Biltmore Estate Memorial Day Sunset Seeking

As I mentioned last week, for Memorial Day weekend, Justin and I threw together a last minute trip visiting both the beaches of South Carolina and the mountains of North Carolina. I'm skipping ahead a bit to share with you a few images from our first night in Asheville, North Carolina.

Justin and I arrived shortly before sunset on purpose. I love shooting the sunset and I knew that the Biltmore Estate would be a fantastic place to shoot it. But Antler Hill, where our hotel was located, was an area I had not fully explored yet. And after checking in at the gate, I did not have time to head toward the mansion, which had been my original plan. To make matters worse, my husband was hangry.

I directed him to drive me as close to the sunset as humanly possible … which ended up being on the opposite side of Antler Hill as our hotel.

When we arrived at the end of the parking lot overlooking cow fields, the question became: how to shoot the sunset and still make it look pretty? Because dang the sky was pretty! but the cow fields? …

So, as I do, I got down on my hands and knees to shoot through the grass and beyond a series of bushes that I used to block the fencing and cows.

Perfect! :)

We stayed there for a good 30 minutes or so playing around with technique and angles. I shot the grass, I shot my feet, I shot flowers … I shot everything!

And just as the sun started to disappear behind the bushes, I asked my husband about climbing the hill up toward the main Biltmore Estate Hotel (another hotel on the property, but one we weren't staying in) just beyond Antler Hill Village. Could we do it? … Could I do it? Being the hangry person that he was, would he bite my head off? (Answer: close.)

image from Biltmore website
Antler Hill village in forefront (where our hotel was located),
Biltmore Estate Inn in background

Not being a strong hiker, I started making my way up the grass covered hills toward the crest. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you have a goal in mind. (Pretty pictures, ftw?) My hunger was dissipating the higher I climbed and the closer to a beautiful sunset from the hill summit I got. (I called it "practice" for European travels with friends who like to hike. Who knows if this little bitty climb actually helped!)

We passed by a "no trespassing" sign as I am prone to do when taking pictures; I kept my mouth shut knowing my husband would turn right back around.

No, no, no, no, no.

Sunset pictures must be taken!

Move forward. We'll ask for forgiveness if we're caught. That's what you do, right?

But it didn't matter. We were back on public property before too much longer. Turns out there had been a paved path that led in the same direction but was less strenuous. Oh well… #LessonsForFutureBiltmoreEstateSunsetSeekers :)

This was our view as we reached the top of the hill:

the Biltmore Estate hotel

Thanks Google for stitching this together! :)

Serene. Gorgeous. Jaw dropping.


I couldn't stop taking pictures, even if I was taking the same ones over and over again.

Finally, when I reached a huge ISO and grainy pictures became a guarantee rather than a possibility, I convinced my sweaty husband to follow me into the swanky hotel for dinner. Neither of us were really dressed for a fancy dinner, but I figured it was a touristy place anyway. The worst that could happen is that they said no and turned us away.

That didn't happen though.

For dinner, we split a glass of red wine, a plate of too many parmesan truffle fries, and a tiny steak (for a huge price!). Then we laughed out loud as we watched an old man with a cane dance to the live orchestra that was playing. He got a huge round of applause, from all of the diners who watched, when he finished.

Justin and I asked our server where the Memorial Day fireworks would be and where we could watch them for the best view. He directed us to an area just outside the hotel where he said the fireworks would be just over our heads, so close we'd feel like we were under them.

So we went.

And watched.

I began shooting with my canon 24-70 lens, but got frustrated about halfway through when I wasn't able to get the entire firework in my shot. So I switched to my Sigma wide angle leaving my camera bag unzipped…

I got better pictures and was able to fit more of the firework(s) into my shots with the wider angled lens, but the downside was that my husband unknowingly picked up my unzipped camera bag at the end of the night dropping all of my equipment onto the pavement and breaking my 24-70mm lens. :(


The $2000 one.

He was mad at me for leaving the bag open. And I was on the defensive.


Go have a drink at our hotel bar.

He got beer or whiskey or something and I? I got to try sangria for the first time! Biltmore-Estate-housemade sangria. :) (The bartender had poured extra and let me try a taste. It was the perfect amount for me, and I found myself sipping on it for the rest of the night!)

Meanwhile, my husband made friends with tourists. We got into a long and wieldy discussion about politics and the state of white supremacy in the southern United States before the night was through. In fact, the six of us (really, five of them) got so loud that the hotel manager had to come tell us to quiet down! It all ended with one of the tourists, a friendly black guy from Marietta (Georgia) giving me a hug. He couldn't decide if I was small, short, or tiny and he declared that I was stubborn; both of which were (and continue to be) very true remarks.

Oh! What a night!

Even with the temporary death of my 24-70mm lens, Justin and I had a fantastic time celebrating Memorial Day at Biltmore Estate. I will hold the memories dear for many years to come. :)

If you are considering visiting Biltmore Estates for an event (such as their summer concert series) or a fireworks show, know that it is entirely worth it! Especially if you make a day of it bringing food for a picnic or having extra money to eat at the swanky hotels and bars. You might consider taking a bike to explore the 80 miles of acreage or renting a horse for a few hours. There are even kayaks available for rafting! With so many potential exploration opportunities on the Biltmore Estate property, you won't quickly run out of things to do!

Have you ever been to Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC? Do you ever go out of your way to take sunset pictures? Would you be ok talking to complete strangers about politics –– and at the end of the night giving them a hug?!?

** Linking up to City Trippers and

* I'm participating in Susannah Conway's August Break. Today's images were chosen with the word "beneath my feet" in mind (see this post to know which photo was "beneath my feet"). :)

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