March 31, 2020
Local’s Guide to Visiting the Biltmore Estate
Posted by: Asheville BBA
Any trip to Asheville must include a visit to the Biltmore Estate. This massive estate with a stunning mansion, winery, lush gardens, and acres upon acres of grounds isn’t just for tourists coming to Asheville; many locals have season passes and visit numerous times throughout the year. Everyone has their own secret tips and tricks to exploring the Biltmore and are willing to share them with you so you can get the most out of your experience and be a Biltmore expert too.
Plan for a Weekday Visit
If you are spending some time in Asheville, then reserve your Biltmore visit for one of the weekdays. The weekend is the most popular time to visit the mansion and with extravagant weddings taking over the conservatory, lawns, and gardens, it can feel a little overwhelming at times. On the weekdays, however, you’ll be able to wander the gardens at your leisure, take a little extra time in your favorite rooms, sip wine at the vineyard, and enjoy a more intimate experience. Can’t visit during the weekdays? Don’t fret! We’ve got some tricks up our sleeves for weekend visits too.
Look no further than Cedar Crest Inn for the closest B&B to Biltmore, just 1/2 mile to the Estate entrance. In addition to the grand Victorian Mansion, this property boasts a Cottage and Carriage House, offering plenty of options for group accommodations.
The Best Time to Tour Biltmore House
While the Biltmore Estate is open from 9 am until dusk, the busiest time to tour Biltmore House is from 11 am to 1 pm. Instead of fighting the crowd, start in Antler Hill Village at the winery then shuttle to the Conservatory. Take a stroll out to the Bass Pond or meander through the Walled Garden toward Biltmore House. All tours of Biltmore House require a timed reservation. Make yours between 2 and 3:30 pm when the peak crowds should be over, giving your tour a little more elbow room. While you only get 1 hour to tour the estate that day, tickets are good for re-entry the following day. Use your ticket to head straight to the vineyards at 4 and enjoy some wine tastings and explore the grounds before heading out for the day. The following morning, arrive after breakfast and re-use your ticket to explore Biltmore House with your extra day.
If you want to get to the Biltmore first thing in the morning, book a stay at the Sweet Biscuit Inn. This Colonial-Revival home is situated only a ½ mile north of the Biltmore Estate entrance. Bring your bicycles and start your day with a scenic ride into the estate, tour the grounds, and have a blast before returning to your spacious rooms at the inn.
Explore the Estate On Horseback
See a different side to the Biltmore by touring the woodlands and meadows of the estate by horse. Saddle up and trot along the gorgeous trails while a guide tells you everything you could ever want to know about the estate. Choose between a 1-hour group ride or reserve a private tour guide for a romantic two-hour ride deep into the estate. If you are planning on staying at the Biltmore from open-close, this is a great option for a midday break.
Celebrate Christmas in November
During the holiday season, the Biltmore Estate is one of the most magical places in the world. Every inch of the estate is adorned with Christmas decorations. Over 55 hand-decorated trees are placed around the mansion with the most impressive being the 35-foot Fraser Fir brought to the estate by Santa himself. Every room smells of pine and oranges to sugar cookies and cinnamon. The holiday season also happens to be the busiest time of year at the Biltmore (we couldn’t possibly imagine why). Take a page out of the local’s book and visit the mansion in November to see all of the decorations without the crowds.
Bike the Biltmore Trails
Explore over 20 miles of biking trails on the Biltmore’s grounds. You can bring your own bike, have one delivered to the estate from Hike Bike Kayak Asheville, or contact the Bike Barn on the estate to see if they have any rentals available. From easy trails along the French Broad River to narrow and winding trails for expert riders, you can find plenty of trails to ride around for the day.
Take an Off-roading Course On The Biltmore Grounds
Tour the Biltmore Estate in a luxurious estate car. With the Land Rover Adventure Experience, you can learn the basics of expedition-style driving while you tackle off-road obstacles on the estate grounds. If you aren’t ready to get behind the wheel, you can ride along with an expert for only $25 a person or you can test your hand with a rugged Defender 90 in a full day hands-on experience.
Book through a Local B&B for Reduced Rates
There are deals to be found around every corner. Several local bed & breakfasts have partnered with the Biltmore Estate to offer reduced tickets for their guests. Search around and you’ll find two-for-one deals, 20% discounts, or off-season pricing for peak-season visits. The Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association has several independent properties that carry their own Biltmore package. Find the best deal for your getaway and explore the Biltmore for less.
Get A Personal Tour Guide
Sam, innkeeper at Princess Anne Hotel always recommends an audio guide or a personal tour guide when visiting the Biltmore. While looking at the intricate architectural designs, important art pieces, and perfectly manicured gardens is lovely, if you want to know the backstory to the estate, you should at the very least rent an audio guide. Add it to your cart when you reserve tickets online for $12 or rent for $15 once you arrive. This 90-minute tour takes you through the lives of the Vanderbilts and the inspiration for the estate as well as fun facts about the architecture, design, and artwork. If you want to dive deep into the rich history behind the estate, sign up for a guided tour. The employees are incredibly knowledgeable and a tour can completely change your Biltmore experience. From behind the scenes winery tours to servants tours to the premium Biltmore house tour, there are guided tours for everyone’s interests.
Now that you are a Biltmore expert, you can get the most out of your trip. Just remember to book in advance, explore the grounds in your mode of choice, and let the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association help you pick out the perfect B&B, inn, or hotel to stay at during your trip to the Biltmore Estate.