We visited the largest home in America! It was amazing, to say the least. Many thanks to my sister who extended day passes for our family’s first visit to Biltmore. I feel so blessed!
The stunning 19th century French inspired chateau took six years to complete. In 1895, George Vanderbilt opened it for family and friends at Christmas, setting the precedent for Biltmore’s holiday traditions. To this day, the estate remains the largest private home in America.
We drove up around 8:00 am to Asheville, NC. The traffic wasn’t bad at all and we arrived a little over 2 hours. We even had a pit stop earlier for coffee. We parked in Lot C and took the free shuttle bus to the drop-off zone where we had to stand in line to get our passes time stamped. You must get a time stamp voucher for your assigned date and time before you will be allowed in Biltmore for your reserved tour. I would suggest that you call ahead and reserve a time. Having a confirmation number, does not guarantee entry! Your passes must contained a date and time stamped on it before you are allowed in. It would have been helpful to have known this before hand! Oh well – now you know what I know. So we’ll definitely be prepared the next time.
- Arrive early (especially if you have young children)
- Park and take the shuttle bus to the estate
- Get in line at the will call (guest services) immediately and get your admission passes stamped (see example photo below)
- Get in line for your assigned time entry
If you and your party are still early at this point:
- Take a breather. Sit and relax in the stable courtyard (pass guest services). There are little shops that provide snacks, bites to eat, and beverages. Table and chairs are provided. to see. If you head back pass the table and chairs, you’ll discover a variety of shops and Stable Cafe, a farm-to-table restaurant. Enjoy lunch with your family in this converted horse stable.
- Visit the grounds and gardens.
- Visit the restrooms.
Grounds and Gardens
Initially, we explored the garden and grounds. The Library Terrace, attached to Biltmore to the left, provides an arbor of wisteria and trumpet creeper vines. There are benches in places for sitting or to read a novel. It felt very tranquil and the views were amazing! We continued down the stairs to the veranda and follow the walkway to the gardens stopping regularly to take photos.
The conservatory was lovely! There were so many varieties of plants and flowers. My boys loved the little toy train in the conservatory garden. We didn’t get to spend as much time as we would like since we had to head back to Biltmore House for our tour. My husband vowed to bring us back – so I’ll be holding him to that! 😉
Our tour began roughly around 11:45 am. We were greeted by a glass domed Winter Garden at the entrance hall. The decor and plants change with the seasons as we came to find out. I bet it is absolutely beautiful at Christmas. Not far along into our self-guided tour, there were people directing us and taking pictures. Maybe for security purposes? I found out later, we could purchase the photos on our way out.
Most visitors stay longer, but my tribe and I took essentially 2 hours to wrap-up the tour. My husband and I took turns chasing after our youngest son. He can’t stand or sit still for two seconds! He’s always moving. Our oldest son was well-behaved and viewed the mansion with curiosity, what ifs, and inquiries. His favorite part of the tour was the swimming pool in the basement. To his surprise, my husband enjoyed the architectural aspects and the intricate detailing of the ceilings. They were all so unique! I, myself, idolized the beautiful library with it’s collection of books, about 10,000 of which are housed in the library’s walnut stacks. I also adored the fireplaces built into each room. How cozy! The kitchen and the servant’s quarters were very reminiscent of the 19th century. I delighted in seeing the old dutch doors and nifty dumbwaiters. Besides the library, I prefer the basement more than any other parts of the house.
I made reservations on Open Table the day before. We headed towards Stable Cafe pass the tables and chairs to the very back right.
The hubs and I shared The Stable Cafe Sampler that included smoked baby back ribs, smoked pulled pork, roasted chicken, green beans, macaroni & cheese, brown sugar BBQ sauce, Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, and coleslaw with Stable’s sweet pickles. All the meats and pickles were delicious! We didn’t care for the mac n’ cheese, coleslaw, or green beans.
Our boys ordered off the kids menu ($6.95 for ages 9 and under). Nothing exciting there, you can get what they had at a fast-food restaurant. My husband devoured his warm bacon maple bread pudding with a traditional bourbon and a maple bacon toffee ($7.95). My oldest son and I shared a piece of their classical cheesecake (gluten free) with a mixed berry compote and almond flour crust ($10.75) It was yummy! In all, we enjoyed our dining experience.
To see Stable Cafe’s menu – click HERE.
The highlight of our trip was when our youngest son set off the security alarm in the Breakfast Room of the Biltmore. Ooops! I supposed he wanted to dine at the table. My husband and I didn’t notice the incident until our 6 year old was crawling back towards us from the other side of the red, velvet ropes. Of course, security appeared immediately from the side door as I was scolding my child. The security guard glanced over and our eyes as if he were saying, “I understand, but you have been warned.” Whew!
We will certainly be back! One day is not enough to see all that Biltmore as to offer. I would love to hear your experiences at the Biltmore. Do you have any advice/suggestions for me for our second trip? I can’t wait to read all of your comments.
If you would like more information, please visit www.biltmore.com.
Whatever you decide to see and do at Biltmore, it will be worth it. For us, it will be a visit to remember!