Asheville, NC is one of my favorite cities for a weekend getaway from Atlanta, but somehow, a visit to Biltmore Estate has always eluded me. When I was offered the chance to spend a weekend at Biltmore I couldn’t resist, especially since it’s fall and I knew that I’d get to breathe in the cool mountain air and peep fall foliage.
If you haven’t been, Asheville is only a 3.5 hour drive from Atlanta. It’s an eclectic city with a strong arts community, galleries, tons of craft breweries, and restaurants that mean it when they say they’re farm-to-table. It also offers easy access to the Smokies if you like to hike, bike, or go river rafting.
Biltmore is just a little bit south of downtown Asheville. Near the Estate is Biltmore Village where some of the estate workers used to live. It’s made up of cottages that have now been converted to shops and restaurants, making it a nice spot to visit if you need an excursion while staying at Biltmore.
Biltmore is the perfect weekend retreat and with so much to do on the estate, you really never need to leave. Here are the five things that you should know before you go.
Stay at Village Hotel for affordable lodging and close proximity to the action.
You don’t have to stay on property to visit Biltmore, but you’ll get the most out of your experience if you do. The property is expansive, 8,000 acres to be exact, and even though it’s close to downtown Asheville you feel pretty remote. The Inn on Biltmore Estate is their luxury option, but I stayed at the reasonably priced Village Hotel. Despite its denotation as the moderate accommodation, it was still a lovely place to stay. It’s less than 2 years old and feels new and clean. The best part about it is its proximity to Antler Village, the Estate’s dining and shopping hub and home to the Winery. There’s also a free shuttle that runs you to and from Biltmore House which is super convenient.
If you stay there, wake up early and go visit the horses in the field across from the hotel’s parking lot. If you’re like me, you’ll also have to play in the sunflower field a bit. They particularly shine in late summer/early fall.
Get to Biltmore House EARLY
Biltmore House is crazy popular with tour groups and tourists. Get there early to ensure a more relaxed visit but do know that it will likely always be pretty crowded during the peak holiday season. Plan on spending a couple hours in there, and don’t rush – there’s so much to see! My favorite part of the house was actually the Winter Garden in the entryway. With its gorgeous glass ceiling and lush plants, it reminded me of a greenhouse, but without the humidity. I wish I could’ve lounged in there a bit!
Fun fact I learned about Biltmore House: the music room wasn’t finished until 1970’s but it did house several pieces of art in secrecy during World War II. So cool, right?
Admission includes the house, gardens, Winery, Antler Hill Village and Farmyard. Admission is typically $40 for adults, except during the Christmas season when it’s $65. (Ticket pricing varies based on season and day of the week.) There’s reduced admission pricing for youth ages 10-16 and free admission for kids 9 and under. I definitely recommend adding on the audio tour so you can hear all the cool tidbits of history throughout the house.
Attend a Taste of Biltmore Event
One of the reasons I went the weekend I did was to attend the Vineyard Harvest Celebration, one of the final Taste of Biltmore events of the season. Taste of Biltmore usually last for two months and a series of separately ticketed culinary events. Vineyard Harvest Celebration was a wine drinking party, who could say no to that? The vineyard isn’t open to the public so if you want to take your Biltmore wine experience to the next level you’ll need to look for one of these events. The one I went to was $35 and included unlimited wine, bites, bluegrass music, and all the photo opps in the vineyard you could want. Needless to say, I felt like a Southern Dionysus by the time we were done. If you can’t make it to a vineyard event, you can sip and buy wine at the Winery in Antler Village.
Grab Lunch at The Smokehouse
There were a couple great culinary options in our hotel plus several more in Antler Hill Village, an easy walk from where we stayed. On the estate, there are six restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining so really something for every palate. Of all the restaurants and food options I tried at Biltmore my favorite was the Smokehouse. It’s part of the Antler Hill Village but tucked away near the barn, which is a cool site to check out. It’s counter service only at the Smokehouse, and it only offers outdoor seating, but if the day is beautiful (as it was when I went!) that shouldn’t be a problem. I had a pulled pork sandwich that was delightfully smoky and tangy. There were also plenty of sauces to squirt on there but I had to try the Carolina sauce, of course. I especially loved the sweet potato casserole on the side!
Save room for a post-lunch visit to the Creamery! We created our own sundae and didn’t regret that decision one bit.
Try a Few Experiences Unique to Biltmore
The Winery and vineyard are musts! I didn’t make it to the Winery this time, but it’s at the top of my list for next time. It’s the most visited Winery in the U.S., and you can read all about it here. They offer complimentary wine tastings, behind-the-scenes tours, and there’s a pretty indoor-outdoor patio.
Go clay shooting. I’m not a gun person per se, but I love skeet shooting! I didn’t know this until I got to Biltmore, but they offer sporting clay lessons as well as time on the clay shooting course.
Explore the gardens. The gardens are extensive and located right behind the Biltmore House, but I had run out of time by the time we got there. Next time, I’m definitely exploring those a bit more!
Before Leaving Town
Go Visit Downtown Asheville! One perk of staying at Biltmore is that while it is an all-encompassing destination, it’s also only 15 minutes away from downtown Asheville. We went into town for a late afternoon turned late night date with a visit to High Five Coffee, the Battery Park Book Exchange (a used bookstore with a champagne bar, quirky and charming just like Asheville), and dinner at Cucina 24. We didn’t think to make reservations at Cucina 24, but we snagged seats at the bar and that worked perfectly. The bartender made me a delicious Italian spritz, and we ordered ample amounts of pasta (they do half orders!), pizza, a meat board, and seasonal veggies.
This post is sponsored by Biltmore. Thoughts and opinions are my own.