The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, is a top-rated historic house museum. It’s easy to see why since this mansion features a massive 250 rooms, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. In fact, George Vanderbilt’s vision of a French Renaissance-style chateau in the Blue Ridge Mountains draws 1.4 million visitors each year. With this in mind, we’ve put together this guide to help plan your visit to the Biltmore Estate. This article covers the best time to visit Biltmore, insider tips for planning your trip, and where to stay near Biltmore. Especially if it’s your first time visiting the Biltmore House, these recommendations will help you organize the best Biltmore experience possible.
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Best time to visit Biltmore
One of the best tips for the Biltmore Estate is to plan your visit for a weekday. Especially during the high season, the Biltmore House can get quite busy on the weekend. Plus, this location is also a wedding venue, so sometimes these events will limit which outdoor areas you can explore. Another advantage of visiting during the week is that ticket prices are actually lower! Biltmore tickets have three price categories: regular, peak, and value. Weekends, especially in the summertime, will usually fall into the peak category. However, you can often save up to $10 per person by visiting Monday-Thursday! If you’re traveling with your family, note that tickets are half the price of adult admission for children between the ages of 10 and 16. Children who are 9 or younger are admitted for free as long as a parent or guardian accompanies them.
As far as which time slot to choose, I recommend picking either early morning or after lunchtime. For example, the admission gates open at 9:30 A.M and time slots for entrance to the home begin at 10 A.M. For reference, Biltmore typically sees the largest crowds between 11 A.M.-1 P.M. So, if you’re unable to secure a spot in the morning, I would choose a time between 2-3:30 P.M. The Biltmore House gardens actually open at 9 A.M. With this in mind, you could even take a stroll through the gardens before your time slot in the morning. Moreover, you can also visit Antler Hill Village while you wait for your entrance time! Click here for the full Biltmore Estate map.
Christmas at the Biltmore Estate
The Christmas celebration at Biltmore runs from early November to early January. As you might have guessed, this is one of the busiest times to visit the estate. Pro tip: if you’d like to see the Biltmore decorated for Christmas but want to beat the crowds, plan your trip for November! During this special season, the estate offers two experiences: the daytime celebration and candlelight Christmas evenings. With both of these options, you’ll get to see America’s largest home in all of its holiday splendor.
If you’re wondering why the Biltmore is so popular as a winter destination, check out these stats: you can expect over 100 decorated trees, 10,000 ornaments, and 100,000 lights at the property. Plus, one of the highlights is the 35-foot-tall Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall–the tallest tree inside the home. You’ll even find Antler Hill Village illuminated for the season!
Pro tips for visiting the Biltmore House
Buy your tickets online and ahead of time
As I’ve mentioned above, Biltmore can get pretty busy–in fact, 1.4 million people visit the house each year. Therefore, if you’re hoping to visit on a specific day and time, you’ll want to buy your tickets ahead of time. Additionally, purchasing in advance means you can skip the trip to the sales and visitor information kiosk. Biltmore also has certain special offers on tickets throughout the year, including an $8 discount for booking online and a U.S. military discount to save $10 on admission. Moreover, seniors receive a discount on daytime admission on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Reception & Ticketing Sales Center. For a full list of special promotions, click here. The estate also offers annual passes for a price of $249 per person plus tax. You can read about the benefits for annual pass holders here!
Pick an off-peak day for your visit
As mentioned above, under the best time to visit Biltmore, one of my best tips is to plan your Biltmore House tour for a Monday-Thursday. However, if you don’t want to miss the gardens, you’ll need to visit during the appropriate season. Instead of reserving tickets for Biltmore’s lowest season–January or February–I’d recommend visiting during one of the months with the best weather–April, May, or October. Pick a weekday during one of these three months, and you can enjoy a sunny day at the Biltmore, see the garden in full bloom, and avoid the crowds. Of course, November and December are also popular times to see Biltmore adorned for the Christmas season. The same rule applies for visiting during this time of year: reserve a weekday ticket to miss the crowds. You’ll also do better during the holidays to visit before Thanksgiving to see a less busy Biltmore.
Arriving at the Biltmore House entrance is slightly more complicated than you might think. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure to allocate enough time to get from the admission gate to the actual ticketed house entry. If you’re driving, plan to leave your hotel at least 45 minutes before your ticket’s time slot. This way, you can enjoy the drive through the Biltmore grounds to the parking lot and the short walk from the parking to the home instead of having to be in a rush! If you arrive at a time that’s too early to enter the house, you can always take a stroll through the gardens.
Rent an audio guide
I can understand why some visitors are hesitant to spend the extra $12 on an audio guide. After all, general entrance tickets can be pricey, particularly if you’re traveling in a large group. Nonetheless, I still highly recommend purchasing the audio guide! If you haven’t booked a guided tour of Biltmore, your experience will be completely self-guided. For this reason, without the audio guide, you may miss exciting details, stories, and facts about the home and the Vanderbilt family. The price online is $12 plus tax per person to rent an audio guide or $15 plus tax per person once you arrive. Depending on your pace, it can take up to two hours to tour the home while listening to the audio guide.
For a more extensive visit, book a guided house tour
If you want even more detail about the estate during your visit, I would suggest booking a guided tour. On the rooftop tour, you’ll learn more about the design and construction of Biltmore House while exploring restricted areas. Of course, you’ll also get to see the stunning view from the rooftop and check out some of the balconies too. Another fun option is the Biltmore House Backstairs Tour, where you’ll spend an hour discovering what it was like to work on the estate. For a special occasion, you may also enjoy the winery tours, where you can participate in wine and chocolate tastings!
Visiting in the summer? Check out the Biltmore gardens first
Speaking from experience, you’re going to want plenty of time to explore the Conservatory and the surrounding grounds. However, sometimes the sweltering heat will cause you to cut this tour short! If you’re planning to visit in the summer, book your time slot for some time between 10-10:45 A.M. to make time for the gardens in the morning and to beat the afternoon crowds for your house visit.
Make meal reservations
Although Biltmore offers various dining options, the majority are a short drive from the home. For example, you’ll find Cedric’s Tavern and Village Social at Antler Hill Village and The Dining Room and Library Lounge at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. Nonetheless, there is one restaurant with a prime location next to the Biltmore House: the Stable Café. As you can imagine, this Appalachian comfort food restaurant gets pretty busy at lunchtime! With this in mind, you’ll definitely want to make lunch reservations via OpenTable if you’d like the simple option of eating lunch here. If there’s a particular dining spot you have in mind for the evening, go ahead and make a reservation there, too, just to be safe!
Don’t forget about Antler Hill Village
Antler Hill Village sits only five miles from the Biltmore House and features various restaurants, stores, and seasonal exhibits. While many visitors may take a tour of the home and leave, I would take the time to stop by Antler Hill Village. For example, if you’re traveling with kids, you won’t want to miss the Farmyard. Additionally, if you’d like to have dinner on the estate, Antler Hill Village is one of your best options for a delicious meal. If you need more convincing to head to check out this spot, know this: the Biltmore Winery is located there!
Your ticket to Biltmore includes a complimentary wine tasting
I don’t think everyone realizes this, but yes! Your daytime admission to Biltmore also includes a free wine sampling. However, to take advantage of this awesome perk, you’ll need to make reservations in person on the day of your visit. Even though it’s a slight hassle to make the reservation, it’s 100% worth it! During your tasting, you’ll be offered 20 different types of wine to choose from, which are arranged in order from the sweetest to the driest flavors. Whether you prefer reds, whites, or rosés, there’s something for everyone. Fun fact: did you know that the Biltmore winery is the most visited winery in America?
Need more time? Visit a second day!
If you’re worried about being pressed for time to see everything at Biltmore, spend more than one day there! In fact, the Biltmore Estate offers a discount to visit a second day for $25. Although this deal doesn’t include access to the house, it does cover the gardens, grounds, and Antler Hill Village. So, you could spend your first day touring the Biltmore House and then come back for a second day to continue exploring the grounds and its many hiking trails as well as the winery. You may also want to check out some of Biltmore’s other things to do on the property. If you’d like to read the full activities list, you can click here.
Other quick tips for visiting the Biltmore House
- If you’re parking your car to visit the house, you’ll want to follow the signs and use parking lots A and B. From here, it’ll take you approximately 8-10 minutes walking to reach the Biltmore House and gardens.
- Estate policies indicate that flash photography is not allowed inside the home. If you’d like to take pictures on your self-guided tour, make sure to turn off the flash on your phone or camera. Furthermore, no photos are allowed on the specialty tours of the Biltmore House.
- Make sure to use the restroom before you begin your tour of the Biltmore House. The only public bathrooms are located outside the home, so you might regret not stopping by the restroom before your entrance time!
- Make sure to dress appropriately. Between the house tour and visiting the gardens, you’ll be doing lots of walking during your time at Biltmore. For this reason, comfy shoes are essential! I’d also recommend packing a hat and sunscreen, especially if you’re planning to spend an extended amount of time outdoors.
- The Biltmore is pet-friendly with regards to its outdoor spaces. For example, many people bring their dogs and take them for walks on the ground. Furthermore, your pets can also join you on the outdoor patios at Bistro and Cedric’s Tavern while you eat lunch. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times and are not allowed in any buildings. You can read more on Biltmore’s pet policies here.
Where to stay when visiting the Biltmore Estate
There are tons of great options for hotels and resorts in the Asheville area. So, when planning your trip to Biltmore, you may ask yourself: where can I stay that’s also close to the Biltmore Estate? Below is an overview of five of the most popular choices for places to stay when visiting Biltmore.
Although it’s not possible to stay in the actual Biltmore House, you can spend the night nearby at The Inn on Biltmore Estate. This four-star luxury hotel is a great place for a romantic getaway with your partner. It features a spa, a heated outdoor pool, and casual and fine-dining restaurants.
The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate is a more moderately priced option for those wanting to stay on the property. Additionally, it has a prime location next to Antler Hill Village and the Biltmore Winery. Especially if you’d like to make the most of your time at Biltmore, this hotel is the place to stay!
This Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is an extremely convenient and affordable option for those looking to stay close to the Biltmore Estate. In fact, this property is 0.6 miles from Biltmore! It’s also within walking distance to the restaurants and bakeries within Biltmore Village.
The Cedar Crest Inn is an adorable (and pink!) bed and breakfast, which has been operating for over 30 years in Asheville. If you’re searching for a unique place to stay while visiting the Biltmore, you’ll love this 1891 Victorian home. The Cedar Crest Inn’s central location makes it an ideal base for exploring everything Asheville has to offer, including Biltmore Village and the River Arts District.
Although the Omni Grove Park Inn isn’t as close to Biltmore as the other properties I’ve mentioned, there’s no way I could leave it off this list! This hotel is a must-visit in Asheville, especially if you’re going to be in town during the holidays. Plus, it offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains that you won’t find anywhere else. The Omni Grove Park Inn is so popular that many celebrities and presidents have even chosen to stay here!
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