When many people think of Asheville, NC, they think of the Vanderbilt’s truly palatial mansion, Biltmore Estate. As the organization that maintains the Biltmore has grown and recognized the need to maintain and conserve the house in all its splendor, they’ve made Biltmore more and more of a destination, a place where anyone can find something fun to do, including but not limited to touring the incredible open floors of the building.
For instance, they’ve created rotating exhibits that allow the building to both preserve a look of what the Vanderbilt lifestyle was like while transforming certain spaces into gallery areas that change seasonally so that you can always find something new at Biltmore Estate.
While many people can find something exciting to see on multiple days of Biltmore visits, we’re here today to help you see “America’s Largest Home” in one day by focusing on what appeals to you most, whether that’s food and wine, outdoor activities, or history.
The list of things to do at Biltmore Estate may seem long, but you’ll find which ones are most appealing to you and make visiting Biltmore Estate personalized to your enjoyment!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: How to Tackle the Biltmore Estate in One Day
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How To Tackle Biltmore Estate
Tips for Visiting Biltmore Estate
The biggest tip we can offer for a great Biltmore experience is to plan in advance. It takes time to tour Biltmore Estate, and many tickets are for a particular time of day so that the space doesn’t get too crowded. Planning ahead ensures there are times for entry for you rather than just long lines.
Get to Know Biltmore’s History
Biltmore Estate’s claim to fame is as the largest private residence in the country and the home of the wealthy family, the Vanderbilts. It has been kept in beautiful care through the proceeds of admission and tours of the home since the 1930s – so when you see the ticket prices, remember that a huge part of what these tickets do is maintain the property and provide the staff needed to keep this piece of history alive.
A very interesting addition is that, as the home has thrived as a tourist attraction, they have added shopping, dining, and working elements of the estate, including farming and a working winery. These additions make it an even more pleasant visit and are part of why so many people visit each year.
Christmas was always an important time for Biltmore Estate, so coming for the decorations and special evening-by-candlelight tours is very popular. The only real slow seasons are the months right after Christmas, and perhaps there are lulls during the summer, but with the beautiful gardens in the spring and the fall leaves in the panoramic views during autumn, there’s really no bad time to visit.
Reading a little about the history of the home can serve multiple goals. First, it can make the visit more educational if you’re building it into a trip with children and will help them find more of the visit engaging since they will have more context.
That being said, history does add some context for the adults in the party, too. Understanding the massive undertaking that such a large home and functional estate would have been more than 120 years ago really helps to make the majesty of this home even more impressive.
Pick Your Priorities and Your Have-to-Haves
Everyone visiting Biltmore is excited about different things. While some folks are focused on the incredible Christmas decorations and willing to visit during a busy time, others prefer a quieter day trip during February to see the house when tickets are discounted and there are fewer people pouring into the estate.
While nearly everyone chooses to tour Biltmore Estate house on their first visit to Asheville – it is, after all, the main attraction – what you do for the rest of the day can really vary. Don’t feel like you need to do something different every hour of your day at the Biltmore. You can definitely come back in the future or skip the items that appeal to you less!
Check Out the Biltmore Website
One of the best ways to plan your day is to make reservations in advance on the Biltmore Estate website. You can evaluate what the earliest times are for the tour of the main house, for instance, to allow you to spend the rest of the day eating, drinking, exploring, or taking a specialty tour. Seeing what is on offer during the time you’ll be there can also help you narrow down what you want to do.
The website will also help you schedule meals at the various dining options on-site. While you can exit and reenter the grounds, the on-site restaurants are excellent, and you’ll save more time for fun if you don’t have to shuttle to your car and go find food elsewhere.
Three Potential Biltmore Itineraries: The Foodie, The Outdoor Lover, and the History Buff
We see many ways to enjoy a single day at the estate, and some people will enjoy it so much that it will just make sense to add on an additional day or become Annual Pass subscribers. Here are three examples of how people with different travel priorities might enjoy the Biltmore in style.
The Foodie Tour of Biltmore Estate
Start your day with an early morning visit to Village Social. They have a variety of locally or sustainably sourced options to get you ready for your day, from features like the Crab and Pesto Egg Scramble to their Pecan Waffle with Bourbon-Barrel Aged Maple Syrup.
Schedule to tour the Biltmore Estate house after your breakfast since seeing the house is the best way to get a full insight and picture of what this estate was like. You can opt for an entertaining and informative audio guide or a self-guided tour.
Then head for lunch at one of the restaurants at Antler Hill Village, choosing between fine and casual dining depending on what would be best. Then visit the Biltmore Estate Winery for a complimentary wine tasting included in your day ticket, and if there are winery tours available (these vary in when they are offered), this could be a time to learn about the history of winemaking on-site.
Stroll in the gardens and stop for a drink at the Conservatory Cafe or sign up for the decadent Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting featuring local legend French Broad Chocolates. Do a little shopping or check out the farmyard before making your dinner reservation for award-winning food at Bistro, where some of your entrees will contain food grown right in the gardens on Biltmore Estate. You’ll end your day of farm-to-table and vineyard-to-glass delights happy and well-fed.
The Outdoor Lover’s Tour of Biltmore Estate
While most people will want to take a tour of the main house, there is a cheaper ticket known as a Gardens and Grounds ticket, which could be a good option if what you really want out of this day at Biltmore is absolutely breathtaking scenery. If you opt for an outdoorsy focus while also seeing the house, an option would be the main ticket plus a Rooftop tour, offering beautiful vistas and time on the ramparts of this incredible building.
As soon as Biltmore is open, rent a bike and pedal through the 20 miles of bike paths. When you’ve seen the overview, take a walk to see some of the places you passed on your tour, and then spend some time in the Garden and Conservatory. If you and your crew are fans of horses, there are options for guided trail rides, private horseback riding, and even a carriage ride to see the grounds from a different view.
Have little kids with you on your day of outdoorsy fun? Consider signing up for a horseback ride or stop by Antler Hill Village for a run around their fun wooden playground, included with admission or an annual pass.
The History Buff’s Tour of Biltmore Estate
Of course, if you are a history buff, you’ll want to start the day with a self-guided or audio tour of the house. Be sure to budget a smidge more than the recommended 2 hours – you might get lost in all there is to learn! We also recommend the behind-the-scenes Backstairs Tour or an Expert-Guided Small Group Tour if you want even more insight into the house and the history behind it.
Explore the self-guided Biltmore Estate tours of the gardens and farmyard so that you can get more of an insight into the working elements of the property, and consider taking a guided bike ride to cover more ground while learning additional details about the house and grounds.
Throughout the day, don’t forget to stop to digest your learning with some excellent snacks and meals at places like the Stable Cafe and Cedric’s Tavern. Antler Hill Village is worth a stop for some souvenirs of your visit – perhaps a book on the history of the Biltmore Estate to continue your learning after your busy day!
Other Ways to Enjoy Biltmore Estate
- Visit the rotating exhibits at Amherst at Deerpark, which has hosted the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit that has traveled the world and will continue to have rotating exhibitions. For art lovers and museum fans alike, this section of the estate is a wonderful addition to your immersive experiences at the house.
- Always double-check the Biltmore Estate tours section of the website. For instance, those staying on-site sometimes can access tours like the Morning at the Biltmore House tour that treats guests as if they were guests of the Vanderbilts themselves.
- It’s possible to stay at the estate, giving you access to the panoramic views and lovely shopping and dining from morning till night. The Village Hotel is the moderate option, offering comfortable and pleasant accommodations that save you the hassle of leaving the property to stay offsite.
The Inn at Biltmore Estate is a four-star luxury hotel and offers all the amenities you’d want from a luxury stay.
Finally, for those who want to be wrapped up in the experience of Biltmore, the Cottages offer excellent accommodations in historic buildings that have been on-site as long as the Biltmore itself.
- Many hiking trails are available and are a particularly good deal as part of a second day at Biltmore. After your action-packed first day on the property, get a Gardens and Grounds ticket that allows you to explore at your leisure.
- Always make sure to stop by special events like the Biltmore Garden Railway model train exhibition – a hit with young children, for sure – and if you happen to have tickets during the Christmas season, make sure you take full advantage of seeing all the splendor and taking part in any special events available.
Get the Best Deal With a Biltmore Annual Pass
While all of the one-day itineraries are unforgettable, there are plenty of people who tackle Biltmore Estate in one day only to realize they wish they had more time. The cost of a single day’s excellent activities can feel steep, especially if you long to see, do, and taste more.
Annual passes to Biltmore Estate are a great way to mitigate this. If you live within short driving distance of the Biltmore, it’s easy to make annual passes worth the cost with a few day trips a year.
But if you are farther away, just commit to multiple days twice or three times in the year, and you’ll quickly see your cost-per-hour-enjoyed go down a lot. What’s more is that you can take everything at your own pace, really savoring everything from wine tasting to horseback riding.
While these are our best tips for visiting Biltmore Estate, we really believe you can have a great time here whether you spend multiple days or just a long, in-depth morning on the property. There will be more to explore if you find yourself lucky enough to return as well!
There you have it! Our guide on how to tackle Biltmore Estate in one day. Do you have any tips on visiting Biltmore Estate? Let us know so we can add them to the list!
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