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Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC, sits the largest undertaking in the history of residential architecture. Biltmore, a 250-room French Renaissance chateau that took six long years to build, was designed and owned by George Vanderbilt and was opened to friends and family in 1895.
Spread across over four acres of floor space, the estate home contains 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and a whopping 65 fireplaces, as well as a library with 10,000 volumes, a massive banquet hall, an indoor pool and even a bowling alley. The amount of luxury in the home could be considered a little surprising for its time, but is also what makes it so much fun to visit. Although the home is now open to the public every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas, members of the Vanderbilt family still reside within the estate.
Visitors can choose from taking a guided tour or a self-guided tour that includes an audio recording that gives a basic overview of the estate. Longer audio tours with more extensive history and details about the rooms are also available for an additional charge.
Daytime tickets include the self-guided tour, access to the gardens and Antler Village, admission to the wedding fashion exhibition and a free wine tasting at the winery. While overnight packages at The Inn on Biltmore Estate or the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate include overnight accommodations and additional perks like daily breakfast, souvenir guidebooks and shuttle service to and from the estate.
Surrounding the home are the formal and informal gardens that were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, which are also included in your admission price. Go on a beautiful spring day and take in the beauty of the rose garden with its 250 varieties, take a summer stroll along the 2.5 miles of paths in the gardens or hike the grounds during the fall and take in the changing of the leaves.
No visit to the 8,000 acre estate would be complete without making a stop at Antler Village, a quaint area just down the road from the main house that includes restaurants, shops, recreation activities, a farm and the infamous Biltmore winery.
Recognized as America’s most visited winery, they offer award-winning wines that range from dry reds to sweet whites and complimentary tastings, as well as an indoor and outdoor wine bar. Special wine experiences also allow you to get a peek behind the scenes by touring the production facility or taking an excursion into the breathtaking vineyards.
The Farm in Antler Hill Village takes you back in time as you experience what life was like on the estate in the 1890’s. You’ll meet blacksmiths and woodworkers, watch craft demonstrations, play turn-of-the-century games and meet the animals in the barnyard.
There’s also a sand play area and rock climbing formation for the kids, and a smokehouse offering Carolina barbecue, sandwiches and other Southern cuisine.