The Biltmore Estate is America’s largest home. At 175,00 square feet or roughly four acres of floor space, this 250-room mansion has 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and more than 60 fireplaces throughout the spacious residence. The closest thing the United States has to a castle, the Biltmore Estate, cost the modern equivalent of $180 million to build. This sprawling estate, which once spanned 125,000 acres, is now 8,000 acres. The rest was sold to the federal government and now comprises Pisgah National Forest. Read on to learn more about visiting Biltmore Estate.
Location: Ashville, North Carolina, USA
Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
Hours: Check Hours Here
Admission Price: $100 per Adult
(No, that’s not a typo!)
Designation: America’s Largest Privately Owned Home
& National Historic Landmark
How to Reach the Biltmore Estate from Asheville
The Biltmore Estate is easily accessible by car. There are some shuttle options from various area hotels, but their hours vary widely, so call your hotel if you’re in the area and would like to visit to explore your options. If you’re driving, it’s a bit of a drive into the forest to get there, but it’s a beautiful journey full of wildlife and sprawling hills. The name Biltmore came from “De Bilt,” the ancestral lands of the Vanderbilt family who owned the house in the Netherlands, and “moor” from the word for rolling hills—fitting, yes?
About Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate debuted in 1895 as a summer home for George Washington Vanderbilt II, who gained their wealth from steamships, railroads, and numerous import-export business ventures within the United States and abroad. The village near Biltmore Estate sprung up in response to the staffing needs of the estate, and since the family stopped living there in the 1950s, it’s been a house museum ever since.
More than one million people visit the estate each year, though the number has been steadily decreasing, according to what we learned at the estate. That’s true for most places after the pandemic, but it could also be due to the ticket price hike, which, according to fellow guests, used to be $50 per person!
George Vanderbilt’s library contains more than 20,000 tomes. Numerous films have been filmed here in part, and the home is filled with famous works of art, including pieces by Renoir, Monet, and other famous painters. Another disappointing aspect of our visit was that when I asked about these works of art, the staff seemed to have no clue what I was talking about. One told me to “Google it,” which put a damper on things. If I’d known that would be their attitude, I wouldn’t have driven from Charleston, SC, to see the estate.
What to Know Before Visiting Biltmore Estate
Yes, tickets are really $100 per person! I’ve never gone anywhere in the world with such expensive ticket prices, not even the Louvre or Versailles (each of which was less than 15 Euro per adult) charged so much. I recognize that this place is privately owned, whereas the government subsidizes those, but I legitimately thought we were being pranked when we bought our tickets, haha. Maintaining such a large estate is expensive!
Parking is included in the ticket cost, as is touring the house, but that’s about it. Aside from walking around, there was little for us to do, and though it was beautiful, the staff was very overbearing. Each room had around 3-5 staff members, even though photography was allowed. I was respectful about taking pictures, not blocking walkways, not using flash (I don’t even have a flash for my camera, haha), and I was still rudely chastised for not “moving along” despite being the only one in a room. If you read my blog, you know I’m a very respectful visitor and an avid rule-follower, so even my family was confused by the weird attitudes of the employees here. I’ve even written posts about How to Politely Take Photos in Public!
Plus, the staff seemed to want to avoid answering our questions or anyone else’s questions we overheard. It seemed like they wanted to get us in, rush us through, and get us out ASAP, and they couldn’t be bothered to speak to us much. So, if you want to learn about this place, I recommend reading about it beforehand because they’re not very helpful!
There weren’t signs to stop and read in the house anymore. Instead, the only option was audio tours that moved very slowly. I’m a fast reader who is frustrated by audio tours that move slowly, but there was no other option. This seemed counterintuitive for the reason I mentioned above.
The estate’s 75 acres of gardens were relatively sparsely planted when we went in September, and though it was beautiful, there was little in bloom. That’s likely due to the timing of our visit, so keep in mind what’s in season when you visit if you’d like to see more than grass. My favorite parts about visiting are the home’s central glass room and the estate’s glasshouse!
If you want to visit the village within the Biltmore Estate, you’ll have to pay the $100 per person ticket fee, even if you don’t intend to tour the house.
Although I had a lovely time with my husband and our family and were glad we saw it, we all agreed we’d never go back. The staff were rude, the tickets were overpriced for what it was, the audio tour could have been better and faster, and there wasn’t much to do but walk around. Plus, the only electric vehicle chargers in the estate were out of order, which was stressful, but that isn’t uncommon in the Carolinas, haha.
Overall, be sure you plan your visit well, don’t let snarky and overbearing staff ruin your visit, and you’ll have a fine time.