Photo courtesy of Biltmore

Visiting Biltmore

 

Biltmore Estate main entrance: 1 Lodge St., Asheville, 800-411-3812 or 828-225-1333, www.biltmore.com

 

Biltmore House and the Biltmore Estate, to coin a phrase, will blow your mind. Asheville would still be Asheville without Biltmore, and the mountains certainly would be just as beautiful and appealing without Biltmore, but Biltmore adds another layer of “amazingness” that is difficult to overestimate.

 

Yes, admission to Biltmore is expensive, and while there are many opportunities at the estate to spend extra money, the basic admission ticket allows you to see the house, gardens, winery, Antler Hill village and much of the 8,000-acre estate grounds. You can also enjoy a free wine tasting.

 

The admission price structure is also a little complicated, with prices varying depending on the time of year and whether or not you buy your ticket in advance. Currently, prices for adults range from $35 to $69, and for youth 10-16 from free to $39.50. Children 9 and under are always free. Lowest rates are 7-day advance purchase for visits in January, February and March. Admission rates during the Christmas season, with an extra fee for candlelight Christmas tours, are the highest of the year, and this is the most crowded time of the year. Behind-the-scenes and other guided tours range mostly from $17 to $19, plus admission. The recorded audio tour is $10 (free January to mid-March). A premium tour with guide is $150 plus admission. Parking is free. Free shuttles are available from the more distant parking lots to the main house.

 

How much time should you plan to see the estate?

Of course it varies depending on your interests and ability to get around (there’s a good deal of walking required), but figure on these times as a minimum:

 

Self-guided tour of the house: 1½  to 2 hours

Self-guided tour of formal gardens and conservatory: 1 to 2 hours

Winery tour and wine tasting:  1½ hours

Antler Village:  1 hour

Driving and sightseeing on estate grounds:  1-2 hours

 

These times are minimums and will be increased significantly if you spend time shopping, dining, exploring the grounds or taking part in extra-cost activities and tours.

 

 

Tips on Seeing Biltmore

Buy your tickets online at www.biltmore.com or by phone at 800-411-3812 at least seven days in advance and you’ll save $10 to $15 per adult ticket.

 

• Print your ticket at home in advance, which will save you time on getting the ticket at day of arrival.

 

• To avoid big crowds, skip visits on summer and fall weekends, the Christmas period and Easter weekend. Christmas weekends are especially busy.

 

Consider visiting on a weekday, especially Tuesday or Wednesday.

 

• Consider going from January to mid-March, when crowds are smallest and admission prices are cheapest, plus you get a free recorded audio guide.

 

• For eating at the estate, Cedric’s has good pub food (about $20 per person for lunch, $40 for dinner); the Bistro (about $20-$25 per person for lunch, $50 for dinner) has a farm-to-plate philosophy; Stable Cafe (about $15-$20 for lunch) has burgers, sandwiches and BBQ; Courtyard Cafe near the house has gourmet hot dogs and sausages for $7-9 (usually closed in winter);  Deerpark (around $30 per person) has a nice buffet; in winter there’s only a weekend brunch. You can also pack your own picnic lunch and dine al fresco on the grounds. The restaurant at the Inn on Biltmore Estate is top-notch, but pricey -- with drinks and tip expect to pay around $65-$85 per person for dinner, and you can easily spend more. The Library Lounge in the lobby of the Inn has lighter fare for lunch and dinner, plus high tea -- reservations suggested. Several other options for eating on the estate are available at the conservatory and at Antler Hill, including at the new Village Hotel.

 

• On busy days, you will need to make a reservation in advance for a specific time for the self-guided house tour – at Christmas the wait to get into the house may be several hours, although you can use the time to tour other parts of the estate.

 

• The self-guided audio tour ($10, free from early January to mid-March) is well worth getting. It looks like an oversized cell phone. You punch in numbers at around 40 signed stations and get well-produced tour information about that part of the house. The announcer and various hosts provide information on art works, construction details and anecdotes about life at the house when members of the Vanderbilt and Cecil families lived there.

 

Plan on a minimum of a full day on the estate to see the highlights and two days to see everything in more depth (you can purchase admission for the second day for only $10, as long as you do so before leaving the grounds on the first day).

 

Bargain alert! If you plan to visit on several occasions during the year, or if you live in the area and would like to visit the grounds frequently, get the Twelve-Month Pass, which allows unlimited daytime admissions to the estate (it doesn’t include nighttime visits during the Christmas season), plus discounts on restaurants, shopping and free tickets for guests in January and February. Regular price for the pass is $129 to $149, but significant discounts are sometimes available, usually in the late winter or early spring.  It has recently been offered for as little as $89 plus tax. You can also usually upgrade your regular admission to a Twelve-Month Pass for an extra fee. The pass is good for a full year from the date of purchase.

 

• If you’re a senior 65+ you’ll save $10 on same-day admission on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

 

• Biltmore House and Estate pose some challenges for those with limited mobility. There are two small elevators in the house, installed at the time of the home's construction but there are numerous short flights of stairs that can't be avoided, even with the elevators, if you want to see everything. Places to sit and rest in the house are very limited. Free shuttle vans take you from parking lots to the front door of the house, but getting to the gardens, conservatory, shops and around the winery area requires a good bit of walking. The good news is that you can see a lot of the estate grounds by car.

 

• Due to the historic architecture of the house, only the first and second floors are accessible by wheelchair. All shops and restaurants on the estate are handicap-accessible. Parking assistance is available for guests with state-issued handicap parking permits. Guests with hearing difficulties can visit the front desk of Biltmore House (near the main house entrance) to request a neckloop telecoil coupler or a printed transcript of the audio guide. Guests with vision difficulties can receive the use of a free audio guide at the front desk.

 

Free shuttles are available from distant parking lots to Biltmore House. However, a car is needed to get around on most of the estate.

 

• Wear comfortable shoes, as the tours involve a good deal of walking and standing.

 

• There are no public restrooms in Biltmore House, so make your visit at the restrooms near the entrance before you go in.

 

• If you decide a one-day visit isn’t enough, you can come back the next day for only $10 (you must pay in advance at one of the guest services location before leaving the grounds).

 

• Biltmore House and Estate pose some challenges for those with limited mobility. There are two small elevators in the house, but there are numerous short flights of stairs that can't be avoided, even with the elevators, if you want to see everything. Places to sit and rest in the house are very limited. Free shuttle vans take you from parking lots to the front door of the house, but getting to the gardens, conservatory, shops and around the winery area requires a good bit of walking. The good news is that you can see a lot of the estate grounds by car.

 

 

Movies Filmed on Location at Biltmore

Here are some of the movies filmed at least in part at Biltmore House and/or Biltmore Estate:

The Swan (1956) starring Grace Kelly

Being There (1979) starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine

The Private Eyes (1980) starring Don Knots and Tim Conway

Mr. Destiny (1990) starring James Belushi

The Last of the Mohicans (1992) starring Daniel Day-Lewis

Forrest Gump (1994) starring Tom Hanks

Richie Rich (1994) starring Macaulay Culkin

My Fellow Americans (1996) starring James Garner and Jack Lemmon

Patch Adams (1998) starring Robin Williams

Hannibal (2001) starring Anthony Hopkins

The Clearing (2004) starring Robert Redford and Helen Mirren

 

All content copyright © Lan Sluder except selected photographs used by permission and brief quotations or other fair use text, which are owned by the copyright holder.

We have made every effort to confirm the accuracy of information on this website, and in the Amazing Asheville book and ebooks, but travel information is subject to frequent change, and no warranty is made, express or implied. Please notify us of any errors or omissions, and we will attempt to correct them as soon as possible. All opinions expressed are those of the author, Lan Sluder, unless otherwise noted.