I am going to preface this with I am not a travel guide, I am not a blogger, I am just a sightseer. I enjoy traveling with my husband and decided to start writing about some of our experiences in hopes that others will find them useful. I decided to start with our visit to the Biltmore. This started with me looking into if it was worth the high admission price and not seeing too many reviews online.
The Biltmore experience started with the shock of the price tickets. Nearly $100 for one? To see a house? We talked to a few people in the area and were encouraged to check it out.
The next step was to get there. The Google instructions keep trying to lead you to a Starbucks. There are plenty of signs that lead you to the Biltmore Estate, trust those once the GPS gets you close enough.
Once you enter the entrance gate there is an 8 mile drive up to the parking lots. The drive was beautiful even in early December with most of the foliage gone. I would advise taking your time and driving carefully. At one point a young buck ran across the road, slipping on the wet pavement. A car following too closely behind would have rear ended us.
Once you park in the parking lots, there is a walk up to the house. Once you turn a corner around another smaller guard house, the house can be seen. It is enormous and beautiful. Walking the grounds to get to it you start to see the immense craftsmanship and details in the facade alone. There are spires that look straight from a French cathedral and gargoyles (water spouts) and grotesques (no water sprouts) along the roof lines and balconies. There are carvings and statues all over the house. I overheard one worker tell another visitor that he has been working there for over 20 years and still discovers new carvings that he has not seen before. I could have spent hours just looking at the carvings along the house.
The house itself is huge. The self guided tour only looks at a fraction of the rooms. I did not know much about George Vanderbilt and his family and I still don’t. If you wish to learn more about the house and family then perhaps the audio or guided tour may be worth the extra cost for you. I was more interested in just observing and absorbing. Each room had a brief description in the written guide that we were able to pick up. I was impressed with the craftsmanship and details in all of the structures and furniture throughout the house.
The gardens and conservatory were nice to walk around as well. Once more, early December did not lead to the most flattering side of the grounds but still enjoyable.The views from the different verandas made the walk around the grounds well worth it. I could only imagine how beautiful the walled and rose garden would be in its prime season. We were able to stroll through the conservatory and get a peek into how the gardens may look during the spring and summer months.
We then drove to Antler Village and the Winery. We were interested in the complimentary wine tasting and had to make reservations due to the pandemic. During the time waiting for our reservations we went wandering looking for lunch options. There were some cafe’s and a tavern as well as a more upscale restaurant. The wine tasting was enjoyable with a choice of five out of about 12 wines. Our server was knowledgeable but not overbearing.
Overall, the Biltmore was enjoyable and worth the price of admission given you know what you are getting for the ticket. The places to explore can take up the whole day. We never checked out Deer Park and other areas as well. If you are expecting more than a huge beautiful house and sprawling lands, then you may be disappointed. As a tourist we were told it is worth the visit and we would agree. If you live close by and would visit during the different seasons or festivals then the membership would be worth the price. Only two visits are needed to have it pay for itself. If the price of the tickets would be a hindrance to your financial situation then possibly pass .