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No Expenses Spared
Constructed as George Vanderbilt's the lavish country retreat, the Biltmore House was America’s largest and most extravagant private home when it opened in 1895—and has held that title for more than a century. The 250-room French Renaissance-style chateau covers more than four acres of floor space and includes 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces and three kitchens.
Through the Front Door
Seeking only the best, George Vanderbilt hired America’s preeminent architect, Richard Morris Hunt, to design his opulent residence. Construction on the home took an entire community of craftsmen six years to complete. George officially opened the house to friends and family on Christmas Eve in 1895, welcoming them in through this colossal front door and architectural focal point. Today, the front door opens at 9:00 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m. daily for self-guided tours, which are included in estate admission. Reservations are recommended if you plan to visit on a designated busy day.
The Banquet Hall
Just imagine the feasts the Vanderbilt family and their guests consumed here! The Banquet Hall is 72 feet wide, 42 feet long, 70 feet high and could seat up to 64 guests. View the Banquet Hall on your self-guided tour of the residence or sign up for an in-depth guided specialty tour for an extra charge. Allow about two hours to explore the house, which showcases many of the family’s original belongings.
Edith Vanderbilt’s Bedroom
George Vanderbilt married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser in Paris in 1898, and the couple spent many happy years together with their only daughter, Cornelia. Known for her poise, elegance and superior hostessing skills, Edith certainly led a charmed life. Visitors today can take in the grandeur of Edith’s bedroom, sumptuously decorated in cut velvet and silk, as part of the home's self-guided tour.
The Grounds
Though the Biltmore Estate once covered 125,000 acres of mountainous land, the remaining 8,000 acres still boast beautiful vistas, gardens and serene escapes. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York’s Central Park, the manicured gardens and stately grounds are just as breathtaking as the house itself. The Italian Garden, pictured here, can be found in the formal gardens surrounding the home and features elegant pools with many varieties of aquatic plants.
Carpet of Flowers
At the end of every summer season, the South Terrace of the Biltmore House blazes to life with extraordinary color. More than 155,000 plants are arranged into intricate patterns to create the breathtaking Flower Carpet. Admire individual blooms up close on the terrace, and view the overall composition from the windows on the second floor of the house. In the evenings, the Carpet is lit with dozens of torches and small lamps—a luminary sight that you won’t want to miss.
A Gardener’s Delight
George Vanderbilt was passionate about preserving and cultivating the land, and he dedicated much of his estate to the vibrant blooms and gardens visitors can still see today. The Rose Garden alone is home to around 1,200 rose plants, representing more than 200 varieties and found inside the lower portion of the Walled Garden below the Biltmore House. The gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. until dusk.
Festival of Flowers
More than 50,000 Dutch tulips bloom each spring estate-wide for the Festival of Flowers, one of the Biltmore House’s most famous events. You’ll find beautiful blooms throughout the estate, from spring bulbs at the front entrance and in the Conservatory to the stunning floral displays inside the house itself.
An 8,000-Acre Backyard
The grounds of the America’s largest private home were designed to be enjoyed, and visitors today are encouraged to take advantage of the many recreational activities offered throughout the landscape. From horseback riding and mountain biking to river float trips and carriage rides, there’s more than one way to experience the gorgeous terrain surrounding the Biltmore Estate. Visit the Outdoor Adventure Center to create your own outdoor agenda.
Antler Hill Village
The Biltmore’s newest guest venue is a place for gathering, socializing and entertainment, just as George and Edith originally intended. Tour the popular Winery, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2010, and sample complimentary Biltmore wine in a beautiful setting. Learn about Edith Vanderbilt’s knack for entertaining and her contributions to community development at the Biltmore Legacy exhibits, and enjoy a wide variety of dining and specialty shopping options in the village and throughout the estate.
Rest, Relax and Rejuvenate
With so much to see on the Biltmore Estate, you’ll want more than a day to soak in the beauty. Pictured here, the Inn on Biltmore Estate is the only on-site hotel and is a Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond property with luxurious rooms, spa services and exquisite views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Other overnight options include the Cottage on Biltmore Estate and offsite hotels in Asheville.
Christmas at the Biltmore
Hundreds of trees, miles of evergreen garlands and thousands of ornaments grace the Biltmore House inside and out during the festive Christmas season. A forest of twinkling evergreens greets visitors on the Front Lawn during the holidays, and a live 35-foot Fraser fir can be found in the Banquet Hall. Christmas season at the Biltmore lasts from November to the beginning of January annually.

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, is one of America’s most legendary architectural treasures. Nestled regally among the Blue Ridge Mountains, the personal castle and 8,000-acre estate of George Washington Vanderbilt is open to the public 364 days a year and is only a four-hour drive from Raleigh. From the home’s opulent interior and extensive gardens to the modern shopping and dining opportunities on the estate, the splendors of the Biltmore should be at the top of every North Carolina traveler’s bucket list. The Admissions Gate and Reservation & Ticket Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m.; one- and two-day estate admission tickets beginning at $55 are available online. Address: 1 Approach Road, Asheville, NC 28803. Phone: 800-411-3812.—Margaret VanEchaute

Photos Courtesy of The Biltmore Company.

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