What to say about the Biltmore Estate – it’s been a huge draw to Asheville since George Vanderbilt opened the house to friends and family in 1895. The history, architecture, grandeur, and grounds are fascinating to tour. The several dining establishments, winery, and concerts on the grounds are great, and the holiday decor and evening tours are lovely.
I won’t try to recap all the extensive and fascinating history there is about the Biltmore Estate on their extensive website, or even on wikipedia. I will say that my personal to-do list for the Biltmore, that remains high on my list as a must-do’s, are the Rooftop Tour and the Upstairs – Downstairs Tour. Especially interesting I’d expect, for fans of Downton Abbey. As NASA engineers, we’re also interested in the technical innovations both the original and recent developments at the estate.
Admission can be considered a bit pricy perhaps, but there’s plenty to do on a day ticket, and for not a LOT more, an annual pass is a relative steal – if you’ll be in the area for a while, or for a second visit within a year. My impression as a parttime resident for 12 years, and a soon-to-be fulltime Asheville resident, is that many locals hold annual memberships – to walk or bike the grounds, and enjoy other amenities – even if they don’t frequently revisit the HOUSE itself.
You’ll not find anything else like it in the US. Visitors to Asheville for decades primarily (?) to the Biltmore Estate and the mountains. The revitalization of downtown, and the explosion of the food, brews, and art scene, have broadened the vista of must-do’s in Asheville – but have not dimmed the attraction to “America’s premier home and the environmental wonderland that surrounds it.”