We toured the Biltmore Estate for the first time while we were visiting Asheville, North Carolina. Typically this type of activity isn’t my first pick for a travel itinerary, but I am so glad we didn’t miss this! Since we were visiting during the Christmas season, it made our time at the Biltmore, even more, magical and special than I imagine it normally is.

The Biltmore Estate was built for George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s and is currently an 8,000-acre estate and the largest privately owned house in the United States. It is a huge attraction that brings tons of tourism to Asheville. We got the chance to visit this beauty and experience all of its Christmas festivities, and loved it!

The Biltmore is always hosting events and seasonal celebrations, and they often have live music to accompany them. So, no matter when you visit there will always be beauty, grandeur, and excitement. In the spring, they display their Blooms in the expansive Gardens; summer is a great time to enjoy the numerous trails for hiking, walking, and biking. This is an Asheville icon that you cannot miss.

*Check out my 5 Days in Asheville, NC itinerary for our trip details and Asheville favorites!

TICKETS

Tickets differ depending on the time of year you visit, the attractions available, and which attractions you would like included in your visit. The website is a great place to visit to stay up to date on these offerings and prices.

Be sure to book early! The capacity of the House Tours has been limited (since covid) and can sell out quickly.

There are tickets, depending on the season, that exclude the House Tour and only include the Gardens & Grounds and access to Antler Hill Village & Winery. This is a potential option if the House Tours are sold out when you wish to visit. I would recommend the House Tour, but if it is not possible – the Gardens & Grounds and Antler Hill Village and Winery are worth the visit!

The Biltmore offers different experiences that change with the seasons, but there is typically a Biltmore Experience, Enhanced Experience, and sometimes an Exclusive Experience. I imagine the first two are the most purchased of the three experiences, and Biltmore advertises the “Enhanced Experience” as its Best Value.

The biggest difference between the “Biltmore Experience” and the “Enhanced Experience” is that you get an Audio Guide of the Biltmore House with the Enhanced – which I would highly recommend! I am not usually one for audio-guided tours. But, this audio guide shares personal Vanderbilt family stories and details that bring the house to life in a way that a self-guided tour never could.

With our Candlelight Christmas Evening at the Biltmore ticket, we had all-day access to the Biltmore Estate on the day of our scheduled house tour and the day after our house tour. Outside of the Christmas season, a ticket only includes all-day access on the day of your scheduled house tour.

STAY

We did not stay at The Biltmore, mostly because of cost reasons. However, below are the three options for staying on the Biltmore Estate (from least expensive to most expensive). All three are great options and give you an immersive experience with different levels of exclusive access.

The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate

The Inn on Biltmore Estate

Cottages on Biltmore Estate

THE HOUSE & GARDENS

This estate is massive in scale and very spread out. When you arrive, you are directed either towards Antler Village or the Main House & Gardens. Clear signage and officials direct you to park.

We began at the House and Gardens in the morning because the weather was great and we had planned for lunch in Antler Village. As we made our way to the House, we were met with a massive live Christmas Tree on the front lawn. It was all so grand. As you are facing the House, the beginning of the Gardens is to the left and the Stables are to the right.

*Try to arrive in the morning to avoid some of the midday and afternoon crowds.

The Gardens

The Gardens are so peaceful, and there is quite a variety to enjoy, with water features, sculptures, walking paths, and a beautiful pond.

The Conservatory (greenhouse) is also included in the garden area and is amazing! Since we visited during December, a lot of the vegetation was beginning winter dormancy. So, the conservatory was a huge treat to experience all of the warmth, vibrant plants, and colors during winter. The orchid collection is crazy!


Conservatory (outside)

The Stables

This is a really fun area of the property filled with perfect storybook shops selling anything that you could imagine. There are treats, unique souvenirs, Biltmore Wines, artisan crafts, children’s toys, and more!

*Bathrooms are located in the Stables

The Candlelight Christmas Evening at The Biltmore (House Tour)

This experience was the perfect Christmas treat. The House comes alive in the evenings with the Christmas lights lit and burning fireplaces. You are transported to a different time.

*It takes about an hour and a half to go through the house on the Audio Guided Tour. Ask for the kid’s audio tour that is narrated by Vanderbilt’s dog, Cedric!

Throughout the house tour, there are several musicians in different areas playing Christmas hymns; and each room is decked out in decorations and massive Christmas trees.

One of my favorite sports of the house was the indoor pool that held 70,000 gallons of water and even included underwater lighting! Can you imagine…in the 1800s??

ANTLER VILLAGE & WINERY

After exploring The House & Gardens, hop back in the car and take a 10 to 15-minute drive (yes, that long – this place is 8000 acres) to Antler Hill Village. You may even pass a horse-drawn carriage on your way!

Antler Hill Village

This quaint village is just what you would picture it to be during the Christmas season. Christmas trees and lights are everywhere, so be sure to come back after sunset!

Among the picturesque village shops, there are Christmas winter pop-up shops and Santa in the pavilion to take photos with. There are also several places to eat and grab snacks. This is also home to The Biltmore Winery.

The Biltmore Winery

This is a big highlight of the estate and one of the most visited wineries in the nation. There are free wine tastings that you can sign up for when you arrive.

This was very popular and had a long line when we went, so I would recommend scheduling an earlier time in the afternoon if possible.

*Reservations are NOT taken before your arrival. Use the QR code at the information booth in front of the Main House to sign up for a time slot online.

The Winery offers other tours and tastings but they were closed due to COVID. Visit their website to keep up to date on these re-openings.

The Wine Bar is across from The Winery gift shop and has quaint outdoor seating with a great view of the old-timey clock tower. It felt like we were on the cobblestone streets of Europe.

EATING CLEAN AT THE BILTMORE

The Biltmore promotes a “Field to Table” food philosophy. On their massive grounds, they grow crops, raise livestock, and advertise their pasture-raised pork, beef, lamb, and eggs on their menus.

The Biltmore also partners with local farmers to provide seasonal and locally sourced ingredients in their restaurants.

As far as the livestock, the Biltmore animals are humanely raised, fed top-quality (not stated organic) grain, and raised without growth hormones or growth-promoting antibiotics. It’s so encouraging to see this kind of sustainability effort at a tourist attraction and estate this big. You can even buy Biltmore raised Angus Beef online!

There are several options for food while you are inside the estate grounds. On the website, they have explicit lists of which restaurants provide gluten-free options and vegetarian options.

We did some prior research and found that The Bistro and Village Social (both in Antler Village) were our best bet for a casual “clean” lunch that wasn’t going to break the bank.

Most places will have a salad with a protein option if you get desperate and I am confident the chefs at each establishment will work with your dietary restrictions – you only need to ask! We had no issues.

I do want to make a note that there are NOT organic ingredients on the menus at the Biltmore Estate restaurants and the seafood that we encountered was not noted to be wild-caught.

*If the restaurant you want to eat at takes reservations, make one!

Antler Village Restaurants

Cedric’s Tavern

Cedric\’s has casual pub fare and English classics. Be mindful of the grains offered on the menu. The dinner menu has a wider variety of proteins and veggies offered for paleo and gluten-free eaters.

Bistro

For lunch, the Bistro offers mostly pizza on their lunch menu. Be mindful if you are paleo or gluten-free!

Their fabulous (pricey) dinner menu has great protein options and veggies! Good for paleo & gluten-free eaters. We would have loved to have dinner here but it was booked.

Village Social

Inside the Biltmore Village Hotel is the Village Social Restaurant, which is easily accessible from Antler Village. This is where we chose to eat because there was availability to make a reservation and there were a few great-looking options for our paleo dietary restrictions.

Their lunch menu offers gluten-free and paleo options, a vegan option (this is what I got and it was awesome!). They also have a lot of sandwiches and grain-heavy dishes. The dinner menu is pretty large and includes a great variety to accommodate many different dietary restrictions.

Biltmore House Restaurants

Stable Café

Located in The Stables is this cool, casual restaurant converted from the old stable stalls. Their menu is labeled for gluten-free and vegetarian eaters.

Even though they serve a lot of meat, they do have some great vegetarian options. There are also several good-looking salads on the lunch menu and they offer gluten-free bread for their sandwiches.

If you are paleo, be mindful of the BBQ sauce and rubs on the meats and also possible hidden dairy and sugar in the salad dressings. 

*The Stable Café is Only open for Lunch

The Bake Shop

Just outside of the Stables, to the right of the Main House, is The Bake Shop. They serve snacks and pastries that I wouldn’t particularly recommend, but they also have organic coffee!

The Conservatory Café

This was closed when we visited, but they are noted on the website to serve Biltmore wines, light snacks, and small plates. My draw to this place would be the atmosphere. It’s in a great location on the estate for an afternoon refreshment.

Deerpark Restaurant

Deerpark was closed when we visited and is still temporarily closed (as of June 2021) – probably because it is buffet-style. They serve a Friday and Saturday Lunch Buffet and have live music to enjoy. Sounds like a great place!

Their cuisine is southern comfort food; and in my experience, this isn’t the friendliest type of cuisine for gluten/grain-free, dairy-free or vegan eaters.

The Inn on Biltmore Estate Restaurants

The Dining Room

This is Biltmore’s Four Star Restaurant dining experience. *There is a dress code of business casual required.

The lunch menu is pretty casual, offering a couple of salads and sandwich options. The dinner menu looks wonderful with a variety of proteins (some locally sourced) and though quite expensive, it looks yummy.

This would be possible for paleo eaters, but with definite menu revisions due to dairy and grains in several dishes. I do think that with a restaurant like this, the chef can create a dish with freshly available ingredients in the kitchen to meet your personal dietary needs.

Well, that’s a wrap on our day at The Biltmore Estate! This is a must-visit if you are in Asheville and a great place to soak up history and nature. Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance and make a restaurant reservation if you can!

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