Family Travel Tips: The Biltmore with a Baby

B and I love traveling. We’ve been around the globe together, from Cambodia to Mexico City, Burlington to Los Angeles.

I’m not gonna lie, traveling has slowed down a bit since FW was born eight months ago. Since then, the only places we’ve gone outside of Cleveland have been New York to see my family and Columbus for a weekend getaway. But we finally got in a little family vacation, with a trip to Asheville and Atlanta.

One of the highlights of Asheville was the trip to the Biltmore. If you haven’t been before, I highly recommend it. AND if you’re traveling with a baby – it’s definitely doable! Here are some tips to make it work:

5 Tips to Experiencing The Biltmore with a Baby

1. Go early. We bought tickets for 9 a.m. and got to the house around that time. It was great- not only was it nearly empty (look at all my photos – where are all the people?!) but it was prime time for FW. He is a morning person and naps well in the a.m. so going there when he was in a good mood – and then sleepy – was perfect! He was great for the self-guided house tour and even napped a little bit.

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Selfie when got there. See – nobody on the lawn or anywhere!

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Snoozing in the Halloween room at the Biltmore

2. Buy tickets in advance.

Don’t waste time going to the ticket office the day-of your visit. You’ll either waste time in line or not be able to get in and see the house when you want (fact- this happened to B and I a few years ago when we first went to Asheville around Christmastime. We went to get tickets the day of and they were sold out!). Instead, buy tickets in advance. I’ve been told that some AAA offices sell discount tickets (not the ones in Cleveland, sadly), but if you buy your tickets more than week in advance, the Biltmore often offers a discount. And if you’re going with a baby, great news – they’re free!

3. Travel light.

My definition of “traveling light” has changed significantly since FW was born. Babies need so much stuff! But for the Biltmore, since I knew we’d be walking around a lot and have a baby to carry, I wanted to bring as little stuff as possible. And we did! In my Baggu (which has become my all-purpose FW bag) I had our Skip Hop diaper changing system with some diapers and wipes, 2 small toys, a bottle, my wallet, my Baby Bjorn and our tickets. That was it. And guess what – I didn’t even use any of the toys OR the bottle during the trip!

4. Go stroller-less if possible.

Yes, the Biltmore lets you bring in strollers (yay for them!) but there are TONS of stairs in the house. Knowing this, we opted to go stroller-less and were very happy. B wore FW in our backpack carrier (I also had my Baby Bjorn in case FW didn’t like the backpack – it was our first time using it for a long time period) and it worked out perfectly. We were able to go up all the stairs and not miss any of the exhibits. We were even able to go for a walk around the grounds, including visiting the ponds and gardens, without having to worry about the terrain, more stairs, etc. Which brings me to the last tip …

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5. Explore more than just the house.

The Biltmore is more than just the beautiful historic home. It has several gardens, a village (with a winery!), walking trails, ponds, etc. If your baby is being good, explore as much of it as possible! And if you’re going early (see tip #1), you’ll find you have much of the grounds to yourself.

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Taking in the view

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Visiting the indoor orchid exhibit

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Beautiful grounds

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FW enjoying his walk to Bass Pond

I highly recommend you visit the Biltmore the next time you’re in Asheville. It’s a great place to check out – with or without a baby!

Weekend Snapshot – From CLE to Asheville

Happy February !! B and I had a GREAT weekend filled with a 4+ hour cooking class/date night, a 8+ hour car ride with a 7 month old (not-so-great idea) and some delicious eats and sightseeing in Asheville. Some of the highlights:

B and I spent Friday night at the Gatherings Kitchen in Lakewood. The theme of the month is Viva Italia and we had such a good time at the cooking class! It’s BYOB, so we had a bottle of wine while preparing the meal – it was a four-course meal with plenty of appetizers, so I left pretty pretty stuffed!

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The way Gatherings Kitchen works is that each pair makes a course or part of a course. B and I had gotten assigned the salad course which included a frisee arugula salad with toasted garlic vinaigrette and eggs in purgatory.

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The other food included some goat cheese/bacon/bruschetta, squid ink linguine with clams, wild mushroom stuffed pork chops and cheese pastries with strawberries. I LOVED spending time at the Gatherings Kitchen and would definitely recommend it to anyone – I hope B and I get to go back soon!

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After spending Saturday in the car most of the day (okay, pretty much all day), it was good to get in some walking on Sunday. We spent Sunday morning touring the Biltmore Estate. It was a great way to spend the morning with FW – I’ll share another blog post about visiting the Biltmore with a baby, since it worked out so well!

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After our Biltmore Estate visit, we hit up the gardens. Since it was February, the outside was not in full bloom but the indoor garden had a great orchid exhibit that we were able to check out.

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We got in some brunch before we left Asheville – we had gotten reservations at The Market Place and I had an amazing banana bread French toast. B had gotten a local breakfast sandwich, and we split the two so we could enjoy sweet and savory. Definitely delicious!

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After a little shopping in Asheville (had to leave with some soap, candy and honey!), it was back on the road again.

Sunday night we had some BBQ and watched part of the Super Bowl. I didn’t really care who won and watched it mainly for the commercials, but I was cheering on Atlanta – Matt Ryan went to BC so I’ve always been a fan of his.

 

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Not your typical Super Bowl eats, but pretty good nonetheless!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever had banana bread French toast? What’s the most decadent French toast you’ve had?
  • Ever been to Asheville?

Per usual, I’m linking up with ErinKatie and the weekly wraps.

A Mini Vacation: Philly, Asheville and Nashville!

Both B and I had some time off between Christmas and January 1, so we decided to take a quick trip during our vacation. Last year you may recall we did a few days in Montreal (and they had a HUGE snowstorm) and Toronto. This year, we spent the post-Christmas holiday traveling south to Nashville! But we made a few stops on our way there.

We started off with a way-too-quick stop in New Jersey to visit a few of my family members. I haven’t seen most of them since B and I were married – which is WAAY too long – so it was great to see them, even if just for a short while.

Just a few of my family in New Jersey

New Jersey/Staten Island cousins! (a few were camera shy)

We then stopped off and spent the night in Philly, having dinner and staying with our friends Mitch and Becca. They’re both pretty amazing and both doctors, but made time to enjoy dinner with us. They also live in the cutest townhouse on the cutest street.

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how cute is their street?

After that we traveled down some more and stopped off in Virginia at Monticello to see the famous presidential home. It did not disappoint – we had a beautiful day and the walk through the grounds with the mountains in the background was amazing. Oh and the home itself is really cool!

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#selfie

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After Monticello, we stopped by downtown Charlottesville to explore the nearby area. I didn’t take any pictures, sadly – but I assure you that their downtown is REALLY cool and it made B kinda wish he had gone to UVA. Except then we never would’ve met … hmmm …

We drove a little more and spent the night in Asheville, another college town. I enjoyed Asheville – we had a seriously great meal at a Farm Burger when we arrived (which thankfully was still open – we learned the hard way that most places close by 9-10 p.m. for food!) and walked around the downtown area at night. The next morning we had a quick breakfast of some pastries from a local breakfast joint (all of the recommended brunch places had 45 min + waiting times and we didn’t want to deal with that) and local coffee and picked up some local chocolates before hitting the road to our final destination – Nashville!

Walking around Asheville

Walking around Asheville

LOCAL chocolate nom nom

LOCAL chocolate nom nom

B in the coffee shop

B in the coffee shop waiting for his typical pourover

Nashville was great. B and I had been there before so there was no rush to take in all the sights or do all the sight-seeing stuff we could in just a few days. Plus, we were staying with our friend from college Eric and his fiance so it was great to catch up with them an just hang out. I can’t believe they’re getting married this year!

Anyway, our time in Nashville mostly consisted of good food, catching up, going out and enjoying the weather.

College friends!

College friends!

the ladies

the ladies

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We even met up with a former Clevelander, Brad, who now lives in Nashville!

We made time for a run around Belmont (which was gorgeous!) one afternoon (I even wore capris! I miss the warm weather), and a visit to the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home. Yup, TWO presidential homes in ONE trip!

Our guide at the Hermitage

Our guide at the Hermitage

Yes, another presidential home. Can you tell I married a history major?

Yes, another presidential home. Can you tell I married a history major?

Oh, and a stop at the Parthenon. Yes, still in Nashville.

Parthenon! In Nashville!

Parthenon! In Nashville!

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And of course – we enjoyed some BBQ!

This was my meal.

This was my meal.

All in all, it was a GREAT mini-vacation, just what B and I needed before getting back to the grind … and the tremendous snow we’ve been having in Cleveland.

So I leave you with a picture of B and I, enjoying the SUNNY weather (no coats!!) in Nashville.
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Some questions for you, because it’s been TOO long!

  • Favorite travel snack/food? Skinny vanilla lattes and peanut m&ms.
  • Do you like your BBQ sweet or smoky? Smoky! Though Nashville’s was a combination of both – and that was yummy.
  • Taken any historical vacations?
  • How much snow do you have where you live?