What to Wear to Biltmore: Insider Tips

You’ve booked your visit to Biltmore and are ready to explore, relax, and have fun in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Now it’s time to think about what to pack.

Here are a few Biltmore insider tips to help you plan what to wear to maximize your enjoyment as you visit our magnificent 8,000-acre estate any time of year.

Pack for your visit with these insider tips on what to wear at Biltmore!

What to wear for the occasion

Chances are, George Vanderbilt’s guests asked themselves the same questions as they planned their visits to Biltmore over a century ago. Luckily, today’s clothing differs quite a bit from the opulent glamour and elegance of the Edwardian-style silk and velvet gowns and dapper suits expected of Biltmore’s guests during the Gilded Age!

While there is no dress code for visiting Biltmore Estate (aside from dining at our four-star Inn), we recommend dressing for the occasion with photo ops, your comfort, your personal style, and of course, the weather in mind!

Biltmore admission includes access to explore our 8,000-acre estate!

What to wear for getting around

From exploring Biltmore’s 75 acres of formal gardens to touring the 175,000-square-foot home, you’ll want to be comfortable as you experience all the estate has to offer.

Comfortable shoes are a must! Loafers and stylish sneakers are great year-round options, walking sandals are perfect for touring the estate in spring and summer, and flat boots are comfortable for fall and winter.

Guests can expect to walk anywhere from half a mile to several miles depending on what they wish to experience while on the estate, all while navigating different types of terrain across the historic grounds, including uneven gravel and paved walkways and stairs.

Tip: Check our Accessibility page for helpful information about navigating the estate with a wheelchair or stroller. Want to bring a purse or backpack? Review our bag policy.

Dress for comfort, no matter the forecast.

What to wear for the Asheville weather

Blue Ridge Mountain weather is predictably unpredictable! It is not unusual to have blue skies give way to an afternoon shower, especially during spring and summer. No matter the weather, you’ll want to dress to enjoy your time on Biltmore Estate.

When there’s a chance of rain, plan to bring an umbrella or raincoat. During the fall and winter seasons, be sure to wear layers to be bundled up outdoors and comfortable indoors. Light, breathable layers are excellent year-round.

Tip: Check the local Asheville area weather forecast the day before your visit and arrive prepared. Watch for changing weather conditions.

Falconry is one of the more adventurous activities offered on Biltmore Estate.

What to wear for activities

“I thought it was just a house!” is often heard from first-time visitors, but a trip to Biltmore offers far more options beyond the historic home. Just as George Vanderbilt offered outdoor activities for his guests, we offer countless activities for our guests today!

Ranging from laid-back to adventurous, we recommend taking time to research which Biltmore activities you’d like to do while visiting, and be sure to keep that in mind while packing.

Tip: Enhance your visit with activities including horseback riding, biking, kayaking, hiking, falconry, and fishing as well as indoor pursuits such as shopping, dining, and tasting our handcrafted wines. Availability changes throughout the year and some activities require advanced reservations.

Stop and snap a selfie… and then tag @biltmoreestate. 😉

What to wear for the perfect picture

Trust us, you’re going to want to snap a few selfies and group photos while you’re here. You know that outfit people are always complimenting when you wear it? The one that makes you feel good as soon as you put it on? Bring it along! Biltmore is the perfect location for capturing moments that will last a lifetime.

Tip: Private photoshoots for engagements, graduation, maternity, and holiday cards for personal use are permitted on the estate. Please review the Biltmore Photo Policy before arrival.

Plan outfits that can be easily dressed up or down during your Biltmore getaway.

What to wear for your getaway

As a top destination, Biltmore’s award-winning winery, numerous restaurants, and luxury accommodations also make the estate perfect for romantic getaways, weddings, bridal showers, girlfriends’ weekends, family vacations, anniversaries, birthdays, and any excuse for a fun get-together!

Consider outfits that can be dressed up or down for a variety of activities during your getaway on the estate. For example, flowy dresses or skirts can be paired with walking sandals during the day and heels for dinner. Breathable, stretchy chino pants can be paired with stylish sneakers and a polo shirt during the day or loafers and a blazer at night.

Overnight stays at one of our private historic Cottages, our four-star Inn, or the more casual Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate will allow you to experience life as a guest of the Vanderbilts and it offers a chance to bring more outfits with you.

📷 by @goanniewhere explores the Conservatory
📷 by @camrynglackin takes a stroll near The Inn on Biltmore Estate
📷 by @naenoelle shares a fun family moment in front of Biltmore House
📷 by @welltraveledchild rolls by the Lagoon on bike
📷 by @veronicadaisy takes in the Loggia views
📷 by @travelingspud is ready to explore
📷 by @worldofawanderer heads out on horseback
📷 by @welltraveledchild takes in the views with her family

Show off your style

Share your favorite Biltmore insider tips, memories, and outfits with us by tagging #Biltmore @biltmoreestate on social media.

No matter what you wear, we look forward to welcoming you to Biltmore Estate!

Restoring the Past: The Smoking & Gun Rooms

For upper echelons during the Gilded Age, few things were more important than networking and maintaining social standing. Smoking and Gun Rooms were essential for many affluent families. At Biltmore, these two rooms have been used in various ways over the last century, yet always centered around hospitality.

In honor of National Preservation Month in May, we invite you to learn about the intricate layers of our preservation efforts to restore the Smoking and Gun Rooms of Biltmore House.

Hallway between Smoking and Gun Room
An archival photo of the hallway from the 1940s displays embossed wallpaper resembling leather, dating back to 1911.

A home well-loved

Biltmore has been called home to many generations of Vanderbilts and Cecils throughout the years. And, just as we do in our own homes, we update, refresh, and alternate the use of space, the Smoking and Gun Rooms on the first floor of Biltmore House were no different.

During George Vanderbilt’s time, gentlemen primarily utilized these rooms to socialize, relax, and gear up for outdoor activities including hunting and fishing. After George’s death, Edith and Cornelia downsized, and used these rooms as office and living quarters, which they remained through the Cecils’ stay. Always evolving and reflecting the tastes of the time and lifestyles of their inhabitants.

Handwritten letter by George Vanderbilt from February 13, 1896. Letter says
A handwritten letter by George Vanderbilt in 1896 gives us a glimpse at the historic use of these rooms.

History writes itself

Through a combination of research, our own archival documents and photos, and those from repositories around the world, we can peel back the layers of time to bring Biltmore back to its roots.

Among the treasures uncovered in our archives are a series of letters that offer a glimpse into the past. One letter, dated to the 1890s, finds George requesting retrieval of a box stored in a desk in the Smoking Room—these little nuggets of information provide us with invaluable clues to the room’s furnishings and use.

“Dear Charles, With the enclosed key please open the desk in the smoking room. In the middle drawer is a box addressed to me at Biltmore about 14×7 inches + 2 inches deep… On the top of the desk are a lot of letters and some invitations. Please mail me these.” – George Vanderbilt on February 13, 1896

Herbert Noble in Biltmore Winter Garden c. 1930
Herbert Noble in Biltmore’s Winter Garden c. 1930

The Butler’s Log

Central to our research efforts is the Butler’s Log, meticulously maintained by Herbert Noble during the 1930s. This detailed account of the changes made within Biltmore House offers a treasure trove of information, from descriptions of room updates to insights into the removal and replacement of furnishings and décor that had been worn out, water damaged, or whatever the case may be. Often what he is moving out is the pieces of information that are most helpful.

Herbert recorded, “Leaks at some time had ruined the original paper which was dark green. As the blue draperies were so very faded and worn, I had new ones made for it of dark red damask…”

Edith standing in the Smoking Room
The wallpaper seen in this photo of Mrs. Vanderbilt matches a sample of wallpaper in storage, which assisted us in restoring the Smoking Room to its original state.

We took that information alongside a picture of Edith which shows a striped wallpaper on the wall behind her and found the same green striped wallpaper in our storage. This sample has since been sent off to be reproduced by Atelier D’Offard in Tours, France, who specializes in hand-blocked wallpapers as produced in the 18th and 19th centuries.. The same company who produced wallpapers for the Louis XV Suite.

Another entry states,”Mr. Cecil uses this room for a writing room.  He had the woodwork cleaned & oiled last year…Mr. Cecil had the backs of the cabinets painted yellow which shows up the birds so much more besides improving the appearance of the room.  The dark blue & red rug is from the Van Dyke room…  As this room had no draperies I hung a pair of velvet draperies in here.

A glimpse inside the Gun Room of Biltmore House as it undergoes preservation.

Digging deeper for information

While we had archival clues for the Smoking Room, the Gun Room required the team to start entirely from scratch. According to Lori Garst, Biltmore’s Curator of Collections, we had no archival drawings to use when planning the restoration of the Gun Room. Our research last summer focused on the function of late 19th  and early 20th-century gun rooms.  Based on the finishes in our gun room, we knew that the dirty work of cleaning the guns was done elsewhere.  Rather, Biltmore’s gun room, like others, was more of a gathering place where the men went to pick up their equipment for the afternoon’s shoot or fishing outing. 

Pardon our Preservation: Restoration of these rooms will be visible to guests through completion.

A mission of preservation

For Lori and the team, every preservation project is a chance to uncover and revive history. “Restoration projects at Biltmore uncover our past. Stories related to the spaces are revealed, and the original design details are uncovered. In the Smoking and Gun Room, we have both. When complete, the rooms will be completely transformed.”

We welcome you to see our ongoing preservation efforts of this National Historic Landmark for yourself during your next Biltmore visit.

In The Spotlight: Biltmore’s Vineyard

Believe it or not, Biltmore’s first vines were planted right next to America’s Largest Home around 1971. What started as a testing ground for hybrid varietals has flourished into a 50-acre vineyard on the West Side of the estate growing varietals such as Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

Follow along as Vineyard Manager, Phil Oglesby shares a glimpse at our estate vineyards throughout the year.

Bud Break at Biltmore Vineyards
During the bud break stage of the vineyard lifecycle, the vines are extremely sensitive at this time and young shoots must be protected.

Spring bud break: New growth begins

“The first major event of spring in any vineyard is bud break,” said Phil Oglesby, Vineyard Manager, “and Biltmore’s vineyard on the west side of the estate is no different. Even though we’re already working with the vines, that first hint of a bud breaking open gives us a sense of urgency that the growing season is underway.”

Once bud break occurs, typically around late March, the vineyard crew becomes even more vigilant because Western North Carolina is potentially under a frost warning until mid-May!

“Protecting the tender, developing green shoots is a priority. We have several strategies we can deploy during a spring freeze to help mitigate damage,” Phil said. “There are wind turbines in the field to keep the air moving so the frost doesn’t settle on the fragile buds, and we can spray the vines with water so they’re encased in ice, which protects them from freezing temperatures, but grapes are still a field crop that is affected by the weather.”

Flowering on Vines at Biltmore Vineyard
The flower bud (inflorescence) contains hundreds of flowers, but not all will turn into berries. In order to thrive, warmth and sunlight are crucial.

Biltmore’s vineyard blooms

As spring’s warmer weather returns, our Biltmore Estate vineyard sees substantial leaf growth in the young shoots fueled by the carbohydrates stored during the dormant winter months. Soon, the vines will bloom with tiny self-pollinating flowers, destined to become berries.

Nature is the best protector during these critical times. We focus on creating an optimal habitat through sustainable practices.

Green wine grape clusters on a vine
Biltmore’s vineyards are flush with bright green grape clusters during the summertime.

Fruiting in time for NC Wine Month

Each May serves as a time for celebration for Biltmore Wines! Not only is it the anniversary month for the opening of our Winery in 1985, but it’s also North Carolina Wine Month.

Meanwhile, the danger of frost in the vineyard has passed, the days are getting longer and warmer, and fruit clusters have begun to form under the leaves. Known as “berries,” these hard green fruits don’t look much like mature grapes, but they continue to ripen.

The summer months set the stage for the fall harvest. As the berries develop, also known as fruit set, our growers get their first look at the amount of crop the vineyard will yield and the amount of wine we will produce.

veraison process at Biltmore Vineyard
The swelling of the grapes with water increases the sugar and tannin levels while reducing the acid levels, all the while accumulating color and flavors.

Veraison signals the countdown to harvest

In the beginning, all berries are green, but as they ripen, they transform into beautiful hues of red, purple, and golden through a process called veraison. Phil said, “By mid-July you should notice some color coming into the grapes—light gold for the Chardonnay and speckles of purple for the Cabernets.”

This noticeable change in color marks a tipping point in the growth process where the plant begins focusing energy on ripening and sweetening the fruit. This change also signals to the teams that the countdown to harvest is underway!

Harvesting at Biltmore Vineyard
Biltmore’s grapes are harvested by hand every year!

Gearing up for harvest season

In every wine-growing region, harvest preparation is one of the busiest times of the year for vineyards and wineries.

Phil and his crew work to prepare the equipment, including hand clippers and flat containers for carrying grape clusters without damaging the fruit.

“Executive Winemaker Sharon Fenchak frequently visits the vineyard, especially as the fruit develops on the vine,” said Phil Oglesby, Vineyard Manager. “We work together to try predicting harvest yields and we keep a close watch for potential problems that can be minimized with our control. The vineyard team has a shared goal of providing the Winery with the best possible fruit we can produce.”

The crafting of fine wines relies on cooperation and good communication between the teams. A close look at Biltmore Wines—especially during harvest—reveals the benefits of such a relationship.

Harvesting at Biltmore Vineyard
The ripeness of grapes and weather conditions determine the start of harvest. Sweetness, alcohol content, and acidity are all affected by time.

Harvesting our finest fruit

Once harvest begins, the crew will work from sunrise to late afternoon, carefully gathering the ripe fruit that will become the heart of our Biltmore Wines in the years to come.

Chardonnay is one of the early-ripening grapes on Biltmore’s West Side Vineyard. With Mother Nature’s cooperation, Philip and his team will typically begin harvesting this varietal in late August. ⁠

All grapes are hand-picked, with harvests averaging 130 tons annually, and transported to our winery and production facility located in Antler Hill Village where the winemaking process begins.

Winter at Biltmore Vineyard
Snow protects the vines against icy winter temperatures and aids their hibernation.

Caring for the vines during wintertime

Despite what you might think, the vineyard work continues during the winter months! Though the weather may have turned, the dormant vines still need care. Our teams remain hard at work, pruning and protecting the vines to keep them healthy and strong.

While the vines rest, our winemakers continue to craft the recent harvest into wines worthy of a sip. Barrels are filled to the bung hole to compensate for natural evaporation (or for a taste test!), ensuring the quality of the wine inside.

And then, like clockwork each year, winter gives way to early spring and the cycle begins again…

Drone view of Biltmore Vineyard during harvest season
Our viticulture program honors the Vanderbilt heritage to create new opportunities for the family’s estate in harmony with Biltmore’s mission of preservation.

Sourcing the finest fruit for our wines

You may have heard through the grapevine… In addition to our Biltmore Estate vineyard, we also work closely with partner growers in California and Washington who help supply fruit for our portfolio of wines, most of which are handcrafted at the estate.

“Our partners are an important part of our wine program at Biltmore’s Winery,” says Executive Winemaker, Sharon Fenchak. “We spend a lot of time with growers from around the Monterey, Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino wine regions.”

Sharon explains that the importance of these long-standing relationships with all our partner growers ensures that the quality of all our wines is as consistent as possible from vintage to vintage.

three bottles of Chardonnay are on a table
For a true grape-to-glass experience, savor our Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina varietals, each featuring estate-grown grapes.

Savor the fruits of our labor

Join us at the Winery and Wine Bar on Biltmore Estate to discover new and favorite vintages of our award-winning wines and be sure to look for our varietals featuring estate-grown grapes, like our Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina wines! Our wines are also available in estate shops, at retailers near you, online, and through our Vanderbilt Wine Club.

No matter where you’re enjoying your Biltmore Wines, we invite you to raise a glass in honor of our grape growers, vineyards, and winemakers across the nation!

Through the Lens: Biltmore’s Most Instaworthy Moments

A day on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is a photophile’s dream! No matter what style of photography you prefer, there’s always a place to #capturethemoment. We’ve found the most instaworthy spots; now all that’s left for you to do is get out your camera and point, tap, and shoot!

Sunflowers at Biltmore
Over 100,000 sunflowers will bloom in our sunflower field at the end of summer this year!

#FarmyardFriends

College of animals on Biltmore Grounds made for instaworthy blog.
One way we continue our farming legacy is by raising some of the same heritage breeds that were here during George Vanderbilt’s lifetime.

Everybody loves cute baby animals and spring is the prime time to meet the newest members of the Farmyard family. Kids will enjoy meeting our friendly farm animals, learning about life on the farm, and playing at the Pisgah Playground.

If a deeper understanding of Biltmore and agriculture is what you’re looking for, our Farm to Table Tour and Taste will take you to the rarely seen West Side of the estate, where our livestock is raised and our greenhouses thrive. You’ll get a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at our Black Angus and Jersey beef cattle, Berkshire hogs, and Dorper sheep. If you’re lucky, you might even see their hardworking protectors, three Great Pyrenees.

#NaturalPerspective

Sometimes the best photos are taken off the beaten path. With over 22 miles of trails to explore, you’re sure to find your own instaworthy hidden gems among the forests and fields.

Bass Pond Bridge with children looking over the railing.
The Bass Pond offers a different perspective of Frederick Law Olmsted’s work on Biltmore Estate.

One of our favorite spots to explore and capture is the Bass Pond, situated at the end of Biltmore’s formal gardens. Although it may be a bit of a walk, the charm of its scenery makes it well worth it. A rustic boathouse stands on the shore, and a bridge spans the waterfall at the far end. It’s the perfect spot for photographing instaworthy seasonal color changes and birdwatching all year long.

Couple hiking on Biltmore Grounds.
Get lost in the natural wonder of Biltmore’s 8,000 acres.

If you’re up for a challenge, we highly recommend exploring the Westover Trails for a deeper look at the Birthplace of American Forestry. The black route totals 3.5 miles round-trip, taking you deep into the beautiful woodlands of Biltmore Estate. Great for technical bike riding and an advanced hiking experience, it’s also a wonderful area to get that instaworthy photo of local flora and fauna. Just remember to put your comfy shoes on; this one’s a doozy!

#SipandSavor

H. Angel Cocktail photo from Library Lounge for Blog
Stop by The Library Lounge at The Inn on Biltmore Estate for a #buzzworthy view! Photo courtesy of Heather Angel.

Are you a foodie that moonlights as a shutterbug? You’ll find delicious treats all across the estate! Stop by our Wine Bar in Antler Hill Village for a glass of our award-winning red, white, and rosé Biltmore Wines and expertly paired charcuterie or locally-crafted chocolates! For mouthwatering menus to share with your followers, be sure to visit one (or more!) of our seven restaurants; each featuring a selection of our estate-raised specialties bursting with flavor and vivid colors of the season’s fresh-grown herbs and vegetables.

View from near the Inn.
Photo courtesy of Camryn Glackin of Coral & Charm

#SecretSpot! Just steps away from The Dining Room (our four-star dining experience) at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, you’ll find this serene lookout spot. George Vanderbilt was enamored with the rolling hills and Blue Ridge Mountains backdrop, and so are we. One of the most peaceful moments on the estate can be seen in the wee hours of the morning when the fog gently settles within the crevices of the hills.

#BiltmoreBlooms

Spring and summer are our most brightly colored seasons, but Biltmore’s gardens and grounds boast year-round beauty. Grab your cameras and stop to smell the tulips – and the azaleas, roses, orchids, daffodils; the list goes on and on!

Couple walking in the tulips
Tiptoe through the tulips with your loved ones.

The Walled Garden is a guest favorite during Spring at Biltmore. This festival of flowers marks the blooming of our 100,000 bulbs planted estate-wide. You’ll find 50,000 tulips, 14,000 daffodils, 1,000 hyacinths, and a variety of other flowers and shrubs. During the summer months, the beds transform with towering tropical plants,

Make your way down the paths to our soaring glass-ceilinged Conservatory for a one-of-a-kind display of lush, exotic, and tropical plants. Macro photographers will be in heaven with eye-level plants around every corner.

Library Terrace View.
Wisteria thrives with robust support, much like the sturdy crafted latticework it is holding onto.

Situated near Biltmore House are two distinctive pergolas covered in eye-catching wisteria that blooms each spring; one on the Library Terrace and one just below the South Terrace. The scent of wisteria in full bloom is intoxicating and the light purple blooms flutter in the breeze! Take a seat on one of the benches and point your camera skyward. The Wisteria reaches out to greet your lens, beckoning for that #pictureperfect moment.

Italian Garden Pool.
Our night-blooming lilies reach their peak bloom in the early morning and close completely by noon.

Right beside the Library Terrace of Biltmore House is the Italian Garden. Each spring and summer, numerous varieties of exotic water lilies, tropical bananas, papyrus, and other plants and flowers bloom in the water garden. The different colors and varieties create a mosaic effect for the koi fish to swim among. Although it’s one of the most visited areas of the estate, many guests don’t realize that it remains astoundingly faithful to the original design from 1895.

#Instagood

Biltmore House from High Lawn for instaworthy blog.

One of the most iconic views of America’s Largest Home® can be captured from the lower and high lawn atop the Rampe Douce. You’re going to want to get out your wide-angle lens for this view! Biltmore House stands in all its glory with the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains just behind. It’s also a picture-perfect location to sprawl out on a warm day with a picnic basket and a bottle of Biltmore Wines!

#TravelGoals… Plan Your Visit Today!

You only live once, right? Are you ready to experience all the special instaworthy moments Biltmore has to offer? Reserve your visit and be sure to tag @biltmoreestate #biltmore when you share your memories on social!

Tip: Be sure to review Biltmore’s photography policies before your visit.

Visit Itinerary: Your Guide to Biltmore

From exploring the grand halls of our historic chateau to savoring our handcrafted wines, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Biltmore. With so many options to explore, we recommend making the most of your visit by planning to spend two (or more!) full days on Biltmore Estate.

This flexible Biltmore visit itinerary is designed to be easily tailored based on your preferences, reservation times, and our current activities and events, allowing you to focus on having fun on our 8,000-acre estate.

Dale Chihuly Serpentine Green Icicle Towers (detail), 2015 13 x 8 x 5' Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, installed 2024 © 2024 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.
Discover the spellbinding world of Dale Chihuly’s iconic artwork on display during Chihuly at Biltmore. (Dale Chihuly Serpentine Green Icicle Towers (detail), 2015 13 x 8 x 5′ Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, installed 2024 © 2024 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.)

How to Spend Two Full Days at Biltmore

For a leisurely and immersive visit to Biltmore, we recommend spreading your experiences across at least two full days where you will have more time (and energy) to truly soak in all that Biltmore has to offer.

Tip: Select ticket types include free next-day access to explore the estate’s gardens and grounds, visit the Winery, or add on guided experiences. Be sure to check your admission type or overnight package for this perk and plan to come back the next day to take advantage of even more time to explore the estate.

DAY ONE

🏰 Morning: Biltmore House (1.5 to 2 hours)
Step into the grandeur of America’s Largest Home, Biltmore House, while learning about the history, the fine art and furnishings, and of course, the people, behind this Gilded Age masterpiece. With our Biltmore House tours, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the home and stories through our complimentary Audio Guide or take a deep dive into one of our fascinating expert-guided tours based on your interests.

Tip: Advanced reservations are required for all Biltmore House visits. If your reservation is in the afternoon or early evening, you may choose to explore the Gardens or Antler Hill Village first!

🥗 Mid-day: Lunch at an Estate Restaurant (1 to 1.5 hours)
Savor a delightful field-to-table meal at one of Biltmore’s distinctive restaurants, including Stable Café, Cedric’s Tavern, Bistro, or Village Social. If casual grab-and-go or picnic is more your style, be sure to stop by Courtyard Market, the Bake Shop, Biltmore Dairy Bar, or the Smokehouse food truck in Antler Hill Village. Fine dining is available at our four-star Dining Room at The Inn.

Tip: Reservations are highly recommended.

🎟️ Afternoon: Chihuly at Biltmore exhibition (1.5 to 2 hours)
On display in the galleries of Amherst at Deerpark® until January 5, 2025, this awe-inspiring exhibition features 33 different artworks, including pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of ChandeliersTowersMille Fiori, and Neon by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

In addition to the awe-inspiring installations in Amherst, you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at two large-scale installations presented on estate grounds: A Winter White and Glacier Blue Tower on the East Terrace in front of Biltmore House and a freestanding Torchlight Chandelier at the Entry Green in Antler Hill Village.

Tip: Access is included with select admission types, including our “best value” House, Exhibit, and & 2-Day Grounds ticket bundle and special overnight packages. You may visit at your reserved entry time selected during the purchase process. If your reserved Chihuly at Biltmore entry time is in the morning, we recommend choosing to have your reserved Biltmore House visit in the afternoon.

DAY TWO

🧭 Morning: Guided Experience (1.5 to 2 hours)

Choose from a variety of expert-guided tours and experiences to help make your visit to Biltmore even more memorable! Consider upgrading your visit to include expert-led tours to rarely accessed areas of Biltmore House, guided (or self-guided) outdoor adventures through our historic landscapes, or even a guided wine tasting featuring locally made chocolate pairings.

Tip: Select ticket types and overnight packages include exclusive guided tours of Biltmore House!

🌷 Afternoon: Gardens and Conservatory (1 to 2 hours)
Spend time finding your new favorite flower and indulging your senses with a visit to Biltmore’s historic gardens and glass-ceilinged Conservatory. Admire the meticulously maintained historic greenhouses filled with tropical plants year-round.

Tip: Select ticket types include free next-day access to explore the estate’s gardens and grounds, visit the Winery, or add on guided experiences.

🥂 Late afternoon to evening: Antler Hill Village and Winery (2+ hours)
Stop by our award-winning winery to toast two fun-filled days at Biltmore with one of our handcrafted estate wines! Linger into the evening in Antler Hill Village where you can shop for unique gifts, such as gourmet treats, wines, and the perfect mementos, learn about the Vanderbilt family and their life at home and abroad at The Biltmore Legacy, and savor field-to-table dining.

Tip: If you’re traveling with small children, be sure to visit Pisgah Playground, the Farmyard, and Antler Hill Barn for educational fun for all ages.

Jump back to the top

A couple walks hand-in-hand as they approach the entrance to Biltmore's Winery.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or want to experience your first wine tasting, be sure to stop by our estate Winery.

How to Spend One Full Day at Biltmore

If you only have one day to explore our historic estate, here’s what we recommend prioritizing for an action-packed way to experience all that is included in your Biltmore admission.

Tip: Select ticket types include free next-day access to explore the estate’s gardens and grounds, visit the Winery, or add on guided experiences. Be sure to check your admission type or overnight package for this perk and plan to come back the next day to take advantage of even more time to explore the estate.

🏰 Morning: Biltmore House (1.5 to 2 hours)
Step into the grandeur of America’s Largest Home, Biltmore House, while learning about the history, the fine art and furnishings, and of course, the people, behind this Gilded Age masterpiece. With our Biltmore House tours, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the home and stories through our complimentary Audio Guide or take a deep dive into one of our fascinating expert-guided tours based on your interests.

Tip: Advanced reservations are required for all Biltmore House visits. If your reservation is in the afternoon or early evening, you may choose to explore the Gardens or Antler Hill Village first!

🌷 Mid to late morning: Gardens and Conservatory (1 to 2 hours)
Find your new favorite flower and indulge your senses with a visit to Biltmore’s historic gardens and glass-ceilinged Conservatory. Admire the meticulously maintained historic greenhouses filled with tropical plants year-round.

Tip: Select ticket types include free next-day access to explore the estate’s gardens and grounds, visit the Winery, or add on guided experiences.

🥗 Mid-day: Lunch at an Estate Restaurant (1 to 1.5 hours)
Savor a delightful field-to-table meal at one of Biltmore’s distinctive restaurants, including Stable Café, Cedric’s Tavern, Bistro, or Village Social. If casual grab-and-go or picnic is more your style, be sure to stop by Courtyard Market, the Bake Shop, Biltmore Dairy Bar, or the Smokehouse food truck in Antler Hill Village. Fine dining is available at our four-star Dining Room at The Inn.

Tip: Reservations are highly recommended.

🎟️ Early afternoon: Chihuly at Biltmore exhibition (1.5 to 2 hours)

On display in the galleries of Amherst at Deerpark® until January 5, 2025, this awe-inspiring exhibition features 33 different artworks, including pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of ChandeliersTowersMille Fiori, and Neon by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

In addition to the awe-inspiring installations in Amherst, you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at two large-scale installations presented on estate grounds: A Winter White and Glacier Blue Tower on the East Terrace in front of Biltmore House and a freestanding Torchlight Chandelier at the Entry Green in Antler Hill Village.

Tip: Access is included with select admission types, including our “best value” House, Exhibit, and & 2-Day Grounds ticket bundle and special overnight packages. You may visit at your reserved entry time selected during the purchase process. If your reserved Chihuly at Biltmore entry time is in the morning, we recommend choosing to have your reserved Biltmore House visit in the afternoon.

🥂 Late afternoon to evening: Antler Hill Village and Winery (2+ hours)
Stop by our award-winning winery to toast a fun-filled day with one of Biltmore’s handcrafted estate wines! Linger into the evening in Antler Hill Village where you can shop for unique gifts, such as gourmet treats, wines, and the perfect mementos, or learn about the Vanderbilt family and their life at home and abroad at The Biltmore Legacy, and savor field-to-table dining.

Tip: If you’re traveling with small children, be sure to visit Pisgah Playground, the Farmyard, and Antler Hill Barn for educational fun for all ages.

Jump back to the top

A family enjoys a bike ride during their Biltmore visit. They are paused in front of the Lagoon with a view of Biltmore House in the distance.
Take advantage of all that Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, has to offer for the whole family!

Additional Biltmore Visit-Planning Tips:

Below are a few additional tips for your Biltmore visit itinerary. For even more helpful information to help you prepare for your Biltmore Estate visit, we recommend exploring our Visitor Information site section.

  • Plan Ahead: Don’t wait to purchase your Biltmore admission or special overnight packages to secure your preferred dates and times!
  • Getting Around the Estate: Many guests underestimate the vast size of Biltmore Estate. With miles between points of interest, we recommend allowing your party at least 30 minutes for travel and parking between estate locations. For helpful guidance on estate accessibility, please explore our Help Center.
  • Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers appropriate for the season and the types of activities you plan to do during your visit, especially if you opt to participate in any outdoor adventure activities.
  • Watch the Weather: The weather in our region can change quickly, which may result in unexpected temporary closures of our trails or outdoor activities during severe weather. We appreciate your understanding!
  • Make it a Getaway: With so much to experience, treat yourself and your loved ones to a memorable getaway with an overnight stay on Biltmore Estate. Beginning February 2024, we’re excited to offer a new exclusive Biltmore House admission benefit for overnight guests: House Length of Stay access! Book an overnight package or stay that includes Biltmore House admission to enjoy a daytime visit to Biltmore House with an audio guide at your leisure and as often as you would like during the length of your stay, no reservation necessary!
  • Make the Most of Your Experience: All Biltmore admission types include access to explore Antler Hill Village & Winery and our historic gardens and grounds. Explore ticket types that include access to Biltmore House, an exclusive 90-minute guided tour, Chihuly at Biltmore (March 25, 2024–January 5, 2025), free next-day grounds access, and more! Additional add-on experiences, such as guided outdoor activities, are available as well.
  • Don’t Forget Your Mementos: Visit our exclusive estate shops to find unique gifts and gourmet treats, like award-winning Biltmore Wines or honey from our estate beehives, to bring the Biltmore legacy home with you.
  • Find More Tips: For even more guidance on what activities you might want to consider during your Biltmore visit for family fun, outdoor adventure, or food and wine, be sure to check our Itineraries page.

Jump back to the top

Ready to experience all that Biltmore has to offer? Reserve your visit.

Before Biltmore Estate: Changing Ownership

The 8,000 acres of present-day Biltmore Estate have a rich history of inhabitants dating back millennia.

In this two-part blog series, we recognize and share a brief history of some of the many people who have called this land home throughout history.

The Alexander Mill, pictured here ca. 1888, was located southwest of Biltmore House. Members of the Alexander family were early settlers in this area and sold hundreds of acres of land to George Vanderbilt.
The Alexander Mill, pictured here ca. 1888, was located southwest of Biltmore House. Members of the Alexander family were early settlers in this area and sold hundreds of acres of land to George Vanderbilt.

Agriculture in the Antebellum Era

The State of North Carolina sold the former Cherokee Nation land included within its boundaries through land grants to white landowners in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Though these parcels varied in size, agriculture was a primary use of land in the Asheville area, though not on the scale of the larger plantations elsewhere in the Southeast.

Censuses show that prior to the Civil War and emancipation in 1865, there were enslaved people working the farms and living among the white landowners on tracts that now comprise Biltmore Estate. Author Wilma A. Dunaway calculated in her book The First American Frontier that in 1860, 41.7% of farmers in the Appalachian counties of North Carolina were using enslaved labor or a combination of enslaved and tenant labor to work their land. That same year, there were a total of 1,933 enslaved people held in all of Buncombe County.

This excerpt from an Asheville Weekly Citizen article dated June 25, 1891, shows the public fascination with George Vanderbilt's acquisition of land.
This excerpt from an Asheville Weekly Citizen article dated June 25, 1891, shows the public fascination with George Vanderbilt’s acquisition of land.

Arrival of George Vanderbilt

In May 1888, 23 years after emancipation, George W. Vanderbilt began purchasing land in the Asheville area through agents. By 1895, he had acquired many parcels totaling around 100,000 acres, which caused quite a buzz in the local community. The landowners that he purchased from included both white and free Black property owners, both of whom by this date had deep roots, if not comparable land ownership histories, in the community.

The future site of Biltmore House is pictured here ca. 1889 after it and the surrounding area was acquired from Boston Jenkins and others.
The future site of Biltmore House is pictured here ca. 1889 after it and the surrounding area was acquired from Boston Jenkins and others.

New Shiloh

Much of the land that makes up the Biltmore House site and nearby areas to the east was previously owned by members of Shiloh. The community of Shiloh consisted of around 28 African-American landowners, with a total population of more than 100 individuals by 1888. Reverend Boston A. Jenkins, one of the trustees of the Shiloh A.M.E. Zion Church, was the former owner of what is today the location of Biltmore House and the adjacent Stable Complex.

The prices paid for most of the Shiloh tracts averaged around $37 per acre, which was more than the fair market value at the time. Prices paid by Vanderbilt ranged from a few cents per acre to $1,000 for the one-acre parcel that included the Shiloh Church. Biltmore Estate acquired a tract of land on which an upgraded church building was relocated and subsequently transferred ownership to Shiloh residents. The surrounding community then became known as “New Shiloh.”

Archival Guide Map of Biltmore Estate, ca. 1896
Archival Guide Map of Biltmore Estate, ca. 1896

Remembering Biltmore’s Residents

While many people are familiar with the lives of George and Edith Vanderbilt, it is vital to Biltmore’s cultural history to acknowledge the many individuals who came before the Vanderbilts and who lived and worked on this land since their arrival, including thousands of tenants and employees.

While there are many oral histories in Biltmore’s archives that speak to the experience of growing up on these grounds in the 20th century, the stories of most of those who came before have unfortunately been lost to time. In lieu of more detailed or personal accounts of individuals and communities who once lived on this land, it is essential that we acknowledge their existence as a way to honor and remember their lives and legacies.

Through environmental stewardship practices, land conservation efforts, and collaborative research projects, Biltmore remains dedicated to being good stewards of this storied land that has been home to so many, including Native Americans, the Shiloh community, and all descendants of the people who came before us.

Further Reading

For information on Native Americans who once called this land their home, read part one of this blog series, Before Biltmore Estate: Early Inhabitants.

Additional resources on this topic:

A Grand Transformation: The Inn on Biltmore Estate

After more than 20 years of award-winning excellence, The Inn on Biltmore Estate® is undergoing an inspiring two-year renovation with a complete redesign of guest rooms, suites, and corridors.

Take a closer look at the exciting renovations of our four-star Inn and discover the design inspirations that celebrate Biltmore’s storied legacy and the intentional design elements of Biltmore House while maximizing guest comfort.

The redesign of The Inn’s guest corridors, rooms, and suites draws inspiration from distinctive architectural details, artwork, and furnishings throughout Biltmore House.

Drawing from America’s Largest Home

The Inn on Biltmore Estate’s redesign was developed in partnership with the acclaimed global design firm, ROAM Interior Design. The aesthetic is a present-day take on classical European style, incorporating distinctive details drawn from the design, intention, and collection of Biltmore House paired with luxurious amenities for today’s guests.

With no detail overlooked, The Inn’s guests will appreciate elements drawn from Biltmore House throughout their stay including bold, nature-inspired wall coverings by William Morris, embossed leathers, quatrefoil designs, carved wood detailing, elegant brass fittings, and artwork recreations from George Vanderbilt’s collection—such as architectural drawings of Biltmore House, animal prints, and floral paintings.

The Inn on Biltmore Estate® has been awarded Forbes Four-Star recognition for 23 consecutive years.

Crafting a Vanderbilt-Inspired Retreat

Blending harmoniously with The Inn’s French chateau-inspired design and drawing from the timeless elegance, eclectic collections, and storied history of Biltmore House, the redesign of the guest rooms and corridors invites you to experience a present-day interpretation of being a welcomed guest of the Vanderbilt family.

Each space will feature design elements such as elegant wall coverings and furnishings, hardwood floors, expansive windows, well-appointed amenities, and spa-style bathrooms to create a private sanctuary for your stay.

In addition to a warm and welcoming appearance, our guest rooms have been redesigned to improve the use of space, combining function with luxury for guest comfort.

Rendering by ROAM
Inspired by the Bachelor Wing of Biltmore House, The Inn’s King Rooms feature rich layers of patterns and blue hues reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (Rendering by ROAM)
ROAM design rendering of The Inn's Double Rooms
The Inn’s Double Rooms draw inspiration from Edith Vanderbilt’s Parisian years and feature light shades of blush and ivory. (Rendering by ROAM)
ROAM design rendering of The Inn's James Suite
Each of The Inn’s light-filled Suites, such as the James Suite rendered here, features a themed design scheme highlighting the Vanderbilt family, distinguished friends of George Vanderbilt, and a love of nature. (Rendering by ROAM)

Welcoming Guests During Renovations

The Inn on Biltmore Estate remains open during the renovation, which is set to be completed in two stages from January through March of 2024 and 2025.

The first set of The Inn’s newly renovated rooms is available now for spring and summer 2024 stays!

To protect the guest experience for which this destination is known, all of our four-star amenities and services will remain available for our guests and work will occur during daytime hours in unoccupied areas of the hotel. Guests who prefer alternative accommodations are invited to book their estate stay at one of our private Cottages or Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®.

“Guests who are familiar with The Inn will be especially delighted by the beautiful updates and thoughtful changes we’ll be making to further enhance your experience every time you join us for a memorable getaway,” says Charles Thompson, Vice President of Resort Experience.

We look forward to sharing this inspired transformation with you.

Before Biltmore Estate: Earliest Inhabitants

The 8,000 acres of present-day Biltmore Estate have a rich history of inhabitants dating back millennia.

In this two-part blog series, we recognize and share a brief history of some of the many people who have called this land home throughout history.

Modern-day viewshed of Biltmore Estate
Modern-day viewshed of Biltmore Estate

Early Native American Roots

George W. Vanderbilt chose to build his home at this site because of the spectacular mountain views and mild climate. Before his time, there were other reasons why people found this location desirable. Due to the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers, groups have settled here for almost 10,000 years. There were also two major trade routes that passed through this region, making it a much-used area for people from near and far.

Modern archaeological investigations on Biltmore Estate show evidence of significant Native American occupations. They span many years, dating from the Early Archaic period (ca. 8000 BCE) to the late Pisgah phase (ca. 1500 CE) of the Mississippian period.

One of the most significant Native American sites on the estate is known as the “Biltmore Mound and Village Site.” This earthen mound dates to the Connestee phase of the Middle Woodland period (ca. 200–600 CE), or around 1,400–1,800 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that the mound, which has been reduced from several hundred years of plowing, served as the substructure for a series of wooden town or council houses. These buildings were used as the civic and ceremonial centers of the surrounding village and the wider Native American settlements in the area.

Map showing historical land cessions of the Cherokee Nation, made in 1884, in the collection of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map division.
1884 Royce, C. C. Map of the former territorial limits of the Cherokee “Nation of” Indians from the collection of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map division.

Forced Removal of the Cherokee

By the time European settlers began arriving in this region in the late 18th century, this land was officially recognized as Cherokee territory. After the Revolutionary War, pressure on Native populations increased. The Cherokee Nation ceded much of the land that nearly 100 years later would make up Vanderbilt’s 125,000-acre estate to the United States government in the Treaty of Holston and the First Treaty of Tellico in the 1790s. These land cessions were made through coercion and encroachment and rarely represented the wishes of the Cherokee people as a whole.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 granted the government the power to relocate tribes to land west of the Mississippi. Five years later, some members of the Cherokee signed the Treaty of New Echota, which paid them $5 million to leave their ancestral lands in the Southeast. The forced migration to the new Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma in 1838 and 1839 became known as the Trail of Tears. The few who persevered to remain here or return later are the ancestors of the present-day Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). This tribe now mainly calls the Qualla Boundary their home, located about 40 miles west of Biltmore.

In 1890, when Biltmore House was under construction, an Extra Census Bulletin from the U. S. Census Office totaled the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina at 1,520 members. Despite their proximity, there seems to have been little interaction between George Vanderbilt or the estate and the EBCI. One exception is the sale of timber by a group of Cherokees to Carl Schenck during his time as Biltmore’s forester. There are also a few known early employees documented as claiming Cherokee ancestry.

This photo taken February 25, 1893, shows progress on Biltmore House and the Walled Garden. The new structures contrast with the residence of the Wright family in the foreground, which was purchased by Vanderbilt in June 1888.
This photo taken February 25, 1893, shows progress on Biltmore House and the Walled Garden. The new structures contrast with the residence of the Wright family in the foreground, which was purchased by Vanderbilt in June 1888.

Remembering Biltmore’s Residents

While many people are familiar with the lives of George and Edith Vanderbilt, it is vital to Biltmore’s cultural history to acknowledge the many individuals who came before the Vanderbilts and who lived and worked on this land since their arrival, including thousands of tenants and employees.

While there are many oral histories in Biltmore’s archives that speak to the experience of growing up on these grounds in the 20th century, the stories of most of those who came before have unfortunately been lost to time. In lieu of more detailed or personal accounts of individuals and communities who once lived on this land, it is essential that we acknowledge their existence as a way to honor and remember their lives and legacies.

Through environmental stewardship practices, land conservation efforts, and collaborative research projects, Biltmore remains dedicated to being good stewards of this storied land that has been home to so many, including Native Americans, the African American Shiloh community, and all descendants of the people who came before us.

Further Reading:

For information on the transition of land ownership leading up to George Vanderbilt, read part two of this blog series, Before Biltmore Estate: Changing Ownership.”

Additional resources on this topic:

8 Great Reasons for a Fall Visit to Biltmore

Biltmore Estate’s ever-changing autumnal color, plus its many seasonal activities and offerings, make it the perfect home base for a fall visit. While there are certainly more than 8 great reasons to plan a fall visit to Biltmore, like the fact that the season is prime vacation time for those who love “leaf-peeping” in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite reasons to add Biltmore to your travel list this fall.

8 great reasons to visit Biltmore this fall
Biltmore House surrounded by gorgeous fall color

1. A prime location in Asheville, NC

Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Biltmore is located minutes from downtown Asheville—a vibrant city known for great dining, quaint shops, and its strong arts community—and just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. In addition to soaking in all that your fall visit to Biltmore has to offer, we recommend enjoying the natural beauty and history of the surrounding area, including Pisgah National Forest.

8 great reasons to visit Biltmore this fall
In addition to enjoying our Building Biltmore House exhibition, enhance your visit with a Rooftop Tour that includes spectacular views and stories.

2. Long-range views from the rooftop of America’s Largest Home®

Discover spectacular views boasting every shade of fall color as far as the eye can see from Biltmore’s rooftops! This guest-favorite guided tour offers wildly impressive photo ops—during autumn, especially—and provides a closer look at the design and construction of Biltmore House in areas that many guests never visit.

Each year, the Walled Garden boasts a new, vibrant display of mums!
Each year, the Walled Garden boasts a new, vibrant display of mums!

3. A festive display of fall colors

In addition to the ever-changing hues of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, Biltmore’s gardens and grounds come alive with vibrant mums, colorful floral displays, and fall foliage that you will not want to miss! Even though we don’t officially kick off our Christmas season until early November, you’ll also have the chance to catch a sneak peek of what our team has in store for the upcoming festivities during your fall visit to Biltmore!

Learn about Biltmore's farming history at The Farmyard!
Learn about Biltmore’s farming history at The Farmyard!

5. Afternoons in Antler Hill Village

All aboard for family fun around our charming, European-inspired Antler Hill Village! What better time of year to learn about Biltmore’s farming legacy at Antler Hill Barn and The Farmyard than during harvest season? Savor the bounty of our fields at our estate restaurants and award-winning Winery. Discover stories of the Vanderbilt family and their travels as you experience your own getaway with your loved ones.

Deerpark Carriage & Trail Ride Barn
Explore our 8,000-acre estate by carriage, horseback, and more.

6. Outdoor adventures for all

A fall visit to Biltmore beckons you to enjoy the crisp air and glorious fall colors of our great outdoors! Go hiking or biking along our nearly 22 miles of paved and unpaved trails on our private, 8,000-acre estate. Admire the scenery along the French Broad River, through lush green forests, or in the open meadows of the estate. Stop by the Bike Barn or Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Hill Village for a detailed trail map and orientation. Whether you prefer a relaxing journey in an elegant Carriage Ride or Horseback Trail Ride, few things are as majestic as traveling our woodland trails enveloped in fall color.

Grapes are picked by hand in Biltmore’s vineyard on the west side of the estate.
Grapes are picked by hand in Biltmore’s vineyard on the west side of the estate.

7. Vineyard harvest season

Biltmore’s bounty takes center stage at the Winery in Antler Hill Village as we celebrate the harvest season. Savor complimentary tastings of handcrafted wines and learn how science and nature intersect as you learn about the estate’s vineyards, discover the unique factors that affect grapes grown in North Carolina, and take an in-depth look at our winemaking process.

Fall color at The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Autumn’s beauty is right outside your door with an overnight stay on Biltmore Estate!

8. The ultimate fall getaway

An overnight stay on Biltmore Estate offers the unique experience of waking up with sprawling autumnal beauty just outside your door. Enjoy warm hospitality in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere at the charming Village Hotel, experience world-class service with a luxurious four-star stay at The Inn, or truly get away this fall with a stay in one of our private, historic Cottages.  

Plan your getaway and discover for yourself why Biltmore is the perfect home base for your fall visit and year-round with an Annual Pass membership.

George Vanderbilt: An American Renaissance Man

Was George Vanderbilt an American Renaissance man?

“He certainly embodied many of the ideals of this period that flourished during his lifetime, and you can still see the influence of the era at Biltmore today,” said Meghan Forest, Associate Curator.

What was the American Renaissance?

Archival photo of George Vanderbilt and his three cousins in Spain
George Vanderbilt (standing, right) traveling in Spain with his cousin Clarence Barker (seated, left), his niece Maria Louisa Schieffelin (seated, right), and her husband William Jay Schieffelin (standing, left), 1891.

In the decades following the Civil War, the United States experienced an optimistic rebirth that mirrored the European Renaissance of the 17th century.

“The American Renaissance was all about developing a national identity of what it means to be American, and part of that was setting up the United States as the successor to the cultural accomplishments of countries across Europe,” Meghan said.

While the European Renaissance had stirred interest in exploration and experimentation in disciplines such as art, architecture, and science, the American Renaissance awakened a desire to explore classic themes and destinations, drawing inspiration from travels abroad to use at home.

America’s coming of age

The American Renaissance took place in the latter part of the 19th century, marking a renewed confidence in the nation’s outlook with time and attention lavished upon the development of ideas, urbanization, transportation, and new forms of communication.

“It was the American Renaissance that made the Gilded Age possible,” said Meghan. “Innovation in technology, propelled by the intellectual energy of the time, led to industrial growth that gave rise to prominent American families like the Vanderbilts.”

Once such families became wealthy, many contributed to pushing the arts farther than previous generations, so the American Renaissance ushered in the glamorous Gilded Age.

American Renaissance ideals

Photograph of Biltmore House and the Italian Garden, ca. 1910
Photograph of Biltmore House and the Italian Garden, ca. 1910

It was during the confluence of both periods that George Vanderbilt first visited Asheville, North Carolina, and became enamored with the area. He envisioned building his new home there, creating a retreat for friends and family that would also showcase his interest in art and literature and house the treasures he collected during his travels.

He retained the services of Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—two of the most influential designers of the American Renaissance era—to create Biltmore House and its magnificent gardens and grounds.

World’s Columbian Exposition

(L-R) purchasing agent and agricultural consultant Edward Burnett, architect Richard Morris Hunt, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, George Washington Vanderbilt, and architect Richard Howland Hunt, son of Richard Morris Hunt, 1892

In 1893, four years after construction began at Biltmore, Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition. With its remarkable “White City” thoughtfully planned by the nation’s leading designers including Hunt and Olmsted, the extraordinary event further elevated American Renaissance ideals such as world exploration, the experience of different cultures, and new technology like electricity.

With Hunt and Olmsted traveling between Asheville and Chicago during this pivotal time to oversee their roles in both massive projects, it was evident that the Columbian Exposition and Vanderbilt’s new estate shared a common thread: both were created in the regal and fashionable Beaux Arts style that favored neoclassical architecture and European-inspired formal gardens.

“In addition to Hunt and Olmsted’s presence there, we know that George Vanderbilt attended the Columbian Exposition, and that he contributed materials from Biltmore’s managed forestry initiative for estate forester Gifford Pinchot to display. The flags above the fireplace in the Biltmore House Banquet Hall represent the countries that participated in the Columbian Exposition,” Meghan said.

Meaningful travel

George Vanderbilt (seated, third from left) with unidentified gondola companions in Venice, circa 1890
George Vanderbilt (seated, third from left) with unidentified gondola companions in Venice, 1887.

Like many other wealthy Americans of the era, George Vanderbilt traveled extensively, and his trips to Europe, India, and Japan helped fuel his appreciation of history, architecture, and culture.

In particular, his sojourns to Rome, Venice, Milan, and Florence—the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance—gave George Vanderbilt a passion for all things Italian, leading him to choose Italy as a romantic backdrop for the first six weeks of his and Edith Vanderbilt’s four-month European honeymoon.

Renaissance art and patronage

Nocturne: Battersea, c. 1871-1873, James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Nocturne: Battersea, c. 1871-1873, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, on display in Oak Sitting Room. George Vanderbilt purchased this piece in 1900 from dealer Wunderlich and Company.

In order to succeed during the Italian Renaissance, many artists including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Botticelli sought and accepted the patronage of wealthy individuals and entities such as the church and the government in order to create works of lasting beauty.

During America’s Renaissance, George Vanderbilt was an active patron of the arts, commissioning and collecting pieces from the new Impressionists as well as many other established artists of his day.

Vanderbilt’s support extended beyond the stunning works he purchased; he also provided philanthropic support for certain libraries and art facilities in New York, educational and vocational support in Asheville, and corresponded with several notable artists including Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler

Vanderbilt’s lasting legacy

Italian Renaissance wellhead used as a fountain at Biltmore House
Made of Rosso di Verona marble, this fountainhead was likely originally used to decorate and protect an active well in Venice during the Italian Renaissance, c. 1500. It has become known as the “Hunt fountain” as it is depicted in the John Singer Sargent portrait of Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt.

The appreciation of man and his capabilities flourished during the American Renaissance, and the nation felt uniquely positioned to take a leading role in the global arena. George Vanderbilt personified the outlook of this important period in our nation’s history, and, as a true American Renaissance man, his contributions continue to stand the test of time.

Today, you can explore lingering expressions of the American Renaissance with a visit to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Highlights include America’s Largest Home®, still filled with many of the more than 50,000 objects in Biltmore’s collection, plus 75 acres of exquisitely landscaped and preserved formal gardens that gradually give way to meadows, fields, and managed forests surrounding the property.

Plan your Biltmore visit now

Two farm-style cottages with cows in a pasture
Visit like a Vanderbilt when you choose one of our private, historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate.

Surround yourself with the architecture, travel, and art of the American Renaissance, and make your time with us even more unforgettable with an overnight retreat at one of our thoughtfully designed properties: Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®, The Inn on Biltmore Estate®, or our historic private Cottages on Biltmore Estate™.