Solo travel on Christmas and Thanksgiving in the USA
can leave you hungry.
Unlike summer or fall national holidays which are peak vacation times, Christmas and Thanksgiving often find travelers close to home. Stores and restaurants close early and the familiar casual restaurants that are prevalent in the USA are not available.
My trip to Myrtle Beach, NC last year was a shock when you could only find coffee at the few open gas stations and one star bucks with a very long line. Dinner posed the same problem. The few restaurants were over crowded and not ‘solo friendly’. Happily a massive Chinese restaurant was open and full!
So this year I selected Asheville, North Carolina for my holiday adventure. From previous visits I knew it was a pedestrian friendly city with many downtown hotels. But I made a BIG mistake. Always pick a hotel with a full service restaurant! Even fast food restaurants closed early…..plan ahead.
Nevertheless, a visit to Asheville for Christmas included a visit to the massive Biltmore estate and ground are.well worth the trip.
You will find far more information and facts at the Biltmore House site, I shall only share a solo visitors’ experience at a very popular site in Asheville, North Carolina.
|Approach the mansion from expansive lawn|
Wikipedia has a great detailed description of the largest primate home in the USA with more than 250 rooms and 40+ bathrooms on over ‘8,000’ acres. Even the winter views of the mountains and expansive grounds were captivating. However, I was here to see the building. Not the usual tourist goal, but after visiting many outstanding palaces and museums in Europe, the comparison to this massive property would be interesting.
|My favorite room is the palm court just off the entrance hall|
|The building construction (to me) is as interesting as the decor. Through this fascinating ceiling and support beams you can view wonderful grotesques many with unique expressions.|
|Try to remember to look up so you dont miss the details|
|The multi story stair case, according to a docent, was designed so women descending would not show their ankles|
|The massive dining room is said to seat up to 64 guests|
The public rooms designed for entertaining, were wonderful without the ‘gold’ covering you find in other palaces or billionaire condos.
Special guests may have been assigned to the larger rooms with private baths:
|The library holds a portion of the collection|
The owners suite
Mrs. Vanderbilt’s rooms
Although additional tours will show you the roof or servants portion of the home you can see a great deal in the basement: kitchens, laundry, bowling alley, indoor heated pool, gym and underground halls and back staircases on the general house tour.
After walking over a mile and dogging the crowds attempting to photograph some of the rooms, I opted for a visit to the stable shops, cafes and the gardens. One of the red coat (guest helpers) told me about 6k visitors came one day this week!
The views from the terraces and most of the rooms are captivating.
Exterior of building
Vanderbilt toured Europe for ideas for his ‘masterpiece’.
This part of the home reminds me of the Bovolo staircase in Venice.
The front lawn!
A view from the conservatory up to the house
Consider a two day visit so you can include the outlying villages that require a short drive from the main house.
You can hike the many trails on the property and although I saw people with bikes the roads within the estate are narrow and without bike lanes or any walking trails.
This was a disappointment since you can not walk from the property to the other parts of the estate. However there are several cafes and restaurants adjacent to the main house and much of the area is flat and easy to navigate. (note: I only saw an elevator to the second floor of the house so inquire if you need these services)
And of course more carvings:
After walking over a mile and dogging the crowds attempting to photograph some of the rooms, I opted for a visit to the stable shops, cafes and the gardens.
Additional architectural carvings: