Before I share with you our day at the Biltmore, let me provide one more glimpse into the beauty of the North Carolina forests. Here's a 90-second video of the drive along the local highway:
What struck Pat about the Biltmore isn't that it's big, though at over 2 million square feet and 255 rooms, it's clearly the biggest in the nation. The Hearst Castle, sitting on top of a 1,600 foot hill five miles inland from the coast of California on roughly twice the total acreage, appears much more imposing as a residence. It's that Biltmore seems more designed to work as a large residence. With many more bedrooms and bathrooms, it was supported by elevators, forced-air heating, centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms, intercom system, and a housekeeper's residence containing a turn of the century vacuum cleaner, foxtail duster, and toilet bowl cleaner.
But the young couple, George and Edith Vanderbilt, lived to entertain lots of friends. A bowling alley, exercise rooms, 70,000 gallon heated indoor pool, and one of the finest private, two-story libraries in the world awaited guests.
While photographs inside are not allowed, I did quietly snap some shots with my camera dangling from my neck. The lighting was poor, and most are a bit blurred. While the Hearst Castle grounds are far more intricately-designed, you have to tip your hat to the 100,000 trees planted on the surrounding 8,000 acres (by the designer of New York's Central Park), and the 125,000 acres donated by the family to the Gispah National Forest nearby.
Here's the rest of the photos: Biltmore Estate