When we first planned our day trip to the Biltmore Mansion, we didn’t think it was a big deal to bring along our one-month-old. I mean, it’s not like he was walking, talking, or eating food at this point. If we didn’t go now, we probably wouldn’t go for a while, so we went for it. Because, you know, we dared to adventure.
If you’ve never been to the Biltmore Mansion, it’s this massive house built by the Vanderbilt family located in Asheville, NC. Not only is the house itself enormous, but the property is also huge – covered in gardens, horseback riding trails, restaurants, and more. Asheville is also a cool place just on its own, but we won’t get into that in this post. Another conversation for another time.
Back to the Biltmore. We chose to take our first trip on the 4th of July. Let me tell you, North Carolina summers are pretty typical southern summers for the most part – hot, humid, and sticky – and this was the case when we went. While the Biltmore has a ton to offer, there are some things to be wary of, especially when you’ve got a baby or young kiddos tagging along.
There’s no air conditioning. OK, this one might have been expected because of how old the house is, but it didn’t click with us until we were there. My husband, bless him, wore thick jeans and work boots. Not a great combo for walking around an old house with no air conditioning in the middle of a July day in the South. Each room you go in does have a fan, which is nice, but it’s one of those small stationary fans that ends up cooling your ankles really nicely because it’s sitting on the ground. Didn’t really do much for my sweat circles forming in all the wrong places.
Those fans were AMAZING for Granger, though. We ended up leaving our stroller on the ground floor and just carried him around the house. While his extra body heat wasn’t the greatest thing ever, we were able to put Granger directly in front of the fan in each room for a few minutes. This helped keep him (and us!) cool as we took our tour.
Bring a light stroller. I know I said we left our stroller and carried Granger through the house, but you still definitely want to have the stroller, if you plan on seeing any of the gardens and not dying of heat exhaustion from having another human strapped to you. We made the mistake of bringing our jogging stroller. While I LOVE our jogging stroller, that thing is big and hard to maneuver is small spaces. In the gardens, you have to go up and down several stairs (not large staircases, but staircases nonetheless).
Lugging our huge jogging stroller up and down got to be pretty miserable. We ended up cutting the gardens a little short to be able to make it back to the car without being completely soaked through all of our clothes. Cutting things short is always a last resort, but it was definitely the best option for us on this day. We’ll go back and finish those gardens, though, don’t worry!
Eat the Ice Cream. Listen, if you go in the summer, you’re going to want to eat the ice cream. There’s this really cool shop as you walk into the courtyard of the mansion. There are gift shops (that have air conditioning!), bathrooms, and a restaurant in them. Before you get to that entrance though, there’s an ice cream shop. First of all, the answer to ice cream is always yes, but this ice cream was pretty dang good, so you need to be prepared to wait in line.
My husband, TJ, went to get our ice cream while I grabbed us a table. The tables do have umbrellas, so you can enjoy your lunch and dessert under a little bit of shade, which is a plus! TJ got the cookies n’ cream flavor and mine was moose tracks, but there was a wide array of flavor portfolios to try. Trust me, say yes to the ice cream.
*Pro Tip – ice cream is discounted with a current military I.D.!
Nurse by the bathrooms. I’m not recommending you to nurse IN the bathroom here, just next to the entrances. It sounds kind of odd, but you’ll just have to trust me on this. You’ll be in the air conditioned part of the mansion on the second floor of the gift shops. As you get out of the elevator, there’s this nice size room where you’re facing the bathroom entrances. On either side of the room, though, are these neat antique-style couches that are pretty comfortable. This is where I’m saying you should breastfeed.
It’s not hidden away or anything like that, but it isn’t front-and-center, either. Besides, most people getting on and off the elevator have a pretty have one of two thoughts on their minds – go to the bathroom or get back to touring. As a result, nobody pays much attention to these couches. There are most certainly other places where you can grab a good spot and nurse, but I didn’t see any other place as comfy as the bathroom couches.
All in all, it was a successful trip, I’d say. It’s definitely difficult bringing along a little one to that environment, but we had a great time and definitely don’t regret it. Sure we were near strangers in a pretty tight area, it was hot as all get out, and we didn’t pack the best equipment, but at the end of the day, we crossed off another new experience.
Apparently, there is a beautiful Christmastime tour at the Biltmore that we definitely want to do. It’ll be cooler in December than in July, and Granger will be a little older, so stay tuned when we dare to adventure back!