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Guide to Visiting the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

Guide to Visiting the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina | Always A Foreigner

Caren and Cazzie

Hi, We're Caren and Cazzie and we're Always A Foreigner. Welcome to our travel blog! We hope you find it useful. We love waterfalls, street eats, and anything to do with travel and adventure. We met while volunteering in India, and since then have made it our goal to travel to as many places as we can. Join us on our journey!

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Guide to Visiting the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is full of wonderful things to do, but if you’re in the area and miss out on going to the Biltmore Estate… you’re not doing it right.

It was my first time visiting the Biltmore Estate and while Cazzie has been before, it was his first time in quite awhile. We planned on spending a couple of hours there during the day and then head camping later at night, but ended up throwing all our other plans away to stay longer. And it was well worth it!

 

The Grand Dining Room

If anyone says that the United States doesn’t have royalty, this estate stands proof to the contrary. Built by George Vanderbilt with construction starting in 1889 , this estate is testament to the standing of his family in the hierarchy of the development of America. The family’s wealth came from Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built railroads across the United States, and was a shipping mogul. As a third generation Vanderbilt, George was still the richest man in the United States at the time of his death.

Walking up to the house felt so immensely surreal, knowing that an entire family once called this enormous estate their home. It stands like a castle, overlooking the never ending waves of the Blue Ridge Mountains on one side, and an endless forest and gardens on the other.

It took six years to build, has 4 acres of floor space, and is still considered the largest private home in the United States. The house has:

  • a whopping 250 rooms and 65 fireplaces
  • a personal bowling alley
  • a very creepy basement swimming pool
    The Super Creepy Underground Pool
  • an entire house wing just for the bachelor’s including separate gun, cigar and billiards rooms
  • a massive library that houses only half of the 22,000 books that George owned with books in 8 different languages
  • a formal dining hall complete with three fireplaces, a seven story high ceiling, and rare Finnish tapestries
  • Two electric elevators in a time when most people didn’t have electricity
  • A walk in fridge that housed food for the entire house

Whoa.

The Winter Garden

 

You might recognize the Biltmore Estate from a bunch of different encounters with the silver screen. Hollywood has recognized it as a great place to film, and the Biltmore has hosted movies such as Forest Gump, Richie Rich, Hannibal, Patch Adams, and The Last of the Mohicans.

There was no expense spared in the building of the Biltmore Estate. This guy had it all. Not only was he extremely philanthropic as well, but he was the first United States landowner to implement scientific forestry. He improved the health of the forests on his 125,000 acre grounds, while also producing sustainable wood resources from his property. After his death, his widow sold 87,000 acres of land to the United States government…which is now a good portion of Pisgah National Forest.

My kinda guy!

True to the historic legacy of the Biltmore House, these sustainability standards are still in the works today. Due to Biltmore’s projects in solar energy and tree protection, the city of Asheville has honored the Biltmore Estate with an award for their strides in staying green. Go Biltmore!

After touring the house, which will take about one or two hours, spend time exploring the Conservatory and surrounding gardens. There are adorable wrought iron tables and benches scattered throughout the Conservatory, and we enjoyed a freezing cold iced tea before venturing off into the heat again.

From the Conservatory, you can head to Antler Village, which I highly recommend! There will be a sign for a waterfall along the way, but it’s actually a dam and it isn’t that amazing, so I wouldn’t stop if I were you.

Right now until the end of August there’s a stunning sunflower field that lines the road from the House to Antler Village. There are biking trails, hiking trails, walking paths, and picnic spots all along this road as well. Honestly, the Estate is really just a giant playground for history lovers, outdoor lovers, and lovers of all things of taste.

Antler Village is where the Winery is, along with the Biltmore farms. There are goats and chickens in an enclosure and you bet we stopped to pet them. You’re not able to feed them, but the caretakers are standing on call to ask any questions you may have. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there during feeding time and can watch the goats headbutt each other away from their food. Territorial little buggers.

With your tour of the house, you will receive a complimentary wine tasting. They say they recommend you try 5-6 wines, and they’ll give you facts about the grapes and differences in wine while you’re tasting. I actually learned quite a bit, and Cazzie even found a red he likes! Even if it was the most expensive bottle they had… Baby steps.

Since I moved to the mountains of North Carolina, people have been asking if I’ve been to the Biltmore House yet. I sort of shrugged them off and thought “it’s just an old house, how cool can it be?” I WAS SO WRONG. It’s seriously one of the better “touristy” things I’ve done. So much awesome history, and it just makes it all better that George Vanderbilt was a stand up guy.

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9 Comments
  • Noelle says:

    I’d love to visit the Biltmore – the magnitude of the house is so insane! Plus now I know a free wine tasting in thrown in so…. 🙂

    • Always A Foreigner says:

      Hey, can’t go wrong with a free wine tasting! The house though truly is magnificent. I was seriously blown away.

  • Beautiful photos and account of the Biltmore Estate, Caren. Love the dress btw. Do they still make wine the traditional way? Also, the grape stomping session looks promising in inducing giggles! x

    • Always A Foreigner says:

      Thank you! I’m not entirely sure how their wine is made, but I do know that they have their vineyard on the property and all of their wines are handcrafted. We didn’t take the tour of the vineyard and process, but we would like to in the future. The grape stomping session definitely was quite the experience…I’m not sure my toes have felt anything like that before!

  • Hmm I have never gone stomping grapes in my life and I think I might be interested in at least trying it out once. Though I would be more than happy to give the wine made out of it a miss 😉 Handcrafted wine sounds rather fabulous.

    • Always A Foreigner says:

      If they had told me I had to drink the freshly stomped grapes after….I would have refused! But the experience itself is rather fun, even if very squishy.

  • We loved Asheville. We didn’t make it to the Biltmore but did enjoy the great out of doors surrounding the region.

    • Always A Foreigner says:

      The outdoors of Asheville is one of the many amazing reasons it holds such a warm spot in my heart! The Biltmore is fantastic if you ever make it back, it’s well worth the semi-steep admission fees.

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