Biltmore Estate is one of the most popular attractions in Asheville and Western NC, and for good reason. This 8,000-acre estate will take you on a fairy tale adventure, back to the late 1800s where you can live your day as one of this countries wealthiest families.
Your fairy tale adventure will take you through a nearly perfectly landscaped forest, through beautiful mountain farmland, and of course to a castle, Biltmore House – What kind of fairy tale doesn’t have a castle? Your tour of Biltmore House will be the highlight of your trip, but there is so much more to do and see.
Our guide will walk you through the whole estate, highlighting all of the wonderful things to see and do. We visit numerous times during the year, and there is always something new to see and experience. There is something very special about Biltmore, and regardless of how many times we have visited, it’s always like seeing it for the first time when we return.
This 2018 Guide to Biltmore Estate will walk you through the estate, and focus on many of the wonderful things to see and do, including special events for 2018. Plan your visit to Biltmore Estate using this guide as your starting point.
Biltmore Estate is located in the beautiful mountain city of Asheville NC. More specifically, just off of Highway 40 at exit 50. In fact, if you’ve traveled along I-40 through Asheville, you’ve driven right over parts of Biltmore Estate and probably didn’t even know it.
To reach the main entry and gatehouse for Biltmore Estate, take Exit 50 from I-40. If you are coming westbound on I-40, it will be exit 50B. If you are coming eastbound, it will be just exit 50. From Exit 50B, go right, from exit 50 go left at the bottom of the offramp. Follow Hendersonville Road towards downtown Asheville for a little less than a mile, and you’ll find the Biltmore entrance on your left.
Tickets are available online and at the Estate itself. Purchasing your tickets in advance online is the best deal, providing a $10 discount if purchased 7+ days before your visit. Kids 9 and under are admitted free, and kids 10-16 are 50% off.
Tickets can also be purchased at the Ticketing Center, just a short drive past entrance, and Gate House.
One of the best deals is purchasing an Annual Pass, which offers unlimited Annual access to the entire Biltmore Estate, along with significant savings on Dining, Shopping, and Lodging, and a number of other pass holder benefits. We’ve personally been annual pass holders for the past two years and love them.
If you’ve already purchased tickets, Biltmore will apply the cost of your tickets to an annual pass. There are special pass “deals” offered in March and November.
As you turn into Biltmore, you’ll see a large parking area, with a gift shop and welcome center on the left. Continue through the parking area to the original estate Lodge Gate (commonly referred to as the Gatehouse, but officially called the Lodge Gate). As you drive through, you’ll be greeted by a security guard on your left that will wave you through. The guard is sitting in the “office of the gatekeeper”, where the original gatekeepers maintained their watch.
To your right, and opposite the office is the entrance hall to the Gatekeeper lodgings. The entry contains a spiral staircase, that takes you to the living area in the top of the gatehouse. The living area contains a bathroom, storage areas, a kitchen, and two sizeable rooms.
From 1890 to around 1924, “Old Frank” and his family inhabited the gatehouse, where Ol’Frank was the main gatekeeper.
After passing through the Gatehouse, you’ll begin an incredibly beautiful drive through the manicured and landscaped estate grounds. You’ll reach the Reception and Ticket Sales Center in about .5 miles. This is where you’ll purchase your tickets if you didn’t purchase them prior to visiting.
If you purchased them but didn’t print them, you can pick them up at the Ticket Sales Center as well. If you pre-purchased and printed your tickets, or if you have Annual Passes, you can just show them to the Biltmore security guards at the Admission gate, just past the entrance to the Ticket Sales Center.
After showing your tickets, and passing through security, you can go left to Biltmore House, or right to Antler Hill Village. During the spring, the fields around the Ticket Center are full of flowering Canola, as seen in the photo above. Canola fields are absolutely beautiful and well worth a visit just to photograph them.
For this guide, we’ll head to Biltmore House, then circle around from there to Antler Village.
After turning left past the Ticket Center, you’ll enter Approach Drive, an incredibly beautiful and scenic 3 mile drive up to the Parking area and Biltmore House and Gardens. Drive slow, and enjoy the small details you’ll find as you wind your way through the hardwood forest. There are small ponds with waterfalls, numerous flowers and flowering bushes, small statues, and much more. The landscaping is amazing and never ceases to fascinate us, even though we’ve seen it many times over.
Before long, you’ll reach a Biltmore staff member that will direct you to the current parking area. Don’t worry if your parking area is a bit of a walk, Biltmore provides free shuttle service up to the front of the house. If you are disabled, just tell the parking attendant, and they will direct you to the Handicap/Disabled parking areas.
Pro Tip – If you have an Annual Pass OR if you prefer to drive through to access the gardens and garden areas below the house, turn on your flashers, and the attendants will direct you through, where you can park further down past Biltmore house, closer to the gardens.
After parking, make a note of your location and walk to the nearest shuttle station, where you can board a shuttle and be taken right to the front of the house.
Biltmore House is the largest privately owned home in the United States. The house is a Chateauesque style mansion, built between 1889 and 1895, by George Washington Vanderbilt II. The estate formally opened to family and family friends on Christmas Eve of 1895.
The house is 178,926 square feet and contains 250 rooms, 42 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 3 kitchens. The house was very advanced for the day and age, including electric elevators, central heating, centrally controlled clocks, fire alarms, a call bell system, an indoor pool, bowling alley, and workout center.
The house is fully furnished and decorated and includes a number of pieces of priceless art, antiques, and collectibles, many original to the house when it opened.
As you approach the stone entryway to Biltmore House, look to your right. If you’ve never seen the Biltmore House before, this is a sight to see, and something you will remember. I remember seeing it for the very first time, during a middle school field trip – I was speechless. The house is about as beautiful and majestic as it gets.
The shuttle bus will take you past the fountains up the front of the house. You can enter the front of the house to begin your tour if you have your reservations. If not, you can make reservations at the nearby ticket center if required. Additional “behind the scenes tours” are also available for an additional cost, and advanced reservations are required.
As you pass the fountains, you are following the same Vanderbilt and his guests would take when visiting the home. Prior to it opening, there where railroad tracks here to bring in workers and supplies for the construction.
To the right of the house, you’ll find the original Carriage House, which has a number of restaurants and shops, along with restrooms. To the left of the house, a path will take you down to the gardens.
Pro Tip – If this is your first time visiting, be sure to do the audio tour. The cost is around $10, but well worth the money. The audio tour will take you through the home, offering historical and “insider” information. You can pick up the audio tour as you enter the house, through the main entrance.
In addition to seeing Biltmore House, one of the highlights of your trip will be strolling through the acres of gardens on the estate. People travel from all over the world to see them, and for good reason, they are amazing. This is particularly true in the spring, during Biltmore Blooms.
>> Don’t miss Biltmore Blooms which runs from March 20th – May 24th for 2018
From the front of the house, take the path down and to the left. The estate gardens were designed by the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. You’ll see reflecting pools in the Italian Gardens, Arbors full of Wisteria, Tulips, and Azaleas in the walled garden, and so much more.
>> For more information and photos of the Biltmore Gardens, see our Biltmore Gardens Guide.
No, you won’t find Colonel Mustard with a candlestick here, at least not that we’re aware of, but you will find an amazing collection of plants from around the world, all indoors, and viewable year round.
Stepping into this beautiful Conservatory, located right next to the walled garden, is like walking into a tropical jungle full of abundant plant life, and lots of small hidden details to find. The Conservatory is open year-round, and full of various plants from all over the world.
Past the Conservatory, is the Biltmore Bass Pond. You can either drive down and park on the roadside or take a longer hike from the Gardens. There are trails that take you all the way around the pond, and you can also access the Woodlands Trail and Meadow Trail from here as well. All of the hiking trails and estate area are dog-friendly as well.
Be sure and stop off at the boathouse, which is beautiful, and very romantic.
When the Vanderbilts lived at Biltmore, the primary form of transportation around the estate was by horse, either through carriage, wagon or on horseback.
Take a few extra minutes, and drive up past the Deerpark Restaurant to the Carriage house and horse stables. The Old Barn, The “Biltmore Belgians”, and the farm animals on the way up are definitely worth the trip!
While visiting, stop by the office and get information on two popular outdoor activities: horseback riding and carriage rides.
About half-way between the House and Antler Village, the road goes alongside the French Broad River, and past a small area called the Lagoon. The Lagoon is not only a great place for a nice picnic, but it provides one of the best views of Biltmore House. You’ll see the Lagoon on the left as you head away from Biltmore House. To access the parking area, take one of the two small gravel roads to the left.
The Lagoon parking area also provides access to walking and bike riding trails that go alongside the French Broad River. These are very popular.
Antler Hill Village is your destination for shopping, dining, and staying at Biltmore. This mostly new shopping and entertainment area, features the Biltmore Winery, The Village Hotel, and the luxurious Inn at Biltmore. Antler Hill Village also features a number of shops, Cedric’s Tavern and a Petting Farm with a number of farm animals.
Biltmore’s Outdoor Adventure Center is here and serves as the starting point for nearly all of Biltmore’s outdoor activities, including biking, carriage rides, Segway tours, Land Rover Experience and much more.
During the summer, you’ll often find live bands playing in the “Village Green” along with a number of other special activities and events. Antler Hill Village should definitely be on your list to stop and see when visiting the estate.
In the early 1900s, George Vanderbilt began establishing the Estate as a place for fine wine, as Vanderbilt began to collect world-renowned wines and storing them in the Biltmore Wine Cellars. Fast forward to 1983, where the Biltmore Dairy, during a large construction effort, was turned into the Biltmore Winery. The Biltmore Estate Wine Company was established, and the very first Biltmore Estate Wines were produced and sold.
Today, this modern Winery, which produces wines from grapes grown on the estate is the most visited winery in the United States. At this modern, historical, and simply gorgeous winery, visitors can taste complimentary samples, enjoy behind the scenes wine tours, participate in specialty wine experiences, and of course purchase the Winery’s many different selections of fine wines.
Wine tastings and self-guided tours of the winery are included with your Biltmore Ticket purchase.
For 2018, a new wine bar has opened and offers a wonderful way to relax after a fun-filled day visiting Biltmore Hosue and the Estate.
Whether you just can’t fit everything into a single day, or if you just want to spend the evening enjoying the luxurious accommodations provided by the exquisite Estate lodging options, Biltmore has an overnight stay option for you.
The Village Hotel, located right in Antler Village provides easy access to a number of dining options, outdoor activities and of course shopping. The Village Hotel provides a casual but nice environment and amenities at a moderate price level.
The Village Hotel has 209 rooms and suites, and cost ranges from $155 – $900 per night. Amenities include a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, free parking, and complimentary shuttle to Biltmore House.
209 rooms and suites, $155-$900, fitness center, outdoor pool, WiFi, complimentary estate shuttle, free parking.
Looking for the same level of service that the Vanderbilt’s treated their own guests? The Inn on Biltmore Estate provides luxurious 4-star elegance and personalized service.
The Inn has 213 rooms, ranging from $259 – $499 per night and includes a fitness center, outdoor pool, hot tub, gift shop, and complimentary shuttle to Biltmore House.
Biltmore Estate includes a number of wonderful dining options. All restaurants are within the estate, and Biltmore tickets are required to reach them. Dining options include:
We’ve been visiting Biltmore House and Estate for more than 30 years, and in that time, we’ve learned a few tips that will help you make your stay FAR more enjoyable: