Nestled in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, The Biltmore Estate is America’s largest private estate and tourist attraction. Frequently referred to as “America’s Castle” and “Legacy of the land”, The Biltmore is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with more than one million visitors annually. The mansion was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II from 1889 to1895. The Vanderbilt family was worth over $200 million back in the 1800s due to ancestors gaining huge leverage in the railroad and shipping arena. His vast home was initially designed to entertain friends and family. He wanted to create a place where he could relax as well. The elaborate village created by Vanderbilt included cottages, shops, an Episcopal church, post office, hospital, and the Biltmore Office Building. The Estate is currently owned by “The Biltmore Company”, which is controlled by Vanderbilt’s grandson. The Biltmore has an annual revenue of about $50 million and an estimated market value of $125 million.
Guests have reported that the ghost of George Vanderbilt’s widow roams the halls whispering to George. And the ghost of George himself has been seen sitting in the library. However, there is one ghost that is very popular, a weeping lady dressed in all black. No one knows who she is or why she cries. Many tourists have reported the feeling of the eyes of the paintings following them as they walked around.
In 1901 the Vanderbilt’s started “Biltmore Industries” to help provide for the local employment. Biltmore Industries made furniture modelled after the furnishings of the estate. The Biltmore first opened to the public in 1930. The family continued to live there until 1956 when it became a permanent tourist attraction.
Fun Fact: The Biltmore is three times the size of The White House, and with a yard more than nine times the size of Central Park.
The estate is furnished with hundreds of items from countries all over the world, dating between the 1400s and the late 1800s. Many of these items are furniture, carpets, prints, and linens. The landscape around the estate is vastly breathtaking. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead the gardens have an “English landscape” garden style. There is a rustic three-mile road passing through the property.
Want to visit?
The Biltmore is open year round, with its busiest season being around the Christmas holidays. There isn’t just one tour, there are 10 different tours available. The tours are set up to help guests imagine themselves as a Vanderbilt family member back in the 1800s. Also on the property is an award winning winery that produces 75,000 cases of wine annually. The Biltmore Winery is the most visited winery in America! The vineyards span 94 acres. 600,000 visitors sample award-winning wines each year.
You can also stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, which is an AAA 4-diamond rated 210-room hotel. You can rest assured that the Inn is decked out with the finest amenities and filled with gracious hospitality.
Don’t fret if you get hungry… there are over 10 places to eat on site. And don’t worry about getting bored. There are tons of activities to keep you busy while visiting the estate. Some include: biking, carriage rides, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, river float trips, Segway tours, and more.
Here are some amazing features of this home
- 178,926 square feet
- Made with more than 11 million bricks
- 250 rooms
- 70,000 gallon indoor swimming pool
- Bowling Alley
- Early 20th Century exercise equipment
- Two-story library with 10,000 books
- Over 70,000 original furnishings purchased by Vanderbilt are still in the house.
- 65 Fireplaces
- 64 seat banquet table
- 3 kitchens
- 35 bedrooms
- 43 bathrooms
- 250 acres of landscaped gardens- 4,000 roses and azaleas
The estate itself covers over 8,000 acres and split in half by the French Broad River.
Biltmore Estate is more famous than you think
The grounds and buildings of Biltmore Estate have been featured in films such as;
- The Clearing (2004)
- Hannibal (2001)
- Return to the Secret Garden (2000)
- Patch Adams (1998)
- My Fellow Americans (1996)
- Richie Rich (1994)
- The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
- Mr. Destiny (1990)
- A Breed Apart (1984)
- The Private Eyes (1980)
- Being There (1979)
- The Swan (1956)
- Tap Roots (1948)
It’s safe to say America’s largest home is quite the spectacle. It ranks in Top 10 of America’s Favorite Architecture, and named Top Architecture in North Carolina. In 1964 The Biltmore House was designated a “National Historic Landmark”.