We finally executed our plan to goto Biltmore. However instead of just Biltmore, our plan was to first reach Biltmore take some snaps enjoy from outside and then move to Smoky Mountains, then overnight at Atlanta - spend the next day in Atlanta and return back to Charlotte. We enjoyed Smoky Mountains and Atlanta, but in Biltmore, the ticket counter is now moved in such a way that unless you pay the $60 ticket, you will not be able to get the glimpse of the house or the garden. Our group comprises of 4 adults (me, my wife, in-laws) and my 2 children and I was not ready to pay $240 as it is a lot of money and even if I am ready we did not have sufficient time to make a visit. They should introduce a small price ticket to see the building from outside. My wife is now making another plan just to visit Biltmore house sometime very soon. Thank You All for your inputs!!!
Unique Suggestions: AAA seem to be giving reasonable discount and make plans only to visit this house, otherwise it is not worth the money!!
When you visit Biltmore, Get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds. There will be crowds and they will be large. If you are planning to visit the Winery try and get there as soon as it opens. We did this and it was maybe a 5 minute wait. When we finished the tour and tasting the line was outside the winery and down the parking lot!
For the Candlelight Evenings they give Entry times that will help spread the crowds out and make the visit more enjoyable.
Unique Suggestions: You HAVE to visit Biltmore if you've never been. Even when it's crowded it's still something to behold. Planning for crowds and minimizing the effect is well worth doing.
Fun Alternatives: The next time I visit I may try and stay on the estate at their hotel to get more of the Biltmore experience and see if they offer special access. If you've done it, let me know!
I arrived to Asheville at night on Thursday and stayed in Mountaineer Inn. I planned to stay in Asheville only one night. But next afternoon things changed as I liked Asheville so much that I wanted to stay one day more to see more.
Unfortunatelly when I came back to Mountaineer Inn in the evening I was invited by NO VACANCY sign. The very helpful guys in the reception told me that many people had already asked about any room for them and that they even had called to some other motels and they all had already been fully booked for weekend. They adviced me to drive to South Carolina and I did so.
Unique Suggestions: Ask at the lobby of any motel/hotel where to find a room. They are usually friendly and helpful in Asheville. Keep smiling and follow their suggestions. Or drive along Tunnel Road and check one motel by one, there are over 10.
Fun Alternatives: Simply book your room in advance, for weekend and in summer season especially. Call free:
800-255-4080 Mountaineer Inn (good value motel for budget visitors, details in my hotel tip).
It luckily didn't happen to me in October 2004 but it can happen to you! Well, it happened to me in the Hearst Castle in California in 2003 :-(. What? You may come to visit the famous Biltmore Estate from very far and get to know in the Reception and Ticket Center that it's CLOSED for you that day! It may happen on busy days when you come too late! Read more here.
Keep in mind that the Biltmore Estate is the most visited historic tourist destination in the USA. It receives more annual visitors than:
- Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia
- George Washington's Mount Vernon, Virginia
- Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Virginia
- and even Elvis's Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
The most visited winery in the USA is not in Californian Napa Valley. It is the Biltmore Estate Winery!
Unique Suggestions: Visit Asheville downtown and do enjoy! The next day get to the Biltmore Reception & Ticket Center at opening hours - be the first as on busy days even advanced-purchase tickets do not guarantee entry!
Fun Alternatives: There is no alternative! Nothing compare to the Biltmore House in the USA. You may go to Europe with its thousands old and great castles, palaces and manors. I just think that there is one old and impressive castle/palace/manor per say 100,000 people in Europe but in the USA it's one per 10 mln or more. Does it explain possible crowds of visitors to the Biltmore House?
When I parked my car early in the morning at Civic Center parking garage I saw a sign: Welcome! Special event parking $5. Silly me, I didn't ask anybody what's that special event! It was my big mistake.
I was going to spend a few hours in Asheville and then get to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and catch sunset there. So, I didn't know that the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands (entrance fee was $5) took place in the Civic Center. I got to know about it after a few hours strolling around downtown and just when I had to leave. Shortly I skipped the Craft Fair :-(.
Unique Suggestions: The rather ugly, grey building of Asheville Civic Center contains exhibit halls, auditorium (concert hall) and sport arena. Check events (music concerts, sport events, exhibits, fairs etc.) which take place there now and in incoming months here.
Do not follow me and check events in Asheville on time here
Fun Alternatives: Well, I enjoyed a lot my trip to and through the Smoky Mountains National Park to Tennessee. After my visit to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia a few days before where I could see mainly thick fog I was very happy to have great sunny weather in the Smoky Mountains. Watching Weather Channel in the next evening I got to know that the Smoky Mountains were most of the day covered by fog a day after my visit.
The only really well-known tourist draw in Asheville is the Biltmore Estate, although the Blue Ridge Parkway tends to get crowded in the summer too. Both sights are well worth fighting the crowds, but just visit in the "slightly off" season (late spring and early fall) and you'll get great weather and fewer people.
Get some road information before you get on the Blue Ridge Parkway. When I was there, the Parkway was closed about 17 miles north of Asheville and I wasn´t able to go on to Boone, N.C. I had to go back and take another highway. Road closures might happen in the Appalachians during fall and winter times.