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Why The Biltmore Wasn’t “Worth It” For Us

If you’re anything like us, you’ve come across so many articles that sing the praises of the Estate and how it’s so worth the $100-ish price tag ($200 for both of you!) and you should definitely go but you’re still wondering it’s going to be super touristy or just a waste of your money and time.

We were the same. So, since we live in North Carolina, we did the hard work for you of figuring out if visiting Biltmore estate is one of those things to spend on or save on if you’re looking to make the most memories, eat the best food/drinks and have the best experiences together when you travel, like us!

Spoiler alert: we concluded that visiting The Biltmore is NOT worth it for most people. Read on to find out what influenced our opinion after we spent the day there!

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Quick History of Biltmore Estates

Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in the late 19th century, this stunner is the largest privately owned home in the U.S. This is not surprising since it has 178,000 square feet, over 250 rooms, and took 6 years and 1000 craftspeople to build!

 Inspired by European trips, George decided to create his own little slice of European luxury in the Blue Ridge Mountains for his family. When you visit the Biltmore you can definitely see the European Influence. It reminded us of the architecture of Vienna.

Where Is The Biltmore?

The Biltmore Estate is in Asheville, North Carolina. It sits in Biltmore Village, just a hop, skip, and a jump (do people still say this?) from Downtown Asheville.

If you’re checking out the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or exploring the waterfalls inside Pisgah National Forest, this location is an easy stop if you do end up checking it out (more on that below!) It’s also a short, 2-hour drive from Charlotte to Asheville if you’re in that area.

If you decide to rent a car to get to the Biltmore from Asheville or rent a car to drive to the Biltmore from another city, we always recommend Discover Cars!

>> Click here to check car rental prices from your city of choice! <<

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina

Attraction Breakdown 

The Biltmore has a lot of attractions and things to do around the property. However, in our opinion and travel style, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth it. 

Let’s check out all the amenities and we’ll share our thoughts on if each one is worth it so you can make an educated decision if visiting the Biltmore is right for you.

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Biltmore Village Area

Outside the entrance to the Biltmore, you will find Biltmore Village North Carolina. Think cobblestone streets, shopping, and restaurants that resemble a small English village.

All the shops and restaurants (even Hardees and Mcdonalds!) look exactly the same and honestly? It feels really touristy and overpriced. If you want to stay close to the Biltmore, this is the place to stay but be prepared to pay for it!

We much preferred to stay downtown, walkable to the bars and restaurants and action, and just drive 5 minutes to the Biltmore.

Is it worth it? It’s cute to walk around and window shop for a little bit but, other than that, we say skip it!

an old dining room in the Biltmore Estate with gold and red furniture

The House Itself

We decided to opt for the tickets that included the Biltmore house tour because we figured if we’re at the estate already we may as well check out the main attraction.

We did the self-guided tour that came with a handy audio guide and we were told it would last about an hour. Because we are not huge history buffs, we only took about 45 minutes to do the tour and skipped some of the audio guide as it went into A LOT of detail.

We will say that we usually skip audio guides when we visit historic attractions but we decided to snag these (they were free at our time of visiting, but I’ve heard they sometimes come with a fee) and we were glad we did. Without the audio guide, the tour would have been even less worth it as you wouldn’t really even know what you’re looking at.

The Biltmore has a huge collection of over 92,000 items such as objects George Vanderbilt got from all his traveling as well as pieces commissioned by his descendants. There are some paintings from famous artists inside if that is your thing.

It was quite cool at first to see all the rooms but, after seeing a few of them, we personally had the “once you’ve seen a couple, you’ve seen them all” kinda feeling. Especially if you have seen castles or palaces in Europe, such as Versailles, you will likely be underwhelmed by the tour of the house.

Is it worth it? We say no unless you’re a couple who REALLY likes old houses and seeing old art. Otherwise, skip it. 

A man standing in a red shirt inside a lush conservatory with tropical flowers and plants.

The Gardens

Depending on the season you have five ticket options at the time of writing this post in 2023: Grounds, Grounds & Exhibition, House & Grounds, House, 2 Day Grounds & Exhibition or Guided House Tour, 2 Day Grounds & Exhibition.

NOTE: if there is no exhibition at Deerpark, you will not have the option to see the exhibition. Obviously. 

So, regardless of the ticket that you choose if you do go, it will include entry to the grounds and garden and this was our favorite part of the visit. 

The Biltmore garden is right outside the entrance to the house and is ABSOLUTELY massive. So massive that it is split into 9 sections;

  • Library and South Terraces
  • Italian Garden
  • Shrub Garden
  • Spring Garden  
  • Conservatory 
  • Azalea Garden
  • Walled Garden
  • Rose Garden
  • Bass Pond & Boat House

Inside the garden you will find a lot of strolling paths and, if the season is right, the infamous Biltmore Blooms. It’s a very pretty and peaceful area but we were a little confused as to how people told us to spend hours visiting the garden. You really can do it all in an hour or less.

PRO TIP: The Conservatory is the best part. It has unique warm-weather flowers and plants that are really pretty and exotic looking. There is also a vendor selling beer and wine there so you can sit in the pretty setting with an adult beverage. Culture Craving Couple approved fo’ sho.

Is it worth it? If we HAD to pick one part of the Biltmore that was worth it, the gardens would be it. However, with the lowest price being around $60 per person or $120 per couple, it’s still pretty steep to go wander around some flowers for an hour so we would skip it.

If you absolutely LOVE flowers, it might be worth it but only in the spring or the heat of the North Carolina summer when they are actually blooming.

Deerpark

Deerpark is Biltmore’s exhibition space and wedding venue. You will only get access to this if there is an exhibition going on and you purchase a ticket that includes entry.

IMPORTANT: while you get access to the grounds for 2 days with most tickets, you have to visit the Biltmore House and Deerpark on the same day if you go this route.

Is it worth it? Honestly, we didn’t even purchase this ticket because art exhibitions are not our thing so we say no. If you’re a couple seeking all the history and art you can, you may want to plan your visit around an exhibition being here.

Antler Hill Village on the property of Biltmore Estate

Antler Hill Village

Antler Hill Village is about a 10-20 minute drive from the Biltmore House and is included in most tickets.

NOTE: Guest services told us it was a 45-minute drive but it most definitely is not. Maybe it gets heavily backed up in the busy seasons such as Christmas or the Summer, as we went in the fall. But, something you should know that no one told us!

On the grounds of Antler Hill Village, you’ll find activities that connect the estate’s past with the present such as a farmyard, a petting zoo, an Outdoor Adventure Center, and then some touristy things like shopping and a restaurant.

You’ll also find the winery with free wine tasting here, but more on that below.

We walked around the village in 30 minutes or so and thought there really wasn’t much going on. I (Taylor) am a huge animal lover so I was excited to see the petting zoo but it had one pig and a few chickens that you couldn’t really pet.

Is it worth it? Nope, unless you like to spend money on overpriced knick-knacks. 

A black sign on a wall for the Biltmore Winery with martini glasses on a table below it

Biltmore Winery

Ahhh wine! And FREE WINE! We were really excited 🤩 about the complimentary wine tasting that was included in our ticket. However, it was not what we expected.

The winery used to require reservations for tasting but, as of 2023, they no longer do. So, you go up to the winery and wait in line. We waited about 30 minutes and we went on the off-season. I imagine it gets a lot longer in busier seasons.

The tasting room itself is very stuffy, and stale and lacks any kind of vibe. The tasting is VERY RUSHED. We were looking forward to lingering and enjoying the wine as one usually does at a tasting. You get 20 minutes to taste 5 wines. It felt like we were chugging everything back as the bartender would be coming around to give us our next tasting right after we had our last.

The pro was that we got to choose our 5 wines to taste instead of it being a pre-selected flight. I like whites and Caleb likes reds, so it was nice to have our pick.

Is it worth it? While the wine wasn’t bad, it also was not amazing and definitely not worth waiting in line for a super-rushed feeling 20-minute tasting. You would be better off visiting some of the nearby wineries around Asheville for the afternoon!

If You’re Going To See It, Use These Tips

If you read all of that and still decided that you want to check it out, here are the top tips we learned from our visit:

  • Get lunch elsewhere – everything around the estate is super touristy. Read: not amazing food and way overpriced. You can leave the estate and come back, so go out and get lunch somewhere. We recommend visiting the gardens/house then leaving and then coming back for the winery.
  • Buy tickets in advance – You save money by buying your ticket online.
  • Eat a big breakfast – Since you don’t know exactly when you will be heading off to lunch, have a big brunch so you don’t get hungry. We had brunch at Sunnypoint Cafe and the carrot cake pancakes were the best pancakes we’ve ever had and I consider myself somewhat of a pancake connoisseur. It’s a thing, okay?
  • Use the audio guide  – We mentioned this above but it will help give you some context to the rooms beyond just starting at abandoned-looking furniture!  
  • Get to the estates at least 45 minutes before your house tour – it takes time to drive to the estate, park, walk, etc. You don’t want to miss the tour that you paid the mega bucks for!
  • Wear comfortable shoes – you’re going to be walking quite a bit!
A white counter with two glasses of wine on it inside the tasting room at the Biltmore Winery

Other Things to Do In Asheville Instead Of Biltmore

We were lucky that we had a long weekend when we drove from Raleigh to Asheville NC so we had some time to do some other things around Asheville that we enjoyed and would 10/10 recommend doing over the Biltmore if you are short on time.

  1. Do a food tour

Just like on our weekend spent in Charlotte, we started our 3 days in Asheville with a food tour put on by Eating Asheville. We have been on many food tours and this was probably the best one we have been on in the entire USA.

We had such a variety of foods and different kinds of cuisine and we left feeling SO, SO FULL. At about the same price as a ticket to the Biltmore, we would hands down choose this tour instead to save money while still enjoying what we feel to be a better experience.

2. A guided brewery tour

If you know our travel style, you know we’re all about the best food, beverages, and experiences which is why we always recommend food and beverage tours.

If a food tour isn’t your thing, check out a beer tour so you can make sure you hit up the best breweries and taste the best beer.

Fun fact: Portland and Asheville always fight over who is the best beer city. There are A LOT of breweries in Asheville, especially in the trendy River Arts District.

3. A guided hike to Pisgah Forest Waterfalls

We went to the forest to see the waterfalls on our own and it did not turn out how we planned. Like, we hiked for 3 hours with no breakfast and no water because we thought the hike was only going to be 20-30 minutes and we were GRUMPAY.

If you’re a couple who is a mix of both outdoorsy and city (like us!) spending a morning on a guided hike (followed by a night of epic food and cocktails) is going to be way better than spending the day at the Biltmore.

4. BONUS: Eat dinner at Rosabees

It’s not a tour, but you would shortchange yourself if you did not eat dinner at RosaBees in The River Arts District. Were talking Hawaiian/Asian fusion and it was one of the best meals we’ve had! Make sure to get the “belly bowl.” The mahi mahi and the crispy pork belly will change your life, not being dramatic. 

Mahi mahi with bok choy, charred lemon and a side salad on a modern black plate
Is Biltmore Worth it? Pinterest Pin

Well, now you have our personal opinion on visiting the Biltmore. We know this is super subjective so you may still love it even though we didn’t!

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments – was it worth the money for you?

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A couple embraces while watching the sunset behind the Crystal Palace in Madrid's Retiro Park, a moment of romance and tranquility by the reflective waters.

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21 Comments

  1. Probably the dumbest post I have ever read. If you didn’t like the Biltmore, then why write about it? Is this blog worth it? HELL NO!!! A food tour in Charlotte???

    Oh, and here’s a tip: learn how to spell, use grammar correctly…helps you to communicate with humans! What the hell is “Comopolitan”??? “…has been features in…”????

    1. Hey Mary! Thanks for stopping by! Our typical readers find these kinds of posts really helpful as they offer different perspectives than everyone just making the same “yes, the Biltmore is totally worth it post!” This kind of “realness” is what blogs are supposed to be! They also really enjoy unique experiences like food tours. 🙂 I am sorry you didn’t find this helpful though and appreciate you catching those typos for me! I am a human so I am bound to make some mistakes every so often and will get those fixed. Thanks again!

  2. Hey Taylor, thanks for this post! I met Caleb and yourself on the Asheville food tour and I’m visiting again in early December with my girlfriend ~ considering visiting the Biltmore this time around. Tickets are 140 reportedly for the weekend because they are only offering 2-day tickets. Although they have Christmas decorations going on, we are discussing whether the price of admission is worth it. I feel like it’s less so considering they essentially doubled the price and the total value of the estate can be derived in a day.

    1. Hi Aaron! So fun you found us here! I agree. I think that does make it even less worth it – that’s a pretty steep price to see a big house and some decorations! I haven’t been at Christmas and I have heard it is beautiful but, if you’re anything like us (and you just might be since you did a food tour!) I would say it’s most likely not worth it! You can definitely do it all in less than a day even. If you go though, let us know what you think!

  3. Each us has to determine what is the best value for our entertainment dollar. That varies person to person. But I’d like to share here, the reasons I found my visit to the Biltmore Estate worth the price:
    • Biltmore, when completed, was and remains today, the largest private residence in the US.
    • Many European estate/museums have suffered neglect, their furnishings sold off in an effort to keep them private, their integrity lost to both the owners and the public that tours empty rooms and ill-kept grounds.
    • In contrast, the Vanderbilt family, Biltmore Estates only guardian’s, wisely realized their only hope for maintaining its magnificence – for themselves and future generations – was to share it, as George Washington Vanderbilt designed it for the enjoyment of his guests toward the end of the 19th century. As able stewards of what was handed down to them, they elected to open the estate to the guests, willing to help fund its upkeep as paying visitors.
    •. The Vanderbilt Family’s foresight has made Biltmore House and its extensive grounds, an amazing time capsule of the gilded age, a fleeting era in our nation’s history. Those willing to pay the considerable admittance fee, do indeed, not only experience this rare treasure preserved almost exactly as was when built more than a century and a quarter ago, but also, join in its stewarding for future generations to behold.
    • Biltmore Estate, unlike the antebellum plantations, preserved/restored in the American south, was not built on the back of slavery, but rather by craftsman, trades persons, and workers who willing chose to be employed by the Vanderbilts, enjoying the privilege working at Biltmore Estate – many of them living in a house featuring state-of-the-art technology and conveniences – earning wages equal to or superior to those paid in that day, anywhere in the country.

    Clearly, not everyone, derives the pleasure and joy, folks like me receive in a visit to Biltmore Estate. But, for those that do, no other spot on earth affords what a day there, provides. A season pass allows the holder to see the gardens and grounds in their unique beauty in the different seasons of the year. And, in my humble opinion, Biltmore House says, “Merry Christmas,” magnificently, perhaps at a level paralleled rarely, if ever, anywhere else.

    I readily admit, I have a great appreciation for this splendid sanctuary, untouched by time. Not everyone will find there what I have found. Yet, if what I’ve shared suits your tastes, NOTHING, ANYWHERE – except perhaps the unaccessible Titanic, decaying two miles below the surface of the cold waters of the North Atlantic – offers what is to be found there, whetting an appetite for unique aspects the Victorian age Biltmore House and the Estate surrounding it offers.

  4. Hi Taylor, so glad I stumbled over your “is it worth it” about the Biltmore. I’ve been to Asheville area numerous times (have a cousin who relocated nearby). Each time I’ve contemplated but passed on visiting the estate. In Feb I’m planning to return with a friend from Europe. We are both well traveled and love food and funky as well as history and some nature. Your conclusions reinforce my gut feeling about shelling out the dollars for the Big B. We’ll visit Thomas Wolfe’s house instead and with the saved money do the sensible thing…dine! Looking forward to searching out your down to earth opinions about other destinations.

    1. Hey Maureen! I am so glad you stumbled upon this too! It sounds like you’re like Caleb and I which means saving money to dine is 100% the best option for you! I am sure you know Asheville has the best food! If you have not yet been to Sunny Point Cafe for breakfast, you gotta go. The carrot cake pancakes will change your life! Looking forward to having you around the blog! 🙂

  5. The name of your website is “culture craving couple” yet nothing about this post says anything about culture. You say that visiting the Biltmore is not worth it but don’t say exactly why, you just give other things to do instead. It sounds like you are a couple who are not really interested in, truly enjoy and find value in visiting historical, artistic places (you mentioned something about looking at “abandoned furniture” which tells me right there your mindset). So it seems you already had a bias before you even visited, so it’s not surprising you wouldn’t like it. If you are not into art and history but just enjoy drinking at beer and wine tours, then that’s your choice. But don’t then visit places like Biltmore and make shallow, vapid, biased criticisms if you think of yourself as a serious travel journalist. Your comparison of Biltmore to a beer tour to determine if one is worth it is completely subjective and an apples and orange comparison. If you seriously want to give a criticism of the worth of Biltmore, then compare it to Winterthur or the mansions in Newport and look at more factual, objective reasons why one is better than the other. Your article was not helpful in this regard at all.

    1. Hey Fiona! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts – we like all perspectives! However, I do think it’s unfair to judge our entire site based off one article. We found that all of the articles on the Biltmore said the exact same thing and the nature of a blog is to offer differing opinions which has helped other readers as you an see in the comments. We get it’s totally divisive though so thank you for sharing your opinion,it’s always great to hear other perspectives!

    2. Thank you Fiona, i just booked my tickets for November 2024! a surprise for my wife. a celebration of our 39th anniversary.

  6. Mike, Thank you for your detailed perspective of the Biltmore. i just booked tickets for November 2024 and i appreciate the knowledge i obtained from your comments. I t has reassured my decision to visit such a wonderful estate.

  7. How is this blog named “culture craving couple” when you say you don’t like art exhibitions or historic houses, and say critical things about “old art”?
    I’ll be complete ignoring this advice and booking my ticket for the Biltmore Estate later today.

    1. Hey C! We’re so glad this blog solidified your decision to visit the Biltmore! “Culture” has many definitions such as art and history but also really getting into the social culture and customs of a set of people or society. We personally view it as the latter and try to experience where we travel as a local, not just a tourist. Totally okay to have different definitions and we hope you love your visit to the Biltmore!

  8. Having visited Biltmore many, many times I find myself torn about your review. Admission is ridiculous now, but it is definitely a one of a kind. We had a seaso pass at one time and would visit on our motorcycle only to picnic on the grounds and not enter the home. We would often go to Grove Park Inn for lunch on their veranda instead of at Biltmore. My recommendation would be to visit each one time, but get discount tickets through AAA or something comparable and either visit at Christmas or the height of rose blooming season.

    1. Hey Steve! I totally get that you’re torn – my post is purely just my own opinion! I will say that, had the Biltmore be 1/3 of the cost, I do think we would have found it more “worth it.” But, we just did not think it was based on how much it is to get in but I can see how others may disagree and that’s okay! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Hi. I’m grew up in Asheville and have been going to the estate for years and still love it. My wife and I have year long passes and still love the house tours as well as the hiking trails-biking trails-gardens-music-about everything. It’s kinda of an oasis in the middle of all the craziness the city has become. Myself and most locals that I know don’t really go downtown anymore cause it’s pretty much a tourist trap. But if you like expensive restaurants and brewery’s then I guess it’s a good place to go. Ok thanks for giving space for buffet perspectives. That’s pretty cool!!!!!!

  10. I have been going to the Biltmore before they turned the stable into shops and restaurants. They housed their cars there as if it were a garage. I miss their original ice cream made on the estate. The ticket price was $79 but there were no specialty tours. You just saw it all. The upper servants’ living area is not just downstairs for lower servants.
    I do recommend you read up on the true family history, what happened, and why Cornelia left and never came back to the Biltmore. Why did George and Edith move to France closing up the house at one point. The house is historically important and played an important role as Asheville did during WWII as well as the lives of the people who lived there during the Great Depression. Look at George Vanderbilt’s bedroom locks gifted by a friend of his at the time his mother lived there. What man needs three deadbolts on his bedroom doors? Look for the original key hanging behind the front door.

    Visit the Biltmore at least once. I also recommend visiting Shelbourne Vermont where George’s favorite sister lived Eliza lived with her husband. George and Edith spent time there.

    https://www.ashevillenc.gov/news/neighborhood-spotlight-shiloh/#:~:text=Shiloh was formally established in, the construction of the Biltmore Estate.

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