Spring at Biltmore: A Delight for the Senses

As Biltmore awakens from its wintertime slumber, a wonderland for the senses unfolds across our mountain oasis. Discover some of our favorite ways to delight all five of your senses this spring with a visit to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

Dale Chihuly Persian Ceiling, 2012 25 x 15′ Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, installed 2013. Photo Credit: Terry Rishel

Must-see masterpieces

Spring offers up an everchanging visual kaleidoscope of color as our historic landscapes bloom weekly with the vibrant hues of tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and rhododendrons! Plus, every spring, Biltmore’s Floral team displays special arrangements throughout Biltmore House inspired by the gardens in bloom.

This beauty extends far beyond our garden walls to Chihuly at Biltmore, presented in our gallery setting at Amherst at Deerpark® premiering March 25, 2024. Dale Chihuly’s renowned works will leave you breathless as you experience the stunning fusion of vibrant hues and dynamic shapes of his pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of ChandeliersTowersMille Fiori, and Neon.

Young girl sniffing tulips in Biltmore gardens
Take a moment to stop and smell the Tulips in Biltmore Gardens.

Fragrances and flavors to savor

This time of year, it feels like the air is transforming right beneath your nose! Be sure to stop and smell the flowers during your springtime stroll through Biltmore’s historic gardens and grounds.

The scents of our gardens and grounds in bloom seamlessly intertwine with Biltmore’s award-winning wines and estate-grown farm-to-table fare.

As you swirl, sniff, sip, and savor our favorite spring wines, make note of the distinctive tasting notes and fragrances, expertly crafted by our Winemakers. Once your palette is warmed up, consider indulging in a guided Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting to help you discover why chocolate and red wine are a match made in heaven.

George Vanderbilt’s vision of a self-sustaining estate extends past our wines. Biltmore remains a working farm, producing field crops, pastured beef, lamb, pork, and eggs from chickens, to be served in restaurants across the estate. Recreate the dishes you loved during your visit with seasonal recipes and Biltmore’s gourmet foods delivered right to your door when you shop online.

Family listens to audio guide while standing in Biltmore's Banquet Hall
Hear the stories of this grand estate with an all-new Biltmore House audio guide in spring 2024!

The sounds of Spring at Biltmore

Discover the stories of this National Historic Landmark and the people who lived and worked here over a century ago as you listen to an all-new audio guide for Biltmore House, coming in mid-April! If it’s been a while since you last explored America’s Largest Home, this spring will be a perfect time to come back to discover new and favorite stories.

Dig even deeper into the stories of this opulent home by upgrading your visit to include an expert-guided tour.

For spring break getaways and holidays, be sure to check our activities listing for special live music and events around the estate.

Baby goat jumps off of a log in Antler Hill Village.
Meet the bouncing baby animals at our Farmyard each spring.

Hands-on learning and adventure

Our expert guides are ready to help you discover educational, fun, and adventurous activities that fit your interests and abilities. Embark on a hike across Biltmore’s expansive grounds or coast along the winding gravel paths while the beauty of the landscape unfolds on one of our Guided Bike Rides.  Or take it slow and grab the reins to connect with Biltmore’s history with a One-Hour Carriage Ride that offers breathtaking Blue Ridge mountain views and a rarely-seen view of the west façade.

Visit Antler Hill Village for a deeper look at Biltmore’s legacy as a working farm. The Farmyard offers a kid-friendly introduction to farm life and the animals that are an integral part of our self-sustaining estate. And just like clockwork, the animals that call Biltmore home welcome cuddly youngsters every spring. Be sure to swing by Antler Hill Barn for fascinating demonstrations of Appalachian crafts, like broom-making, that are part of our estate history, naturalist talks, and more.

Japanese magnolia and forsythia bloom outside of The Inn on Biltmore Estate each spring.

Surround yourself with spring

With a sensory treat around every corner, we invite you to fully immerse yourself in the unique experiences that await you this spring. Imagine waking to awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountain views and the scent of crisp spring air just outside your door.

Plan your spring getaway now with admission and overnight stay packages featuring Chihuly at Biltmore, guided activities, and more. And, with so much to see, taste, smell, and do this year, spring is a perfect time of year to become a Biltmore Annual Passholder!

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.

Family of four standing inside the Banquet Hall of Biltmore House. Each person is holding an audio guide wand to their ear.
Discover the history, people, and stories of Biltmore House through our complimentary Audio Guide.

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)
Opening on March 25, 2024, a new experience of the artist’s iconic creations makes its debut at Biltmore Estate. Presented in an intimate gallery setting at Amherst at Deerpark®, Chihuly at Biltmore includes pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of Chandeliers, Towers, Mille Fiori, and Neon.

Tip: Access is included with select ticket types and guests may visit at their reserved entry time selected during the purchase process. If your reserved entry time is in the morning, you may choose 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.

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)
Opening on March 25, 2024, a new experience of the artist’s iconic creations makes its debut at Biltmore Estate. Presented in an intimate gallery setting at Amherst at Deerpark®, Chihuly at Biltmore includes pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of Chandeliers, Towers, Mille Fiori, and Neon.

Tip: Access is included with select ticket types and guests may visit at their reserved entry time selected during the purchase process. If your reserved entry time is in the morning, you may choose 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.

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 latest weather forecast, especially if you opt to participate in any outdoor activities.
  • 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 20, 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: 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 or shop from the comfort of your home with biltmoreshop.com.
  • 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.

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:

Nae’s Tips for a Kid-Friendly Christmas Visit

Recently, Biltmore had the pleasure of hosting Nae Noelle (@NaeNoelle) and her family for a holiday visit to experience Christmas at Biltmore! If your family is considering a visit to Biltmore during the holiday season, we invite you to read Nae’s recommendations for her top ways to share the magic of Christmas at Biltmore with your kids.

Nae Noelle and her family enjoyed all that Biltmore had to offer during the Christmas season.
@naenoelle and her family enjoyed all that Biltmore had to offer during the Christmas season.

Is there anything more beautiful than Christmas at Biltmore in Asheville, NC?

Long answer short, I don’t think so. The illumination, the Christmas décor, the grandeur, the warm invitation of the stunning lit fireplaces—need I say more? There just isn’t anything quite like spending time at Biltmore for the holidays.

It especially does my heart good to see the joy on my children’s faces as they feast their eyes on the 55-foot-tall Norway spruce that currently decorates the Front Lawn of Biltmore House. With so much to do for all ages, we simply couldn’t say no to coming to see all the magic of Christmas at Biltmore!

It’s no secret that traveling with two small children (ages three and 17 months, to be exact) can be tricky, especially when looking for age-appropriate things for them to do. There is so much to do that it requires more than a one-day visit. This is a big reason why we chose to lodge at The Inn on Biltmore Estate® for the few days we visited Biltmore.

Here are my top 5 ways to experience the estate with small kids during Christmas at Biltmore:

1. Antler Hill Village

Antler Hill Village gives us small-town vibes with plenty to learn, see, and explore. It contains at least a day’s worth of activities for the entire family. I’ll elaborate on the kid-friendly things to do below, but from the beautiful Christmas light displays and the Winery to the many shops throughout, you want to set aside a day to experience all that Antler Hill Village has to offer.

During the day, enjoy a stroll throughout the Village, taking time to do some Christmas shopping at one of the many gift shops. Enjoy lunch at Cedric’s® Tavern or Bistro—both restaurants boast incredible menus and delicious food. The kids will enjoy visiting the nearby Farmyard and Pisgah Playground.

At night, the light show begins with a tall Christmas tree featuring colored lights synchronized to Christmas music near the entrance of Antler Hill Village. This is definitely a show in and of itself. Throughout the rest of the Village are buildings, pathways, and trees that are completely illuminated with Christmas lights.

2. Antler Hill Barn, Farmyard, Pisgah Playground, and G-scale model train

We enjoyed making a learning experience out of our Biltmore vacation by taking our children to the Farmyard to see the animals. Our kids learned about the chickens, enjoyed petting/brushing the goats, and watching the cows graze. Inside the barn, our son was able to pick out a coloring sheet and color away. We were also impressed by—and stocked up on—some homemade goat milk soap while there. The smell of lavender filled our noses and we simply couldn’t resist picking up a couple of Christmas gifts for family members.

Directly adjacent to the Farmyard is Pisgah Playground, an area for the kids to get their wiggles out before dinner later in the evening. It is a full-sized playground equipped with a swing set, a sand play area, climbing logs, a slide, and a small area where kids can be musicians, playing their hearts out on the metal xylophone.

In another part of Antler Hill Village is the Ciao! From Italy, a sculptural postcard display equipped with a G-scale model train that is fun for all ages. This exhibit featured beautiful, handcrafted sculptural postcards with messages written by Biltmore founder George Vanderbilt, outlining places he visited more than a century ago. A train travels past each postcard, capturing the attention of adults and children alike. We spent a lot of time in this area. You don’t want to miss it!

Nae Noelle and her family during their Christmas at Biltmore visit.
@naenoelle and her family during their Christmas at Biltmore visit.

3. Carriage Rides

A carriage ride* is something you’ll want to include in your Christmas at Biltmore itinerary. In just 30 minutes, you’ll be able to meet the horses, learn about some of Biltmore’s history, and experience breathtaking views as you stop on a hill that gives you a gorgeous view of the back of Biltmore House. You won’t be able to get these views anywhere else on the estate! Both of my kids absolutely loved this ride and the opportunity to pet the horses along the way. In addition, one-hour private carriage rides and Farmyard Wagon Tractor Rides are available—both of which are family favorites!

Tip: One child under 5 years of age may ride free with each ticketed adult when they sit on the adult’s lap during a 30-minute or 1-hour Carriage Ride. (*Please confirm with the Carriage Barn before arrival. Subject to availability and offer may change.)

4. Family walks and hikes

There are lots of trails on the estate grounds that you’ll want to walk with your family. This is the perfect opportunity to let your littles enjoy nature while getting some of that mid-day energy out of their systems. You’ll enjoy hiking (or biking) at your own pace, taking in much-needed breaths of fresh air as you unwind and detach from the outside world for just a little while. I highly recommend taking a scenic walk through the gardens on your way to Biltmore House before your tour of America’s Largest Home®.

Fireplace aglow in the Banquet Hall of Biltmore House
Candlelight Christmas Evenings is a magical experience for all ages!

5. Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore House

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you to make sure to get Candlelight Christmas Evenings tickets for Biltmore House. Daytime is gorgeous, but nighttime brings it home. You’ll witness the 55-foot-tall Norway spruce in the middle of the lawn that boasts Christmas lights brighter than the stars in the sky. The entire house is decorated top to bottom and adorned with gentle candlelight and lit fireplaces, making for a dazzling experience you and your family do not want to miss.

Tip: Take advantage of discounted youth (under 16) and child (under 9) admission on select Biltmore House ticket types! Your little ones may also enjoy listening to a kids’ audio guide of Biltmore House narrated by Cedric the dog!

Grown-up bonus!

When the littles are down for a nap or for the night, make sure you make time to go to a complimentary wine tasting or enjoy a massage at The Spa at The Inn. I had a much-needed massage for the first time in so long. I left a little less stressed and a lot happier. Mamas, you owe it to yourself to book an appointment with one of their talented, highly skilled masseuses.

Our Christmas at Biltmore trip was nothing short of magical, and I can’t recommend it enough to take your family and spend some time on the estate for the holidays. The memories you and your kids will make are completely priceless, and it is something they will truly hold onto for a lifetime.

This blog was sponsored by Biltmore.

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 corridors, rooms, and suites.

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, HKS. 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 HKS
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 HKS)
HKS 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 HKS)
HKS 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 HKS)

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 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:

Top 5 Biltmore Family Favorites for Summer

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, is a family-friendly destination all year long, but there’s something extra special about a summer getaway with the family on our 8,000-acre retreat!

Make the most of your summer vacation with our Top 5 Biltmore Family Favorite Activities for Summer that are sure to please your entire clan, from grandparents to grandchildren.

Winkie Bar Sundae in a waffle bowl
Try all the ice cream treats, including this delicious Winkie Bar Sundae served in a waffle bowl

5. Savor Our Favorite Flavors

Did you know that the vanilla ice cream served on the estate is based on a delicious original Biltmore Dairy recipe? With a visit to the Biltmore Dairy Bar® near Biltmore House and the Creamery in Antler Hill Village, you and your family can enjoy the same rich flavor enjoyed by estate guests more than a century ago!

Tip: Get sandwiches and ice cream to go from the Creamery in Antler Hill Village and have a picnic on the nearby Village Green. Celebrate summer with Biltmore wine for the grownups and Biltmore sparkling grape juice for the younger set.

Family biking at Biltmore
Bring the whole family along on your next biking adventure at Biltmore

4. Biking for All Ages

Ready to explore our wide-open spaces? Guests are welcome to bring their own bikes in tow or visit the Outdoor Adventure Center or Bike Barn in Antler Hill Village and choose from a selection of rentable mountain bikes for rugged trails or comfort cruisers for paved paths. Tandem rentals are also available so the younger members of the family can join the fun.

Tip: Consider a guided bike ride or other outdoor activities for more exciting ways to explore our 8,000 estate this summer!

Group enjoying a guided river experience at Biltmore.
Biltmore’s Outdoor Adventure Center offers multiple experiences that venture out onto the French Broad River!

3. Outdoor Fun for Everyone!

Whether you’re up for a Vanderbilt-era-inspired game of croquet, rafting on the French Broad River, or venturing out on guided nature experiences (or all three!), our Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Hill Village boasts an ever-changing variety of activities that are fun for the whole family.

Tip: Activities offered may sell out or have specific dates and times offered, so we strongly recommend checking our current offerings online and making reservations in advance to ensure availability during your visit.

Goat mother and
Meet our working farm animals at the Farmyard in Antler Hill Village!

2. Family Fun at the Farmyard

Bring YOUR kids to meet OUR kids at the Farmyard in Antler Hill Village! From learning about the working farm animals that are a part of our agricultural history at the Farmyard to handicrafts demonstrations and seasonal activities offered at The Barn nearby, your kiddos will have plenty to choose from for engaging and educational fun.

Tip: Did you know that Biltmore Annual Passholders can bring their kids ages 16 and younger to enjoy Antler Hill Village for free year-round?

Family activities at Biltmore
Explore our glorious gardens and grounds all year long!

1. All-Time Family Favorite: Hiking in Our 8,000-Acre Backyard!

With 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountain backyard, you’ll never run out of places to explore at Biltmore! Enjoy more than 20 miles of hiking trails along the French Broad River, through lush green forests, or in the open meadows of the estate.

Tip: Visit the Bike Barn or Outdoor Adventure Center for a detailed trail map and orientation to the trails.

Aerial view of Biltmore's sprawling mountain landscape in Asheville, NC.

Discover Even More of Biltmore This Summer

In addition to our top 5 family-favorite activities, we invite you to explore all of our activities currently offered so you can make the most of your quick summer getaway, family vacation, or long holiday weekends to Biltmore!

Need more time to explore? Extend your Biltmore visit with an overnight stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, or our private historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate. Become a Biltmore Annual Passholder and enjoy year-round visits and exclusive member discounts on special events, dining, and more.

Live “La Dolce Vita” at Biltmore

Live la dolce vita–the sweet life–at Biltmore this summer, just as the Vanderbilts and their guests did more than a century ago.

Inspiration from Italy and Europe

Family taking a selfie in front of Biltmore House
Capture each memorable moment of the sweet life at Biltmore this summer!

“The idea of la dolce vita is Italian, and it translates to ‘the sweet life’,” said Lauren Henry, Curator of Interpretation. “It embodies the idea of living each moment as it unfolds, and enjoying it for itself. It’s an inspirational way of life that George Vanderbilt experienced during his travels in Italy and other delightful destinations, and it helped him envision Biltmore as a place where his family and friends could enjoy the same timeless feeling.”

The Conservatory at Biltmore surrounded by summer gardens
Biltmore’s historic grounds, including the Conservatory in the English-style Walled Garden, are the perfect place to experience the sweet life.

From the French Renaissance-style architecture of Biltmore House, designed by famed architect Richard Morris Hunt, to the glorious gardens and grounds created by legendary landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, Biltmore Estate brought classic European sensibilities to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

“George Vanderbilt assembled a real ‘dream team’ to bring Biltmore to life,” Lauren said. “Together they created a distinctly European-style estate, but with an expansive feel and modern technologies that were hallmarks of the American Gilded Age.”

Discover la dolce vita at Biltmore

Painted ceiling of the Library at Biltmore
The Chariot of Aurora by Italian artist Giovanni Pelligrini graces the ceiling of the Library in Biltmore House

You can still capture the magic of la dolce vita as you explore Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, touched at every turn by inspiration from the Vanderbilts’ journeys around the world.

Inside Biltmore House you’ll discover paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art to delight your mind and buoy your spirits in true la dolce vita fashion, including these highlights:

  • Salon—look for two original landscapes by French Impressionist artist Claude Monet. Both Strada Romana à Bordighera and Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar have recently been restored to their late-19th-century vibrance.
  • Tapestry Gallery—Study the three Renaissance-era silk and wool tapestries that this 90-foot-long room was designed to display. Woven in Brussels circa 1530, the set was originally part of the The Triumph of the Seven Virtues.
  • Library—the ceiling was created to showcase Chariot of Aurora by Giovanni Pelligrini, an 18th-century painting comprised of thirteen separate canvases that depict the Roman goddess of the dawn.

Fresh air gives fresh perspectives

Couple in the Conservatory at Biltmore
The Conservatory at Biltmore is a a wonderful way to experience a tropical getaway while visiting the estate!

Explore miles of scenic trails across the estate by walking, hiking, or biking at your own preferred pace. Here are some of our favorite spots:

  • Conservatory—this elegant, glass-topped greenhouse captures the historic and modern balance of the estate as exotic botanicals popular in the Vanderbilt era overlap with plants we propagate for seasonal displays.
  • Bass Pond—walk down from the gardens to view the newly restored island that was part of Frederick Law Olmsted’s original landscape design.
  • Lagoon—spend some time at this scenic spot on the road to Antler Hill Village—it’s perfect for picnicking and for admiring the reflection of Biltmore House in the water.

Savor la dolce vita

Mother and daughter enjoying ice cream cones at Biltmore
The sweet life is even sweeter with ice cream treats from the Creamery in Antler Hill Village.

Whether you’ve worked up a bona fide appetite or simply need a refreshment respite, there are choices to please every palate when you dine at Biltmore:

Ice cream—indulge in a scoop (or two!) of fresh-churned ice cream and other sweet treats from The Biltmore Dairy Bar® adjacent to Biltmore House or the Creamery in Antler Hill Village.

Biltmore wine—Savor a complimentary tasting at Biltmore’s Winery to sip award-winning vintages, then pair your favorites–including Italian varietals like our Biltmore Estate® Pinot Grigio and Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sangiovese–with charcuterie, cheeses, and chocolates next door at our relaxing Wine Bar. Choose outdoor seating to make la vita as dolce as possible!

Field-to-table freshness

Couple dining outdoors at Biltmore
Enjoy a wide range of fine and casual dining options while visiting Biltmore.

Enjoy fine and casual dining options featuring estate-raised and locally sourced dishes. Favorites include our European-style Bistro at the Winery, English pub far at Cedric’s® Tavern in Antler Hill Village, and four-star, white-linen luxury at The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Encounter Europe like never before

Several guests immersed in the Italian Renaissance Alive exhibition at Biltmore
Immerse yourself in the grand multi-sensory experience of Italian Renaissance Alive at Biltmore!

You won’t need a passport to undertake a European odyssey when you visit our newest exhibition as we host Italian Renaissance Alive, created and produced by Grande Experiences, now through January 7, 2024, on the grounds of the estate.

With the purchase of an exhibition ticket, you’ll be surrounded on all sides by the sights and sounds of some of the most remarkable masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, and more. There’s even a signature scent to enhance your experience.

Postcard exhibition at Biltmore
Ciao! From Italy features large-scale sculptural postcards based on the Vanderbilts’ travels in Italy.

Continue your old-world travels with our Ciao! From Italy Sculptural Postcards display in Antler Hill Village. Created by the artists from Applied Imagination using botanical materials such as bark, pine cones, pods, and leaves, each oversized 4’x6’ image highlights the Vanderbilts’ visits to Italy, complete with quotes from George Vanderbilt himself.

This charming complement to Italian Renaissance Alive is including with estate admission now through February 19, 2024.

Discover la dolce vita at Biltmore for yourself!

Woman in a bathrobe admiring the view at The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Embrace la dolce vita at The Inn on Biltmore Estate or one of our other properties.

Come to Biltmore this summer to create your own memories of living la dolce vita, and make your visit even sweeter with an overnight stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate®️, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®️, or one of our private historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate.

Featured blog image: A Biltmore guest enjoys la dolce vita with a flute of sparkling wine on the terrace of The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Photo courtesy of @georgia_sheffield.

Explore Biltmore Estate Limited Release Wines

Explore our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines and learn how winemaker Sharon Fenchak carefully handcrafts each varietal or blend in the series here at Biltmore’s Winery in Asheville, North Carolina.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the Barrel Room at the Winery
Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the Barrel Room at the Winery

“When I’m sourcing grapes for our American series wines from one of our California or Washington vineyard partners, I’m also looking for outstanding vintages that inspire me to create distinctive wines for our Limited Release series,” Sharon said.

She noted that the Limited Release wines are usually based on smaller amounts of fruit, and that gives her and her production team an opportunity to bring out different qualities of a varietal or to create intriguing blends.

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec

Bottle of Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec and two glasses
Our award-winning Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec is perfect for sipping by the glass or pairing with your favorite hearty fare.

“One of our most popular offerings is our full-bodied, oak-aged Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec,” said Sharon. “It opens with scents of cocoa, cedar, molasses, and berries ahead of black raspberry, anise, and rich pecan flavors.”

As a varietal, Malbec originated in France and rose to its current popularity in Argentina and California. Ours is rich, fruit-forward, and a bit spicy with smooth, lingering tannins that pair perfectly with grilled meat, kebabs, and andouille sausage.

It’s also a surprisingly good partner for smoked cheeses and vegetarian fare like mushroom ragout, Portobello burgers, and tempeh dishes. As delicious as it is now, it offers good aging potential—if you can stand to wait!

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Tempranillo

Pouring red wine into a glass
Try any of our Biltmore Estate Limited Release wines, including our spicy Tempranillo.

Most of the world’s Tempranillo is grown in Spain where it is believed to have originated, but this earthy red wine is rapidly gaining a following around the globe.

“Tempranillo has a lot of personality,” said Sharon. “Ours is full-bodied and fruit-forward with earthy aromas, rich dried fig flavors, and lingering tannins—just what you’d expect in a classic barrel-aged version of this varietal.”

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Tempranillo is a hearty red wine that’s a great match for beef, lamb curry, and pork.

Explore other Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines

Biltmore Estate Limited Release Orange Muscat wine paired with Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread cookies
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat is a favorite for many guests, and it pairs perfectly with our Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies!

In addition to these two varietals, there are a number of other wines in our Limited Release series:

Enjoy Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines now

Discover all Biltmore white wines at Biltmore's Wine Bar
You’ll find all our Limited Release wines at the Wine Bar adjacent to Biltmore’s Winery.

Savor Biltmore Estate® Limited Release varietals and blends–or any of our fine wines–by the bottle or glass at the Wine Bar adjacent to the Winery, or purchase them in estate shops or online.

George Vanderbilt: A Passion For Italy

George Vanderbilt–traveler, collector, and patron of the arts–appreciated the finer things in life, but had a special passion for the culture and creativity of Italy. His trips there and other regions he visited across Europe helped shape his appreciation for art, architecture, and fine wine.

“Throughout his life, George Vanderbilt traveled the world, first with family and friends, and after he married, his wife Edith and their daughter Cornelia often accompanied him,” said Meghan Forest, Associate Curator.

George Vanderbilt’s first Italian visit

Archival image of the Colosseum, 1887. Rome, Italy
Archival image of the Colosseum, 1887. Rome, Italy.

Based on correspondence in our archives, Italy seems to have been a favored destination for George Vanderbilt. He first visited the country in 1880 when he was 18 years old, taking in notable sites such as Rome and Vatican City.

The visit included a stop in Milan where the church and Dominican convent of Sante Maria della Grazie was of particular interest as its refectory contains The Last Supper fresco painted by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci.

Further travels in Italy

The Last Supper fresco painting by Leonardo da Vinci
The Last Supper fresco painting by Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1495–1498.

In 1887, George Vanderbilt took an extended trip to Italy, taking in some of the well-known sites including Pisa Cathedral with its famously tilted bell tower, better known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

He also visited Venice with its winding canals and Florence, the city long considered the epicenter of Italian Renaissance art and culture. Florence offers some of the most iconic treasures of the era, including the Uffizi Museum and the Cathedral de Santa Maria dell Fiore, generally referred to as the Duomo because of its two free-standing domes.

Archival photo of three passengers and two rowers in a gondola in Venice, Italy
George Vanderbilt (seated, far right) with unidentified men riding a gondola in Venice, 1887

Seven years later, George Vanderbilt returned to Italy with members of his family including his niece Adele Sloan. They visited Taormina and the ruins of the Taormina Amphitheatre built by the Greeks and renovated 600 years later by the Romans. Such sites were popular destinations during the American Renaissance of the late 19th century as travelers sought to understand the ancient world.

Honeymooning in Italy

Villa Vignolo near Stresa, Italy, c. 1898.
Villa Vignolo on the shores of Lake Maggiore near Stresa, Italy, c. 1898.

“Another reason we believe George Vanderbilt had a passion for Italy is because he chose to take his new bride Edith there after they were wed in Paris in 1898. The Vanderbilts spent the first six weeks of their four-month honeymoon at Villa Vignolo on the shores of Lake Maggiore near Stresa, Italy,” Meghan said.

While there, the Vanderbilts took short trips to various museums and galleries, taking in sights such as the iconic Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice. In Edith, George found a partner who shared his passion for history, literature, and the arts.

In a letter to artist James McNeill Whistler, George wrote of their time in Italy, “It was Mrs. Vanderbilt’s first visit… It has been an added pleasure of course to see her delight and interest… “ *

Italian Renaissance wellhead, c. 1500
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.

Explore Ciao! From Italy Sculptural Postcard Display

As a delightful complement to our new Italian Renaissance Alive exhibition, we’ve partnered with our friends at Applied Imagination to create a series of eight sculptural postcards that showcase George Vanderbilt’s Italian travels in a big way.

Located in Antler Hill Village from April 1, 2023 to February 19, 2024, Ciao! From Italy combines intricate botanical designs with authentic messages from the Vanderbilts in a large-scale format that’s sure to charm all ages. The experience is included with estate admission.

Featured blog image: George Vanderbilt (seated, far right) with unidentified men riding a gondola in Venice, 1887

*George Washington Vanderbilt to James McNeill Whistler. 10 Jul 1898. The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler. Glasgow University Library, University of Glasgow: 05919.