Biltmore Estate, North Carolina

USA MAINLAND — By on August 13, 2011 at 01:15

Story by guest blogger Ann McElfresh. Photos Copyright © Ann McElfresh.

During our cross-country trip, my husband and I had the pleasure of stopping at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore is an amazing piece of architecture and a model of planning; a true testament to American craftsmanship and know-how.

The thing that struck me most was that it was SO beautiful and – despite it’s size – it was someone’s home.

We pulled up to the gate on a gloriously sunny day and were courteously given directions on where to purchase tickets for a self-guided tour. At $54–$69 (depending on where and when you purchase your tickets), the tours are pricey but absolutely worth it. I could have spent days and days in the Biltmore.

This is just one section of the front of the house

The house is as grand or grander than you can imagine. The sheer magnitude of it, the attention to detail . . . breathtaking.

No photos are allowed inside of the house. I can understand why, considering the priceless paintings, furniture and antiques.

The self-guided tour is well laid out. The tour is easy to follow and the book you get when you purchase tour tickets gives you a well-documented history of each room, including particular things to look at. The Biltmore also offers audio and guided tours.

Being a foodie I was most interested in seeing the kitchens, which were incredible. They are efficient, even by today’s standards. I was amazed at the size of the copper pots and the sheer amount of china—custom made, of course! The kitchen was almost as big as the footprint of my entire house. They have a room just for chopping and prepping vegetables, their own food storage facilities and enough equipment to run a restaurant.


Here’s the information that struck me the most regarding this amazing house: it is still family-owned. The home architect and landscape architect each have their own full-size portraits in the drawing rooms. The priceless tapestries are restored to their full glory in the same way they were made – at great expense. The Vanderbilt’s private rooms, while large, were also surprisingly cozy. In between their rooms is a lovely drawing room where they had breakfast every morning.

The servants’ quarters, while sparse, were considered quite large for the day – each room is about the size of a small bedroom.

The Biltmore Estate

The grand front entrance


A little historical information garnered from their website: Completed in 1895, the Biltmore was officially opened on Christmas Eve to friends and family by Mr. George Vanderbilt. (Can you imagine how grand it was that day?) The house has over 4 acres of floor space, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, a swimming pool, a bowling alley and 65 fireplaces – some of them big enough to stand in. It is also considered a model of self-sufficiency.

Some of the extensive landscaping on the Biltmore Estate

Some of the extensive landscaping on the Biltmore Estate

The grounds and gardens were designed by Fredrick Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park. He is known as the father of landscape architecture.

The waterfall picture below was taken on a road on the Biltmore grounds, tucked out of the way. It’s actually some sort of drainage, but it was so pretty I wanted to capture the image. Another example of their amazing attention to detail.

Even drainage is made beautiful at the Biltmore

If you ever have the chance to visit the Biltmore, don’t pass it by. It is truly a thing of beauty that will stand the test of time.

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Interactive map of Biltmore Estate

Tickets: Daytime Admission to Biltmore

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Ann McElfresh

Ann McElfresh has had the opportunity to travel and live overseas during the course of her husband’s career in the military and they didn’t stop after he retired! An enthusiastic home cook, she has an extensive “bucket list” of places to see, foods to eat and dishes to cook. A recent physical required that she focus her attention on cooking healthy foods and living a healthier lifestyle. At this time, she has lost 20 pounds and when asked how she lost the weight, she tells people, “By cooking like mad! Who knew losing weight could be so much fun?” Visit her healthy (and tasty) cooking blog at www.cookinghealthyforme.com.

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    27 Comments

  • kitchenarian says:

    I love the Biltmore. It has been years since I have been, but your photos bring back all those memories. I recommend this tour to everybody.

  • Julia
    Twitter: wordsxo
    says:

    (And you claim you’re not a writer?) I love this piece! I’ve never been to the Biltmore, but I’ve always wanted to go, so thank you for taking me there. Some of the descriptions of grandeur and scale remind me of Versailles — which was also amazing to envision as somebody’s home. Great post, Ann!!

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Julia…I love you! That was the nicest thing anyone could have said! …but I am a cook who was lucky enough to travel and – thanks to Milli – I get to share with you!

  • Such a beautiful place. I love seeing these kind of places. I would have to tie my hands behind my back in the house to restrain my camera finger LOL.
    Olmstead’s Central Park has helped me escape NYC and it’s madness many days.

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Hi Mike! I bet it would have been hard for you…you take amazing pictures. There were few that tried, but they were right there to stop them. I can understand, tho. The items in the house are truly priceless. You really should see it – it’s incredible! Thanks for your comment!

      I didn’t realize you were a New Yorker!

  • Parsley Sage says:

    I can’t believe that’s in the US! It’s so European! Great guest post :)

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Hi Parsley – it is really a stunning house…. it does look very European, but it’s here in North Carolina!

  • Betsy
    Twitter: betsy_v
    says:

    I love the Biltmore, and have always wanted to go there, and visit Asheville also. Someday maybe.
    I am not surprised you wanted to see the kitchens. LOL! A true “Kitchen Gadget Girl” ;-)
    Your pictures are wonderful, and make me want to go there more, now that I’ve seen them and read this!

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Thanks, Betsy! The kitchen was cool…you know I love my kitchen gadgets! You’ll love the visit. It’s stunning…there is a lot to see and do around the Asheville area, too!

  • Wow what a great post Ann, I love how you described it!

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Thanks, Sandra! The Biltmore is so beautiful it practically described itself! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Lilly says:

    Ann what a great post…great pictures and so well written! I really enjoyed it.

  • Estrella Azul
    Twitter: EstrellaAzul
    says:

    Wonderfully descrptive post and such great pics of the Biltmore estate, Ann, you definitely make me want to visit!

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Hi there Estrella Azul! You should go! It’s amazing and you would just love it! As much as you like to walk and look at buildings – this is the place for you…

  • My favorite spot of houses like these is always a tie between the kitchen and the gardens. I cannot imagine what it would be like to clean, of course they probably had lots of help with that. Hopefully some day I can make stop here.

  • Ann
    Twitter: AnnHolly
    says:

    Hi Emily! This place had a huge staff. I can’t remember the exact number…but it was huge! I hope you do get out there – it’s palatial! Thanks for your comment!

  • Elin says:

    I know I may not get the chance to travel to this place. Thank you so much for taking me there. Love the beautiful scenery there..you are so right…even the drainage they managed to make it look beautiful !

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Thanks, Elin! If you are ever in North Carolina, it’s worth the trip…but I’m glad you enjoyed it from my point of view. We had an amazing time. I wish I could adequately convey the size of the place…it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen… I appreciate your comment!

  • Charlene says:

    Went there in my teens and was overwhelmed by the size and details of the place. Need to ge my Sweetie in gear for a road trip to NC!

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Charlene – I suspect you won’t be overwhelmed this time…but very impressed! I say its definitely time for a road-trip!

  • j says:

    Wow. I can’t even imagine living in a place like that. (And wouldn’t it be wonderful if all drainage was that gorgeous? I think that’s weirdly my favorite picture of all.)

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      Hi J! Thanks for your comment! It was such a pretty drain….I understand – it was one of my favorite pics, too. It was surprising how some parts of The Biltmore was very much a home.

  • What a great article and such a gorgeous place! Would love to visit someday :)

    • Ann
      Twitter: AnnHolly
      says:

      On – this is an amazing place…I think you would love it! The pictures don’t do it justice!

  • Bloggoneit
    Twitter: bloggoneit
    says:

    Funny! I have always been drawn to Asheville, NC, and didn’t know that the Biltmore was there, too. I would love to see this estate. As someone who has put seeing 25 castles on her list of things to do, the Biltmore is like an American castle.

    I have seen the Hearst Castle (definitely amazing) but I am sure that the Biltmore is much more grand. With a trip to the East Coast planned for next year, I’ll definitely make sure the Biltmore gets on the agenda!

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