If you ever get the chance to visit the beautiful state of North Carolina be sure to put Asheville and surrounding areas on the list to see. A must see in Asheville is the famous Biltmore Estate, as known as America’s largest home, featuring an inn, outdoor activities, beautiful gardens, shops, restaurants and a winery. The entire estate is 8,000 acres, while the house itself covers four acres totaling 175,000 square feet and has 250 rooms. No one has lived in the house since the 1950’s, but several movies have been filmed there including: Richie Rich, The Swan (with Grace Kelly) and Hannibal. At least four United States presidents have visited the Biltmore Estate over the years along with many other famous people. You can take a guided tour and learn interesting details about the family, architecture and furnishings and you can take a self-guided tour through the winery and enjoy a free wine tasting. If you are planning to visit the Biltmore be sure to take note of the special events that take place year around. There are admission fees that vary during the year and the winter season. Several things are extra like the guided tour of the house and roof top viewings. If planning a trip it would be beneficial to check out their website, www.biltmore.com, to see about ticket costs and reservations.
Also while in Asheville, North Carolina you might want to visit a few other locations. The Botanical Gardens is a beautiful 10 acre garden of plants that are native to the Appalachian Region of North Carolina. A bonus is the admission is free. The French Broad River features beautiful scenery, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Lots of wildlife and waterfowl reside near this river. New Morning Gallery represents 500 American artists that are featured over a 13,000 square foot building. You can view pottery, art glass, jewelry, home accessories and furniture. The North Carolina Homespun Museum is also located in Asheville and preserves photos and artifacts of the history of the Biltmore Industries and the people involved.
Located at Chimney Rock, North Carolina, just 25 miles Southeast of Asheville is a popular tourist spot known as Chimney Rock Park. It is a family owned Natural Heritage Site encompassing over 1,000 acres. There is an admission fee. For adults it is $14.00, group rate is $11.50 per adult. Children (ages 6-15) is $6.00 and the group rate is $5.00 per child. Children under the age of 6 are free. If there is inclement weather the rates are reduced to $9.00 for adults and $5.00 for children. The park features a gorgeous 404 ft. waterfall, five different nature trails, a tourist shop and a 26 story elevator inside the mountain taking you to a breath-taking view. Many wedding ceremonies have taken place on Chimney Rock.
The famous Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs near Asheville, North Carolina connecting the Great Smokey Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, is worth the drive. It is known as America’s most scenic drive and is 469 of toll-free miles overlooking mountains, forests, wildlife and wildflowers. 252 miles of this parkway is in North Carolina.
One other amazing site to see, which is about 70 miles from Asheville, North Carolina, is Grandfather Mountain. It is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Range reaching 5,964 feet above sea-level. An 80 foot mile high swing bridge was built in 1952 and then reconstructed in 1999. The term “mile-high” is in reference to its 5,280 ft above sea-level. It is a suspension bridge meaning it will sway as people walk on it and when the wind is blowing. If the weather is inclement the bridge is closed to the public. There is an admission fee of $13 for Seniors (60+), $15 for Adults (13-59), $7 for Children (4-12) and free for children under 4. Also there are picnic areas, a museum, tourist shop, special activities, tours and more to take advantage of.