Finally we have arrived to the actual sight-seeing portion of this series! I have to warn you, this is a verrry broad overview; there is so much more to actually see in each category than I can possibly cover! This is just a bare outline, and you’ll need to go see it yourself to fully appreciate it all.
The House itself is grand and ginormous, and impressive. Massive rooms, priceless art and architectural features imported from Europe, and stunning vistas. It seemed like a very American take on European grand buildings. I have few pictures of the inside because, well, I had the 19 month old. Ha! (See here for my house touring tips.)
Immediately surrounding the house are acres of gardens, which are immaculately maintained and landscaped. There are numerous sections, including a greenhouse, a formal garden, fishing ponds, Italian Koi Ponds (a massive hit with the kids), and various more natural-looking areas with paths. You could easily spend a couple of hours exploring it all. It is mind-boggling that the entire estate (including the forest!) was essentially created from bare land. (There was a Chihuly exhibit going on when we visited, hence the blown-glass balls.)
If you have extra time and energy on your hands, the estate is full of opportunities to enjoy its massive grounds: kayaking, numerous trails, and even fly-fishing classes. We hiked from the house down to a lake that the house overlooked. (You could also drive to the same view if you didn’t feel like walking.)
After you finish touring the gardens and house and are thoroughly worn out, hop into your car and head over to Antler Hill, where the estate has a winery. We did a (free!) wine tasting with everyone in tow; the staff was gracious and accommodating, even in the face of a crew as large as ours. That said, expect it to be a quick stop with littles in tow: juice is provided for kids, but it is a standing tasting, so you won’t want to linger. (If there’s a line, it will move fairly quickly, but leave an adult to hold your place and let the kids walk outside until it’s your turn. It is stroller-accessible.) You can get a free tasting any day you’re on the estate, so if you have a two-day ticket, well, you can go twice. Certain people in our party may or may not have tested that out…
Also in the Antler Hill area near the winery is a playground and mini animal zoo which was a perfect way for our kiddoes to blow off some steam at the end of the day. Even as much as we had walked around already, our munchkins went to town and played hard; we practically had to tear them away from looking at the animals.
We spent essentially two full days at the estate, and thoroughly enjoyed it all! Our two-day passes allowed us the flexibility to take our time, as well as go on a hike. If you only have one day, my recommended itinerary would be to arrive early, tour the house, take a break/eat lunch, explore the gardens, drive around the estate on whatever roads catch your fancy, and wind up the day at the wine tasting/playground/petting zoo. Then go home and sleep well!
If you’re planning a visit let me know! Is there anything else you’d like to hear about?