The Biltmore has long been on my list of places to see (and it is in 1,000 Places To See Before You Die so there’s that). But it hasn’t ever been convenient. And I never thought I would be doing it with a 5 and 2 1/2 year old. Yet we did it and it was GREAT.
Entry in to the Estates is not cheap ($60 for adults,$30 for kids 9 & up, free for under 9) , or easy. This was the longest line we had to wait in all day and we had bought our tickets in advance. Yet the line to pick up tickets, of any kind, was over 30 minutes on the day we arrived. This convinced me that our day was going to stink.
But once we made it through the line we got back in to our car and drove on to the estate property. We had a timed ticket to tour the house at 12:15, so we opted to head down to the village first. And what kid-tastic fun down there!
The barnyard had horses, goats (babies!), sheep, and more that you could feed. There was an old farm area that had live demonstrations, games for kids to play, old equipment they could sit on, and a little movie going about life on the estate way back when.
The village area even had a little maze for kids and a playground. There were plenty of dining options here, too, with a casual flair.
The winery is also in the village and while it isn’t recommended for kids to go on the tour they are allowed to sample grape juice while mom and dad try the wines. We didn’t get to do this, but the winery is on my list of reasons to go back.
After this we headed back towards the house for our tour. It was amazing. We did a self guided tour, no audio headsets, and loved looking at the opulence. I will freely confess that my 2 year old did, at one point, get under the ropes to make a bee line for some rich mahogany climbing stairs in the library, but who can blame them? My kids were really intrigued and not bored during the 1 hour + tour through the house. Of course, going on our own time was the smartest. My 5 year old’s favorite parts? The indoor basement swimming pool and the private basement bowling alley.
This house is not to be missed. It is absolutely jaw dropping to walk through. The opulence, the splendor, the wealth, and the beauty…it all kind of combines to one memorable experience.
Of course the gardens are not to be missed. The Biltmore’s gardens were more than we could walk and take in, and we had been there for over 4 hours. We bought a picnic lunch for our family from the concessions stand (complete with Biltmore winery wine), marched our picnic and our boys over to the gardens, and had a picture-perfect lunch with the Biltmore lording over us in the background.
I am aware that given the pricetag and the location, this is a special occasion visit for us families in the Triangle.
I will say that they run specials on admissions so keep an eye out (I got in for free on Mother’s Day for being a mom, so we only had to pay for 1 adult admission). But it certainly is worth stopping in at, for one full, glorious, who-wants-to-pretend-like-they-are-in-Downton Abbey, day of splendor.
(you can’t miss it)