We traveled to Asheville specifically to go to the Biltmore. It is the main attraction, although it is a lovely town. We bought our tickets online and had an entrance time for 3:45 on a Friday afternoon. We decided to head there early to check out the other parts of the estate. We got there around 10:30 after our monster breakfast (see my post about the Reynolds Mansion) and parked in one of the A lots. It was a short walk to the view of the house.
You can see the line in front of the house, they have timed entries and you need to be in the line within 15 minutes of your time. There are also trolleys that will take you from parking lots to the house and other areas of the estate. The estate is 8,000 acres, which roughly compares to an entire town on its own. We walked to the house and looked around at the views.
I needed to find a restroom and I knew there were none we could use in the house, but we totally missed a whole section to the right of the house that had restrooms, a bakery, ice cream shop, christmas shop, candy shop, and gift shops. Instead we walked all the way to the conservatory and I inquired there. There was a line to enter the greenhouse/conservatory, but the facilities were on the other side of the building and it was not necessary to enter. Afterwards, we took our place in line. The wait was not long and the line never went down outside. Inside they had a special exhibit with a train running around the greenhouse. It was really neat and the greenhouse itself was very special. I really enjoy looking at flowers and there were quite a few that I had not seen before.
After touring the inside, we wandered around the gardens for awhile. It had been quite cold the last few days and some of the flowers were affected by the freezing temperatures. It was beautiful nonetheless. We walked through part of the shrub garden, azalea garden, walled garden, rose garden, and walled garden. We did not walk all the way to the bass pond and boat house, but we were able to see if when we drove through that area of the estate. As we left the gardens, we witnessed a marriage proposal in the walled gardens in the midst of all the tulips and daffodils. She was very excited and surprised and said yes.
When we were waiting in line for the conservatory, I was looking through the pamphlet of the estate and noticed that if we wanted a wine tasting, we would have to make a reservation. Although service was spotty on the estate, I was able to secure us a time for 1:30. I would definitely suggest reserving early, we found that the reservations were full when we went to our tasting. The tasting is included in your ticket to the Biltmore. We drove over to the winery area and got some sandwiches at the Kitchen Cafe. They were nothing special, but they filled us up. The wine tasting was enjoyable. They had quite a few varieties to choose from and you could taste five different wines. I tried three whites and two reds and purchased one of the sweeter whites. They have a wine club you can join if you really liked the wine.
After the tasting we wandered around the Antler Hill Village and winery area. This area includes an inn and hotel, bistro, several shops, a tavern, creamery, barn, farmyard, and playground. The tavern makes its own beer, which you can purchase in six packs at the winery. We went to the barn and enjoyed looking at and reading about all the old farm equipment. We stopped and listened to the blacksmith and watched him work. Inside the store in the barn, they sell some of his creations. They also had some really neat brooms and we found the man who makes them inside the barn. He finds the wood for the handles in the woods around the estate in the winter and dries it out. He makes the broom part by hand using a needle and thread. He comes from a line of broom makers and it was interesting to hear his story. I wish I had a picture of his brooms to put here. I was a bit tired after all this walking, but my boyfriend went to check out the farm animals and petted a few goats. We rested in the car for about twenty minutes and then headed over to the house for our appointment.
We stood in line and Jef was given a mask because he was wearing a gaiter. He bought the tickets and opted not to get the audio guide. I wish that we had it, but we can always get it next time. The house is a self guided tour so you can stand in the rooms and gape all you like, but there are quite a few people ahead and behind you gaping as well. We had a pamphlet that gave highlights of each room and that was sufficient. During our time there, they had special flower arrangements in each room. They were pretty amazing. You can see examples in the banquet room in the above picture.
The house had some amazing rooms and you were able to go up to the third floor and down into the basement to see the servant’s quarters, pool, bowling alley, gym, etc. I reminded me a lot of the mansions we saw in Newport, but this was on a massive scale. I can’t imagine living in such a large area. You would definitely get a lot of exercise moving from one section of the house to another!
This was a very long day for us and we were pretty tired after all the walking. If you are in good shape, this should be no problem to complete the itinerary that we did. However, we should have given ourselves more breaks! We get excited and want to see everything at once. I would highly suggest you check out the Biltmore if you are ever in the Asheville area. It is definitely worth the ticket price (about $68 each person). I would not suggest staying there, unless you plan to only hang out at the Biltmore while you are there. The estate is a bit out of the way from town and it takes awhile to get through the estate roads and out into town. I think it would be a pain if you were interested in exploring the area.