Sunday, September 19, 2010
Some attractions are not bargain friendly--Disney and the Biltmore Estate have this in common. However, the Biltmore, like Disney, offers different combo tickets as well as yearly passes. For summer (and I believe year round at some hotels) the Biltmore offers what is essentially two days for the price of one. There is enough to see there to make it worth spreading out over 2 days if you can. Crowds can be pretty bad, so it's nice to have the option to break up your activities.
Many people choose the audio tour for the home, but I enjoyed just reading the information along the way. It's amazing to think of this being a home--obviously a home built for entertainment and housing guests. I most enjoyed seeing the "inner workings" such as the kitchens, pantries, and servants quarters. On the tour, you only see a small portion of this grand estate, but it awes nonetheless, with the large indoor pool, bowling alley, massive library and enough entertaining space for endless friends.
The gardens and grounds are beautiful and I came back to walk those on the second day. The mountain weather is just cool enough to enjoy a long stroll--or you can rent a bike, bring your own bike for the miles of trails, or do a segway tour (not cheap either--$75 additional). Horseback riding is another popular activity and you see a number of people riding the trails.
In addition to the home and grounds, you can stay at the Inn or visit for a meal. They have also added a village area that has a few stores and more casual places to eat, as well as the winery tour/tasting. We took the winery tour--I guess it was worth the price (free), but the tasting at the end was quite generous. You could try about 20 different wines from their list, or buy a glass or premium tasting if you want to taste the sparkling wines. They had several good wines there--they work with vineyards all over, so these aren't just NC grapes. The Chenin Blanc and several of the whites were pretty good. There is also a farm, which offers carriage rides and a # of family friendly activities.
Just outside the Biltmore grounds you'll find Biltmore Village. It didn't look like much to us, but there were actually quite a few nice shops and restaurants. The Corner House Restaurant looks like a great place for Sunday brunch--quite the crowd was gathered. Plenty of upscale clothing stores, children's shops, housewares and gift items to be found--and more money to be spent...
The Biltmore is definitely worth a visit, especially if you can spend some time enjoying the outdoors and all the activities there in addition to the home tour.
Photos of the Biltmore grounds