by Lissa Poirot
Asheville, North Carolina, is an intimate and gorgeous town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along the western border of the state. But perhaps its main draw to visitors from around the world is the massive Biltmore Estate, the largest home in America. Featuring a 250-room American Castle built by the wealthy Vanderbilt family, the 125,000-acre estate makes an ideal setting for families looking to play in and explore the outdoors, as well as for those interested in a more refined experience, with tours of the home and winery visits. On the estate, families have the opportunity to tour the Biltmore House in self- and guide-led tours; relax and explore the Antler Hill Village and Winery; and enjoy all the mountains have to offer with biking, hiking, horseback riding, river rafting and kayaking, fly fishing, clay shooting and more.
The property is the destination, but the luckiest of the Biltmore’s visitors will elect to stay at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. This Four-Diamond inn is inspired by the Biltmore House and serves as another grand watchman over the estate and its rolling blue hills. Guests staying at the inn are offered free admission to the estate and may explore the grounds, including River Bend Farm, the Biltmore Gardens and the winery, while also enjoying convenient proximity to the dozen restaurants on the estate. Entrance to the Biltmore House requires admission purchase, although some inn packages include entry tickets.
You’ll easily find something for everyone in the family to enjoy at the Biltmore, but of course, Asheville and its own outdoor parks, rivers and mountains are just outside the gates, beckoning even more vacation fun.
Our Editor Loves
- 8,000 acres of grounds to explore
- Intimate access to the Biltmore Estate
- All-season outdoor activities for families
- Horse Back Riding
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The 210 guestroom and suite inn located on the property of the Biltmore Estate is decorated to match the style and opulence of the Biltmore House, yet still remains comfortable and welcoming to families. The entire inn features wireless, high-speed Internet access, and is 100 percent non-smoking. Rooms feature flat-screen TVs, nightly turndown service with chocolates, twice-a-day housekeeping, luxurious bathrobes, and oversized bathrooms.
The 201 standard guestrooms are roomy enough for families. The Deluxe Double Room features two double beds and a small sitting area, and the Terrace Rooms are outfitted with two double rooms and a ground-level terrace. (Rooms with balconies only feature one king-sized bed. Premium mountain views may be available, but need to be reserved in advance by email or phone and are subject to an additional fee.)
Junior Suites are 800 square feet and include a king-sized bedroom, living area and the option of combining connecting rooms in two suites.
Estate Suites are 900 square feet and include a king-sized bedroom, living area, dining area and wet bar with refrigerator. Estate suites also have the option of connecting rooms.
Mountain Suites are 1,200 square feet, offer scenic mountain views, and include a king-sized bedroom, living area, wet bar and pantry.
William A.V. Cecil Suite
The William A.V. Cecil Suite, occupying up to 1,400 square feet and located on the sixth floor in the turret, is the largest suite and features a wall of windows as well as the option to connect rooms.
This is a small hotel on the Biltmore Estate. Service was great. The pool and hot tub area (open until 11pm) was beautiful and clean. The gym was small but had enough equipment. The shuttle service was great - about 30 minutes to the main Biltmore house and gardens and ran every 15 minutes. We walked to Antler Hill Village (5-10 minutes) down a small hill. The setting is amazing with great views in every direction. The rooms are clean and well appointed but small. Bathrooms are small with a tiny shower. Great lobby and common areas.
This is without a doubt the classiest and most well run place we have ever stayed. The entire complex is beautiful and must be seen to be appreciated. Please go you will not be disappointed. It’s a little pricey but you definitely get what you pay for.
While the kids may not be excited to tour a fancy old house, perhaps they will be more enticed to see an American Castle. When visitors stay at the inn, it is because they have made their way to Asheville to see the impressive Biltmore House, so even if you fill your days with kid-friendly activities, don't skip the Biltmore House! Opened in 1895, the 250-room Biltmore House was the home of America's wealthy Vanderbilt family. Taking six years to construct, the house rests on four acres of floor space with 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, three kitchens, 65 fireplaces, an indoor fitness center and swimming pool, and a decor befitting royalty. Self- and guided tours are provided daily, and include a view of 60 rooms still outfitted with their original furnishings. There is a kid-verison of the self-guided, audio tour, as well, that shares kid-friendly stories of the Vanderbilt family.
The Biltmore House also features shops and restaurants in its former stable area, including the Courtyard Market, a bakeshop, a gift shop, a toy store, a confectionery and a Christmas store.
While the entire estate rests on an unbelievable 125,000 acres of farmland, rolling hills, hiking trails, and parkland, it is the Biltmore Gardens that bring people from far and wide, especially during the spring when hundreds of tulips are in bloom. Families will enjoy the 8,000-acre grounds that have something to offer in all seasons, as well as the Walled Garden, the Azalea Garden and the Rose Garden. Indoors, the Conservatory houses exotic plants and flowers.
Land Rover Experience Driving School
For some off-road adventure, the Land Rover Experience provides driving lessons and programs for drivers, and kids can enjoy the Kids' Land Rover Adventure Course, where they will drive an electric Mini Land Rover around natural obstacles and easy terrain. Drivers and older kids may enjoy riding over a challenging course with a professional or taking lessons and trying the trails themselves.
Children ages 8 and up and their parents can enjoy the Biltmore's trails on guided horseback tours. The one-hour rides are suitable for beginners and take riders through woodlands and meadows. Two-hour private trail rides for up to four people are also available, as well as private lunch trail rides, which include a three-hour ride and a picnic lunch.
Visit the estate while sitting on a 12-passenger, horse-drawn wagon. There is a 45-minute tour and one child 5 and younger is free per paying adult. Private carriage rides are also available with advanced reservations. These 90-minute tours are for up to four people and are in a vis-a-vis carriage.
Bring your own bikes or rent them at the Bike Barn, and enjoy biking the many trails of the Biltmore Estate. Rentals of paved or mountain bikes are available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Guests with their own bikes must check in and pay a guest fee, per person.)
River Float Trips
From April through October, guests can join a guided river float trip or a self-guided kayak trip on the French Broad River. Children must be at least 35 pounds and 3 years of age to participate.
A heated outdoor pool is located just off the inn, with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the backdrop. Although heated, the pool is open seasonally from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
River Bend Farm
Children can explore early 1900's farm life at the estate farm, where a petting zoo and friendly animals await in the farmyard. The barn is a restored and historic structure giving a further glimpse into the Biltmore history, and offering informative exhibits that explain how families lived and worked on the estate. At the nearby Antler Hill Village, the Biltmore Legacy is explained at the exhibition hall and theater, showcasing how the estate was built and how the family lived, and highlighting treasures from the family's collection.
The Dining Room
Located in the inn, the Dining Room provides a fine dining experience for breakfast and dinner. In the evenings, men are required to where collared shirts and pants, and for women, dresses, skirts or pants.
Located in a historic barn beside the estate, the restaurant serves up southern, family-style dishes in its casual setting. Sunday brunch is a must here, and children 9 and younger eat for free when accompanied by adults. A kids' menu is also available. Brunch is offered year-round on Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the restaurant is open daily from mid-March to December, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
During warmer months, The Smokehouse provides al fresco dining outside the winery in a casual environment often featuring live music. The grill is open noon to 4 p.m., weather permitting, and serves up sandwiches, burgers and appetizers.
Located at the Winery, the Bistro offers a "field-to-table" concept, with offerings from the estate's vineyards, farm and fields. Steaks, fresh fish and other estate-raised foods are offered in a casual lunch and dinner setting.
When exiting the Biltmore Estate, you'll arrive right at the Stable Cafe, which offers an informal setting for chicken, burgers, salads and desserts. The cafe includes a children's menu, and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lunch, dinner and a late-night menu are provided in the Inn's library, which features sandwiches, salads, pizzas, burgers and seafood, as well as an enticing selection of desserts. Afternoon tea, including sandwiches and pastries, is served daily from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Reservations are required. Complimentary coffee is also served every morning, 5:30 to 10 a.m.
Located in Antler Hill Village, at the bottom of the hill down from the inn, this English-style tavern provides American and global cuisine for lunch, dinner and late-night snacking. Staples include fresh seafood, steaks and burgers. Live music can often be found on weekend evenings.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting can be arranged through concierge. The inn suggests 24 hours advanced notice.
There is complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the Inn.
The Art of Smart Timing
The Biltmore Estate is open 365 days a year, including Christmas, with each season bringing such a beautiful view of the landscape that no one season is more appealing than another. In the spring, catch the amazing array of florals in bloom; in the fall, take in the kaleidoscope of colors in the trees and shrubs; in the winter, see the snow-covered estate decorated in holiday glory; and of course, in the summer, really enjoy exploring the grounds with biking, hiking, horseback riding and kayaking.
Asheville Regional Airport is serviced by AirTran, American, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways. However, the best way to arrive in Asheville is to drive along one of the nation's most picturesque highways, the Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers numerous, well-marked scenic overlooks along the way. Asheville can be reached via highways I-26, I-40 and I-240.
Complimentary shuttle service on a seasonal schedule travels daily to the Biltmore House, Winery and River Bend Farm.
For Mom and Dad
A visit to the Biltmore Winery is a must for parents. Complimentary tastings are offered Mondays through Saturdays. More private, premium selection wine tastings are offered for a fee. Cooking demonstrations and wine programs are also occur throughout the week, and the winery shop carries the vineyard's wines, as well as gourmet cooking condiments and sauces, kitchen essentials, cookbooks and candy. If you decide to pop in with the kids in tow, grape juices are provided during your wine sampling.