The Biltmore House: Beautiful in Any Season

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the Biltmore House, the largest private residence in the United States.  The brainchild of George Vanderbilt, it took six years to build, was designed after 16th-century chateaux in the Loire Valley, and officially opened in 1895.

It boasts 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces and at over 135,000 square feet, the Biltmore House can hold nearly THREE of the White House.  In 1898, George Vanderbilt married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser and they made Biltmore their home.  In 1900, they welcomed their only child, Cornelia, who was born at the Biltmore House.

Biltmore House

When you arrive at the Biltmore Estate you need to stop at the Reception & Ticketing Sales Center to purchase tickets (unless you purchased online ahead of time as we recommend!) and get information on tours and events.  From there, it’s a three-mile drive to the Biltmore House parking where you can either catch a shuttle or take the 5-10 minute walk. and then you’re good to go for the self-guided tour.

The Biltmore House Main Floor

Biltmore House Banquet Hall

The self-guided audio tour (and we totally recommend paying the $12.99/person for this add-on) takes you through the main living areas of the house.  One of our favorite rooms, the Banquet Hall, has impressive 70-foot ceilings, a triple fireplace (it’s HUGE!) and a pipe organ, along with the main table that seats 38.

Biltmore House Loggia and Music Room

The view from the loggia is impressive no matter the season though I love seeing all the green during the summer.  The Biltmore House opened to the public in 1930 in an effort to increase local tourism but closed temporarily in 1942 during WWII.  During this time, the Music Room stored art from the National Gallery of Art due to fears that Washington DC would get bombed and the priceless art would be destroyed.

The Biltmore House Library

Biltmore House Library

George Vanderbilt was known as one of the best read men in the country and he had the library to prove it!  The Library in the Biltmore House has over 10,000 volumes and there are another 12,000 either in storage or in other rooms of the house.  Brought over from the Pisani Palace in Venice, the ceiling painting, “Chariots of Aurora” was done by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini in the 18th century and is considered his most important work– most of his other work was destroyed during WWII.  The chess set (on the far right) was originally owned by Napoleon.

The Biltmore House Bedrooms

Biltmore House George Vanderbilt's Bedroom

George Vanderbilt’s bedroom– it looks so dark and masculine, but also offered amazing views of the entire estate.

Biltmore House Edith Vanderbilt's Bedroom

And in stark contrast to the dark colors of George Vanderbilt’s bedroom, Edith Vanderbilt’s bedroom is bright and full of light.

Biltmore House Chandelier

The cantilevered grand staircase is impressive as is the 1700 pound chandelier (that hangs from one bolt!!) suspended in the middle.  It’s one of my absolute favorite parts of the house!

The Biltmore House Basement

In the “Halloween Room” guests at a 1925 gypsy-themed, New Year’s Eve party were treated to paintings done by the family from the illustrations of the Russian cabaret- La Chauve-Souris (The Bat).

Biltmore House Bowling and Pool

The basement of the house features a 2-lane bowling alley (the first ever in a private residence!) and a 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool complete with underwater electrical lighting– way ahead of the times!

The Vanderbilt’s treated their servants well– the maids’ quarters were light and airy (and heated!) and though not decorated as opulently as the rest of the house, were still nicer than others of the time.  Like the rest of the house, the laundry room was surprisingly modern for the time.

The Grounds of the Biltmore House

The Biltmore House sits on over 8000 acres of land that make up the Biltmore Estate, though originally, the Biltmore Estate covered 125,000 acres.

The architecture of the Biltmore House is absolutely amazing from the Grand Staircase to the detailed statues all over the grounds.

The Biltmore Estate has acres of gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also designed Central Park!) and several miles of paths so that visitors can enjoy them.  We checked out the Italian Garden but we’ll definitely make time for the other gardens on our next trip.

Summer brings out the sunflowers and they often bloom into September so you have a nice stretch of time where you can check them out!

No matter what time of year you go to the Biltmore House, there’s always something new to see or do.  Make sure to check out their Special Events page to see what special activities and tours will be offered while you’re visiting.

Things to Remember When You Visit the Biltmore Estate

  • Saturday is the busiest day of the week and April-May and October-December are the busiest months.
  • Arrive early (before 9am) especially if you’re going on a weekend in the peak season.
  • You can buy tickets ahead of time (and some days require timed tickets) so make sure to double-check.
  • If you purchase your tickets online at least 7 days in advance, you can save $10 or more per ticket.
  • Children 9 and under are FREE and youth ages 10-16 are 50% off– during the summer, kids 16 and under are FREE!!
  • Christmas at the Biltmore is one of the most popular events of the year and tickets often sell out.  Daytime tours and Candlelight Evenings run from November 3- January 6 (January 5 for evenings)– these events will sell-out so definitely book ahead of time!
  • Make sure to wear good walking shoes because the house and the grounds are extensive and you can spend hours exploring.  While the 1st and 2nd floors of the house are easy to do with a stroller, some of the walkways are tight and you cannot take a stroller into the basement.  If you have little ones, a baby carrier or a small umbrella stroller makes it so much easier to get the most out of the house tour.

Are you a fan of historical houses?? Have you ever been to the Biltmore Estate??

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