Built between 1889 and 1895, the Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned estate in the country. Owned by the Vanderbilt family, it’s one of the longest-lasting and most prominent examples of properties from the Gilded Age. The best part is that you can tour the most exciting parts, transporting you into the home of one of America’s wealthiest families.
The Biltmore Mansion is the crown jewel of the Biltmore Estate, covering a whopping 178,000 square feet. To put this into perspective, the home contains over 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, three kitchens, and 65 fireplaces. It’s also filled with luxuries that seemed too modern for its construction date, boasting electric elevators, an in-ground pool in the basement, a bowling alley, forced air heating, and a two-story library containing over 10,000 volumes of literature. And that’s just the beginning.
If you want an insider’s look at everything the mansion has to offer, it’s best to book a tour. During peak season, tours can get crowded, so you may want to book a spot in advance. The 90-minute guided tour will help you learn about the daily life of the family and staff, as well as gather information on the architecture, artwork, and surrounding gardens and buildings. If the private tour is sold out, consider opting for the pre-recorded audio tour.
Once you’ve walked through the gargantuan Mansion and sauntered through the surrounding gardens, you’ll probably be both parched and famished. This hunger and thirst is just one of the reasons you should continue your journey to the Antler Hill Village and Winery. Packed with shops, dining options, and the award-winning winery, Antler Hill is well worth the 15-minute drive through the winding roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Covering over 8,000 acres, the Biltmore Estate is home to the country’s most-visited winery, and it’s not just a novelty act. The winery is one of the most decorated establishments in the country, earning awards across the board on their 20 regular wines and the marvelous Reserve Collection. What makes this winery even more worth visiting is that the wine tastings are complimentary. Each day, the winery invites guests to sample an array of their wines and learn a few aspects of production.
If you’re a bit of a wine connoisseur, there’s even more to get excited about. The premium wine tasting gives you access to the Reserve Collection of wines for $3 per tasting or $8 for three tastings. Each day, the winery also has a Behind-the-Scenes Tour for $10, which takes guests through the unique process of fermentation and the science of growing grapes in North Carolina. The tour concludes with a reserve wine sampling in your own private setting.
Before or after your winery excursion, head over to one of the three restaurants located in Antler Village. The Bistro is perhaps the favorite of most visitors, using ingredients grown right on the Biltmore Estate. This farm-to-table approach provides entrées bursting with flavor, including handmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and seasonal offerings. All the seating surrounds the open kitchen, where you can watch chefs prepare your food.
For something more casual, Cedric’s Tavern is the ideal choice. Serving wine, beer, and cocktails, Cedric’s is perfect for unwinding after a long day. Upscale traditional pub fare highlights the menu, and you can also enjoy live music and outdoor seating every night of the week.
While you’re essentially in an adult playground thanks to the mansion, winery, and restaurants, the little ones probably aren’t nearly as enthralled. However, that shouldn’t make a mark on your visit. If you’re staying for a few days, make sure to check out the Outdoor Adventure Center. This spot offers family-friendly activities such as rafting, horseback riding, biking, and even skeet-shooting. If that doesn’t keep the kids busy, there’s always the open grounds to let their imaginations run wild.
A trip to the Biltmore Estate is one of those experiences that stays with you for a lifetime. So whether you’re planning a day-trip or a weekend excursion, you’re bound to have an exquisite time. It won’t rival the Vanderbilt family, but it’s probably as close as it comes.
-When you go to Biltmore, it’s typically crowded, as it attracts visitors with interests in wine, architecture, history, and more. To avoid crowds, buy your tickets in advance and try to visit mid-week right when it opens.
-Wear comfortable shoes, as you’re going to walk a considerable distance during your visit.