Last week was my Fall Break from school, my day job is teaching in case you didn’t know. At kind of the last minute my husband decided to take a few days off so we could go somewhere. I decided to surprise him and not tell him where we were going. It has been so hot here that we both wanted a bit of a break so I decided not to go to FL and hit a beach or SeaWorld, both of which I really wanted to do! I had been to Biltmore before but he hadn’t and I thought that would make a great little romantic getaway. It’s only about a 5.5 hour drive from Louisville so perfect distance for getting away for a couple of days.
Here are the top things that we enjoyed about the Biltmore Estate. We stayed at The Village Hotel and I choose the Discover Biltmore Package which included breakfast at the Village Social, admission to the house and grounds for both days of our stay, an audio tour of the house and an additional tour. It also included shuttle service all around the grounds.
1.The Village– The Antler Hill Village includes a restored barn and a lot of the equipment that was used in the farming of the land when George Vanderbilt and his children farmed the land. It is still a working farm but you don’t really see this as you tour the area. There was a working blacksmith there the day we visited and it was interesting to talk to him and watch him work. The Village also includes an ice cream shop, a snack bar, Cedric’s Tavern, The Outdoor Shop and some gift shops. There is an area where they sometimes have live music outside. It beautifully lit for enjoying at night.
The Village at Night
2.The grounds– There is 8,000 acres left of the original 125,000 acres. It was always designed to be a working farm. There are hiking trails, stables for trail rides and bikes to rent so that you can explore as much as you want. When George Vanderbilt bought the property most of the forest was gone because of logging. He had a vision of reforesting the land and preserving it. He hired Frederick Law Olmstead to help him with his vision. Fredrick Law Olmstead also created Central Park in New York and other parks that still exist around the country. There are 250 acres of a wooded park around the Biltmore estate.
3. The Gardens and Conservatory– To one side of the home are beautiful and elaborate gardens. There is an Italian Garden, Shrub Garden, Walled Garden, Rose Garden, Spring Garden and Azelea Garden, Deer Park and the Bass Pond and Lagoon. The walk down to the Bass Pond takes you through many of the gardens and it is a little bit of a hike. On the way back you can take a walk through one of the many wooded trails around the estate. The Conservatory is a beautiful greenhouse that provides many of the house plants and cut flowers for the house, just as it did in the days of the Vanderbilts.
4. The Home– The pictures just do not do it justice. The scale of the place is amazing and the history is so interesting. The home covers 4 acres and has 250 rooms, 33 family and guest bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, 3 kitchens, an indoor bowling alley and indoor swimming pool. It was completed in 1895 and has 2 elevators and walk in refrigerators. As part of our package we got the self guided audio tour and an additional tour. We picked the Upstairs, Downstairs Tour. The guide was very knowledgeable about the home and the family history. It was a very interesting tour that takes you into the servants areas of the home to show you more of what day to day life would have been like for the servants and family at the time.
5. The Food– I am not going to say too much about the food here because it is getting it’s own blog tomorrow, but it was AMAZING!
6. Antler Hill Winery– The winery offers free wine tastings of many of their wines. They also offer a tour of the winery and some specialty wine tastings for an additional fee. There is a nice gift shop and a Wine Bar where you can get a glass or bottle of wine and a cheese and/or charcuterie plate. There are tables inside and out at the Wine Bar as well as at some of the restaurants.
Overall I think Biltmore is an amazing piece of history that is being maintained by the descendants of George Vanderbilt. It offers something for everyone. It would make a great girlfriend getaway, trip for foodies and wine lovers, those that love the outdoors and of course with all the gardens and beautiful views it was a great romantic trip.
To make the most of your trip here are a few tips:
- Buy your tickets at least 7 days in advance online. They are cheaper.
- You can get more than a day on the property even if you aren’t stay onsite. If your tickets are scanned in after 4:05 pm then you can spend the rest of the day on the property and the full day the next day. If you do this I recommend touring The Village and Winery the first day and driving around the property as well as enjoying Cedric’s Pub or one of the restaurants. The next day you can tour the gardens and house. You can also add an additional day for around $15 per person.
- The tour of the house takes about 90 minutes and is a lot of walking up and downstairs. They do have an elevator for at least the main floor and upstairs but I don’t think you can tour part of the upstairs or the downstairs areas.
- The house is very busy early in the day. Start the tour after lunch or even later.
- If you want to visit the Bass Pond you can drive down there or you can walk down and pick up the shuttle, if you are staying on the grounds, by waiting till the shuttle drives by and holding out your shuttle passes and waving them down.
- Fall prices are about double in the Asheville area as well as on the Biltmore property.
- Don’t forget to visit Asheville while you are here!
Check out Tara Travels, @travelTara on Facebook for more photos of Biltmore and Asheville.