*Thanks Biltmore Estate for hosting us!
It’s easy to picture weddings, anniversaries and other elegant couples getaways at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Adults regularly enjoy the home that George Vanderbilt first opened in 1895. What about the kids? Biltmore recently gifted me a chance to visit and experience a visit through my children’s eyes. Having previously toured America’s Largest Home without them and recalling how long it took, I was concerned about ways to prevent boredom; luckily the Biltmore staff had already thought of that.
The Vanderbilt family dog, a Saint Bernard named Cedric, has inspired Biltmore tours for kids. Cedric’s Sniff-and-Seek Treasure Hunt offers little hands an activity booklet to hold onto and rhyming riddles to read. For an added fee, individual devices give audio tours voiced by none other than Cedric himself. They run just a little shorter than the audio tour recordings for adults and make sure to point out fun features like hidden doors. My youngest was so intrigued by Cedric’s description of hidden doors to locate, that she eventually thought every oversized door she spotted was a “secret passageway!” Those doors and the mysteries they held were my kids’ favorite details of the tour.
The estate does not typically allow indoor photography, so we don’t have photos from that part of our visit. Outdoors, around the seemingly endless acres of gardens, walking paths and woods, there are plenty of photo opportunities for families.
We brought the girls’ bicycles but ran out of time to explore the winding trails that lace along much of the rolling 8,000 acres. Bikes are also available for rent. At Antler Hill Village, they found another mode of transportation to try.
We met blacksmith Doc Cudd in Antler Hill Village and watched him craft one of his famous ironwork leaves. The crowd watched intently as he showed us several steps in the process. Cudd explained, “I never worry about how long anything takes, only about what it looks like when it’s finished.” Cudd is the master craftsman who forges replacements for ironwork pieces at the Biltmore house.
The encore to the blacksmithing demonstration was a few minutes of anvil music.
Simple games that Vanderbilt daughter Cornelia might have played growing up are available to try on the lawn.
The converted open air horse barn includes thoughtful play stations for the youngest visitors.
Pisgah Playground offered a casual place for picnicking.
The playground overlooks Antler Hill Village and another dining choice, Cedric’s Tavern.
In a setting known for yesterday’s elegance, the simplicity of a rustic playground offers little feet another way to keep busy. Families planning a getaway will find that children 9 and under are admitted free to Biltmore Estate with a paying adult.
Yesterday’s life on the Biltmore farm and today’s new twist on a green legacy.
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