If you are traveling to Asheville, North Carolina, visiting the Biltmore Estate is an absolute must-do. You can easily spend a whole day here touring the house and the grounds (so be sure to include it in your Asheville itinerary!). And there are definitely some tips you will want to know for making the most of your visit.
Gerrit and I first visited The Biltmore on our honeymoon in 2010, and we loved touring the palatial rooms and beautiful gardens. In 2021, we went back on our anniversary trip and found even more to do at the estate (including a special tour that we LOVED! More below.) Even with two trips under our belts, I can see us going back for years to come. It always seems like there is more to explore, plus I’d love to see it at Christmas!
So if you are planning a trip to Asheville and want to visit the Biltmore Estate, here is everything you should know to make the most of your visit!
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History of the Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate was the country home of George and Edith Vanderbilt completed in 1895. It is built in a French chateau style, and is perhaps the closest thing we have to a castle to visit in the United States.
George Vanderbilt (grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt who built the family fortune) first visited Asheville, North Carolina in 1888 and feel in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains. Construction on his estate there began in 1889. When George Vanderbilt married in 1898, the Biltmore is where he and his wife, Edith, lived.
The Biltmore opened to the public for tours in 1930, and has been enjoyed by Asheville residents and visitors since then. Even now, the company the runs the Biltmore Estate is still owned by descendants of George Vanderbilt.
But the Biltmore Estate is more than just a house; there are also gardens, a winery, shopping areas, hotels and more. It’s also still a working estate, with farms and livestock.
All this means that if you wanted to, you could spend an entire vacation at The Biltmore. Don’t panic though: if you are visiting Asheville, you really only need one day to visit the estate. And we’ve got the perfect itinerary at the end of this post!
Where is the Biltmore?
The Biltmore Estate is located in Asheville, North Carolina. It sits on 8,000 acres just south of downtown Asheville.
From downtown Asheville it takes just under 10 minutes to get to The Biltmore Estate. But when you are visiting you will still want to give yourself plenty of time to get there; the Approach Road once you go through the gates seems to take about another 10 minutes and parking (and possibly needing to ride a bus to the house) can take time.
Best Time to Visit the Biltmore
I’m pretty sure if you ask just about anyone, they will tell you the best time to visit the Biltmore is when the house is decorated for Christmas. I haven’t been able to go at Christmas yet, but the photos look gorgeous. Know that Christmas definitely draws the crowds though, so be prepared for a busy estate!
We’ve only been in the summer before, and while it has been crowded and hot, we’ve still had a good time. Spring and Fall are great times to visit, because the weather is milder. Plus in Spring you get the flowers, and in Fall you get the beautiful colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Arguably though, there is no bad time to visit the Biltmore!
Top Things To Do at The Biltmore Estate
There is so much to do when visiting the Biltmore Estate beyond just the house! Here are some of the most popular options.
Tour the Biltmore House
Your ticket to the Biltmore includes a self-guided tour through the house. You’ll see everything from the Banquet Hall and Library to the bedrooms and kitchens.
If you want to, you can choose to do an audio tour. It used to be that the audio guide was an additional price, but not it is included with the base ticket. So you might as well get it!
Our favorite thing we’ve ever done though is the Backstairs Tour. This is a separate ticket for a small group tour. (For us in July 2021, it was about $40 per person.) This tour is so interesting! You get to go into some of the back hallways and servant areas and hear about what life was like for both the Vanderbilts and the staff of the house, plus you hear a lot of stories about their connections to each other. I highly recommend this tour or one of the other small tours offered!
Walk Through the Biltmore Gardens
Surrounding the house there are several gardens you can visit!
- Italian Garden: This garden is full of lily ponds and statues and is located right next to the house.
- Shrub Garden: You’ll walk through this spacious garden on your way to the Conservatory. Think of it more like a walking path through a park.
- Walled Garden: This is the garden that sits in front of the Conservatory, featuring seasonal flowers and a long archway you can walk through.
- Rose Garden: Directly in front of the Conservatory is the Rose Garden, featuring well…roses.
- Conservatory: This is an iconic garden building, and inside you’ll find plants like ferns, orchids, and plams.
- Azalea Garden: Directly behind the Conservatory is the Azalea Garden. This is one that will require a bit more walking.
- Spring Garden: This garden is east of the walled garden but is a bit out of way. It features spring-blooming shrubs.
Spend Time in Antler Hill Village
Antler Hill Village is an area on the Biltmore Estate that features shopping, dining, and activities. There is lots here for families to enjoy! It’s a great place to spend an afternoon or evening after touring the house during the day.
Here’s what you can find at Antler Hill Village:
- Biltmore Winery: Your Biltmore House ticket will include a complementary wine tasting, and this is where you’ll do that!
- Shopping: There are several different shops to browse that feature items like home goods, local crafts, and the Biltmore wine.
- Dining: There are several restaurants to choose from in Antler Hill Village. Many of them serve local and regional dishes.
- Barn and Farmyard: See farmyard animals, see live demonstrations, and find children’s activities.
- Village Green & Bandstand: Relax on the lawn and enjoy live music.
Visit the Winery
The Biltmore produces its own wine, and you can taste the wine at the Winery at Antler Hill Village. A complimentary wine tasting comes with your estate ticket (you just need to schedule your tasting with guest services). But you can also schedule tours of the winery and purchase wine (of course).
The Biltmore Estate has a variety of restaurants on property. If you are touring the house, you can eat at the nearby Stable Cafe or The Courtyard Market. Antler Hill also has a variety of restaurants to choose from. You can see a full list of restaurants here.
The Biltmore Estate offers a huge variety of guided activities, which makes sense when you are nestled in such beautiful mountains. You can find guided hikes, mountain biking, falconry experiences, horseback riding, and more.
Stay on Property
You can actually stay overnight at Biltmore Estate. No, you can’t stay in the house. But the estate has three different options: the Village Hotel, The Inn, and the Cottages. The Village Hotel is the most moderately priced, while The Inn is more luxurious. The Cottages are the most expensive, but are also different as they are entire homes rather than hotel rooms.
All three options have access to The Spa, outdoor pool, and fitness center. You can compare options here.
Tips for Visiting the Biltmore Estate
Buy Tickets Ahead of Time
You should definitely purchase your tickets to the Biltmore Estate in advance. You can buy tickets online or you can call. When you buy your tickets, you will also reserve your house entrance time (and we recommend the earliest time!).
If you want to buy tickets for a specialty tour, your will need to call. On our last visit, I called and bought our house tickets and tour tickets at the same time, and they were extremely helpful when I was trying to figure out the best times for each one.
Eat Breakfast Beforehand
While there are some breakfast restaurant options in Antler Hill Village and a small bake shop with pastries near the house, it’s best to eat a big breakfast before you arrive. That way you can get straight to touring the Biltmore House and Estate in the morning and have plenty of time to do everything.
Get There Early
While the Biltmore Estate is close to downtown Asheville, we still recommend showing up at least an hour before your reserved house entrance time. Once you go through the gates of the estate, you still have to drive to the parking lots, park, and walk or take a bus to the house. If it’s particularly crowded and/or you don’t arrive until later in the day, this can take a good amount of time.
Make Wine Tasting + Dining Reservations
Make sure you have reservations for all the things you want to do. If you want to dine at a restaurant (as opposed to grabbing a to-go bite to eat at a restaurant like The Courtyard Market), you will want to make a dining reservation. The Stable Cafe is especially popular, so make reservations in advance.
You’ll also want to make sure you have your wine tasting booked. The wine tasting is complementary with your estate ticket, but you still have to reserve a time. Wine tastings can only be booked day-of. So visit a customer service kiosk when you arrive to book your preferred time.
Schedule Plenty of Time to Tour the House
Make sure you have plenty of time to see the house! It is commonly said that it takes two hours to see the house, but honestly I would allocate a bit more time, especially if you are doing the self-guided audio tour. (You DON’T want to be like us on our last trip, where we were rushing through the end to make it to our lunch reservation.)
Book a Specialty Tour
The special tours at the Biltmore are FANTASTIC. As I’ve already said maybe like five times in this post, we did the Backstairs Tour on our last trip and it was hands down my favorite thing we’ve ever done at the Biltmore. You learn so much and get to see areas of the house that aren’t part of the general tour.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
You will be doing A LOT of walking at the Biltmore, so make sure you have comfortable shoes. Not only is the house huge, but the gardens are also extensive and you don’t want to miss out on seeing something because your feet hurt!
One Day Biltmore Itinerary
Most people visiting Asheville will schedule a day to visit the Biltmore, and here’s how we think you should plan your day!
First, tour the house. Schedule your house entrance time as early as possible. If you arrive before your scheduled entrance time, spend some time exploring the nearby gardens and the terrace. Also, stop by guest services first thing and reserve a late afternoon/early evening wine tasting!
After your house tour, have lunch. If you can make reservations at The Stable Cafe, they have great food! If not, you can grab something at The Courtyard Market. Both restaurants are located just left of the house exit in the stable area.
In the early afternoon, tour the gardens. My favorite is the Italian Garden and the Walled Garden! If you get too hot, head back to the stable area to cool off in the shops.
If you are there during one of the hotter months, consider visiting some of the gardens in the morning before house tour.
Mid-afternoon go on a specialty tour. We did the 2:00 p.m. Backstairs Tour when we visited, and the timing worked out great. Most tours last about an hour.
Next, hop in the car and head to Antler Hill Village. Enjoy your complementary wine tasting (which you scheduled earlier, right?) and check out the shops. Then think about grabbing some dinner for a great end to a day of visiting The Biltmore Estate!
FAQs About Visiting the Biltmore Estate
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about visiting the Biltmore Estate
Can you leave and return in the same day?
Yes! Your admission to the Biltmore Estate is good for the full day, so you can leave and return during the day with the same ticket.
How long does it take to tour the Biltmore?
Touring the house takes about two hours, sometimes a little longer. But plan to spend a whole day at the Biltmore so you can also spend time in the Biltmore Gardens, explore Antler Hill Village, and dine at one of the Biltmore’s restaurants.
What time does the Biltmore open?
Hours vary. But generally, admission to the Estate begins at 8:30 a.m. Your time to enter the Biltmore House will depend on the ticket you purchased.
What time should I choose for my Biltmore House entrance ticket?
I like to schedule my entrance time as early in the morning as I can. It tends to be less crowded, and then I also get the rest of the day to explore the Estate or go on specialty tours. However, if it’s a super hot day when you visit, you might choose to do the Gardens in the morning and then the House in the afternoon.
What is the best time to visit the Biltmore Gardens?
If you are visiting the Biltmore during the summer, choose to do the Gardens first thing in the morning when it is hot! Otherwise, visit them mid-morning or afternoon after you tour the house.
Who owns the Biltmore Estate?
The Biltmore Estate is owned by the Biltmore Company, which is still operated by the Vanderbilt family. However, you will see the surname Cecil most often now, as Cornelia Vanderbilt, George’s daughter and only child, married John Cecil.
Can you stay at the Biltmore Estate?
You cannot stay in the Biltmore House. But, the Biltmore Estate has three accommodation options on property: Village Hotel, The Inn, and the Cottages.
Is the Biltmore pet friendly?
Pets are not allowed inside any buildings at the Biltmore Estate. However, the outdoor areas are pet-friendly. Pets must be leashed.
Some restaurants in Antler Hill Village allow pets on their patios, but be sure to request patio seating.
Is visiting The Biltmore worth the price?
Visiting The Biltmore can definitely be a little pricey. But it is definitely worth visiting at least once! When you consider that your ticket gets you not only into the House, but also gives you access to the Gardens, Antler Hill Village, and a complementary wine tasting, it definitely feels worth it.
Where To Stay Near the Biltmore
If you want to stay near the Biltmore Estate, you can either stay in one of their on-property accommodations or in nearby Biltmore Village.
Biltmore Estate Accommodations
- The Inn: This is the original hotel on the Biltmore Estate. It is a 4-star hotel and has a luxury feel.
- Village Hotel: This is more budget friendly option (but can still be somewhat pricey).
- Cottages The priciest option gives you a full cottage on the Biltmore Estate.
Biltmore Village Accommodations
Biltmore Village is located right across the road from the entrance to the Biltmore Estate, so it’s a super convenient location. Here are a few hotel options in the Biltmore Village area:
- The Grand Bohemian is located centrally in Biltmore Village and offers luxurious rooms within walking distance of all the shopping and dining in Biltmore Village.
- Home2 Suites near Biltmore Village is a more budget-friendly option that is great for families.
- Courtyard by Marriott is a bit further down the road, but is still a super convenient location just a couple blocks from Biltmore Village.
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