Continued from part two of our adventure in Gatlinburg…although neither of these locations are in Gatlinburg.
Most extravagant: Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Just 2 hours drive from Gatlinburg, the Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in the U.S. Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, the home is a mere 175,000 square feet, has 250 rooms and sits on 8,000 acres.
Must stop at the Biltmore ice cream parlor for a scoop (or two), or go for the banana split. The girls had a major melt-down inside the Estate. There is no air conditioning and it was hot; and the smell of perfume and sweat was more than they could take. They had much better attitudes once we got some sugar in them!
Afterwards, stroll through the English style gardens. These pictures were taken right before the sky opened up and started pouring.
Nicest McDonald’s: in Asheville, NC near Biltmore Estate featuring a grand piano, 2 fireplaces, and tin ceiling.
Worth a day trip: Chattanooga, TN. We visited the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Train Station. We met friends for lunch who live nearby. You can’t ride the train there (you can ride a train that is located across town), but you can spend a night in one of the train cars. Cool.
Sweet Chattanooga: specialty cupcakes at Chattanooga Cupcakes.
And, don’t forget to stop at the Moon Pie general store for a t-shirt, or Moon Pies and RC Cola. We were full on cupcakes, so we only bought a t-shirt, but I love Moon Pies! Besides, I was afraid they would melt in the heat.
Sometimes I think family vacations are over-rated. I tend to envision the trip in my head before we go and then when it doesn’t live up to my “dream” I get frustrated and disappointed. The reality is, the kids scream at each other, sometimes they are hateful. Hubby and I have short words for one another. We get lost despite having a map and MapQuest directions, and that frustrates everybody. None of us get enough sleep and we get impatient but, fortunately, I don’t take pictures of the melt-downs so I can easily forget them! (wink) But there are great times too. No family is perfect and no family vacation is without it’s challenges. That is way when I get home, after I unpack, I start planning our next trip like a fool…