Skim the adult stuff at the Biltmore Estate, and head for the fun
George Vanderbilt’s massive Biltmore Estate was constructed in the 1890s among the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Today the house and grounds are available for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
Touring the sprawling 250-room estate where Vanderbilt and friends played is the big draw for most adults that visit, but not so much for my 6, 5, and 1-year-olds. They were impressed by the indoor swimming pool and bowling alley, but were otherwise underwhelmed until we got outside to Biltmore Estate’s ‘8000 acre backyard’. They perked up instantly when exploring the beautifully landscaped gardens. We visited on a summer weekday and were pleasantly surprised to have so much space to ourselves after the house tour.
If it were up to my kids we would have spent the entire day here. A short drive from the house, Antler Hill Village packs in tons of fun for kids. They loved the barn where they climbed on tractors, saw a blacksmith working and played with toys from the early 1900’s. The working farm brought us up close to some goats, chickens, and horses that helpful employees told us about and let us pet.
We continued our afternoon with a stop at the brand new “Pisgah Playground” featuring some unique water themed activities. We also indulged in some ice cream from the Creamery that we enjoyed on the lawn while listening to live music being played at the gazebo.
Visiting Antler Hill Winery was dubbed a “must do” on Biltmore Estate’s website, so who am I to argue with that? The kids were cheerfully greeted with grape juice while hubby and I sampled a few wines. For the sake of avoiding a meltdown we felt more like college kids doing shots than connoisseurs searching for oaky highlights.
However, it got the job done, and we purchased a few varietals at the attached gift shop without breaking any bottles or our darling toddler screeching ‘ALL DONE’. Phew.
There are packages you can add onto your admission for a fee including float trips down the river, horseback riding, bike rentals or guided tours of the house. We opted for the 45-minute carriage ride that went along a wooded path to a lovely view of the back of the house. The driver was great at explaining life at Biltmore Estate to the kids and letting them pet the horses when we stopped.
Good to know
Allow yourself ample time to experience all of Biltmore Estate; for our family that was nine hours. The self-guided house tour has little signage, requiring you to refer often to the map provided. Audio tours are available for purchase, which was a hit with my six year old, and a miss with my five year old. Children under the age of nine are free; specials vary and can be found here.
Disclaimer: Although I was provided with Biltmore Estate tickets and carriage ride, all opinions are my own.