No matter the season or weather of the day in Western North Carolina, it’s always a perfect time to visit the Biltmore Estate!
When I visited, it was a very rainy start to the day in Asheville, a real gully-washer of a morning. I was super bummed when I saw the weather forecast because I had prepaid tickets to the Biltmore Estate, valid for that day only.
Since Biltmore has a great pet-friendly policy, I wanted to bring my two dogs, Murray and Munson, with me to enjoy the wide-open grounds on the Biltmore property too. Sadly, it was just too wet, with the potential to get wetter.
So, what did I do when life gave me rain? I went to Biltmore without the dogs and did my best to emulate the joy of my sweet granddaughter, just like the day she did this….
I had a great day despite the weather! I found that rain shouldn’t be a deterrent to a visit to the estate. With so much to see and do, anyone can have a great time at Biltmore, so don’t let a less-than-sunny forecast keep you away!
Western North Carolina will soon shake off its winter coat and Spring is a lovely time to visit Biltmore Estate when the gardens come alive with color.
Here are some Biltmore tips to make the most of your visit!
Book Tickets Early
Since a poor weather forecast shouldn’t factor in too much, book tickets early, especially if you’re going during a busy time like the weekend, during the summer (especially with the Chihuly exhibit), or at Christmas. Unless you are going self-guided, I suggest booking a tour time early in the day before it gets too crowded.
If you book at least 7 days in advance, you can get a discount! It’s also cheaper to go in the winter (January through March). You can purchase your tickets online at Biltmore Ticket Information.
Spend Two Days
I suggest spending the first day checking out the Biltmore house and eating at one of the onsite restaurants. On day two, enjoy the winery and the vast grounds.
The Biltmore Estate is huge, and I’m not just talking about the house. Explore the 8,000-acre Blue Ridge Mountain backyard and create memories to last a lifetime. Summer visits at Biltmore offer fun family-friendly outdoor activities as hiking, biking, river float trips, and fly fishing. For a more restive pace, enjoy the magnificent gardens, pack a picnic lunch, and relax in a quiet spot.
Stay the Night
There are two hotels to choose from: the more moderately priced Village Hotel, and the more luxurious Inn on Biltmore Estate. When you stay on the property, you can take advantage of the many shuttle buses on site, which is very helpful!
A third option includes the two bedroom/2 bathroom Cottage on Biltmore Estate where you can enjoy butler service and private chef when you book the Bed & Breakfast Package.
Upgrade for Second Day Ticket
If you decide you want to spend an extra day, visit guest services to upgrade your ticket. Make sure you do this before you leave the premises on day one. You can then go back the next consecutive day for just $25 per ticket.
This fee can be waived completely if you make a reservation for a next-day outdoor activity or a Behind-the-Scenes tour the day of your visit. Reserve at any guest services station or at the Outdoor Adventure Center.
You will do a lot of walking as the estate is very large. In fact, some of the locations are several miles apart if you were to walk. Be sure you wear shoes that don’t hurt your feet.
There are fans set up in many areas of the house, but it can still get very hot during the summer. Dressing in layers is a good idea to stay comfortable.
Make sure you have time to park your car and catch a shuttle to the Biltmore house. I recommend at least 45 minutes. You may even need more time on a busy day. Estate visitors may choose between Park & Ride and Park & Walk parking lots. Park & Ride shuttles guests to the front of Biltmore house whereas Park & Walk requires a 5-10 minute walk.
Parking attendants will help you find the correct lot for your situation.
Make Restaurant Reservations
At Biltmore, dining is an experience within an experience, a way to further immerse yourself in the kind of hospitality for which the Vanderbilts were renowned.
There are six estate restaurants that provide a variety of fine and casual dining options, each of which feature estate-raised specialties. From light bites to gourmet meals, Biltmore chefs create masterful interpretations of the very best that our community’s local farms and growers have to offer.
Get The Audio Tour
For an extra fee of $12.99, you can use the audio guide which is kind of like a cell phone you wear around your neck. Just press the designated exhibit number into the guide, hold it up to your ear and you’ll learn about the Vanderbilts, their guests, and their servants, in addition to the surrounding architecture, design, and artwork.
I used an audio guide on my recent visit and found it to be well worth the additional cost. It’s also great because you can go through the house at your own pace and spend as much time as you like at each exhibit. You can listen to the guide as many times as you like so if you miss something the first time, just key in the number again and have a second go at the commentary.
For kids, the audio tour is narrated by Cedric, the Vanderbilts’ Saint Bernard. Cedric guides young guests through amazing rooms in Biltmore House, sharing stories about the Vanderbilts and living in America’s largest home.
Free Samples Are Great
Biltmore prides itself as being a self-sufficient property. Be sure to sample some of their foods and wines while visiting. You will find plenty of offerings of Biltmore products in the winery and gift shops.
On my visit, I participated in the free wine tasting and sampled a few different wine selections. Carl, the wine host on the day of my visit, was very friendly and knowledgeable while he took me on a memorable journey through award-winning reds, whites, and rosés, as I made specific selections from among more than 20 handcrafted wines.
Later, Biltmore guests can linger at the beautifully designed wine bar where reserve and sparkling wines can be enjoyed by the glass along with delectable cheeses and locally-made truffles.
Book a Specialty Tour
There are many options for specialty tours, with many requiring advance reservations. The Rooftop Tour is my favorite! You will enjoy amazing views from rooftops and balconies and get a closer look at the design and construction of Biltmore House with this 60-minute guided tour of areas not on the regular house visit. There is an additional $25 fee but it’s worth it.
Check out the other specialty tour offerings by clicking here.
As long as record rain isn’t predicted, like on the day of my visit, you don’t have to leave your pooch at home! The grounds are perfect for walking your pets, but please keep them securely leashed at all times. Pets (except service dogs) are not allowed in any building however.
You will find Biltmore to be very pet-friendly and you can explore the gardens and grounds of the Estate on over 20 miles of pup-friendly hiking trails.
Pets are allowed on the outdoor patios of Bistro and Cedric’s Tavern, but patio seating should be requested from the host or hostess inside first. All pets must be leashed on estate grounds for their own safety as well as the comfort of our other guests, and of course, always pick up after your pet.
When you tour the inside of the house itself, a limited number of outdoor, unattended pet kennels are available. They are self-service and available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are interested in using a kennel, please see a parking host for kennel information upon arrival on the estate.
Despite the weather, I had a fantastic time at Biltmore and highly recommend setting aside at least six to eight hours if you are visiting for just one day. Of course, a two day visit would make for a more leisurely time, but if one day is all you have, you can still see much of what Biltmore has to offer.
Do you have other Biltmore tips or do you want to visit? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
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