How To Do The Biltmore In 2.5 Hours
Throughout this adventure, and one could even argue throughout life, I’ve learned there is never enough time to see and do everything we want. I could easily spend a whole year or more exploring everything the United States has to offer. Each little city and it’s residents, sprawling vistas, breweries, restaurants, gardens, roadside attractions – there’s so much to be explored. But we only have about 2 months to skim the surface of this vast landscape, so unfortunately our Biltmore Estate excursion, in Asheville, North Carolina, was cut down to 2.5 hours. We had places to be and people to see, specifically our good friends Steve and Shannon in Charleston, SC later that day!
Arriving at the Biltmore gates, you quickly realize this is no ordinary residence. A 3 story brick archway greets you, and invites you under and through as you begin down the long, winding road that leads to the Estate.
It’s roughly a 20 minute drive from the front gates to the house, which gives you some scope of the scale of the property. The road is lined with old growth trees and cobblestone bridges. We learned the lengthy trek was done on purpose to allow the Vanderbilt guests, mostly wealthy, weary travelers from the north, to decompress and ease into the slower pace of life on the estate.
The Biltmore Estate is a U.S. National Historic Landmark and private residence, covering 8,000 acres, and belonging to the famous Vanderbilt family. For the record, I do not recommend “doing” the Biltmore in two and a half hours for a few reasons, one being tickets aren’t cheap. For a daytime ticket, we shelled out $52.00 per ticket (advanced day pricing). Tickets are $59.00 each when purchased the day of, and $47.00 if you buy them a week or more in advance.
- A self-guided tour of the Biltmore House
- Access to the historic gardens and Antler Hill Village
- Admission to an exhibition, “The Vanderbilt’s at Home and Abroad”
- Free wine tasting and guided Winery tour
With only 2.5 hours to spare, you can see we really weren’t getting our money’s worth. There’s an abundance of things to do and see which include, the “house”, the surrounding gardens, conservatory, winery, restaurants and shopping. You can and should spend the whole day at the Biltmore Estate.
Now, am I saying I regret spending $112.67 (Aaron HAD to get a hotdog) to see the largest privately owned home in America? Absolutely not! Even if you can’t spend a whole day and you only have 2 hours to spare in Asheville, go to the Biltmore. Viewing the Châteauesque-style mansion, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, with your own eyes, even for a second, is breathtaking and entirely worth it. You feel as if you’ve been dropped into another era. The house was built in the late 1800’s and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. A history buff’s dream.
I will say if you’re even the slightest bit impatient (yup-that’s me) doing the self-guided tour of the house will not be your cup of tea. You basically wait in line, anywhere from 5-7 minutes, to walk through each room inch by inch. Don’t get me wrong, I love history and can appreciate the detailed and opulent interior design, but I’m sorry, I can’t spend 8 minutes looking at a curtain. That’s just not me. AND there’s 250 rooms! You don’t have access to view all of them, but you get the point. They recommend you allot 1.5-2 hours to view the house via self-guided tour. Also offered is a 90 minute, individual audio tour ($10.00 per person) if you want the “freedom” of a self guided tour along with the information and a detail of a curator guided tour. After experiencing the sloth-like pace it took to view one room, Aaron and I quickly decided we would spend a max of 30-45 min in the house. I much preferred roaming the many gardens (there’s 9) and adjacent conservatory.
The views into the surrounding mountains were fantastic, and make for great picture-taking. The gardens were springing to life with Tulips during our visit. They have strategically planned the gardens to have something in bloom year round, so you’re bound to be impressed no matter what time of year it is. We were told that Christmas at the Biltmore is absolutely stunning.
While I might not suggest attempting to speed-tour the Biltmore, as we did… I do recommend spending a whole day to experience this historic landmark. It’s a rare chance to see something so expansive and ornately impressive, and it was a fantastic way to end our time in Asheville.