The Biltmore Estate: A Traveler’s Guide
The grand Biltmore Estate in the mountains of North Carolina is the perfect place to go for a weekend getaway. Nestled on thousands of acres of pristine greenery and vibrant gardens, this impressive mansion offers many things to do.
Although Biltmore Estate receives over a million visits a year, this hidden gem may not be at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists. But once you catch a glimpse of the grandeur of this breathtaking structure, you will see that it’s certainly worth a visit.
The Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate is currently America’s largest-owned private property. The 8,000-acre estate is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. The majestic French Broad River winds through the estate.
George Vanderbilt II originally built the Biltmore mansion between 1889 and 1895. He commissioned the 250-room French-style chateau with the assistance of renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt. Still owned and managed by the Vanderbilt family, the entire estate and Biltmore house are open to the public with ticket purchases.
Things To Do During Your Biltmore Escape
A Biltmore getaway doesn’t have to be complicated. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, and there’s no shortage of things to do while visiting this national historic landmark. Here are a few activities and places to go sightseeing while visiting Biltmore Estate.
1. Visit the Biltmore House
Begin your tour inside the Biltmore house with a 50-minute audio guide that explains the history and beauty behind the Biltmore Estate. You will learn about the Vanderbilt family and the architecture, design, and artwork surrounding you. Expert-guided small group tours are also available.
The house features many guest rooms and luxurious finishes, carved woodwork, a swimming pool, a gymnasium and bowling alley in the basement, a four-story chandelier, a grand banquet hall and staircase, and many antiques.
Kids Audio Tour
Don’t worry about the kids getting bored. There is a separate audio guide for children narrated by Cedric, the Vanderbilts’ Saint Bernard. The audio tour is an entertaining guide for kids that will help them learn about the history of The Biltmore while having fun.
Backstairs Guided Tour
There is a separate Biltmore house backstairs tour. With a limited capacity of twelve guests per tour, this behind-the-scenes look at the staffing area paints a picture of what it was like to work at America’s largest home. Be prepared to climb 200 hundred stairs during this 60-minute guided tour because there is no elevator access.
The final tour option for Biltmore house is the rooftop tour. This guided tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at the design and construction of the house while taking in stunning views from the rooftop and balconies.
2. Go Horseback Riding at The Equestrian Center
Go horseback riding on the property’s 80 miles of trails. Riding lessons and training are offered by skilled instructors. Biltmore even allows visitors to bring their own horses. There are additional costs for using the stable and feeding your horse.
3. Tour the Gardens
Take a self-guided tour around the beautiful gardens designed by landscape architect Frederik Law Olmsted. Olmsted also designed the North Carolina Arboretum within Pisgah National Forest and Central Park in New York City.
4. Visit Antler Hill Village
Antler Hill is a charming village built directly on the Biltmore Estate. You can enjoy fine dining and entertainment and learn about the history of Biltmore without stepping off the grounds.
The Biltmore’s award-winning winery provides guests with complimentary wine tastings in their on-site tasting room. The wine hosts introduce guests to the winery’s most famous vintages. Learn about the history of Biltmore’s vineyards and wine operations while enjoying your drinks. Nonalcoholic grape juice is available for guests under 21.
The playground houses a large wooden playhouse, multiple slides, a swing set, and several climbing structures. There is also a lookout, a rock climbing formation, and a sand play area. Parents can sit and relax on benches in the shade under a pergola while supervising their kids.
The Barn and Farmyard
Get an introduction to farm life and animals on the estate. You can learn about families who lived on the estate, raising livestock, tending to the crops, and working at the dairy in the 1890s.
See live demonstrations at the barn by blacksmiths, woodworkers, and other craftspeople. Visitors can shop at The Barn Door for beautiful home decor, accessories, and arts and crafts. Kids can play games and make crafts.
The Farmyard has different activities for kids based on the season. Kids can watch demonstrations of such daily activities as milking goats, goat brushing, and hoof trimming.
5. Explore With A Guided Bike Tour
There are a few different bike tours available at The Biltmore. The Farm Trail bike tour takes you on a guided 4.5-mile bike ride along trails made of different materials, like dirt, gravel, and grass. The tour includes stops at the farms along the French Broad River and Market Cottage.
The West Range Loop guided bike ride is an 8-mile ride on gravel roads. Travel through vineyards, pastures, and the Long Valley Lake area. A support vehicle rides along bikers for extra safety and provides drinks and snacks when needed. Only eight people can take the 2-hour tour at a time.
The guided bike ride is a relaxing, easy-paced tour along the French Broad River and the estate’s agricultural fields. The tour includes occasional stops to learn about the Vanderbilts, their guests, and the estate’s history. Mountain bikes are available, and there are limited trailers and bike tag-a-longs for kids.
Biltmore regularly hosts other activities on the estate that vary by season and holiday. Santa Clause makes appearances during Christmas time, and there’s an exclusive candlelight Christmas evening guided tour and holiday ornament decorating.
Various outdoor activities at the estate include croquet, archery, geocaching, carriage rides, yoga, clay shooting, bird watching, rafting, kayaking, and more.
The Biltmore also has a regular exhibition called the Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad. This exhibit offers guests a look into the Vanderbilts’ lifestyle, the personalities of husband and wife George and Edith and their daughter Cornelia, and showcases rare family treasures.
Accommodations at Biltmore Estate
If you choose to stay at Biltmore Estate, you can stay at The Inn, Village Hotel, or the Cottage.
The Inn provides the most luxurious place to stay. It offers 24-hour concierge service, stunning mountain views, fine dining, and beautiful furnishings. It’s the perfect relaxing place to stay for a weekend getaway.
Village Hotel is a short stroll from the shops, restaurants, and winery in Antler Hill Village. You can also hike or bike the estate trails, enjoy the Outdoor Adventure Center, and visit Pisgah Playground for children and the Farmyard while staying here. It has several culinary offerings with a farm-to-table setup; fresh produce is grown, and animals are raised on the estate.
The last option to stay at Biltmore Estate is to rent a cottage. The historic cottages on the property offer the ultimate comfort and tranquility in a unique woodland setting. With many amenities available, like 24-hour concierge service, access to estate restaurants, a fitness center, Wi-Fi to stay connected and balanced, and more, staying at a cottage is much more than glamping in a cabin.
Other accommodation options include staying in a vacation rental in Downtown Asheville, quaint bed-and-breakfasts close to the estate, or a hotel resort such as The Omni Grove Park Inn. All are a short distance away from the Biltmore Estate.
Biltmore Village is across from the entrance to Biltmore Estate. George Vanderbilt was also the brains behind the conception and planning of Biltmore Village. The English-style town contains shops and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other.
The cottage-like buildings house local boutiques, name-brand retailers, exceptional dining options, and breweries serving the best local craft beer.
Close to Biltmore Village are several hotel chains, such as Holiday Inn, Hilton, Doubletree, Country Inn Suites, and Hampton Inn. Some of the hotels are within walking distance of Biltmore Village.
Other Nearby Attractions to Biltmore Estate
The Asheville Art Museum is approximately 4 miles from Biltmore Estate. It is located in the city’s downtown center square.
Biltmore Park Town Square is an upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment district within ten miles of the Biltmore Estate, downtown Asheville, and the North Carolina Arboretum. Accommodations like the Hilton Hotel and Suites are located right in the heart of the district. A free shuttle is available to Asheville Regional Airport if you stay at the hotel.
Consider a Biltmore Escape for Your Next Trip
The Biltmore Estate is a popular attraction for weddings, romantic getaways, and short trips. With so many activities, shopping, dining, and entertainment options available, not to mention its beauty and tranquility, it’s time to get your bags packed for a great place to unwind year-round.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.