In late July, we made a return trip to Asheville, NC, and stayed at Mama Gertie’s Hideaway Campground in Swannanoa, NC. This campground is on Uphill Road, and they mean it! It’s a short but winding and narrow drive from I-40 up to the entrance to the campground. Once there, it’s another narrow and winding road up to the top, depending on your site.
Once at the top, however, it’s worth the drive.
Since this was our third trip to the Asheville area, we did not go into the city. In May of 2019, we stopped by this area on our way from Richmond, VA, to Pigeon Forge. Our Working Vacation – Richmond/Asheville Edition tells all we saw and ate during that trip. Here is all about the hiking we did last year in Chimney Rock State Park, not far from Swannanoa.
Biltmore House & Gardens
This trip was all about our visit to Biltmore. The Biltmore Estate is the family home of George and Edith Vanderbilt. Completed in 1895, Biltmore is the largest privately-owned residence in America. The 8,000 acres surrounding the residence welcome visitors and guests to take a trip back to a bygone era. The elegance and opulence of the main home are a sharp contrast to the working farm and gardens surrounding it.
Others had told us to allow around eight hours to tour the home, Antler Hill (where the winery and farm exhibit is located), and walk the gardens.
- Get your tickets online and save them to your phone. I actually took a screen shot of ours which worked really well.
- We did the Enhanced Experience which gave us access to the house & gardens, audio guide for the tour, access to Antler Hill Village & Winery, and complimentary parking.
- This also included a complimentary wine tasting at the Winery – make your reservation for this at the visitor’s center near the front entrance to the mansion tour. Book this early, because they only do same-day reservations.
- Get the earliest time slot you can for the tour. We booked the 10:00 time. The main gate opens at 8:30, so we made sure we were there by then. We were able to find a parking spot that wasn’t too far of a walk. This also allowed us to tour the gardens before it got too hot and crowded.
- You are allowed to bring bottled with you into the mansion.
- The tour takes about 1-1/2 hours to complete.
- The website has loads of information, so check it out in the link above.
INTERESTING SIDE NOTES:
- While George and Edith Vanderbilt lived in lavish luxury, they did not flaunt their wealth. Edith could frequently be seen working the fields on the farm.
- They were very considerate of those who worked for them. They paid their workers a New York City wage instead of the lesser North Carolina wage.
- They encouraged many inventions that made working on the property easier, including inventing a large verticle ironing system to iron the many tablecloths and bedding sets cleaned every day.
- Edith also visited the workers staying around the property, bringing gift baskets to the family when a baby was born.
- It was because of these and other acts of kindness that many generations of families worked at Biltmore Estate.
We enjoyed our time at Mama Gertie’s and would recommend it, but we would advise getting a site at the top instead of one of the lower sites in the woods. This way you can take advantage of the amazing views.
As for Biltmore Estate, it is something everyone should experience at least once. It was like walking through a castle in England, and the tour included every part of the mansion, from top to bottom.
Next week – Bike riding around Portland, Maine, and the surrounding area
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