The Biltmore, the famous residence of the Vanderbilts, is an excellent day trip vacation for families.
The Biltmore house and estates, located in Asheville, North Carolina, attracts over one million visitors, both local and national, each year. This stunning mansion is both architecturally and historically significant offering entertainment and education opportunities for vacationing families.
The Biltmore home was built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895 and contains over 250 rooms on the premises. The gardens were landscaped by Frederick Olmstead, an outdoor architect of New York City’s Central Park.
The home demonstrates the opulence of the Gilded Age during which it was built. Guests are welcomed to the estate via a three-mile road that meanders through the natural forestry of North Carolina. The home breaks into view beyond an exquisitely manicured lawn and circular drive as guests reach the crest of the gently swelling land.
Touring the Home with a Large Family
The home offers shuttle transportation to and from parking areas. Families with small children may bring strollers and should be prepared to take small breaks throughout the day as the home and gardens require a great deal of walking.
Tickets to view the home and gardens are available on-line or at the front desk. On-line tickets offer a small discount when purchased in advance as well as a calendar delineating peak visiting days.
Families with children may wish to travel to the Biltmore on off-peak visiting days. This will allow freedom to tour the rooms slowly and provide children the opportunity to view each room fully without jockeying for position at the rope barriers.
Tour tapes may be purchased at the front desk upon entrance to the estate for a nominal fee and are well worth the price. Tapes are provided with a headset and small user-controlled player that may be worn around the neck while touring the home. Tours are self-guided allowing visitors to listen at their leisure and spend as much time as they wish within each room.
Each tour provides information on the individual rooms in the home in a guided fashion that leads visitors through all three floors of the home and into the below-ground rooms. Comments are also included from letters of individuals who personally knew the Vanderbilts and stayed in the luxurious estate soon after it was built at the turn of the century. Prominent artwork purchased by the Vanderbilts and architectural details specifically designed for the home are highlighted throughout the tour as well.
Items of Interest Within the Biltmore
Guests will view the sumptuous two-story library of the Vanderbilts, decorated with plush red sitting chairs and a magnificent marble fireplace. They will transverse from the opulent, fabric-lined, golden tapestried rooms of Mrs. Vanderbilt to the small two-bed, wood-paneled rooms of the upstairs servants who waited on the Vanderbilts and their guests on a daily basis. The tour will end with a walk past the below-ground indoor swimming pool and full-length bowling alley that entertained the Vanderbilts’ party guests.
Adjacent to the Biltmore home is a small courtyard with several estate restaurants and gift shops. Guests may stop the tour at any time at their own discretion and leave the home for a short meal break or shopping excursion. When they are finished, they may simply return to the room in which they stopped and begin the tour tape again.
When visitors complete their tour of the home they will wish to visit the gardens next. The Biltmore gardens provide a feature presentation during each season to capture the season’s spirit and beauty.
The gardens are divided into two sections. The first features a formally landscaped portion boasting carefully tended roses bordering well-kept walkways and tinkling fountains. The second is a wild and rugged azalea garden that ends in a pristine lake and cascading waterfall said to be the personal favorite of outdoor architect Olmstead for its natural design and beauty. Several hot and cold greenhouses stand between these two garden areas and contain dozens of species of tropical and local flowers in glorious profusion.
Visitors may purchase any plant viewed in the greenhouse at the Biltmore garden shop located near the garden parking area. This shop features every variety of rose grown within the estates including several hybrid varieties created and grown only by the Biltmore estate.
Touring the home and gardens using the estate tour tapes will take one full day. Families may wish to stretch their stay into two days to adequately absorb all the information available and visit the Biltmore Dairy Farm as well.
The Biltmore Hotel is built directly on the estate grounds and offers luxury accommodations for those wishing to stay overnight. A less expensive but equally valuable alternative to the Biltmore Hotel is the multitude of bed and breakfasts available scattered throughout Asheville. Rooms are priced for every budget and provide information on the surrounding Asheville community including artistic shops and galleries well worth exploring.