Pure magic. Those two words sum up our family getaway to Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore House and grounds are simply breathtaking, you feel like a child again – amazed at everything you see. Once on the property there is a sense of excitement, feeling as if you are being transported back in time and daydreaming of what it must have been like to live there.
Construction of the house began in 1889 by George Washington Vanderbilt III, for this to be his summer house which he called his “little mountain escape”. However, little might not be the best way to describe it (wink wink). The largest privately owned house in the United States stands at 175,000 square feet with 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, a bowling alley, and a beautiful rolling 8,000 acres.
Antler Hill Village is not to be missed, here you will find Village Hotel at Biltmore Estate, Biltmore Winery, Farmyard, Antler Hill Barn, restaurants, a play ground, and so much more. You will want to spend at least one full day to discover all Biltmore as to offer, though I would highly recommend spending two full days to truly appreciate it all.
You might be wondering if Biltmore and all it’s luxury is appropriate for children – YES! A resounding yes! Children grew up here, explored, played, and learned. Nothing has changed in that regard, and children of all ages are welcomed with open arms. We actually played tag on the grounds and it was SO much fun!
TIP – Talk to the staff. Every single person we met had a story to tell that we hadn’t heard before. It was a great way to hear new fun stories about the Vanderbilt family and the property! You can also get a feel for how much they love their jobs and truly are invested in keeping the history alive.
I have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite! If you have any questions about Biltmore or our trip please shoot me an email!
Village Hotel is the perfect home base from which to enjoy Biltmore, and bonus – it is a short walk from several outdoor activities, shopping, and dining. Our room had two double beds, a refrigerator, and was very modern. Village Hotel has a heated outdoor pool (open seasonally), a fitness center, and access to Biltmore gardens and grounds, Antler Hill Village, and the Winery for the length of your stay.
Village Hotel, like Biltmore, has perfected hospitality. Everyone is genuinely kind and welcoming not only to us, but to our children – and that makes a world of difference.
Village Social is located in the hotel and the food is outstanding (more details under Appetite). I would highly recommend staying on property for your visit – it truly is adds to the charm, and makes it very convenient when traveling with littles.
Biltmore House – The first thing you think of when someone says Biltmore is the awe-inspiring home, and for good reason! Exploring inside brings out the curious and excited child in all of us. I highly suggest the audio guide for both adults and children, it gives insight to each room and guides you through the home (this kept our kiddos interested in the history). Be sure to use the restroom before going in – there may be 43 bathrooms but none for you to use! It took our family a little over an hour to walk through, and I had our youngest in the carrier for the second half. Strollers are permitted but some of the hallways/staircases would be narrow to carry it up/down. Be sure to always look up – the ceilings are just as impressive as the house!
Biltmore Gardens – Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the most famous landscape architects in the country, designed the gardens for George Vanderbilt. With 30+ acres of formal and informal gardens, you will want to come back each season to see what is in bloom! The gardens can be found to the left of the home, just a short walk away. There is an Italian Garden (look for the koi fish!), a beautiful Pergola walkway, Shrub Garden, Walled Garden, Rose Garden (with more than 250 varieties of heirloom and hybrid roses), and the Conservatory (my personal favorite).
Biltmore Carriage Ride – If you want to take your Biltmore experience to the next level, then this is for you! Explore the grounds like George Vanderbilt and his guests did more than a century ago, with a carriage drawn by Belgian draft horses. We were able to stop on the trail with stunning views of Biltmore House and met our horses, Danny and Mark (they were SO sweet). This carriage ride made our trip even more magical than I could have imagined, and highly recommend. Our guide had some awesome stories about the Vanderbilt Family and the home, and was very knowledgeable about the grounds.
Antler Hill Village – Get in your car and head to the Village, about a 15-20 minute beautiful drive from Biltmore House. Pisgah Playground is a fun place for the kiddos to burn off some energy. Antler Hill Farmyard is home to hens, lambs, pigs, goats, and draft horses with staff on site to answer all questions. Antler Hill Barn has draft demonstrations, we were able to see a broom being made and a blacksmith working. During our visit there was also an epic model train display called Biltmore Gardens Railway. It was filled replicas of train depots from around the country, made with natural elements such as leaves, bark, and twigs. This was a favorite of our children, as they were able to watch many trains going at the same time.
Biltmore Winery – Located in the Village, your daytime admission ticket gets you a complimentary wine tasting – please take advantage of this and sample their delicious wines. You are able to choose five wines to sample, and find out more about how they make their wine. My favorite was the Railcar Red!
Hikes/Trails – There are 22 miles of hiking on the property that take you in beautiful wooded areas, farmland, and the French Broad River. Biltmore Lagoon is an amazing place to stop and relax. on a calm day you can see the reflection of Biltmore House in the water.
Photoshoot – You will not find more beautiful grounds than Biltmore, so get those family photos done! We LOVED our session with Coley K Photography. Coley is a gifted family photographer, and she was able to get our girls to smile and laugh naturally with silly banter. She takes full charge of the shoot and really knows how to get amazing family photos! As a mom of two little ones herself, she sure can relate to silly wiggly children.
**All restaurants we dined at were very welcoming of children. Our girls got crayons and activity books at all locations, and their food came out first. It was very refreshing to be somewhere that welcomes young ones. Also, all food on site is amazing, with estate-raised and regionally sourced ingredients!**
Cedric’s Tavern – Cedric was the beloved Saint Bernard of the Vanderbilts, and this tavern has several of his photos on display as well as his collar (which is huge!). This restaurant boasts a delicious take on global pub fare and you cannot go wrong. You have to get the pretzel rolls, I am still drooling over them. Also, save room for dessert, we had the seasonal red velvet cheesecake with butternut squash cinnamon ice cream and roasted pumpkin seeds (OMG!). Cedric’s Tavern is located in the Village. Our server won over our girls, and they had some fun chats.
Stable Cafe – This is such a neat place to eat, as it once was the estate’s horse stable. Enjoy Appalachian comfort food in converted stalls that are now comfortable booths. The bison burger and shrimp and grits are simply delicious. Also save room for the BiltSMORE – seriously. Make reservations ahead of time here, the Stable Cafe is at Biltmore House and is a popular spot to dine! The service is top notch, we met some amazing people. Tip: try the Biltmore Conservatory Rose Gin, made with Estate wine barrels and roses!
Bistro – After a late night of fun at Biltmore House we ordered from the pizza take out menu at Bistro in the Village. The pizza and salads are delicious and convenient if you have tired kiddos. Bonus – you can get beer and wine to go, mom and dad win!
Village Social – Located in Village Hotel, Village Social serves brunch daily. With that, I was hooked and we ate breakfast there each morning. Our family favorites are Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Crab Pesto Scramble (OMG), and the Seafood Fondue. The food came out surprisingly quick which was perfect when dining with children. While we did not dine here for dinner, the menu looked fantastic!
The Creamery – We all scream for ice cream! Or coffee, pastries, cupcakes, espresso – located in The Village this is the perfect stop to satisfy your sweet tooth and get a caffeine boost. You can smell the fresh baked goods when walking by, and the ice cream pulled us in. Tip – taste the vanilla, it is the original recipe from a century ago and this is the only place you can try it!
Our time at Biltmore was easily one of our favorite getaways, it was pure magic and imprinted memories to last a lifetime. We cannot wait to visit again during another season!
Until next time…