Visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina - WanderWisdom - Travel
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Visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

visiting-the-biltmore-estate-in-asheville-north-carolina

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just south of Asheville, North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate is a place that looks like it’s straight out of the French Countryside. It is certainly a grand example of opulence and wealth and could easily be mistaken for a French château.

While the house is touted to be the largest privately-owned residence in the United States, its almost 11 square miles of park-like grounds make this beautiful setting a must-see on any visit to western North Carolina. The home was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II during the late 19th century and it is still owned by his descendants today.

visiting-the-biltmore-estate-in-asheville-north-carolina

Getting There

The Biltmore Estate is located on the south side of Asheville and is easily reached from Interstate 40 and 26. The long, winding road that leads visitors into the property will give you an indication of just how large the estate is.

There is plenty of parking available, which is free, and a short and easy path will lead you to your first glimpse of the mansion. If you get stuck parking in some of the more distant lots, there are shuttle buses available.

From an elevated terrace, the Biltmore is laid out in front of you beyond the carpet of manicured grass and the oval fountain. It is a stunning sight. To your left will be the beautiful gardens of the estate and a likely place to begin your tour.

The Italian Garden

The Italian Garden

visiting-the-biltmore-estate-in-asheville-north-carolina

The Gardens

You can certainly tour the inside of the mansion first, but I recommend starting in the gardens seeing as they right there. The gardens are quite extensive and cover several acres, so plan on at least 90 minutes to 2 hours to tour just the gardens. The uppermost garden is known as the Italian Garden, and this is the area that includes the three water gardens with a number of Chihuly pieces strategically placed in the ponds. It’s a beautiful setting and a great place to sit and watch the koi and goldfish as they swim among the water lilies and papyrus.

visiting-the-biltmore-estate-in-asheville-north-carolina

The next area of the gardens is the Shrub Garden. This area includes over 500 different varieties of trees, shrubs, and other plants that were prominent during the late 1890s. There is an easy 1/3-mile walking trail that loops through and around the Shrub Garden and leads you to the Walled Garden.

The Walled Garden encompasses over four acres and is set up to be in near-constant bloom. With thousands of tulips in the spring, summer annuals, and fall mums, this area is always a kaleidoscope of color. The strategic placement of a few Chihuly pieces only adds to the magical colors of the garden.

The over 200-foot central arbor of the Walled Garden takes you down to the Rose Garden. Here you will view over 40 different varieties of roses featuring heirloom roses, and even a trial growing area where they test new varieties.

visiting-the-biltmore-estate-in-asheville-north-carolina

If you have the energy, you can head to the left of the Rose Garden to the Spring Garden and the Azalea Garden. This large area contains one of the finest collections of native azaleas along with a number of spring blooming plants. The easy walking trails here can take you all the way to the Boat House and Bass Pond should you wish to get a little more exercise. Otherwise, it’s time to check out that beautiful building that is the Conservatory.

The Conservatory

The Conservatory

The final stop on the garden tour is the stunning Conservatory. The glass-roofed building houses a number of different ferns, palms, exotic orchids, and numerous other beautiful plants and flowers that were used to decorate the Biltmore House during the period when the Vanderbilt’s occupied the home. It’s a fitting end to the garden tour and also a great place to sit and relax for a while before retracing your steps back up to the house.

Before entering the house, be sure to step onto the terrace. It provides amazing views of the mountains and is covered with wisteria and trumpet creeper vines that provide a nice shady area to sit and enjoy the stunning view.

visiting-the-biltmore-estate-in-asheville-north-carolina

The Biltmore Mansion

As you approach the mansion, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could possibly need that much space to live. At over 175,000 square feet, it would literally be possible to get lost in there. Nevertheless, the building is certainly a masterpiece of late 19th-century Chateauesque-style architecture and construction. It literally took an entire village to construct the estate with over 1,000 local workers and craftsmen involved in the project.

As you prepare to enter the home, you will have to go through a security screening, and no liquid containers that are not see through are allowed. Once inside the massive foyer, you can purchase an audio headset or follow the signs that do a great job of directing you through the mansion. A handy map is also available to help guide you.

The Winter Indoor Garden

The Winter Indoor Garden

While it will be impossible to give you a description of all 250 rooms, rest assured that they pretty much thought of everything while constructing this home. It contains, among other things: an indoor swimming pool, a bowling alley, a banquet hall with a 70-foot ceiling that my house would fit into, a massive library, a gym, and of all things, a Halloween room.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Interesting Facts About the Biltmore Estate

  • It is the largest privately owned home in the United States with 178,926 square feet of floor space.
  • The original estate covered over 125,000 acres of land.
  • Today the estate sits on over 8,000 acres of rolling hills in Asheville, North Carolina.
  • The building took 6 years to construct. It was started in 1889 and completed in 1895.
  • Over 1,000 workers and 60 masons worked to construct the massive home.
  • The home contains 250 rooms, including 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms along with 65 fireplaces.
  • The enormous dining room is fit for a king and has a 70-foot high ceiling and a massive fireplace.
  • The two-story Library contains over 10,000 volumes.
  • The first floor contains a Tapestry Gallery that is 90-feet long.
  • There is even an indoor Winter Garden room.
Indoor Swimming Pool

Indoor Swimming Pool

Biltmore Visitor Information

Open 365 days a year.

Hours vary by season:

  • Admissions Gate: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm
  • Biltmore House: 9 am to 5 pm
  • Gardens: M-W: 9 am to 8 pm, T-S: 9 am to 7 pm
  • Stable Courtyard: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm
  • Conservatory: 9 am to 6 pm
  • Antler Hill Winery: 11 am to 8 pm

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 800-411-3812.

Tickets are expensive and range from $55 to as high as $85 depending on the day and time of year so check their schedule before deciding which day to visit. On certain days that are deemed to be busy, you can purchase advance tickets for a specific entry time and this helps to control the flow of visitors in the house. Also, you can save $10 on the ticket price by purchasing your ticket 7+ days in advance.

  • Children 9 and under are free year-round.
  • Ages 10–16 get a 50% discount on the adult admission price.
  • From May 25 to Sept 3, entry is free for kids up to age 16.
  • Audio guide is available for $10.98 per person.
  • Your admission includes a self-guided tour of the house, access to the gardens and the Antler Hill Village, and free wine tasting at the winery. Admission to the Chihuly at Biltmore exhibit is also included but the special display is only until October 7th.
  • If one day wasn't enough, you can return the following day for only $10, which must be paid and purchased before leaving the grounds.
  • AAA does offer advance discounted tickets so check with your local AAA office.
The Library

The Library

To see the entire home, plan on at least 90 minutes to 2 hours to go through the 40 rooms that visitors have access to. Be sure to go down to the basement, which we almost missed. The indoor swimming pool in down there along with servant quarters, kitchen, the Halloween room, and the gym.

When you are done with the house, you can head to the right side of the building to where the old Carriage House and Stables were located. Today, this area has been converted into shops and cafes. It’s a nice spot to relax after touring the home, and the prices for snacks and drinks were reasonable. If you missed the terraces on the left side of the house, be sure to stop there before heading out. The view of the mountains is spectacular.

visiting-the-biltmore-estate-in-asheville-north-carolina

In addition to the gardens and home, the estate has been greatly expanded since the early 1980s. The addition of the Biltmore Winery (formerly the dairy barn), the Inn, and Antler Village have all been added to make a visit to the Biltmore Estate a complete experience.

Your ticket price includes a wine sampling at the winery, so be sure to stop by before departing. While we spent the better part of an entire day touring the estate, you could spend many days exploring its grounds and hiking its trails. The entire property is kept in immaculate condition, and it really is an absolutely beautiful setting, not to be missed if visiting western North Carolina.

© 2018 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 09, 2020:

Thanks John. Good to know. I'll add this to the article.

John Obercon on March 09, 2020:

AAA member get a great discount on tickets. So if your a member go to AAA and buy tickets before visiting..

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on October 27, 2018:

Thank you, Patricia. It’s a beautiful place. Have a great day.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 27, 2018:

What a beautiful tour you gave us. Every time I visit there I fall more and more in love with it. Angels are on the way today. ps

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on October 05, 2018:

Hi Ziyena. Thank you, glad you enjoyed the hub. It's really an amazing place to visit, hopefully you get there soon. Thanks for stopping by.

ziyena from the United States on October 05, 2018:

I've always wanted to visit. Your hub is formatted and well-written with care. The Last of the Mohicans (one of my favs) and Forest Gump? Great trivia add-on ... Thank You

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 26, 2018:

Hi Peggy. Glad this brought back some nice memories. This was our first visit and I must say it was very impressive. We really enjoyed our day there. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 25, 2018:

My mother, niece, and I got to visit there a number of years ago. It is amazing! Reading this made me think of that visit. Thanks for the memories.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 23, 2018:

Thank you Linda. We very much enjoyed our visit. Yes, tickets are expensive, but it doesn’t seem to deter visitors.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 22, 2018:

This looks and sounds like a wonderful place to explore. I would love to visit the site, though the tickets are expensive. Thanks for sharing the photos and the information, Bill. This is a very enjoyable article.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Thanks Nancy. It is a magnificent home and the architecture is amazing. We really enjoyed our visit.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

It is fascinating to think about the history of the estate and all the lives that have come and gone through the Biltmore. I’m sure those walls hold many a secret. How nice to be a sort of neighbor :)

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on September 22, 2018:

Hi Bill, You have put together a well written, informative article with amazing pictures. I so enjoyed what was very much like being there and touring every inch of this magnificent home. I am an architecture buff, having owned a small Italianate mansion in the historic area of Old Louisville, Kentucky. Congrats to a job well done.

RTalloni on September 22, 2018:

A very, very nice look at the Biltmore. We've been a few times as we are neighbors, sort of ;), and it's always amazing to think about all of the people who have lived on the property, visited residents there, and worked for the family/business. Walking through is inspiring to a writer because each of their lives had unique beginnings and endings, various industries, specific highs and lows, and secrets that only they know.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Hi Louise, Thank you. It’s an amazing place. Hard to imagine that just one family lived there, but it was the Vanderbilt’s, so money certainly was of no concern.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Thank you, Heidi. The gardens really were something to behold, probably the best I have seen. I think they faired well with the storm. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Hi Bill. We do think alike. All I could think of while there was who on earth would need all this and what does it cost to run this house. Can you imagine the taxes, electric bill, etc?

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Hi Flourish. This was our first visit and it was stunning. I do think that Christmas would be an amazing time to visit. Have a great day.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Hi Liz. Thank you. I think my first impression upon seeing it was, Wow, also. And yes, it certainly was pricey. Have a great weekend.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Hi Cristina. Thank you. This was our first visit and it was indeed stunning. Have a great weekend.

Cristina Vanthul from Florida on September 22, 2018:

The Biltmore is one of my favorite places in Asheville. It's been years since I visited; it looks as stunning as I remember.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 22, 2018:

Wow! That's a stately pile for sure. I was at Woburn Abbey in the UK this week, but your article makes it look like a country cottage in comparison. Admission charges don't come cheap to any of these places.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 22, 2018:

I have visited this immaculate place several times in my youth and it was absolutely gorgeous and worth the trip. I’d love to go back based on your article. Christmas is especially gorgeous.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2018:

All I could think about while reading this was how much the property taxes must be for a place like this? My God, what does one family need that much living space for? Maybe a little jealousy on my part. lol It certainly makes a statement about wealth, doesn't it?

Great article and pics, Bill! Thanks for the tour!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 22, 2018:

Those gardens look amazing! I'm hope the site wasn't damaged with the recent Carolina area hurricane. Thanks for sharing your travels and talents, as always!

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on September 22, 2018:

Oh I've love to visit this estate. It looks lovely.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2018:

Hi Ethel. Thank you. Yes, perhaps even how the other .01% lived. Hard to imagine that anyone, no matter how rich, would need that much space to live. But, it is a beautiful place to visit.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 22, 2018:

Looks and sounds a great place to visit thanks Bill.

How the other half or is it 1% lived.