Each year, an estimated 1.4 million people travel to Asheville, NC, to visit the Biltmore Estate, the largest privately-owned house in the United States. The Biltmore Estate’s 250 rooms encompass 33 guest bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces – it’s easy to imagine wandering the halls and losing one’s self in this sprawling mansion, whose majesty yearns to compete with the surrounding Appalachian Mountains.
Ahead, we’ll share details about the types of activities available at the Biltmore Estate, as well as options for dining and if it’s possible to stay on the property. We’ll describe the best times of year to visit and provide additional surprising tips that will fuel your excitement to visit this special American landmark!
Explore the Biltmore
History Of The Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate was constructed by George Vanderbilt II, a member of the extremely well-to-do Vanderbilt family, between 1889 and 1895. George was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the shipping and railroad tycoon who was once among the richest men in the world in his prime.
Architects Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted (the father of American landscape architecture) were commissioned to design the house and grounds, respectively. Thousands of laborers and artisans are responsible for the Biltmore Estate’s overall construction, which features a bowling alley, swimming pool, and expansive library.
The Biltmore Estate first opened to the public at the start of the Great Depression as a means of generating revenue. Today, tourists walk through the Biltmore Estate on daily guided tours and enjoy tasting flights at the on-site winery, and countless dedicated staff continues the preservation of the estate’s 8,000+ acres of woodlands.
Who Should Visit The Biltmore Estate?
The Biltmore Estate is a destination that can be enjoyed by a wide spectrum of visitors, including history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, art afficionados, nature lovers, and families. Here are some groups of people who might particularly enjoy a visit to the Biltmore Estate:
- History and Architecture Enthusiasts: The Biltmore Estate is a historic mansion with stunning architecture showcasing the luxury and splendor of the Gilded Age. Visitors whose interest is piqued by history and architecture will find the rich history of the Vanderbilt family illuminating and enjoy inspecting the craftsmanship that went into erecting the mansion.
- Art Afficionados: The Biltmore Estate features a voluminous art collection that includes works by luminaries such as Renoir, Whistler, and Sargent. Art lovers will enjoy meandering through the mansion's ample galleries and observing the magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, and mixed media decor.
- Nature Lovers: The Biltmore Estate's 8,000 acres of pristine woodlands, gardens, and parks provide a peaceful retreat for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore miles of hiking and biking trails, go fishing or kayaking on the estate's lakes and streams, or simply take a leisurely stroll through the gardens.
- Families: The Biltmore Estate offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including guided tours, horseback riding, cycling, and outdoor games. Kids can also enjoy a visit to the farmyard, where they can see farm animals and participate in educational programs.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The Biltmore Estate?
The best time to visit the Biltmore Estate depends on your interests and preferences – truly, there is no wrong time to visit this exciting American landmark. There are, however, some things you may wish to consider when you’re planning your visit to the Biltmore Estate.
Let’s talk weather. The Biltmore Estate is fixed in the western NC mountains, so the weather can vary widely throughout the year. Peak tourist season runs through the summer months of June, July, and August, when the weather is warm and the gardens are in full majestic bloom.
If you prefer cooler temperatures and smaller crowds, you may want to consider visiting during the fall or winter months. It will be just as beautiful to take pictures with the fall foliage’s fiery oranges, reds, and browns.
You may enjoy attending the Biltmore Estate for a particular event or festival. The Biltmore Estate hosts regular gatherings throughout the year, including concerts, holiday celebrations, and seasonal festivals. If you're interested in attending one of these events, be sure to check the schedule in advance and plan your visit accordingly.
What are some examples of events that take place at The Biltmore Estate? The Biltmore Blooms flower festival is held in the spring, the Biltmore Concert Series attracts music lovers in the summer, and the Christmas at Biltmore celebration is one of the top-attended Asheville events during the holiday season.
For large groups traveling to the Biltmore Estate, you may want to plan your visit around certain activities. Options like hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and cycling through most of the year, and you’ll want to check in advance to see what can be reserved online during your stay.
If staying away from crowds is your top priority, consider visiting Asheville and the Biltmore Estate during the weekdays. Holidays are easily the busiest time of year for Asheville, which may be a great reason for you and your family to visit – there is truly nothing like Christmas magic at the Biltmore.
Activities At The Biltmore Estate
You could probably spend a week or more exploring all of the rooms and activities at the Biltmore. Your ideal itinerary will depend on your interests and preferences. Here are some of the best things to do during your visit to the Biltmore Estate:
- Take a house tour: The Biltmore House is the crown jewel of the estate, and a guided tour is a must-do activity for groups of all ages. You'll see many of the mansion's 250 rooms, including the grand dining room, library, and bedrooms, and learn about the Vanderbilt family's history and the construction of the house.
- Explore the gardens: The Biltmore Estate has a showcase of lovely gardens to explore, including the Italian Garden, the Walled Garden, and the Rose Garden. Be sure to take a stroll through the Bass Pond and the Azalea Garden, too. If you’re looking for a memorable place to propose in Asheville, one of these gardens will certainly serve as an unforgettable backdrop!
- Visit Antler Hill Village: Antler Hill Village is a charming area on the estate that offers a variety of activities and attractions. You can sample wines at the Biltmore Winery, enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants, visit the Farmyard, or go shopping for souvenirs.
- Take a hike: The Biltmore Estate has over 22 miles of hiking and biking trails that offer stunning views of the estate's woodlands and mountains. You can choose from easy, moderate, and challenging trails, so there's something for everyone.
- Attend a special event: The Biltmore Estate hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including holiday celebrations, concerts, and seasonal festivals. Check the calendar in advance to see what's happening during your visit.
- Visit the Biltmore Gardens Railway: This is a miniature train exhibit that runs through the estate's gardens and features intricate replicas of famous landmarks and buildings.
Overall, the Biltmore Estate offers a wide variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Be sure to allow plenty of time to explore and take in everything the estate has to offer.
Where Can You Eat At The Biltmore Estate?
There are several dining options at the Biltmore Estate, ranging from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants.
Inside the main house, you’ll find the fine-dining option – The Dining Room – which features a seasonal prix-fixe menu showcasing Asheville’s best local produce and game. Trot over to The Stable Cafe for a more casual option located within the estate’s former horse stables.
In Antler Hill Village, you’ll find Bistro, a casual dining option offering a menu of sandwiches, salads, and soups, as well as beer and wine. Cedric’s Tavern is close-by and offers pub fare like fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie in a British-style pub environment.
If a leisurely outdoor lunch is on your itinerary, saunter over to the Kitchen Cafe, where you can dine on small plates and fresh salads in view of the Biltmore’s attractive garden designs.
Provisions like coffee, snacks, and even ice cream are available on the estate grounds depending on the season; as always, make sure to consult the Biltmore Estate website to learn the most up-to-date information.
Can You Stay At The Biltmore Estate?
It’s true! Visitors can stay at the Biltmore Estate – doing so is one of the best ways to take advantage of all the luxe and grandeur the property has to offer. Choose to spend your visit at one of the estate's two hotels: the Inn on Biltmore Estate or the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.
The Inn on Biltmore Estate is a luxurious hotel that advertises a range of amenities, including a spa, fine dining restaurant, and concierge services. The hotel reserves 210 guest rooms and suites, each with its own distinct style and character. Guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the Biltmore Estate and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as procure access to all the estate's amenities and activities.
The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate is a more casual option that offers a range of modern amenities, including a fitness center, outdoor pool, and complimentary breakfast. The hotel books 209 guest rooms and suites, each decorated in a contemporary style with a nod to the estate's history.
Both hotels offer quick access to the Biltmore House, gardens, and other attractions, and guests can enjoy special privileges, such as early access to the estate and discounted admission tickets. If you're planning a visit to the Biltmore Estate and want to stay on the property, be sure to book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak tourist season.
How To Book Tickets To The Biltmore Estate
You can book tickets to the Biltmore Estate through the estate's website or by calling their ticketing office. Here are the steps to follow:
- Go to the Biltmore Estate website at www.biltmore.com.
- Choose your date: Select the date you want to visit the estate. You can also select a range of dates if you're flexible.
- Select your ticket type: Choose the type of ticket you want to purchase, such as a daytime admission ticket, an evening admission ticket, or a multi-day ticket.
- Choose your entry time: Select the time you want to enter the estate. This helps manage the number of visitors on the property at any given time.
- Add on extras: You can also add on additional experiences, such as a house tour, a guided hike, or a wine tasting.
- Enter your payment information: Once you've selected your tickets and any additional experiences, enter your payment information to complete the booking process.
Alternatively, you can also call the Biltmore Estate ticketing office at 800-411-3812 to book your tickets over the phone. It's important to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist season, as the estate can get very crowded, and tickets may sell out. Keep reading for information on discounts that may apply toward your ticket costs — the website regularly features a range of discounts and special passes throughout the year.
What Discounts Are Available At The Biltmore Estate?
Many groups are eligible for discounts at the Biltmore Estate. Here are some that might apply to your crew:
- Advance Purchase Discount: If you purchase your tickets at least seven days in advance, you can save up to $10 per ticket.
- Military Discount: Active and retired military personnel can save $10 on regular daytime admission tickets.
- Senior Discount: Guests age 65 and older can save $10 on regular daytime admission tickets.
- Student Discount: College and university students can save $10 on regular daytime admission tickets. Make sure to bring your student ID.
- AAA Discount: AAA members can save $10 on regular daytime admission tickets. You can verify your membership by presenting your AAA ID.
- Group Discount: Groups of 15 or more can save up to 30% on daytime admission tickets. If you’re having a family reunion or field trip in Asheville, this could be a great affordable activity!
- Annual Pass Discount: If you purchase an annual pass to the Biltmore Estate, you can save on admission tickets, dining, shopping, and other experiences. Purchasing an annual pass is a great idea for anyone who lives relatively close to the Asheville area, people who rent an Airbnb in the Asheville area, or people who plan on visiting the Biltmore Estate at least four times a year.
It's important to note that some discounts may not be combined with other offers, and certain discounts may not be available during peak tourist season. Be sure to check the Biltmore Estate website for the most up-to-date information on discounts and promotions.
What Are Some Other Interesting Facts About The Biltmore Estate?
By now, you probably don’t require much more convincing to check out the Biltmore Estate, which is easily one of the most amazing homes to tour in the United States. Here are a few other surprising facts about the Biltmore Estate that will whet your desire to visit it yourself:
- We previously mentioned architects Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted – did you know that Hunt was behind the design of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and Olmsted conceptualized NYC’s Central Park?
- The Biltmore Estate was one of the first homes in the United States to have electricity. The house had its own power plant and generated its own electricity until 1940.
- The Biltmore Estate has been the setting for several popular movies and TV shows, including “The Last of the Mohicans” and “The Hunger Games.”
- The estate's winery is the most visited winery in the United States, producing over 150,000 cases of wine per year.
- The estate is home to a herd of about 75 purebred Scottish Highland cattle, which can be seen grazing in pastures throughout the property.