Friday, April 16, 2010

Biltmore Estate Tips

Having had a yearly pass the the Biltmore Estate for two years, I have been several times. This is three years in a row that I have gone right after the Masters Tournament for the Flower Celebration. Pretty cool that two of my favorite places on earth are within three hours of my house! Both of the locations are beautiful and are run well....they just seem to do things "right", though they do have their rules. I really can not think of another mansion or golf course that I would want to be at and I have seen many in the US and in Europe.

One of the rules at the Biltmore is no photography in the house. There is plenty to do there and many other places to photograph, so no worries. If you must have photos in the house, buy a book or postcards. I always recommend checking out postcards at a location to get photo shot ideas anyway. I purchased a postcard this week with snow on the ground and on the mountains, as I have not been fortunate enough to be snowed in there (not to say I have not thought of doing that!).

One of my favorite shots of the house is from the Diana statue. From there, you can see the mountains behind the house. If you are not able to walk up there, the shot from the road after ascending the steps is good. Both of these were taken from there. Notice how I added other elements to add interest (not that the "Lady on the Hill" can not stand on her own two feet!)
We were fortunate that the wisteria had begun blooming this year, so I have some nice shots of it to share in later posts.
And my favorite thing.....the walled least in spring and in the fall. Fall it is covered with mums. Winter there is nothing there. Summer, the roses are blooming and they have a lot of blooms. Of course, at Christmas the house is decorated to the max. In August, they have the Carpet of Flowers near the wisteria. There is something year round. Yearly pass holders get special deals in the winter after Christmas, like bring a friend for free and bogo tours, etc.

The Biltmore also has a winery, farm, dairy, bike riding, tours you can take, an Inn where you can stay, hiking, We are still doing things that we have not done in the past two years!
Go to the garden early and check to make sure it isn't school field trip day. Thursday, there were school children everywhere, running in the garden, etc. I was glad we got there early. It can also get hot. Take you a bottle of water and snack. A gardening knee pad is good if you are taking closeups. Take time to record things that are happening, like all the new plants they were putting in when I was there. Make sure you have a monopod or tripod if you use those and your lens hood. I forgot my monopod and lens hood, so I paid the price for that mistake! The conservatory is a wonderful place for photographing flowers and vignettes, as well as visiting the garden shop and sampling some of the Biltmore treats (spreads and drinks). They also have demonstrations at the garden center.

After you are done in the garden, go to the house and take as little as necessary in with you. It is a lot of walking and stairclimbing (there is an elevator for the handicapped). I did have my small camera as I have been known to sneak photos of the spiral staircase. I had my id and some money. I believe they have timed entry all the time now. They will also take your photo in front of the winter garden. This week, they gave me a card so I can download the photo (for free) on to Facebook, or can purchase the already printed photo. I also was able to pick up a free photo of the Biltmore with that card at the Winery. Usually, I just tell them I don't want a photo, but for free stuff, why not! I did not like the photo so I did not load it on Facebook but I did load all the photos I took on to Facebook. I will also be sharing some of them here with photography tips. If you like wine, they have a lot of wine tastings so you might enjoy that. I stick with the spreads, of which I like the key lime and strawberry and of the dressings, I bought the vinaigrette that was only 20 calories! Very tasty!

Also, watch your camera all the time and be touching it. It is not likely that you camera will be stolen at the Biltmore, but while I was at the Biltmore Legacy in the new Antler Village, watching a movie, a man swung his leg over the bench to leave and drug my camera to the floor with a thud. He instantly offered to pay to replace it if it was broken ($3000), but luckily, the strong housing kept it safe. From now own, that strap will be around my arm even if the camera is laying on the bench. That was very scary!

So those are just some tips if you are fortunate enough to get to visit. I know one reader said she was going in June. Anyway, I will have a lot of photos to share in the next week and I also did my waterfall circle, so I will see if I got any good shots on that.

Hope everyone is enjoying wonderful spring weather!!
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Heide said...

Such a beautiful place. How lucky you are to be so close. We were just there about a week ago. I did not get to go up by the the "Dianna". Due to the fact that I sprained my ankle at Antler hill village.
I did get some pretty shots on the grounds. Your Pictures are lovely!

JANLYNN said...

Thanks sooo much for these tips as it was I that had told you that I am going in June. It will be my first trip ever and I am so excited. I am going with my Master Gardener group ( a 55 person bus trip). Our local UT educational center head horticulturist is planning our trip and will be there with us to act as guide.

Jan Castle said...

Such a lovely place...and lucky you getting to visit several times a year. I have only been once and hope to go again...sometime! Thanks for the reminder of the beautiful memories Holly.

Jenni said...

Thank you for all the information. I went when I was young. I want to take my kids for Christmas. I think they will be amazed. I want to go see the flowers though. :)