I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about Biltmore when we first visited and I think their website doesn’t paint a full picture of all the things to do with kids! It is pricey to visit and definitely can fill an entire day so I wanted to share everything we’ve learned after a few trips there, in the hopes of making your first visit the most fun it can be! I’m sharing a general overview of the visit and then some specific tips for visiting the Biltmore Estate with kids.
Check out these other posts while you’re here!
- Tips for visiting the Biltmore with kids
- Best Asheville area hikes for kids
- What to expect at the Asheville art museum
Isn’t that view beautiful! The Biltmore was built in the 1890s by George Vanderbilt as a private residence, still owned by the family and a major tourist attraction for the Asheville area. All house entry requires a ticketed time; you can just walk through, buy an audio guide, or purchase an extra, guided tour.
My general recommendation would be to:
- start at the house, do the inside tour with the kid’s audio tour
- explore the formal gardens/conservatory
- head over to the Antler Hill area for the petting zoo & blacksmith, etc.
- end at the playground
Keep reading for tips and more examples of what to expect!
The gardens and landscaping are worth a visit all by themselves! Here the Azalea garden is in bloom last spring, the colors are vibrant. There are miles and miles of trails around the estate, many of them paved if you have little people who love to scooter or ride bikes.
The formal gardens and enclosed greenhouse gardens are just south of the house and we love exploring them. The tropical flowers and lush plants feel like a mini vacation! During the holidays they have a miniature train track running through one of the rooms as well.
The Antler Hill Farm area has the most restaurants but also the playground, petting zoo area, and a heritage area with a broom maker, wood worker, and blacksmith, shown here. We visited twice before we realized this area even existed, and now it’s one of our favorites! They also have a large barn with old fashioned toys and seasonal crafts during busier times.
Another view into the formal gardens! It’s easy to close your eyes and imagine tiny rich kids galloping their ponies around in this area.
Typically young kids don’t go gaga for architecture but take the time to look up and around at the ornate carvings. Mine love the gargoyles!
That view off the side of the house can’t be beat! There are several statues and busts in this area as well, which my kids enjoyed in relation to Greek mythology they’ve read.
Tips for visiting the Biltmore with children
- If you’re considering an annual membership, they usually run sales after Christmas in January!
- It takes longer than you might expect to drive around in the estate itself, wait for shuttles, etc. Plan for extra time, even during the week.
- Reservations are required to go into the actual house, even if you have an annual pass, every day and in advance.
- Buying tickets 7 days or more in advance will save you 10% so plan ahead!
- There is a special audio guide for kids that has Cedric, the family dog narrating, for an extra cost. It is cheaper if you purchase it ahead of time with your admission.
- Go to the bathroom before you go in the house! There are no bathrooms inside and it can take a while to get out unless you’re towards the end.
- They recently changed the parking/shuttle options so prepare to go earlier because you can’t drive back to the gardens or past the house any more.
- You can pack a picnic lunch or there are food options at virtually all the main areas, but it is pricey!
Here are some visuals of inside the house! There’s something to look at from every angle. Down in the basement you’ll see the indoor pool and bowling alley, which is fun. They have a very clearcut path to herd crowd control through, and generally speaking things are roped off or encased away from little hands, with some exceptions.
A view of the petting zoo area! The animals they have out are different each time but the staff are all very friendly and answer all my kids’ questions.
Here is the playground! Honestly I find it shockingly bare compared to the luxury level of everything else on the property. They have since added a weird egg sorting hut that didn’t show in these pictures, but I wish they’d really go all out on an amazing play structure!
One last thing worth mentioning is that they have a small exhibit building in the Antler Hill Village that focuses on the Vanderbilt family’s history. It isn’t well marked and smooshed in between shops but I recommend seeking it out! They have all sorts of treasures and trinkets brought from overseas during their travel and interesting history displays like this sidesaddle, my kids were surprisingly into it and it didn’t take long to walk over there.
They host special exhibitions along with holiday events; we haven’t done the official Christmas experience that costs extra but we had a great time going towards the end of the day and looking at all the decorations!
A shot of when they had the beautiful Chihuly glass exhibit! The other piece I want to mention is that they do a variety of different extra excursions and activities. My kids did a carriage ride they enjoyed and there are a bunch of options listed on their site here.
Let me know if you’ve been or what you’d add to this post to help folks get the most of visiting Biltmore with kids!
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