Homeschool Festival at Biltmore Estate

I’m feeling sentimental, so I’m re-sharing his post from my old Rose Cottage blog, back in April of 2009: before Lindsey or Scout and Jem were in the family, before Kathryn looked like a grown-up, before we had a grandbaby on the way

Wow. I sound old.

Anyway, hop on into the time machine with me and head to Biltmore Estate:

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My cousin Jonnia emailed me a link to the Spring Homeschool Festival at Biltmore Estate with the brief message, “This would be a great field trip!”

My grandmother is from Asheville and I’ve grown up hearing about Biltmore, but I’d never been, and this educational opportunity sounded like the PERFECT excuse to go. Ken was up for it, so he took the time off work, and I made reservations. Jonnia’s husband couldn’t get away from work, so she brought her mom (my aunt Beckie).

Homeschool Festival at Biltmore Estate

We made this a relatively short trip, driving up Wednesday and returning Friday. Kathryn was eager to visit North Carolina for the first time ever. She had never stayed in a hotel before, so that was one of the many things she was excited about. Our hotel was on Tunnel Road; not surprisingly, there was a tunnel on the way to the hotel, and she thought that was extremely cool. She discovered she likes pumpernickel bread when we ate at Outback that night (her first time there), and loved being the official elevator button-pusher for us at the hotel.

Thursday began with breakfast at the fanciest McDonald’s ever, just outside the entrance gate to Biltmore Estate.

We rented headphones to use on our self-guided tour of the home; I highly recommend that if you ever go. I was very impressed with the library, and loved the thought of having tea in the tapestry room as the piano player provided live music! I was amazed by the technology of the time, too, including synchronized clocks throughout the home, in-house telephone service, and a heated/lighted indoor pool! The servant’s quarters were much nicer than I expected. In fact, I learned from my mom that my great, great aunt (my grandmother’s aunt) was a household servant at the Biltmore home! I need to find out her name and see what else I can learn about her.

Fun educational demonstrations and activities.

After touring the home, we had lunch at the Stable Cafe, and then headed over to the area where the homeschool activities were going on.


In the photo above, Kathryn is helping Cullen lift a 1000-pound log using an elaborate system of pulleys.

There were great demonstrations and activities for many different subjects. Kathryn and Cullen made a compass and learned about orienteering (using a compass and map); they watched a fun erosion demonstration; they helped churn butter and then got to sample it (yum!); learned a bit more about bees and observed bees at work in a cross-section of a hive; and saw birds of prey including a turkey buzzard, a red-tailed hawk, a screech owl, a horned owl, and a barred owl (all have been injured too severely to ever be returned to the wild).

Farmyard fun:


After all of that, we headed to the farmyard, where we got to pet goats (love them!), two big Belgian horses named Bert and Ernie, and a chicken named Emerald (iridescent black/green feathers).

The baby chicks were Kathryn’s favorite part.


Everyone at every part of Biltmore Estate was so helpful and friendly. When talking to the man who was keeping an eye on the kids holding the chicks (so nobody squashed one!), I mentioned that Kathryn wants to have chickens and be in charge of collecting the eggs, so he sent us over to the man in charge to ask if she could gather the eggs. We asked, he said yes, and Kathryn (and a few other kids) collected the nine eggs currently in the laying boxes.


I learned that eggs have a natural anti-bacterial coating that allows them to sit out safely for about two weeks, but once you wash them, you must refrigerate them or they’ll spoil. Even though my family had chickens when I was a little girl, I never knew that!

Barn, creamery, winery, and flower garden:

The barn was our next stop. Back in it’s day, the estate included a dairy farm, and Biltmore Creamery sold milk, eggs, and ice cream. In honor of that, we all bought big ol’ ice cream cones and sat down to rest while we ate them.


Before we left there, Kathryn and Cullen played on an old wagon, pretending to sell us vegetables. I think they could’ve entertained themselves with that game all day.

What was once a dairy barn has now been converted to a winery. We took a tour there which concluded with a complimentary wine tasting. Kathryn and Cullen sampled what they both proclaimed as the sweetest, best grape juice ever.

Flower Garden tulips

Though it was too early in the season for much variety to be blooming, the walled garden was beautiful. Azaleas had just begun to bloom, as well as dogwoods and a few other flowering trees, but the breath-taking display right now is the TULIPS!

Biltmore Estate at sunset

By the time we drove out of the estate, we’d spend nearly twelve hours touring it. While we did manage to see it all that was there, it would take a few days to experience it fully. We definitely want to go back someday.

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Y’all, time really does fly. Like in a freaky time-warp kind of way. Kathryn was only 8 years old when we did this; that’s how old Scout will be if we go this year. {Pardon me while I hyperventilate just a moment.}

The 14th Annual Homeschool Festival at Biltmore is September 17-18, 2015. I’d love the opportunity to make memories like this with the younger kids, so I really hope to go.

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Jonnia Smith

That was indeed the best field trip ever! Kathryn and Cullen were so ridiculously CUTE! I so enjoyed seeing these photos.

I would love to go this year, also, and add the Rooftop Tour (Architect’s Tour) to the list of things to do. Maybe a horseback trail ride now that we are old enough.


Ok Kathryn looks so similar to Scout, its uncanny they are not biologically related. And you can totally see the resemblance between you and Kathryn in the photo of you with the bunny.

Michelle Cannon

We were planning on going there on vacation in a few weeks. Haven’t firmly decided on it, but it’s an option on our list.


We went that year as well. We love the homeschool day at the Biltmore and would love to go back soon. We live in town so it isn’t a hard trip.
Blessings, Dawn