Month: November 2018

Visiting the Biltmore with Kids (Pt. 4): What We Saw

Visiting the Biltmore with Kids (Pt. 4): What We Saw

This is the last post in our series of touring the Biltmore estate with children. Previously we covered buying tickets, avoiding crowds, and fueling the visit. Finally we have arrived to the actual sight-seeing portion of this series! I have to warn you, this is […]

Visiting the Biltmore with Kids (Pt. 3): Eating and Food

Visiting the Biltmore with Kids (Pt. 3): Eating and Food

As you can imagine, when we’re traveling with children we are interested in saving money where we can. We are equally interested in keeping kids’ blood sugar levels up at happy level. (Keenly interested in both those things…) We’ve already talked about how to save […]

Visiting the Biltmore with Kids (Pt. 2): Logistics of Arriving and Touring

Visiting the Biltmore with Kids (Pt. 2): Logistics of Arriving and Touring

Last time we discussed the cheapest way to buy tickets to the Biltmore; we picked up some logistical arrival tips from our visit. Here’s the low-down:

Driving in: Your first glimpse of the estate is a stately gatehouse leading to a meandering, lush drive. (All of it landscaped!! Amazing). After a couple of miles you’ll arrive at a checkpoint, where you’ll need to present tickets to access the rest of the estate. If you already have your tickets in hand, you drive on through, otherwise you’ll need to stop at the ticket house on the left to buy them. Follow signs and traffic guards to the parking lots. You’ll be well-directed.

When to arrive: The estate gatehouse opens at 8:30, and the house itself opens at 9:00. Get there when the gatehouse opens to avoid lines and massive crowds! Our first day we timed it badly and sat in traffic to get to the ticket checkpoint. Then only the far parking lots were open, which meant we needed to catch a shuttle to and from the house. The shuttles did run in timely manner, they just added a layer of logistics. Our second day we arrived before 9:00, and drove to the closest parking lot without any delay, where we walked down a short path to get to the house. It was delightful!                                                                 IMG_6716

Since there was a long house security line our first day, we hiked and toured the grounds; our early arrival the second day meant there was no house security line and entering was a breeze. Two-day passes were our saving grace here, but if you only have one day to visit arrive early. The house, being a period building, is also not air-conditioned — yet another reason for an early visit during the summer!

Strollers: The information kiosk near the entrance to the house said that strollers are allowed in the house; technically, that is true. However, large strollers are only allowed on the first floor, as the rest of the house is not really stroller accessible due to numerous stairs and narrow hallways. (This also means it is not fully handicap-accessible, though they do their best.) If you want to use a stroller on the easily-navigable first floor, attendants will park it securely in the vestibule while you tour the rest of house. There are also numerous stairs in the garden; some of them can be avoided. It did not deter us from using our stroller, but if I didn’t have to have a stroller I would skip bringing it.

Touring time of the house: An efficient inside visit takes about 1.5 hours. If you rent an audio guide or otherwise linger longer, 2+ hrs is entirely possible. Parents may want to swap off listening to an audio guide and holding/following a little one, in which case only rent one audio guide and save yourself some money!

Bathrooms: Of important note, bathrooms are not available in the house or throughout the gardens, so be sure to take kids to the restroom beforehand! We did, and sweet grandpa still wound up doing a speed-tour through the last section of the house to take a little boy to the bathroom.

Clothing: Comfortable walking shoes are a given — if you want to explore the trails consider closed toe-shoes. I also suggest dressing in layers, especially in the fall and spring; morning and evenings can be cool, but when the sun comes out and you’ve been walking around it warms up!

So those are the practical tidbits I would have liked to know before arriving at the Bilmore with children. Stay tuned; next time we’ll talk picnics and food on the Biltmore estate!

Visiting the Biltmore With Kids (Pt. 1): Saving Money on Tickets

Visiting the Biltmore With Kids (Pt. 1): Saving Money on Tickets

A family wedding in October gave the Louisiana Krewe and the Detroit Crew a happy excuse to meet up and spend some vacation time in Asheville, NC. On our list of things to see was the impressive Biltmore house with its spectacular grounds. All 15 […]

Armchair Travel: Kids’ The Netherlands Books

Armchair Travel: Kids’ The Netherlands Books

I’ve talked before about how much and why I love reading to travel; below is a list of books we’ve enjoyed reading through to explore a country the Louisiana Krewe hasn’t been to yet — The Netherlands! (The Detroit Crew would like it known that […]

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

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With the weather turning colder here in Detroit and Christmas preparations underway, we can’t help but reminisce over our favorite European Christmas markets. Starting the last week of November and continuing through to New Year’s, Christmas markets pop up in squares all over Europe, from big cities to tiny villages. The real magic begins after dark when you can peruse stalls filled with sugar-roasted almonds, wooden toys, and smoked meats, all with a steaming mug of Glühwein (a hot spiced wine) in your hand. There is always some form of entertainment for the kids – usually a carousel, though we’ve seen a ride-on train, an ice skating rink, and camels! We found the perfect way to experience a city during this time of year was to tour the main attractions during the day and soak up the Christmas market atmosphere and delicious treats that evening before heading home.

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Since moving back to the States, we have tried to recreate some of our favorite Christmas market foods at home, namely crêpes, Glühwein, and chimney cakes.

We’ve found making crêpes so much easier since we started using a crêpe spreader. Our method involves making them two at a time on a pancake griddle, but if you were making these with enough frequency, it would be worth acquiring a crêpe griddle like the professionals. Our current favorite crêpe recipe can be found here.

 

 

IMG_4574Here’s how we make our Glühwein: 

1 bottle dry red wine (we use 1/2 merlot, 1/2 cabernet sauvignon, both Charles Shaw from Trader Joe’s)
200 ml (about 7 oz.) water
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
3-4 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 anise star
3 oz. rum

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot (or on the stove) at low heat for at least 2 hours. After 2 hours, start sampling and once the flavors are to your liking, scoop out the spices and fruit and serve.

 

We’re still in the experimental phase on our Chimney cakes. Not having the traditional cooking implements has made baking them more of a process. They look a train wreck, but taste delicious. The best recipe we’ve tried is from Hefe und Mehr.

Fantastic as enjoying the food and memories at home can be, there simply isn’t a substitute for the magic of a Christmas market. We were thrilled to discover that there are several Christmas markets in the Detroit area! Here are two we’re particularly excited to check out.

Ann Arbor KindleFest (UPDATE: Here’s what we thought!)

  • Location: Ann Arbor Farmers Market
  • Friday, November 30th, 2018 from 4-10 pm

Birmingham Winter Markt (UPDATE: Here’s what we thought!)

  • Location: Shain Park
  • Friday, November 30th, 2018 4-9 pm (Tree Lighting at 6 pm)
  • Saturday, December 1st, 2018 10 am-9 pm
  • Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 10 am-4 pm

We’ll report back after a thorough sampling of the food and ambiance. 😉 It’s not too late to do some research and make plans! Look in your area to see if something like this is available near you.

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Armchair Travel: Kids’ France Books

Armchair Travel: Kids’ France Books

I’m not really sure which came first; my hunger for books or my wanderlust, but I relish their interplay — the reading that fuels a curiosity to see the world and opens its riches to us without ever leaving home, the traveling that in turn […]

Lafayette, LA Two-Fer: The Best Coffee in Louisiana

Lafayette, LA Two-Fer: The Best Coffee in Louisiana

Two-Fer (noun, a happy one): The part of the blog where we point the adults in the direction of the best caffeine close to a kid-approved activity. Once in a while visits to family and other loved ones finds the Louisiana Krewe stopping in Lafayette, […]