.  Chock full of toys upon toys was the fabulous Biltmore Toy Store.  There are unique toys, gifts, and gadgets for every child, including those that bring back memories of days gone by. 

Holiday Toys at The Biltmore Toy Store, December 2012

Holiday Toys at The Biltmore Toy Store, December 2012

Perhaps the biggest display of dolls that I have ever seen – besides that of my own mother – is that at The Biltmore Toy Store.  There are many lovely dolls and various other toys that one can buy there.

Some of the Dolls that are on Display at The Biltmore Toy Store, December 2012

Some of the Dolls that are on Display at The Biltmore Toy Store, December 2012

The Biltmore Estate also boasts fantastic gardens and a winery on it’s vast acreage, however we did not get to either place on this visit.  Experiencing a wet and rainy day, as well as having to travel back to the Atlanta area in Georgia from Asheville, North Carolina, we could only aford a few short hours on our weekend to enjoy the fabulous Biltmore.  Hopefully, on future occasions when we may have more time, we will be able to take in even more of the wonders of the Biltmore Estate.  Though we were set back by about $100 for this short visit, it was worth the exciting holiday surprise for my son who absolutely loves this luxurious, incredible historic home!

“Views in North Carolina from October 2009” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

Included in this article is a collection of photographs that I took while on a weekend vacation to North Carolina in October 2009.  The pictures are those that I took in Waynesville, along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Waynesville to Asheville, Asheville, and near Bryson City.  Though the views are extremely beautiful, they are much more breath-taking in person.  Photographs included are those of trees with leaves in various colors, creeks, my son, and my son at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  Enjoy!

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn View in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn View in North Carolina

Stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

My Son Holding an Orange Leaf, Waynesville, NC, October 2009

My Son Holding an Orange Leaf, Waynesville, NC, October 2009

My Son in Front of the Biltmore Mansion, Asheville, NC, October 2009

My Son in Front of the Biltmore Mansion, Asheville, NC, October 2009

How the time goes by so quickly!  I can hardly believe that three years have already passed since taking this vacation and these photographs!  My son has asked to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina each year now for the past couple of years, though due to the expense, it is not something that we can regularly do.  Hopefully, sometime when he is older and we are in an improved financial position, we can visit it again.  It is amazing!

I hope you have enjoyed this collection of autumn photos from my travels in North Carolina in October 2009.  The changing of the seasons is really beautiful, particularly with the varied leaf colors that can be viewed every year at this time in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains.  The leaves are probably at their peak colors right now, so it is a great time to go and visit the mountains in North Carolina!