Today was a record setting 84 degrees in Asheville. I spent most of the day at the Biltmore Estate. George Washington Vanderbilt was from a very, very wealthy family and wanted to build an escape from everyday life. So he went to Asheville and purchased 125,000 acres of land and proceeded to build the largest private residence in the United States.
He was an unmarried man of 33 when his home was opened after six years of construction in 1895. His escape was a 250 room house with 33 guest rooms and 42 bathrooms. Some rooms were not completed inside at that time. Three years later he married a wealthy young woman and they had one daughter. In 1914 at the age of 51, George died from complications of appendicitis. His wife and daughter continued to live in the home, selling off acreage to afford to keep the home. The daughter went on to marry, have two children and then divorce in 1934. Ironically the daughter never returned to Biltmore after the divorce in 1934. Her ex-husband remained to live and operate the estate. Today the estate is owned by a Vanderbilt Family trust.
Biltmore Estate is the largest tourist attraction in North Carolina. The house has been open to the public for tours since 1930. The mansion sits on 8000 acres. They raise livestock and crops. They have a winery, shops, many eating options and two hotels and on and on. 2000 employees work for Biltmore Estate.
General Admission Tickets are a little complicated – they have Peak Days, Regular Days and Value Days based on expected numbers of visitors. Then if you purchase your ticket seven days in advance, you save $10.
So – Peak is $75 or $65 if purchased seven days ahead, Regular is $65 or $55 if purchased seven days ahead and Value is $50 or $40 if purchased seven days ahead. Then to add to that, on days they are expecting larger crowds, you have to reserve a time to go instead of just arriving whenever you want for the tour.
So when I was planning the trip, I had two days in Asheville to choose to visit Biltmore. If I chose Thursday (Regular Day) and paid seven days in advance, I could go for $55. If I chose Friday (Peak Day) and paid seven days in advance, I would pay $65 plus it was a reservation day so I would have had to go at a specific time. So I chose Thursday.
Then, your ticket only gets you access to wander through the house. You can rent an audio tour device for $10.98 extra or two times a day they offer an escorted tour for an extra $19.00. Then there are ten other tours you can take across various areas of the estate.
I paid for the audio tour. It was excellent. You get to visit or view about forty rooms. Everything was very, very classy. There is a bowling alley, gym and swimming pool in the house.
It took about 90 minutes to go through the house. I enjoyed it very much.
Then I checked out the shops (they had some very, very cute Christmas decorations) and then had a snack (dinner replacement) before moving on the gardens and conservatory. It was a lovely, warm, sunny day. Perfect for wandering around the grounds. I spent about six hours at the estate.