After showing up to Biltmore Village to stay the night before heading the Biltmore Estate in total darkness. I was surprised to find I was staying in one of the nicest areas of Asheville, North Carolina. The ornately decorated buildings and shops were definitely fitting for what was on the other side of the gate of the entrance to the Biltmore.
There are many things to do in Asheville, but one of the most iconic things to do in this region of the United States is to visit America’s largest home- The Biltmore Estate. While many see the Biltmore as one huge extravagant home tour, it is more than that with over 8,000 acres as a backyard to play in the outdoors and is secretly an amazing trip for outdoor and nature lovers.
The Biltmore Estate also offers three hotels, a winery, the Antler Village full of shops, and a barn. We drove through the entrance to find a windy road in a rich forest. Surrounded by nature, I found it a stark contrast to Downtown Asheville only a few miles away. This guide of the Biltmore will the history of the house, and the opportunities it provides for outdoor enthusiasts.
Tips for Visiting The Biltmore
Here are some tips for touring the Biltmore Estate to make sure you have an unforgettable experience. Also, a guide to exploring the outdoors and over 8,000 acres of the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina.
- Buy your tickets in advance whether in a pandemic or not because this place is very popular. When I went the Biltmore was allowing limited visitors to the estate and on its’ tours. The ticket price includes a self-guided tour of the house and gardens. If it is your first time I recommend buying the audio guide ($15). It gives you a background on the history of the house as well as the people who called it home.
- Almost anytime you visit the Biltmore it will have something special to offer. In the Winter enjoy the holiday dazzle and during the warmer months the gardens in full bloom.
- The General Admission tickets include visiting the Biltmore Estate grounds, the Antler Village, winery, and the Biltmore House and Gardens. However, you should definitely check out the added tours that are offered in addition. The best Biltmore tours give you a deeper understanding of what life was like living at the Biltmore. Those tours are the rooftop tour of the Biltmore ($40) and the Back Stairs tour ($40).
- Get outdoors with activities such as hiking and biking on the paths and trails. With over 8,000 acres on the Biltmore Estate, it is perfect to enjoy the outdoors. Another great pastime on the Biltmore Estate is horseback rides, which is a memorable way to experience the estates.
- The estate is huge, but no worries the parking lot has a trolley. However, it is nice to enjoy the 10 -15-minute nature trail to the house.
- A visit to Antler Village is a must. There are many restaurants and activities that leave from the Outdoor Center there.
- Finally, as I said buy your tickets in advance. It will save you money and give you peace of mind that you will see the Biltmore..
The Biltmore Estate History
Walking up to the stately mansion, castle, I don’t even nowhere to begin describing the ornate design of the Biltmore. I was instantly reminded of walking up to castles such as Versailles. My mind wandered to what it would be like to live in such a stately summer home. Or what it was like for guests of George Vanderbilt when he opened up 125 years ago on Christmas eve. He commissioned this amazing “country retreat” for his family to one of the leading landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted was known as the Father to American Landscape Architecture and actually is the man behind NY’s Central Park.
George Vanderbilt started construction on the Biltmore in 1889. It took over 6 years to realize the vision of a French Renaissance Chateau in an environmental paradise. Olmsted convinced George Vanderbilt to become the father of forestry. He started a Forestry school, as well as hired George Pinchot who was instrumental in forestry as a science in America. Vanderbilt was instrumental in donating some 80,000 acres to become the Pisgah National Forest.
Why is Christmas at the Biltmore so special?
Christmas Eve in 1895 was when George Vanderbilt, opened up the Biltmore Estate to his friends and family. Now visitors can also experience some of the Christmas traditions of the Biltmore estate and see the holiday splendor as the Biltmore transforms to a winter dream. Read more about Christmas at the Biltmore Estate below.
Family Owned and Operated at the Biltmore Estate
George Vanderbilt got married and had one child Cornelia Vanderbilt. Cornelia is the reason we can enjoy the still family-owned Biltmore Estate. In 1930 she opened up the Biltmore Estate to the public to increase tourism to help the local economy in Asheville as well as assist in financially supporting the upkeep of the Biltmore House and gardens. The rest is history, as people from across the world continue to come to visit the region, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Asheville. The Biltmore is living history because the estate is constantly evolving and is connected with the family.
How long does it take to tour the Biltmore?
While the house will take you about 2.5 hours to tour, the entire estate is a full day affair. The Biltmore is perfect for a weekend away or a day trip because there are so many things to do at the Biltmore. It is a place to really soak in the environment through not rushing, but enjoying your surroundings.
Inside the Biltmore estate
The Biltmore House is the largest in the United States and is still owned by the Vanderbilt family. I found it interesting that they still live on the estate and there are even more homes on the property. Inside the Biltmore house you will find 250 rooms, 33 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 43 bathrooms. There is also an indoor pool, a gym, and a bibliophile’s heaven. The library is home to over 24,000 volumes, masterpieces by renaissance artists, and the room was designed by an 18th century canvas painted by Pellegrini that is on the ceiling.
While I love reading, I definitely am nowhere close to the 81 books per year George Vanderbilt reportedly read. If you don’t want to pay an additional $15 usd for the audio guide here is a room by room guide of the Biltmore Estate.
Biltmore Estate Christmas
The Biltmore will be celebrating 125 years of Christmas at the Biltmore from Nov 6th– Jan 10th, 2020. There are two experiences available during Christmas, a day time experience, or a special Candlelight Christmas in the evening where guests can tour the house by candlelight. The entire estate is open and guests are able to choose from either Biltmore house experience.
Everywhere you turn, you will find special attention to detail, holiday décor that will make you jealous, and Christmas fare and even a visit from Santa at the Antler Village. The best part about Christmas at the Biltmore is how you learn about how it was celebrated by George Vanderbilt and hear about how it was first open to friends and family 125 years ago.
What the most unique thing about the Biltmore Estate?
Well it is one of America’s largest backyards, and with that come many great opportunities to explore the outdoors while visiting or staying at the Biltmore Estate.
Outdoor Activities at The Biltmore
There are many opportunities for all levels of outdoor activity at the Biltmore Estate. Here are some activities guests and visitors take part in on their visit to the Biltmore.
The Biltmore has 22 miles of hiking trails, you can download the map for trails at the Biltmore to take a self-guided hike or pay $20 USD for a guided hike that ranges from 1 – 2 miles that leave from the Outdoor Adventure Center at Antler Village.
Cycling around the Biltmore Estate is a superb way to visit the sights of the Biltmore leisurely. Don’t have a bike with you? No problem the Biltmore has a Bike Barn near Antler Village that provides bike rentals (weather dependent, of course).
Horse-drawn carriages are available for $30 USD and last about 30 minutes with some time to get acquainted with the horses. It is a unique way to experience the views of the Biltmore House and estate-like George Vanderbilt himself would have.
Biltmore Estate Trail Rides
A trail ride would be my choice as the perfect way to get a feel for what life would have been like when the Biltmore house was in its’ prime. While you take a guided horseback tour through the grounds of the estate. This is great for all skill levels from beginners to advanced riders, and the terrain is controlled which is nice if you are a beginner. The cost of the tour is $65 per person.
Experience the Biltmore from the water
A great way to get outdoors and experience the Biltmore in the Spring and Summer months is by getting out on the water. The Biltmore offers fly fishing tours, SUP tours, and kayaking rentals to experience one of the oldest rivers in the world, the Swannanoa River.
Sporting Clays and Falconry
There is nothing more old school than shooting some clays and learning falconry from Falcon masters. Learn how to shoot sporting clays from an expert for $175 USD per person or get to learn how to handle trained hawks and falcons for $125 USD.
Picnic in the Biltmore Gardens–
Bring your favorite snacks, cheeses, and sandwiches, or whatever you love to have for a picnic in the splendid gardens of the Biltmore. The best time to visit the Biltmore gardens is in the spring when the tulips are in full bloom, however, I went in the summer and found the garden filled with wild colors.
Land Rover Off-Roading Driving school
Take a Land Rover for a spin with a one of kind experience. Here you can take a brand new Land Rover off-road into some of the backcountry areas of the Biltmore Estate. The Land Rover experience is part of experiences leads by Land Rover, more information on the Land Rover tour can be found here. The cost per vehicle is $375 and you can take a loaded Land Rover through different obstacles, water ruts, and more.
How do I get to the Biltmore Estate?
Whether you are flying or road tripping to the Biltmore Estate, it is definitely necessary especially at this time to have a car to visit the entire Biltmore Estate and get the most of your visit.
Currently, the Biltmore Estate is only providing trolleys from the parking lot to the main estate from one parking lot to still be accessible. However, if you want to visit the winery, the Biltmore Gardens, Antler Village, and more of the estate that would be a lot of walking.
On a broader scale, the Biltmore is easy to get to since it is located a stone throw away from Asheville, North Carolina, which has a sizeable airport.
If you are driving from Charlotte, North Carolina,
Is it worth going to the Biltmore Estate?
Many may look at the price tag of the Biltmore Estate tickets and find them expensive. However, I believe 100 percent it is worth it to visit the Biltmore Estate as long as the weather is nice or if you visit in Christmas when the estate is decorated with trees, tinsel, and full of holiday splendor.
The tickets for the Biltmore Estate is more than just the entrance to the home and gardens, but is a whole day adventure exploring not only inside the Biltmore, but also the outdoors and nature of the estate which has always been important to the area.