I must confess North Carolina is not the first place I would guess to be home to one of the most jaw dropping European inspired estates in the United States.
The Biltmore House was constructed in 1895 by railroad tycoon George Vanderbilt. The home is the centerpiece to an 8,000 acre estate with large garden displays, hotels, a winery, shopping, dining, walking paths and more.
Over the course of this post I'll highlight what to expect when touring the Biltmore House.
Not only that but I'll also cover how to use your Biltmore House ticket for a free wine tasting at the estate's winery!
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Where is the Biltmore House located
The Biltmore House and Estate are located in the southern side of Asheville, North Carolina.
If you're coming from out of state the best way to get into Asheville is via the regional airport that services flights from many major cities.
The nearest surrounding cities are Charlotte and Knoxville which Asheville sits between.
Charlotte is to the east while Knoxville sits to the west and either city is about two hours away by car.
What to expect when touring the Biltmore House and Estate
Visitors of the Biltmore House should expect a somewhat lengthy drive through the property grounds.
It’s during this drive that you start to realize the scale of the estate and the massive undertaking required to maintain the property.
I'll also highlight (since I didn't fully realize this beforehand) that the Biltmore House is a different building than the Biltmore Hotel.
The two buildings are located on different parts of the estate property.
As you drive back towards the Biltmore House you will pass the Biltmore Hotel and other estate facilities.
While you can't stay in the actual house at this time, the hotel is a great option for out of town guests looking for a more immersive Biltmore experience.
After a scenic drive through the estate you'll eventually come to the parking areas that serve the Biltmore House.
Once you've parked you can either walk to the house or catch one of the shuttles that make frequent pickups from the parking lot.
As you approach the house you'll walk along the massive courtyard and fountain area that leads up to the entrance.
Once you make it up to the entrance area (be sure to purchase tickets in advance!) you'll be instructed to present your tickets, be educated on house rules and given the low down on how to use your audio tour device.
Guided tours are an option if that's more your style, but again you'll need to make reservations in advance to ensure the property can accommodate you and your group.
Upon entering the house you'll quickly understand why it attracts so many visitors each year.
Every inch of the interior is lavishly decorated with works of art, photographs highlighting the property's history and ornate furniture one would typically expect to see in a European castle.
Not only is the estate immaculately decorated but you'll quickly realize the Biltmore was built to operate more like a resort than a home.
There's a room for every imaginable purpose on the property including a banquet hall, salon, bowling alley, underground pool, library, a large number of guest rooms and so much more.
Photographs barely do the immense scale of the Biltmore House justice, it's something you have to experience first hand to truly appreciate!
How long does it take to explore the Biltmore House
Be sure to budget at least 90 minutes to explore the Biltmore House.
If you plan on listening to the majority of the audio tour and really taking in the ambience you could easily spend upwards of two hours touring the house.
Budget additional time if you plan to stop for food, coffee or to browse the shops located adjacent to the Biltmore House in the stables area after completing your tour.
A complimentary wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery is included with your Biltmore House ticket.
If you plan on taking advantage of this free perk you'll need to make an additional reservation at the winery and budget additional time. Be mindful that you'll need to drive across the estate to reach the winery.
You can learn more about your complimentary wine tasting here.
Can I take photos inside the Biltmore House
You can take photos inside the Biltmore House but flash photography is not permitted.
Most of the Biltmore House is dimly lit to better preserve the homes contents. While you can take photographs during your visit the lighting is less than ideal in most rooms.
When is the best time to visit the Biltmore House
Seasonality plays a big role in shaping your Biltmore House experience.
During the winter months visitors can expect extravagant Christmas displays throughout the grounds.
While a visit during the fall will offer excellent conditions for those more into leaf peeping. Or, consider a visit during the spring when the estate gardens are in bloom!
The Biltmore House also boasts different events such as live music or art exhibits throughout the year so its best to check directly with the estate website when planning your visit.
You can check out event listings at the Biltmore here.
Is there food at the Biltmore House
There are casual restaurants located just outside of the Biltmore House in the stable area. These are great options for anyone not staying at the Biltmore Hotel.
For guests staying at the hotel in the Antler Hill Village area there are more formal dining options available. You can still eat at the restaurants near the hotel even if you aren't staying on the property.
Do I need a reservation to tour the Biltmore House
You will need a reservation to visit and tour the Biltmore House. Reservations can be made at the Biltmore website here.
Can I stay at the Biltmore House
You can't stay in the actual Biltmore House. However, there are a number of lodging options available throughout the estate that cater to different budgets.
The Village Hotel at Biltmore Estate is geared towards budget conscious travelers, although I wouldn't use the word cheap to describe the cost or accommodations.
The Inn is considered a higher end lodging option while those really looking to splurge on a luxury experience should explore the Cottages at Biltmore.
While an overnight stay includes gate access to the Biltmore Estate, my understanding is that it does NOT include free access to the Biltmore House and you will still need a separate ticket and reservation.
I'd recommend directly contacting the hotel in advance with any questions regarding your stay or to see if there are promotions and discounts available on a Biltmore House tour.