One of the best places to take a weekend vacation is the city of Asheville located in western North Carolina. Asheville is known for its casinos, its proximity to ski resorts and the enormous Biltmore Estate.
If may have heard of the Biltmore House before. For decades after it was first built over 100 years ago, it was the largest private residence in the world. Built before the age of elaborate indoor plumbing and electricity, it maintains its 19th charm to this day.
I have visited the Biltmore Estate once and it was a great experience. At first you might think it is just an old house with a lot of antiques, but if you let your mind wander, you can begin to appreciate the magnificent work that went in to building this house and surround gardens. And remember, this was all done in the late 1800s.
I had a great time walking through the old house. It is amazing. A lot of the original artwork is still hanging on the walls and some of the rooms are gigantic with 30 and 40 foot ceilings. And actually, even though it was originally built with no electricity or any plumbing to speak of, it is actually quite technologically advanced for its era.
The house had an army of servants to maintain the estate for the Vanderbilts and there were special passageways and elaborate dumbwaiters for the staff. It had state of the art kitchens for cooking the massive meals for dinner parties.
Sure it helped to be the heir of one of the richest men in America at the time, but George Vanderbilt’s vision for his “country chateau” is to this day unparalleled for its elegance, scope and turn of the century beauty. In many respects, it has been frozen in time which allows you to see how it was during its heyday as a retreat for the Vanderbilt clan.
I highly recommend at least a day trip to the grounds and surrounding areas such as Chimney Rock which offers great views of Lake Lure below. I have put together some information to help you get there and entertain yourself.
When Was The Biltmore House Built?
George Vanderbilt, grandson of wealthy industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt, vacations in the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1888 for the first time and immediately fell in love with the area. Using his family’s vast wealth, he let his imagination go and begin to design a country getaway.
In 1889, construction begins on the 250 room country chateau. It took 6 years to complete and involved an entire army of specialized craftsmen which were brought into the remote area and housed for years.Credit: Biltmore Estate Credit: Biltmore Estate
Unfortunately, George Vanderbilt was only able to enjoy his creation for about 15 years before he died at the age of 51.
After his death, extended family continued to live in the mansion until it was opened to the public in 1930 for tourism.
How Big is the Biltmore House?
The 250 room mansion would cover over 4 acres if all of the floor space was added up. In all, the Biltmore House contains 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces.
After George Biltmore died, his wife sold 87,000 acres surrounding the estate to the US Forestry Service. Event with the sale of part of the original grounds, the estate still covers 8000 acres of the surrounding rolling hills near Asheville, North Carolina.
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Inn at Biltmore Estate
George Vanderbilt initially wanted to build an inn on the grounds of the estate for the public, but it never happened during his lifetime. However, the owners of the estate finally opened the Inn on Biltmore Estate in 2001.
Rates vary depending on the room selection but it is more expensive during the prime time months in the spring, summer and fall. In general, rooms run anywhere for $200 to $400 a night.
If you want to get the best deal, try a November through March mountain getaway. The most crowded days at Biltmore House are Saturdays in April, May, October, November and December so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
If staying on the grounds is not your thing and you want to see more of the surrounding areas of Asheville, there are several nice hotels in the city including a Courtyard by Mariott and a Doubletree Hilton and other hotels that are anywhere from 3 to 10 miles from the estate.
Wine Tasting at Biltmore
Included with your admission into Biltmore is access to the vast winery on the grounds. The vineyards on the grounds were originally developed in 1960 and in 1983 they formed the Biltmore Estate Wine Company.
In fact, they offer wine tasting tours where you can sample some the vineyards finest treats.
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Special Events at BiltmoreCredit: self via Wikimedia Commons
If you are interested in getting married on the grounds, they do offer wedding packages as well as other special group events. They have an entire staff of event planners to help you get everything organized.
As for cost, it depends on the scale of your event, however, I imagine that it is not cheap given the fact that you are taking up real estate and/or closing off sections of the estate for a certain time frame.
One of the newer offerings from the estate is something called a Moveable Feast which takes place during the summer and fall months. Each six course dinner event offers great views of the surrounding grounds outdoors and rotates from location to location so that you can have a different experience each time.
How Much Do Tickets Cost at Biltmore House?
Tickets are $15 cheaper when purchased 7 days in advance either via the web or by telephone. Prices for one day for adults are $59 when purchased this way. Children under 16 get in free and seniors over 65 get a $15 discount even on walk-ups.
Your tickets can either be printed at home, or sent via UPS for a small fee. If you decide to return the next day, you can add an additional all day ticket for just $10 more.
You ticket includes a self-guided tour, access to the gardens and winery including a free wine tasting.
You also have the option for additional things like special parking and audio tours that are delivered through a neck loop cord.
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Biltmore Estate Address
Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803