Visiting Asheville’s Biltmore Estate is one of North Carolina’s top attractions, bringing in 1 million tourists annually. Featured in movies such as Richie Rich, Forrest Gump, and The Last of the Mohicans, the property is a truly stunning reminder of America’s Gilded Age.
Touring the Biltmore Estate
The 250-room Gothic-inspired estate was built in 1889 by George Washington Vanderbilt II and is still owned by his descendants. There are some rooms off-limits to visitors. It served as an opulent summer home for the Vanderbilt family, similar to their other properties in New York and Rhode Island.
The French-style gardens were designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of New York’s Central Park and Montreal’s Mont Royal.
The property was opened to the public in 1930 at the height of the Great Depression as a source of income for the family. They continued to live there until 1956 when the home became a full-time attraction.
While photos are not allowed inside the home, guests can see the indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, gym, and library.
Throughout the year, Biltmore Estate also hosts traveling exhibits. A recent one was the costumes from the hit series Downton Abbey. Another featured the glass artwork of famed sculptor Dale Chihuly.
You could easily spend a full day at the Biltmore Estate, but many visitors choose to make a weekend trip of it, either as a romantic getaway or for a girlfriends weekend.
The Grounds at Biltmore Estate
The gardens are a popular stop for visitors to Biltmore Estate but there’s much to see in the 8,000 acres. The home has 22 miles of hiking trails along the French Broad River, which can be explored independently or by guided tour.
Antler Hill Village offers farmyard visits, craft demonstrations, bike rentals, guided trail rides, carriage rides, guided kayaking, and sporting clay shooting lessons. The estate also has a falconer showing off the beautiful birds.
Tips for Visiting Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate is open from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm on Mondays to Fridays and until 4:30 pm on weekends. Check the website for information on holiday hours and festivals.
Book your Biltmore Estate and Wine Tasting from Charlotte before you go. Tickets cost $45 for adults, so take advantage of special promotions.
On Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, parents get in free. Ticket price includes a self-guided tour of the home and gardens, Antler Hill Village, and a guided tour and complimentary tasting at the winery.
Eating and Drinking at Biltmore Estate
You don’t have to leave the Biltmore Estate property to find a good meal. Choose from seven different restaurants on the property, along with the restaurants at each of the estate’s hotels.
Cedric’s Tavern offers casual pub fare like fish and chips while the Stable Cafe has Carolina smoked barbecue. The Bistro has European and seasonal favorites like pizza. Village Social offers Southern dishes. The Kitchen Cafe and The Bake Shop have coffee and pastries for breakfast.
If you want a quick bite before continuing your day, The Smokehouse Food Truck, The Courtyard Market, and The Conservatory Cafe. Enjoy a sweet treat at The Creamery or The Biltmore Dairy Bar.
The Dining Room is four-star rated and has incredible views of the estate. The Library Lounge and the Wine Bar at The Winery are the perfect places for a cocktail and small plate. Deerpark Restaurant has Southern favorites served buffet-style.
Speaking of the winery, ticket price includes a free tasting at the onsite Biltmore Winery. It’s the best place to try the award-winning reds, whites, and roses. The winery also offers bottle sales and winery tours.
In Biltmore Village, try Fig, The Corner Kitchen, and Red Stagg Grill. There’s also the fanciest McDonald’s you’ve ever seen!
Where to Stay Near Biltmore Estate
There are a number of accommodation options in the area around Biltmore Estate. The Inn on Biltmore Estate is as close as you can get to staying inside the mansion. Guests enjoy mountain views, spa access, and nightly turndown service.
The Village Hotel is best for moderate budgets, with large rooms for families and an outdoor pool. If you’re looking to splurge, the Cottages on Biltmore Estate are the way to go, with private chefs, butlers, and private accommodations. All Biltmore properties offer free entry into the estate.
Historic Biltmore Village, the home’s “company town,” is right outside the estate and has hotels and restaurants. The Grand Bohemian Hotel and Brookstone Lodge are both convenient for those that want to visit the estate. If you don’t mind driving, Omni Grove Park Inn is one of Asheville’s most beautiful hotels.