Biltmore Estate is on any must do list when visiting Asheville. Not only the largest private home in America, this treasured tourist destination welcomes over 1 million visitors a year. Registered as a National Historic Landmark, this North Carolina landmark earns the title of #1 North Carolina visitor attraction in its category (museums, historic buildings and zoos). Melodious TravelingMom offers 6 tips on how to do Biltmore Estate like a Vanderbilt to maximize your Biltmore experience.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate starts before guests enter the House

Biltmore House is the largest private home in North America at 135,000 square feet. Boasting 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms, the home itself took 10 million pounds of limestone to build. Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

Showing off the best of Asheville to our California friends, it was a no brainer: we had to take them to Biltmore. After all, Biltmore Estate is the largest private residence in America and registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Our West Coast friends were thrilled at our choice.

But I was suddenly panicked. Our family has been to Biltmore Estate on numerous occasions, and I wanted to be sure that our friends’  experience measured up to the Vanderbilts (the family that owns the property) themselves.

Well, that may be a tad unrealistic, but these 6 Tips we used will hopefully maximize how guests approach their Biltmore Estate vacation.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate House Winery and Gardens

House and gardens and winery had us saying “Oh my” in the best possible way. Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

6 Tips on How to Do Biltmore Estate Like a Vanderbilt

1. Audio Tour of the Biltmore House

Part of being a Vanderbilt is knowing all about the family tree and the deep traditions and history of the grounds. An audio tour accomplished that for our party of 4. Having friends with us who had never been to Biltmore, we decided the 90-minute audio tour was the way to go! We toured all three floors and the basement in under 2 hours and learned more about the history of Biltmore House than I had on any prior visit.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate atrium great place to start

One of the first spots in the Biltmore House is this stunning atrium. Home for live music during the Candlelight Christmas Evenings (our Tip # 5)–my high school orchestra once played here.

For instance, my favorite story shared on the audio guide was about a young servant who was so stunned by the grandeur of the banquet hall that she dropped the tray of china she held. Instead of freaking out, George Vanderbilt actually helped her clean up the broken pieces. What a brilliant idea to use storytelling in informing guests about the family and the history of the home.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate tapestry gallery

The 90-foot long tapestry gallery blew me away with the skill required for these pieces of art. Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

Another awe-inspiring moment happens in the tapestry gallery. I was amazed when the audio guide said the tapestries took 5 years to design and plan — and 5 years to weave them. That’s persistence!

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate library

Painted in the 1720s by Giovanni Pellegrini, “The Chariot of Aurora” on the ceiling of the library once graced the Pisani Palace in Venice. Made up of 13 different sections, this masterpiece has one panel that weighs 500 pounds! Photo by Melodious TravelingMom Sherry Boswell.

2. Gawk at the Gardens

Biltmore Estate goes way beyond the Biltmore House itself. The property spans over 8,000 acres, including brilliant gardens which were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. My friend and fellow Garden Geek TravelingMom Julie KNOWS gardening and shares how she explored Biltmore history and horticulture. Although I have a black thumb, even I appreciated the lushness and beauty of the grounds.

As we strolled the garden paths, I imagined the footsteps of those who came before me and felt a deep connection to the land. As we passed from the Italian Garden, I envisioned guests playing croquet and tennis; the Rose Garden, where over 40 varieties of roses bloom; and the Conservatory, which once provided flowers and plants for Biltmore House like the ever-present orchids, ferns, and palms. The genius behind the design cannot be overlooked because it envelops you.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate gardens

Grand gardens that can be appreciated by even black thumbs like me. Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

3. Tour the Biltmore Winery

Do you know that the most visited winery in the United States isn’t in Napa Valley? Instead, it’s at Biltmore, where approximately 600,000 visitors stop by to sample the award-winning estate wines each year. The estate admission ticket also includes a winery tour and complimentary wine tasting for those 21 and over. We squeezed in a tasting of mostly red and varietals before touring the rest of Antler Hill Village.

At our tasting, we learned that the grapes grown on site include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay. For the true connoisseurs, book a specialty wine experience like the “Vine to Wine Tour” which combines an excursion to the vineyards on the west side of Biltmore along with a walking production tour and wine tastings.

For the true connoisseurs, book a specialty wine experience like the “Vine to Wine Tour” which combines an excursion to the vineyards on the west side of Biltmore along with a walking production tour and wine tastings.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate where you'll Discover (and taste) the most visited winery in the United States isn't in Napa Valley

Discover (and taste) the most visited winery in the United States isn’t in Napa Valley? It’s at the Biltmore, Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

4. Play at Antler Hill Village

Go beyond the Biltmore House and explore this massive estate with a trip over to Antler Hill Village. Home to the Biltmore Winery, the main draws at the Village are a farm, several restaurants, and one of the Estate resorts, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate. Antler Hill Village is like a time warp to a period where staff lived on the estate raising livestock, tending crops, and working at Biltmore Dairy in the 1890s.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate ice cream and barnyard

Antler Hill Village means barnyard friends, blacksmiths, and ice cream! Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

The Barn in the Village is one of my kids’ favorite because it features blacksmiths, woodworkers, and other craft demonstrations. The biggest hit with the little ones is the Barnyard where goats and lambs cavort and roosters strut their stuff. Don’t miss the Creamery for some ice cream or baked goodies.

Don’t miss the Creamery for some ice cream or baked goodies.

6 tips on Biltmore Estate and Catch live music while eating ice cream and exploring Antler Hill Village.

Catch live music while eating ice cream and exploring Antler Hill Village. (Notice the Inn on Biltmore Estate in the distance). Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

5. Plan a Visit During the Holidays

Opening on Christmas Eve in 1895, the Biltmore House was the culmination of six years of construction and collaboration. Seems fitting then that holidays at the Estate are such a big deal. Called Candlelight Christmas Evenings, this special ticketed event showcases the Biltmore House in holiday splendor. Due to high demand, entrance on these evenings is timed and does sell out.

Traveling Mom Tip: Purchase your Candlelight Christmas Evenings ticket by September 30, 2017 to save $10-15 per ticket on select dates (11/3-11/13, 11/15-11/22, 11/26-11/30, 12/1-12/14, and 1/2-1/6). Dates designated peak will cost $ 75 and regular will be $ 55. Count on all weekends, Thanksgiving week, and Christmas week to be peak.

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate -- visit the esate during the holidays for its Candlelight Christmas Evenings

The Banquet Hall’s 7-story high ceiling means that Biltmore House can handle a really BIG tree. Photo courtesy of Biltmore Estate.

6. Stay on Site and Pretend You’re a Vanderbilt

Although we made this visit a day trip, we have stayed at both the Inn on Biltmore Estate (completed in 2001) and Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate (2015). Both are outstanding properties that our family has enjoyed on prior trips.

How to choose between them? As an AAA four diamond resort, the Inn is more upscale and offers more amenities like fine dining restaurants and a spa. But I think I prefer the newer Village Hotel because of its proximity to Antler Hill Village and its price point as a moderate hotel.

Added bonus: both hotels have complimentary shuttle service to the Biltmore House. I like the idea of staying on the estate to give enough time to see all the areas of Biltmore. Hey, it made me FEEL like a Vanderbilt to sleep on the property (even if it wasn’t in the Biltmore House itself!)

6 Tips for Doing Biltmore Estate hotels

The Village Hotel at Biltmore Estate makes it even easier to tour and see all the Biltmore has to offer. My son’s favorites: the pool and chess board. Photo by Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom.

For other ideas of fun things to do in Asheville, check out where to sleep and eat, visiting the Grove Park Inn for Sunday brunch and the National Gingerbread Competition, and free things to do in Asheville.

Ticket Information for Biltmore Estate:

Admission includes a self-guided visit of the Biltmore House & Gardens, Antler Hill Village, and a complimentary wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery.

  • Adults: $ 55-65 (depending on time of year)
  • Youth (10-16) $ 27.50-32.50
  • Kids 9 and under: free
  • Audio Guides: $ 10.98 per person.
  • Guided tours: $ 22 per person

FYI: Due to the historic architecture of the house, only the first and second floors are accessible by wheelchair. All shops and restaurants on the estate are handicap-accessible. Also, there are no public restrooms in Biltmore House, so make your visit at the restrooms near the entrance before you go in.

TravelingMom Tip: Ask for the kids’ version of the audio tour that is narrated by Cedric, the Vanderbilts’ Saint Bernard.

Here are 6 tips for doing Biltmore Estate - from the historic house to the winery and Antler Hill Village.