Are you headed to the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina? Is the ticket price worth it? Discover 10 of the best things to do at Biltmore, including tours, dining, hiking, and wine from an annual passholder and local,.
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Before becoming Asheville locals, we were Asheville tourists. I’ll never forget flying over the Blue Ridge Mountains and watching the trees open up to the Biltmore Estate. This gorgeous bad boy is HUGE and quite memorable.
I also believe that you cannot visit Asheville without seeing the Biltmore–a large part of Asheville’s history. Not only one of Asheville’s most important tourist attractions and one of American’s largest homes, the Biltmore helped shape and grow this mountain city.
The Vanderbilts put Asheville on the map and dedicated time and money into education, forestry, and the community. Today, the Biltmore continues to work on environment-friendly practices, food access and sustainability, and preserving our natural resources.
So Who Is The Biltmore Not For? Who Will Love The Biltmore?
We’ve all seen the Instagrammer or two complain about prices for their glam shots and ultimately NOT visit.
And yes, you shouldn’t visit the Biltmore if you just want pictures of yourself with the blooms for the Gram. Sorry, not sorry. That’s completely missing the point, and indeed not worth the expense.
You go to the Biltmore for the history, culture, food, hiking, and wine. Families, couples, friends, singles, and travelers looking for something more will all find worthwhile and special Biltmore activities.
Is The Biltmore Ticket Price Really Worth It, Though? And Why Is It So Much?
With all of that disclosed, Biltmore ticket prices usually start around $60 and go up from there depending on the time of year and day of the week.
You are paying for the massive amounts of restoration and maintenance it takes to run Biltmore. I highly recommend reading Denise Kiernan’s The Last Castle, which truly makes you appreciate the Vanderbilts and current the cost of admittance.
While everyone has their own budgets, interests, and circumstances, if you can afford the cost of a Biltmore ticket, I completely think it’s worth it. In fact, we are annual passholders.
There are so many fun and yummy things to do at the Biltmore for everyone. You need at least one full day there to experience even a portion of the Biltmore sights. I look at the cost of a ticket like a Disney World pass minus the germs and insanity.
Let’s make that ticket price worth it:
10 Of The Best Things To Do At Biltmore
1. Visit & Tour The Biltmore House
One of the first things you should do at Biltmore is tour the house. Know that when you book, you must pick what time you’d like to enter the house. If you don’t, you aren’t guaranteed access.
The earlier in the day, the better. Although reserving a time means you must arrive then, this helps with crowd control, too.
The first time that we visited Biltmore, because we booked in advance, we found cheaper tickets that also included a free audio tour. Score!
What Is An Audio Tour Like?
Normally, I don’t love audio tours, but this particular one was hilariously fun as we were ‘guests’ at a classy Vanderbilt dinner party. While the opera singer prepared her vocal cords, a writer practiced her after dinner reading as Cedric the dog stole an entire turkey.
I’m also told that Cedric, the Vanderbilts beloved St. Bernard, gives the children’s audio tour.
The audio tour took us around 1.5-2 hours throughout the entire house.
Do I Need A Guided Tour?
We have yet to try a guided house tour. Maybe one day we will since I am sure we’ll learn a ton of new and interesting facts.
However, if you just want to walk the house on your own without upping the price of your ticket, you can. When family and friends visit, we tour on our own, which still takes 1.5-2 hours (and yes, pee BEFORE you get in line and go inside).
The rooms explain themselves and are well worth the visit alone.
2. Stroll Around The Biltmore Gardens
After exiting the house, if you have a morning ticket, I recommend heading to the gardens right outside of the house’s entrance.
In the spring, you’ll discover the infamous Biltmore Blooms, home to sweet engagements and vibrant photo sessions. Find acres of both formal and informal gardens with strolling paths.
The gardens with paved paths are the most accessible.
Notably, Fredrick Law Olmstead designed Biltmore’s gardens, and you can find an Italian Garden as well as see vistas of America’s first managed forest. Don’t miss the conservatory, too.
3. Grab Lunch Or Dinner At One Of The Many Property Restaurants
As annual passholders, we love heading to the Biltmore for a meal and glass of local wine or a craft cocktail. I highly recommend using Open Table to make reservations if you don’t want long waits. Unlike Fast Passes at Disney, you don’t have to book that far out, either.
What are our favorite Biltmore Restaurants?
Stable Cafe At Biltmore
When we first visited and where we usually take our guests is to the Stable Cafe right next to the house.
Stable Cafe has your basic, non-fancy sandwiches along with some southern treats. Child-friendly and decent for food intolerances, my Celiac and lactose-intolerant hubby can easily find something.
My dad loved their platter of smoked meats, and personally, I enjoy a classic chicken salad sandwich. Who knew that they make stellar seasonal cocktails, too?
Plus, if you are lucky to snatch a booth, you will find yourself eating in the old horse stalls. Maybe that’s not your thing, but I love it.
While I know that Biltmore has fancier restaurants, our absolute go-to is Cedric’s Tavern–where you can find Cedric’s massive dog collar.
They make their own pickles, don’t miss the Lusty Monk Mustard, and YES, order a boozy drink, if you drink.
Slightly pricier, the menu and drinks change seasonally and are fresh as well as worth it. The outdoor patio is heated in the winter, and they have bar seating. The walls are filled with pictures of Cedric and the Vanderbilts.
Out front is a creepy-fun little statue of Cornelia playing with Cedric.
4. Wine Taste At Biltmore Estate Winery
Although we don’t have children, our friend and rogue mommy blogger, Tori, noted that if you bring your family to Biltmore, they will let them taste…grape juice. Cute, right?
After lunch, sprint to that winery. If you know me from The Uncorked Librarian, you know that I am ALL IN for wine.
Both my husband and I sincerely LOVE Biltmore wine, too. We buy bottles to bring home, and yes, you can find their generic wines at Ingles–our main Asheville grocery store. Their black label wine is only sold on property.
My favorites include the red Biltmore Christmas, Chenin Blanc, Reisling, and Gewurztraminer–please note that some of these are limited releases.
Wine tasting is complimentary with your ticket. Sometimes you will find a line and other times, not so much.
You can taste about 6-7 wines. My husband says 10–must be nice to be cute. I have the wine-tasting paper in front of me right now, but no one in my family can remember the exact amount either. Usually, our host pours us more…I never said that I was the BEST travel blogger…
5. Take An Additional Special Tour
If you are looking for more unique things to do at the Biltmore, take a special tour that typically runs on the hour.
**Recently, the Biltmore invited out my husband and I to try two of their special tours for free–with no obligation to post or talk about them. Because they are genuine and badass…But please know that the below tours were comped, and my opinions remain unbiased. **
You can purchase a special tour separately and in addition to the cost of your general admission ticket. The two tours the Biltmore hosted us for include:
Behind The Scenes Winery Tour
As of 2020, the Behind The Scenes Winery Tour is around $10. Do it, especially if you skipped a guided house tour.
Staff take you back into the wine production facility and walk you through the Champagne bottling process. Of course, you get to see both French and American Oak barrels, the fermentation process, and my favorite: the bottling process.
I had no idea that the Biltmore Winery only started in 1985. Previously, the space housed the dairy.
Fun Fact: when you are walking through that tunnel to enter the winery, you are walking through the old cow manure trail. GAHAHA!! It’s pretty AF lit at up Christmas soooo who knew?!
After the winery tour, you receive a special premium wine tasting away from the crowds. Typically, those wines are only served at the wine bar.
Red Wine And Chocolate Tour
I’m not going to lie: My husband and I are lactose-intolerant. We drank the red wine and snuck a tiny bite of chocolate with some Lactaid for Biltmore’s Red Wine and Chocolate Tour.
For an extra $35 a person, as of 2020, enter a room near the clock tower that smells of delicious red wine. Four red wines are paired with an array of chocolates from Asheville’s infamous French Broad Chocolates store–you know, the store with the line out the door on weekends.
This tour is perfect for a girls’ (or guys’) weekend, anniversary, or chocolate lovers.
6. Check Out The Special Exhibits
Another thing to do at Biltmore is check out their special exhibits. Exhibits change seasonally and some are free while others are not.
An example of a temporary Biltmore exhibit includes Dowton Abbey period clothing. Although we never watched Downton Abbey, we loved seeing the dresses, hats, and riding gear.
7. Shop At Antler Hill Village
Biltmore things to do also including shopping at Antler Hill Village, the Biltmore House and Garden, and a few spots around the property.
We’ve purchased beautiful Christmas ornaments, WINE, trinkets, specialty food items, and gifts at many of the Biltmore shops. If you haven’t tried Roots Hummus, get some in the winery fridge…it’s a big deal here and delicious.
8. Hike Or Bike On One Biltmore’s Many Marked Trails
One of our other favorite things to do at Biltmore is walk the trails. My husband and I just started exploring them.
Did you know that the Biltmore has over 22 miles of hiking trails? Some are much easier than others.
You can also find biking trails and rent bikes from the Bike Barn if you don’t have your own. Of course, some of these activities are better based on the weather, but NC has pretty mild seasons. The trails are especially gorgeous in the fall.
I am dying to go horseback riding, too. Find all of the Biltmore’s outdoor activities here.
9. Stay Overnight On Property
Because we visited North Carolina once and immediately moved to Asheville, we have yet to stay on property. I actually would love to, though, as I’ve only heard good things. As a blogger, I’ve been meaning to ask for a quick room tour, too.
On property, the Biltmore offers:
Village Hotel – This property is more centrally located with moderate prices and spa access. You will easily see this property next to the winery. The Village Hotel also has a pool.
The Inn – The Inn at Biltmore is considered a luxury hotel, which also means you will pay more. The Inn has the most conveniences including requested mountain views. Each suite is named after one of George Vanderbilt’s friends or relatives.
There is also the premier cottage if you George Vanderbilt himself. Cough, cough…
10. Attend A Special Event
Lastly, we cannot wait for the Biltmore spring concerts. The Biltmore hosts a ton of events–some that require additional tickets that you can find here.
In the winter, you can see the house decorated for Christmas or buy tickets for Candlelight Christmas Evenings.
For the spring, don’t miss the Biltmore Blooms. Cedric’s Tavern hosts live music, and you can also find jazz and instrumental music in the Library Lounge.
Biltmore Estate Visitor Information
The Biltmore hours change seasonally, and with so many different buildings that open at different times, I don’t want to give you bad or outdated information.
You can find the Biltmore hours here. For a general idea, though, the house is usually open 9-5.
Biltmore Parking & Tickets:
Parking is included with admission. There are shuttles from the furthest lots.
Ticket prices vary greatly so please check for ticket information here. I highly recommend buying tickets in advance online.
General house admission typically starts around $60+. You can pay more for special exhibits, add-on tours, and events.
The complimentary wine tasting, the trails and gardens, shopping, and access to the grounds are included with your house admission.
Biltmore Address, Website & Phone Number:
One Lodge Street
Asheville, NC 28803
Where Else You Can Stay Near The Biltmore & In Asheville
When we first visited Asheville and then returned to look at houses as well as close on our home, we stayed at a few Asheville hotels. Our recs include:
Asheville, NC Hotels: Where To Stay
Hotels and B&Bs tend to book up fast in Asheville, especially in the fall and spring. Make dinner reservations wherever you can, too. A few hotels to consider that either we, our friends, or others highly recommend include:
Near The Asheville Outlets/Biltmore
Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area
DoubleTree By Hilton Biltmore/Asheville
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville
The Omni Grove Park Inn
1900 Inn On Montford
Princess Anne Hotel
What Questions Do You Have?
Phew! Of course, I can name 100 other things that you can do at the Biltmore, but if you only have a day, these are my top 10.
What questions do you have? Feel free to ask away in the comments.
Also, please let me know what you love(d) and didn’t love doing at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.