Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Biltmore Estate and Charleston, SC

Last week my mom and I returned from our third mother-daughter vacation. I planned the trip and she had no idea where we were going.

Our first stop was the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. 

The house and surrounding gardens are extraordinary. The estate was our favorite attraction of the week. Each night of the trip we watched an episode of Downton Abbey. The show is fantastic and made estate living come to life. I am pretty sure I could handle being an heiress. 

The attention to detail inside and out of the house impressed us. (We were not able to take photos inside, but I purchased a few postcards to commemorate the experience.) Every stone carving around each window and pillar was uniquely sculpted.  

After touring the house we explored the grounds. The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York's Central Park. We enjoyed the fresh air and catching a glimpse of spring. 

I loved these giant canopied vines almost as much as that view. I can only imagine how beautiful this terrace will look when the wisteria is blooming.

My dream house will have a glass conservatory where I can drink my morning coffee and read a book. (It doesn't have to be quite this big!) I look forward to returning to the Biltmore someday when the gardens are in full bloom. 

Our next leg of the journey brought us to Charleston, South Carolina. This is the first place I have visited in the United States that has such old history and character that I was reminded of my trips to Europe. Every nook and cranny is filled with another charming architectural element or garden. The addition of palmettos and the warm ocean breeze made me appreciate this city even more.

Michael Trouche toured us around Charleston and taught us about Charlestonian’s history and culture. One of the stops on our tour was St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, which was built in the 1750’s. The cemetery of the church contains the remains of two signers of the U.S. Constitution.

On Friday we visited Drayton Hall, a plantation house built in 1742.

Unlike many historic homes, Drayton has been preserved “as is.” The fact that the main room has only been painted four times over the course of 270 years intrigued me. Surely they would get sick of the same color over the course of sixty seven years?!?! 

After touring the home, we listened to a talk about the slave trade, life at Drayton as a slave, and emancipation. The discussion was very informative and I found that I need to brush up on my U.S. history.   

After leaving Charleston, we drove to Atlanta to see my good friend Katie. Mom and I had a nice time visiting with Katie, her parents, and boyfriend. They took us downtown and we ate some tasty jambalaya. Unfortunately this lousy iPhone photo is the only picture I snapped to document our visit. 

Up until this point, the vacation fun and weather had exceeded our expectations. Mom says I saved the best for last… On the last night of our trip we stayed in the Wigwam Village in Cave City, Kentucky. It is a piece of roadside Americana that I felt we could not pass up. The wigwams were built in 1937 and are in need of an update. Mom could not stop laughing for a good hour after we arrived. Unfortunately the heat was not working in our small tepee. Yes, I could have complained and asked to switch “rooms,” but I was feeling non-confrontational. In retrospect, with the right mindset and working heat, staying in an old wigwam can be an interesting part of a vacation. On Monday morning we crossed back into Indiana and were greeted by snow! Overall it was a fantastic trip and I hope we can go on more adventures in the future. 


  1. Beautiful! I have a sister who lives in Asheville. Last summer my husband and I went to visit her and went to the Biltmore one day. Couldn't get over how huge that place was! I think we might still have a bottle of wine left from the winery, too. I bet the weather was a bit more bearable this time of year!

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