Several weeks ago I was back in the United States for my best friend’s bachelorette party. We decided that a fun weekend away in Asheville, North Carolina would be perfect for everyone. It was the perfect halfway spot for everyone attending, it has good beer, mountains and of course the Biltmore Estate. I’m the maid of honor which means that I plan the party. So I decided upon Biltmore for our tame daytime activity. You know, the one where we wear nice dresses and pretend like we’re ladies. The one where we snap some nice photos together before chaos ensues that evening. The Biltmore Estate could not have been more perfect.
The Biltmore Estate is huge because … well it used to be an estate for the Vanderbilt family. It can be overwhelming and expensive to do all the things. So I decided to make a Biltmore Estate must-do list. Do these 6 things and you will capture the true Biltmore experience. And who doesn’t want that?
What is the Biltmore?
I’m glad that you asked! The Biltmore Estate was built in 1889 by George Vanderbilt, a man from Staten Island who came into quite a fortune. He thought that the Blue Ridge Mountains were the perfect spot for a country home, according to the website. The estate consists of 250 rooms and over 80,000 acres. For a long time it was a family home.
Many famous people have been to the estate. You can read the full timeline here. Today the property is open for public tours.
1. Take a photo in front of the house
I swear that they really have it all set up quite nicely there. Once you drive in, park and walk to the estate, you have everything you need for that Instagram-worthy selfie. They have this sort of balcony thing that you can walk up and view the house from afar. Naturally since we were a bachelorette party, we wanted to snap a few group photos from here.
Right as we were figuring how how we were going to pose, this older man comes up and offers to be our photographer. I was holding my Nikon DSLR and he offered to use it. Now I normally am pretty choosy with who uses my camera, not because I’m a snob but because the automatic focus stopped working about 9 months ago. Unless you have experience manually focusing a photo, I’m weary to just hand it over. The last thing I want is a bunch of blurry photos. Furthermore half the time my iPhone takes just as good of a photo.
However this guy was like “I can focus it! No problem.” So I handed the camera over and he went to work. It was funny, really. My friend Kayleigh was … having a moment, lets just say (she drank a lot the night before). We’re about to take the photo when we realize that the bride is not in it! So he goes yelling for her and she comes out from where she was. So naturally having her squat in the middle is fitting.
So we then decided that #whereskayleigh should be our weekend hashtag.
2. Walk through the gardens
While it costs to tour the house, the gardens are totally free to browse. They really have an amazing outdoor section complete with a greenhouse full of life. You could spend a good 30 minutes to an hour just walking around it all and taking it in.
3. Tour the house
It was absolutely stunning to tour the inside of the house. It is amazing to see what each of the many rooms was used for. They also had mannequins in many of the rooms wearing the costumes from some of the movies that were filmed in the house.
It costs $65 to tour the house if you buy your ticket at least 7 days in advance. There are also special days where it might be less. For us, it was $65 a person. It’s best to just check the Biltmore website for exact price information. Just know that the ticket is a bit more expensive.
4. Go for a free wine tasting!
Did you know that the Biltmore Estate has a winery? I learned that too when booking our visit. You can go to the winery part of the estate and try around 6 different wines. After we ate lunch, we headed over and were lead to an open space right away.
After you taste the wines, you can of course purchase them in the gift shop. Since I was traveling back to Europe in just a few days, I did not buy any. However some of the girls in the group bought some for themselves or friends/family.
This one here is perfect because you get a little mixture. So if you cannot make it to the Biltmore, you can have a little home tasting for yourself!
5. Taste the samples
After a wine tasting, you can browse through the gift shop. I was pleasantly surprised to find many food samples displayed throughout the shop. I tried all sorts of dips, honey mustards and vinaigrettes.
I also loved how creative this all was.
6. Stomp on some grapes
Smashing the grapes is an integral part of making wine. They actually let you try it yourself. This was also free. Of course this video was on my Insta story and Snapchat.
All in all, it was cool to visit America’s castle … or the closest thing that we have to a castle. If you can afford to tour the house, I would definitely recommend it. It was simply breath-taking. However if you are traveling more on a budget, you can still have a good time touring the grounds, window-shopping and tasting wine.