The expansive Gilded Age mansion and estate where George and Edith Vanderbilt once lavishly entertained guests more than a century ago is now one of North Carolina’s top tourist attractions. Descendants of George and Edith carry on that tradition of hospitality by welcoming guests to their family estate. I have been visiting the historic Biltmore Estate for years now and have had the opportunity to visit in every season.
The mansion and gardens are lovely year round but each of the four seasons offers a unique experience and makes it worth visiting more than once. With so many options for dining, lodging, and activities you won’t need to leave the estate. The basic ticket for admission to the Biltmore Estate includes admission to Biltmore House (timed entry) and gardens, an audio guide of Biltmore House, access to Antler Hill Village & Winery as well as complimentary wine tastings, and parking. These tickets are available year round.
Note: All activities on the Biltmore Estate require guests to have a daytime ticket, a Biltmore Annual Pass, or a stay at one of the estate’s splendid overnight properties.
On my latest visit, Biltmore hosted me on a press trip with two daytime tickets to the estate and one experience. I chose the Land Rover experience.
Best Things To Do During Summer At The Biltmore Estate
Summer is one of the best times of year to get outside and explore the 8,000-acre estate. There are miles of hiking trails along the French Broad River, through the landscaped gardens and the meticulously preserved forests. The Outdoor Adventure Center at the Antler Hill Village offers a variety of fun activities.
Float On The French Broad River
The Outdoor Adventure Center offers two types of river trips. The first is a Self-Guided Kayak Trip in a single or tandem kayak. The team will drop you off upstream for a calm gentle paddle down the French Broad and pick you up at the end. The other option is a Guided Raft Trip. This is not a whitewater adventure but a nice relaxing float where your knowledgeable guide rafts you down the river.
The Land Rover Experience
Put a state-of-the-art Land Rover through its off-road paces on a challenging course with the help of a professional instructor. This is such a fun activity, and you also get to see other areas of the estate that aren’t on the public maps. Learn expedition-style driving as you confront obstacles which include steep ascents, descents, side tilts, log crossings, and rock crawls. Book at the Outdoor Adventure Center for a one-or two-hour experience. Also offered are half and full-day experiences but these are expensive.
Take a Rooftop Tour
This unique behind-the-scenes guided tour gives guests a look at the design and construction of Biltmore House not seen on the regular house tour. Take in stunning views of the estate from balconies and the house’s rooftop. Can you say Instagram-worthy photos? Truly a memorable experience.
ProTip: During your visit to the Biltmore Estate, you can purchase a second-day ticket for $25 which will allow you a next-day visit to explore more of the estate. (Does not include house tour). Also, if you book an outdoor activity or tour the day after your visit, it allows you to return for your tour or activity without an additional admission purchase. Just visit Guest Services.
Best Things To Do During Fall At The Biltmore Estate
The fall season at the Biltmore Estate runs from October 1 until the first week of November. The grounds of the estate transform with nature’s colorful display of fall colors enhanced by the fall floral designs planted in the display beds by the gardeners. The stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Pisgah Forest have some of the best fall foliage in the United States and there are many gorgeous vistas on the property.
There are nearly 22 miles of hiking trails on the grounds and the cooler fall temperatures make it a perfect time to explore. Head to the Antler Hill Village where both the Bike Barn and the Outdoor Adventure Center offer detailed trail maps. The Outdoor Adventure Center offers a variety of guided hikes for a fee if you’d like to learn more about wildlife, birds, and trees that call the estate home. There are also some wellness offerings such as a Sensory Journey hike.
Deerpark Carriage and Trail Ride Barn
A lovely way to explore the estate is on horseback via a trail ride. The guided tour takes you through Biltmore’s forest and horses are available for every skill level. Climb aboard an elegant carriage pulled by Belgian draft horses and enjoy picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the grounds, and Biltmore House.
There are more than 20 miles of biking trails across the estate and access is included with your admission. Bring your own bike or rent one at the Biltmore’s Bike Barn located in the Antler Hill Barn. There are options for both mountain biking on a single-track woodland dirt trail or road biking on a paved trail along the French Broad River. Another option is to take the 4.5-mile Farm Trail Guided Bike Ride which is a leisurely ride around the historic farms on the estate. Stops include the farms, by the river, and the Market Cottage where you can learn more about Biltmore’s agricultural programs. Biltmore’s restaurants were farm-to-table before that was even a thing.
Best Things To Do During Winter At The Biltmore Estate
Winter at Biltmore is a magical time of year. The Christmas Season known as “Christmas at Biltmore,” when the entire estate is at its most enchanting, begins in early November and runs into January. It is one of the most expensive and busiest times of year to visit. The cost and crowds are worth it when you realize how lovely it is at Christmas. The less expensive winter season is from mid-January until March 31 each year. This is the most peaceful time of year when the crowds are the lowest and you reap the benefits of the lowest prices of the year.
Christmas Daytime Celebration
Biltmore House is so festive during the Christmas season. The home is extravagantly decorated with fragrant fresh wreaths, glittering garland, and multiple Christmas trees. The largest tree dominates the banquet room. The lions in front of the house are adorned with lush greenery and red bows. Make your way through the gardens to the conservatory, which is decorated with blooming poinsettias. Antler Hill Village is also festively adorned with lovely decorations.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings
If you’ve never visited the Biltmore Estate after dark, you need to. It is absolutely stunning to see the majestic Norway spruce on the front lawn and the luminaries which light the pathways. Inside, experience Biltmore House decorated for the holidays reminiscent of the time when the Vanderbilts entertained. There are thousands of ornaments glittering in the candlelight. Fireplaces crackle as you tour all the festive rooms. Seasonal favorites are performed by musicians stationed throughout the house. Antler Hill Village is filled with sparkling lights cascading from the trees. Do not miss the illuminated tunnel that connects the village to the winery. It is just incredible.
Van Gogh Alive
Visit the first of Biltmore’s new exhibition series, Legends of Art & Innovation which uses the latest in immersive technology and is produced by Grande Experiences. This exhibit features fascinating ties to George Vanderbilt’s art collection. Van Gogh Alive present’s this famous artist’s paintings in a symphony of light, color, sound, and even scent — becoming a completely immersive experience. This takes place in Biltmore’s event center, Amherst at Deerpark.
Red Wine And Chocolate Tasting
What a perfect activity leading up to Valentine’s Day. Enjoy learning why chocolate and red wine are such a perfect pairing. The class includes tasting and experiencing the tactile attribute of a raw cacao bean. Learn about winemaking and production at Biltmore as well as the process to farm cacao. Tastings will feature Biltmore red wines paired with artisan chocolates from French Broad Chocolate, a local chocolatier.
Best Things To Do During Spring at The Biltmore Estate
Biltmore comes alive in the spring with a bounty of colorful blooms.
Monet & Friends — Life, Light & Color
This is the second in the Biltmore’s Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore exhibition series. This exhibit delves into the history of the Impressionist movement in Europe amid the social and political upheavals of the era. European art changed forever with this movement. Experience the art of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, and more. The works are brought to life as they are projected on an enormous scale with a display of light, color, and sound. Truly a magical experience.
Tulips, azaleas, rhododendrons, and roses, oh my! Garden lovers, this event is for you. From April 1 until May 26 this is Biltmore’s annual celebration of Frederick Law Olmsted’s legacy, the design of the historic estate gardens, and grounds. Thousands of spring flowers burst forth all over the estate in a vibrant mass of color. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, the Olmsted Walking Trail.
Each season at Biltmore offers something unique that makes it worth the visit.
Pro Tip: If you live within driving distance of the estate you may want to consider an annual pass if you visit more than twice a year. It has a variety of benefits including discounts on tickets for your guests as well as food and shopping.
Biltmore Estate is one of many amazing experiences visitors to Asheville, NC can experience: