In March, we visited Asheville, North Carolina—recently voted as one of America’s top 30 small cities by Conde Nast Traveler. Although we focused on the vibrant culinary and drink scene, we did take in some culture as well with a visit to the Thomas Wolffe (iconic American author) museum and a quick tour of the Biltmore Estate—known as America’s only ‘castle’ on par with Europe’s behemoth estates erected for royalty.
And in a way, the Vanderbilt family—especially in the late 19th century and early 20th century—were one of the country’s royalty with their immense wealth. Commission by G.W. Vanderbilt as his family home in 1895, the Biltmore Estate spans 8,000 acres, including gardens and landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, father of American landscape architecture.
Luckily, we happened to visit during the “Biltmore Blooms” event that celebrates the onset of spring with thousands of tulips, acres of azaleas and rooms full of orchids blooming.
Here are a few photos from our visit…
Hot tips on visiting Biltmore Estate
Give yourself at least 3 -4 hours, if not the whole day, to explore. We tried to do it in an hour right before catching a flight home. And even though we’re speed demons when it comes to visiting historical sites and museum, it was nearly impossible to pull off. Getting to the parking lot to catch a shuttle to the main house takes roughly 15 minutes to reach on America’s longest driveway!
Be prepared for crowds. There are long lines to see the rooms, decked out in original furniture, bedding and even clothing from the Vanderbilt family, so get ready to wait up to 5-10 minutes per room.
Reserve tickets online—especially during March to May when the Biltmore Blooms takes place and during the summer. For the best price, buy tickets at least seven days in advance.
Don’t miss a wine tasting at Biltmore’s vineyards. Planted in 1971 by G.W.’s grandson, the vineyard features Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other grape varietals. A wine tasting and tour is included in the price of admission.