Biltmore mansion in Asheville, NC

Judi Travel CaricatureI felt like I was being transported into the Gilded Age when I stepped onto the grounds of the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. It was a glorious day with a bright blue sky and very warm temps — perfect for exploring the mansion and the breathtaking outdoor gardens of the estate where the wealthy Vanderbilts once lived. It was well worth a visit.

Biltmore mansion in Asheville, NC

The Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC

Must see Asheville attraction

For sure when stopping in Asheville, like my daughter A and I did on our road trip home from Florida to New Jersey, you must make time for an afternoon at the Biltmore. There is so much to see that you could spend an entire day there and likely not see everything.

And I highly suggest you book your tickets in advance (as we did) since there are set times and long lines for entry into the mansion and limited spots. It is expensive but it’s not to be missed. Our $100 tickets included the house tour and gardens. There are additional fees to see the Chihuly exhibition, and tour and taste at Antler Village and the Winery. Arrive at least 30 – 45 minutes early if driving as speed limits are slow into the estate, parking lots fill up, and there’s a long walk from the lots (note there are shuttles available).

Biltmore in Asheville, NC

My daughter A and I spent an afternoon at the Biltmore while visiting Asheville

If you really want to splurge you can stay on the grounds of the estate. There are three options:

  • The Village Hotel near the shops, restaurants, and Winery of Antler Hill Village. This location offers walking, hiking, and biking trails to the Outdoor Adventure Center, Pisgah Playground, and Farmyard in the old-fashioned village.
  •  The Inn which has gorgeous rooms, luxurious spa. and elegant four-star dining. (A and I looked at the prices but opted for more moderate off-campus housing at The Foundry in Downtown Asheville.)
  • Cottages on Biltmore Estate which are historic and offer an ultra-private oasis with customized stay with beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Grand dining room at the Biltmore mansion

The grand dining room where the Vanderbilt’s entertained guests

Touring the Biltmore Mansion

As a fan of The Gilded Age series on HBO, I was in awe and so excited to experience “America’s Largest Home.” OMG, there are 33 guest bedrooms and 43 bathrooms! It’s true what they say, the Biltmore mansion is “as magnificent today as it was more than a century ago.” The architecture, vintage clothing, accessories, art, furniture, and more — I loved it all.

Edith Vanderbilt's bedroom at BIltmore

Edith Vanderbilt’s bedroom was one of my favorite rooms

The self-guided house tour spanned three floors and the basement of the incredible family home of George and Edith Vanderbilt. The audio guide was easy-to-follow with stories about the Vanderbilt family, their guests, and employees. I found the lower level displays about how the house was built equally interesting.

My favorites:

  • The Vanderbilt library with 23,000 books. Supposedly George Vanderbilt was a voracious reader and his invited guests had secret passage ways from their rooms into it’s upper chamber.
  • Mrs. Vanderbilt’s room with a canopy bed and beautiful decor.
  • The bowling alley and indoor 70 gallon pool.
  • The kitchens and laundry room where 120,000 table linens were washed and dried.
Biltmore mansion library

There are 23,000 books in Vanderbilt’s library

Walking around the extraordinary gardens and grounds

After our indoor tour of the mansion we proceeded outdoors making our way around a few of the Biltmore’s six formal and informal gardens. There is also a Conservatory, nature trails connecting  to the French Broad River, the estate’s Deer Park, Lagoon, Farmyard and woodlands on the Biltmore’s 8,000 acres.  It is mammoth and impossible to see it all in one day, even several days.

Biltmore Estate Gardens

Renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the Biltmore gardens and grounds

Per Biltmore history: “Renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the estate to offer four seasons of beauty more than a century ago.” It’s easy to see why the gardens and grounds are described as “a living masterpiece of landscape design.” The attention to detail and care from “Biltmore’s talented team of horticulturists ensures Olmsted’s vision lives on.” BTW Olmsted was the designer of New York’s Central Park too.

A spectacular spectacle of spring flowers

“I should like to give myself up to this place,” said Olmsted about his amazing creation. That’s exactly what I did as I strolled among the likely thousands of tulips in all colors of the rainbow and eyed the yellow daffodils popping out among the flower beds. There were redbuds, serviceberry, and flowering dogwoods along the paths. Ooh, ooh, ooh and there were orsythia and azaleas and flowers I never heard of like quince, viburnum and fothergilla.

tulip garden at the Biltmore

The tulip garden was in full bloom

Each season brings a different experience to guests visiting the Biltmore gardens. Bill Quade, Director of Biltmore Horticulture says: “Olmsted could already envision what spring on the estate would look and feel like for George Vanderbilt, his family, and friends. More than 130 years later, Biltmore’s guests get to experience that same feeling.”

Thank you Mr. Olmstead — it truly was “oh what a feeling.”

Judi

P.S. This summer I’m visiting Newport, Rhode Island and can’t wait to see the Vanderbilt Mansion there. It’s my first time visitng Newport so if you have any suggestions LMK.