Biltmore Estate today is a complex of facilities with a variety of activities. Here’s an overview of what you can see and do on the estate. Everything is included in the admission price except where noted.
Biltmore House: The centerpiece of the estate remains the 250-room French Renaissance-style Gilded Age chateau, with self-guided tours offered daily. Open for the tour are most of three floors plus the basement. Allow about two hours to see the house. Specialty guided tours and a recorded audio guide also are offered at additional cost.
Biltmore Winery: Guided tours of the 90,000 square-foot winery are included in estate admission, followed by a wine tasting (available for those 21 and over, some wines free, premium wines for a fee). The winery produc-es about 150,000 cases of wine a year. On exhibit is the 1913 Stevens-Duryea Model “C-6” automobile owned by George and Edith Vanderbilt. The Winery is in the Antler Hill Village area.
Antler Hill Village: Antler Village opened in 2009, with a group of restaurants, shops, barn and displays, along with the Village Hotel. There is a small exhibition on the Biltmore history and legacy. At the village are three of the estate’s seven main restaurants (Cedric’s Tavern, Bistro and Village Social), and an ice cream shop. An area of the village presents farm life exhibits from the early 1900s, a kitchen garden and farm animals. Among the stores in the village are a wine shop, outdoor shop, interior decor and crafts shop and a gift shop. Also here is an outdoor adventure information and booking center.
Visits to Antler Hill are included in regular estate admission. In addition, elsewhere on the grounds of the estate are other shops and four other places for meals and light snacks.
Formal Gardens: Frederick Law Olmsted designed the 75-acre formal gardens at Biltmore. A rose garden has about 250 rose varieties. There also is a shrub garden, azalea garden, butterfly garden, scented plant wall, spring garden and several garden loops and trails. Apples, pears, apricot and other trees and shrubs are espaliered along the original stone walls of the Walled Garden. The glassed-in conservatory houses thousands of tropical plants and has areas devoted to orchids and to succulents. A Festival of Flowers is held annually in the spring, with more than 100,000 tulips and other spring bulb plants in bloom. The gardens and conservatory are included with regular admission to the estate.
Estate Grounds: You can drive paved roads and walk on unpaved trails around the estate, at no extra charge. Olmsted planted hundreds of thousands of plants and trees. Many of the trees are just now coming to full maturity, and some are over-mature.
Among the trees are virtually all native varieties, plus many exotic trees such as a 100-foot tall redwood. Birding is permitted on the grounds. Look for bluebirds (the estate has about 100 bluebird nesting boxes), Canada geese in the lagoon, great blue herons along the French Broad River and migrating hawks in the fall.
Activities: You can take part (most at extra cost) in a large variety of other activities on the estate, including horseback riding and bicycling estate trails, carriage rides, fly fishing classes, Land Rover driving school, guided Segway tours, river float trips and others. Music concerts by national entertainers are held in the summer and fall. During the summer, kids will enjoy seeing elaborate model train layouts.
LODGING ON THE ESTATE
Inn on Biltmore Estate (1 Lodge St., Biltmore Estate, Asheville, 866-336-1245 or 828-225-1600; https://stay.biltmore.com) This luxury hotel with 210 rooms and suites opened in 2001. In-season rates start at around $350 a night, double, and can go much higher, but discounts are available off-season. The hotel has an upscale farm-to-table restaurant, the Dining Room at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, open to those with annual passes or day admission as well as inn guests. A three-course dinner is around $70 and a five-course dinner around $100, plus tax and gratuity. Breakfast and afternoon tea also is served for inn guests.
Village Hotel (Antler Hill, Biltmore Estate, 866-336-1245; https://stay.biltmore.com) A 209-room, four-story, 130,000 sq. ft. hotel in the Antler Hill section of the estate opened in late 2015. In-season rates start at around $250 a night, double.
Also available for family bookings is The Cottage, a two-bedroom unit for up to four persons. Rates are around $1,500 a night.
DINING AT BILTMORE
For eating at the estate, Cedric’s Tavern has pub food such as sandwiches and fish and chips (about $20-$30 per person for lunch, $40+ for dinner); the Bistro (about $20-$30 per person for lunch, $50 for dinner) has a estate-raised and locally sourced ingredients, along with pizzas; Stable Cafe (about $15-$25 for lunch) has burgers, sandwiches and BBQ; Village Social with seafood and locally sourced food is in the Village Hotel, open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; The Smokehouse in Antler Village has BBQ and Southern food; Deerpark is open weekends for lunch/brunch, around $23 per person for breakfast buffet on Friday and Saturday and $35 for Sun-day brunch. The Dining Room at the Inn on Biltmore Estate is top-notch, but pricey -- with drinks and tip expect to pay around $85-$120 per person, and you can spend more.
In addition, there are ice cream shops near the main house and in Antler Village.
Note that dining on the estate requires either a day admission, an annual pass or an overnight stay.
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