On our second day in the Asheville/Waynesville area we planned our day around visiting Biltmore Manor. After our great breakfast including desert at our Bed and Breakfast about 20 miles away in Waynesville, we bought our tickets online to save a little time and money when we arrived and took the 30 minute drive to Biltmore. There are plenty of signs as you are coming into Asheville from any direction so just follow those to the Biltmore.
When you arrive you will enter the Biltmore area and actually have a nice little one mile drive up through the entrance area before you actually will park your car. You then will have about a 1/4 mile walk from the parking lot to the actual mansion itself and then once you are inside you will be walking quite a bit more. If you are disabled you will need to check with them ahead of time or at the entrance gate so that you can drive your car to the front of the mansion and be let off there.
The house and areas around the house should not be done in any less then a 1/2 day period of time. Sue and I spent about 7 hours total here including the tour of the house, gardens and a drive back to the winery. I would strongly recommend purchasing the audio tour along with your ticket as you will then get a complete historical tour along with descriptions of each one of the rooms. When we were there we saw a number of people rushing through the rooms without an audio tour which I really think defeats the purpose of visiting other then to say you saw it or were there.
You cannot take pictures inside the house, although I'm sure people do sneak those in at times. There are guides inside the house in most rooms to answer questions and I'm sure also to tell you to not take pictures. We ended up buying a booklet at the store on the grounds for the professional inside shots.
Depending on the time of year you visit the gardens by the house will have a different flavor and also they decorate the house at various times of the year for Christmas, etc.
The day we visited the gardens were not too scenic, but also on that day they had a number of home schooled kids with their parents dressed up in period costume. Picture #3 here shows off a young lady in her period costume.
As I mentioned in my Asheville introduction we had about 3 days in the area, so we didn't want to overbook ourselves with things to do, but wanted enough variety in our trip to make it memorable. And if you ever get to Asheville, besides visiting the Biltmore Manor, this tour is a great way to spend a couple of hours.
I had researched things to do in Asheville both here on VT and on the internet. The LaZoom Tours struck my fancy and after watching a couple of YouTube videos on the tour I decided this would be a great way to introduce ourselves to the Asheville area.
We arrived just in the nick of time, as we got a little off track coming into Asheville. We had prepaid our tickets on line, so we parked our car across the street and walked rapidly to board the Purple Bus you see in the first picture.
Now to get into the spirit of this Comedy City Tour of Asheville you can wear anything you want on the tour (we didn't dress up, but understand some of the evening haunted tours they do, people indeed do dress up). You can also bring other spirits aboard the bus like beer and wine which you purchase at the store right behind the bus in the picture.
There is not a bad seat on the bus, but be aware that it is an old converted school bus, so if you are a little tall your knees will be jammed in close to your body. In the second picture you can see what the interior of the bus looks like. Unfortunately it is not wheelchair accessible, but they can store your wheelchair if you let them know ahead of time.
I did get some video of the tour. I found out part way through the tour that I wasn't suppose to do this, but they were very nice about telling me to kindly turn off my camera (I didn't take out the video camera to take the video so the footage from my regular camera is a little grainy). If you want to see the 7 part video I took to get a flavor of the show you can see the link a little further down on this page on the right side of your screen.
The tour is about 2 hours long with a 10 to 15 minute stop halfway through the tour at a bakery/bookstore that is a throw back to the 1960's. I will build another tip about that. During the tour you are entertained at various spots both off and on the bus. I won't spoil it for those of you who take the tour, but keep an open mind.
These folks actually do 3 different tours. The one we were on was the City Tour. They also have a Haunted Comedy Tour later in the day and an Art Tour. Check out their website for current times and cost.
They run the tours from April 15 to October 31.
...must see the Biltmore Estate. Many will argue that it is much too expensive just to see a house, but, oh, what a house, and very much more. It is rather expensive at $45 but it is worth it. Plan to spend the greater part of a day. I have been more than once but never spent more than one day at a time although many people do. There is so much to see and do. The house. The gardens. The stables. The winery. There are five restaurants and cafes, with dining options ranging from eat-and-run to gourmet cuisine. Shopping opportunities range from wine to home furnishings to literature, Biltmore-grown plants, gifts, and so much more. You can even stay overnight, if you like, but not in the Vanderbilts' bedrooms. For Europeans, it might not be so special but I am confident that most Americans would agree that it is one of the two or three most spectacular estates in our country and, with 250 rooms, it is definitely America's largest home. The century old gardens are beautiful and Biltmore publicity touts them as being beautiful all year round but I really think that if you are going in December-February, you could put the gardens at the bottom of your priority list. There is also a fully functioning farm on the 8,000 acre estate, River Bend Farm. You can also see the estate by foot, bike, raft, horse, and off-road vehicle.
asheville's most visited attraction is the biltmore estate. biltmore was built in 1895 for george w. vanderbilt. this french renaissance style chateau was designed by architect richard morris hunt. the estate's gardens were designed by famous landscape architect frederick law olmsted. at 175,000 square feet the biltmore estate is the largest private home in the united states. originally the estate covered 125,000 acres of which 86,700 acres is now the pisgah national forest. at the biltmore estate is an inn, several restaurants, a winery, and a petting zoo. the biltmore estate is a must see stop in the asheville area for those interested in architecture and history. also there are activities for children which makes biltmore a nice family tourist destination. to really see all of the attractions of the estate you can easily spend a day exploring the mansion and grounds. see the attached web site for admission and times.
st. lawrence basilica was built in 1909 in the spanish baroque style. the basilica was designed by architects rafael gustavino and richard smith. gustavino and smith also took part in the design of the biltmore estate. this beautiful basilica has the largest freeform elliptical dome in the U.S. st. lawrence basilica is listed on the national register of historic places. for those interested in art and architecture st. lawrence basilica is a very worth while place to visit in downtown asheville.
George Vanderbilt started the estate concept in 1886 by purchasing 125,000 acres of ground. In 1889 construction of the home started and completed 6 years later. In 1895 it was the family home. George died 1914 and daughter Cornelai lived her for many years. The grandson, Cecil renovated the estate over a 30 years period. Many years were tough times, and my first visit in mi 1970's showed a great need to continue the renovation with ticket sales.
It is my top pick of an estate home in the US, but then never been northeast for those palatial homes, or San Simeon.
The Biltmore House is the largest home in the United States. It was built by George Vanderbilt just before the turn of the 20th century. It is absolutely beautiful with treasures from all over Europe. It has a working vineyard and the entrance fee includes a visit to the winery in addition to touring the enormous mansion. The gardens are magnificent and the views of the mountains are breathtaking.
The Biltmore Estate was owned by the Vanderbilt family. It is the largest private home in America. It is open to the public for tours, but it is a little expensive. Expect to pay about $30/ person just to get in. Once you are in, there are fabulous gardens, 4 levels to the house, and a winery. You can't take photos inside the house, but you are allowed to photograph the gardens.
The most perfect time of year to visit is Christmas, when they do special Christmas candle-lit tours. But it is romantic even in the heat of the year.... so take your special someone and go! :)
Is there an Asheville page that doesn't include the Biltmore estate?
Biltmore was the home of George Vanderbilt. He built it after coming to Asheville and falling in love with the area. His Original estate was huge and helps form the basis of the Pisgah national forest today. What remains of his estate is still huge. The house and the grounds around it will take a full day to explore. There is the Dairy that has been converted into a winery, several restaurants, horseback riding, clay shooting and a Land Rover driving experience.
The house itself is the centerpiece and really shows the wealth of his era. George's inheritance was a pittance compared to his brothers (he was last in line). Still, he built this estate based on several French palaces then populated it with furnishings and artifacts from his travels in Europe. Frederick Law Olmsted was the Landscape Architect and the grounds retain much of their natural appeal largely due to him.
Visiting Biltmore is not cheap but is well worth the cost.
I have no idea why people pay $65 to visit the Biltmore. (In off season, the ticket is still $45.)
They do an excellent job of marketing.
But, once you give them your $$, they don't care much.
No real brochures.. no help for people with kids, handicapped.
You have to climb a lot of stairs to see the pee closet of Mr.Vandebilt.
And, they dont even have a restroom for the visitors in some buildings.
What a load of crap.
Richard Morris Hunt, the designer of the Biltmore House was also the architect and designer of All Souls Church in the Biltmore Village. Originally the village was called Best for the namesake of the owner of the Western North Carolina Railroad, William J. Best.
When Mr. Vanderbilt bought the village of Best he changed the name to Biltmore Village.
One of the first things that was designed and built was All Souls Church. Mr. Vanderbilt was quite devout and donated a great deal to the building and maintaining of the church until his death in 1914.
Mr. Hunt designed the church in the Greek Cross pattern, believing it allowed all parishoners to be able to see and hear the worship service than the Latin Cross design. After viewing the church I would agree.
A great docent gave us a history of the area, the building of the church, the organs, the stain glass windows and even the discovery of long-lost stain glass windows. D. Maitland Armstrong along with his daughter Helen, designed and executed the stain glass windows.
This is a good tour of architectual history if you enjoy this sort of thing. All the materials in the church are from the Asheville area. Oak is the predominant wood used on the floor and for the beautiful doors. I would definitely recommend a stop for a tour of All Souls Church.
We spent an entire afternoon here at the Biltmore Village on a hot day in August. The homes in this village were built for the artisans and workers that built the Biltmore House back in the late 1900's. Now the homes are trendy shops and restaurants. It is a nice place to shop but it's even more fun to be able to get inside each house and see the different architectual styles.
Many of the front doors are the same, but staircases are displayed differently and some homes are much bigger and roomier than others. The workers, many were immigrants, rented these beautiful Tudor homes.
All Souls Church and Parish Hall was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. It is the only church that he designed that is still intact.
I wasn't originally going to go to the Biltmore Estate on my visit to Asheville. It seemed to be a lot of money for a really touristy thing. I AM SO GLAD I WENT!! It was worth every dime ($46 - During the Festival of Flowers in May - prices vary depending on season).
It is a beautiful house that was built in the 1800's and it sits on 250 acres or so of the most gorgeous land in the NC mountains. It took me about 1.5 hrs to get through the whole house (I went on the audio tour - again, worth the extra $4 or whatever). After that I walked through the gardens, which was a very long and hilly walk - but through some of the most amazing landscaping I've ever seen.
Then I went up to the winery (also on the estate) where they let you go on a self guided tour. After that there is a wine tasting (all included in the original price of the ticket).
In all, I ended up spending about 5 hours there on a Sunday all by myself and had a wonderful time. My trip to Asheville wouldn't have been as good if I didn't visit the Biltmore.
At the end of our visit to Biltmore Estate we hit our car to what was signed as Deerpark. First we saw a large courtyard restaurant with walls of windows. The Deerpark Restaurant is put in the middle of green garden with some trees, and pretty, wooden garden structers covered by climbing plants. To my surprise this pretty located restaurant was completely empty in the afternoon. Was it too expensive or not good?
Well, I was surprised to see only two other visitors in this somewhat hidden part of the overcrowded estate. I also liked huge, wooden hall (see picture) adjacent to the restaurant where artistic, colorful patchworks were displayed and sold (details in my last shopping tip). This charming, rustic restaurant and hall was originally an historic barn designed by Richard Morris Hunt, an architect of the Biltmore House. He also has designed the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
There is the fenced, four-acre (1.62 ha) Kitchen Garden by the Historic Horse Barn in the Biltmore Farm Village. These charming, little fields cultivated with local culinary and medicinal plants, vegetables, and fruits located by local houses do not exist today in the USA and most of the western Europe. They are still present in some areas of Poland (mainly in the mountains). I have also seen them in Greeece, the Baltic states and Ukraine.
I wandered down the garden paths and frankly speaking the Kithecn Garden didn't look impressive in fall 2004. It was difficult for me to imagine the life of a 19th-century farmer tending to acres of crops each year. I would like to see more plants, vegetables, and fruits there. Anyway, it was interesting to see little glass structure put up in the garden and first of all to read information and see old pictures of the farm and dairy village which was established here for numerous workers of the Biltmore Estate. There were almot 500 people working in the Estate in the beginning of 20th century. Many of them lived on the estate with their families.
I've got to know that many people who worked there were proud of it. And the Vanderbilts took care of their employees. They established school for their children, organised the fall fair and Christmas for them. Every Biltmore's worker, as well as his wife and children, received gifts personally chosen by Edith Vanderbilt. Well, do you receive anything for Christmas from your employer? Me not :-). Or do you give Christmas gifts for your employeers? Me not :-(. Mrs Vanderbilt also organised cooking and sewing classes at the Horse Barn and established schools for families in the estate to promote adult literacy.
The garden is open daily, April–December, 12.00 noon - 6.00 p.m.