Our last destination was the Biltmore Estates outside of Asheville. We've talked about going for years but it's just far enough away (and expensive enough) that we've never done it. Since it was on our way back, we finally went to see it.
The little town it's in is pretty nice - even the McDonald's looks fancy. Driving in, the grounds look pretty nice and the visitor's center/ticket area is nice too. Of course, it better be for like $70 a person. It's brilliant from the descendants of the Vanderbilts - just charge tourists a ridiculous amount to a see house they couldn't even afford to stay a night in and keep being rich!
The driveway in is very pretty - they put a lot of thought into the landscaping and after 100 years, it's still fantastic. The house itself is a Chateau-style house and is the largest privately-owned home in the United States. It's also situated on a huge piece of prime land at the base near the mountains.
We all had to admit that the self-guided tour and the length of it was pretty impressive. Everything is beautifully done and there is a lot of look at. We did rent one of the audio devices to give some more info on each room and that was well worth the price too. It does feel more home-y than you'd think and there is a lot of history with it. The planning for it was incredible and was well-executed and it's certainly worth a visit if you're in the area.
We took a very brief stroll through one part of the gardens and then we all agreed we were petering out and it was time to get home. 4 hours later a nice dinner at ZB's (that's what people in the know call Zaxby's) we were back at the house.
We got lucky (again) with the weather and everything worked out really well. We all got to see and do everything we wanted and there weren't any hiccups along the way. It definitely makes us look more forward to our trip in September, assuming the government hasn't shut down by then.
As they say at the Biltmore, "It doesn't matter how much money you have." Note: No one says this.