It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of the Biltmore House. A brief synopsis: Built around the turn of the century by George Vanderbilt, the Biltmore House is 250 rooms, 175,000 sq. feet. with magnificent grounds and impeccable gardens. It is still owned by the family and is opened to the public as a popular tourist destination.
Wine drinkers are also familiar with Biltmore brand of wines distributed through the Southeast and beyond. Vineyards on the estate are harvested and grapes are processed and aged in the estate’s own winery. There is also a large wine tasting room for visitors touring the facility.
What most people don’t know, however, is how many other things there are to do without tasting wine or stepping foot into the magnificent home. The estate has truly become a vacation destination for tourists, and a relaxing hangout for locals with season passes.
This weekend, we took advantage of a special deal and purchased season passes with the explorer package. Basically this gives guests unlimited access to most things on the Biltmore Estate property, and discounts on the rest. If you think the house is big, consider the property it sits on is 8,000 acres! There are miles of hiking, biking and horse trails. I took advantage of those trails, biking over 15 miles. Some trails are paved, flat with little elevation change that meander through the grounds. For mountain bike enthusiasts, single track trails can be found at both ends of the estate.
Bird watchers will appreciate the bodies of water on including a bass pond, lagoon and the French Broad river where fly fishing is permitted. At dusk, it is common to see deer roaming the grounds. We were lucky enough to encounter a few with a very young fawn. There are places where you can simply park, set out a few lawn chairs and have a picnic or sit by the river and watch kayakers go by.
One appealing aspect of Biltmore Estate is that guests staying at the Inn never have to leave. In addition to the many activities, there are several great restaurants, Cedric’s Tavern and shops at Antler Hill Village. You can also rent bicycles, go on a Segway tour or go offroading with the Land Rover Experience. Summer concerts draw big names
While I highly recommend touring the Biltmore House, an informed guest could spend an entire day of fun activities and never get to the house at all.