Your dog is not welcome to go traipsing through America’s spectacular Gilded Age mansions of course but the thing about America’s castles is that they are usually found in the middle of extensive estates. And when the houses are opened to the public, so are the grounds. And often your dog is allowed to roam the outside of these private palaces.
Any agenda of a tour of America’s grandest homes should start with America’s biggest house, the 250-room French Renaissance-style Biltmore House, designed by Richard Morris Hunt for George Washington Vanderbilt, grandson of shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. When Cornelius died in 1877 he was the wealthiest man in America and the richest man ever to die. The Biltmore House would open in 1895 amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Outside the exuberant castle is an 8,000-acre estate that includes a forest, a farm, a winery and gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Your dog is permitted to explore just about everywhere that isn’t a building. The garden paths wind gently down a sloping mountainside from the mansion to the Boat House and Bass Pond, passing through formal gardens and naturalistic woodland and meadow plantings. Covering these serpentine trails is likely to whet any dog’s hiking appetite but if not you can take off on a paved bike path or bridle trail that winds around the gorunds. You can hike all day with your dog at Biltmore and never realize you are in the backyard of America’s largest house.
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