Biltmore House and Estate

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Biltmore House and Estate

Built in the 1890s as the private home of George Vanderbilt, the astonishing 250-room French-Renaissance château is America's largest private house. Some of Vanderbilt's descendants still live on the estate (not in the main house, though), but the bulk of the house and grounds is open to visitors. Richard Morris Hunt designed it, and Frederick Law Olmsted landscaped the original 125,000-acre estate (now 8,000 acres). It took 1,000 workers five years to complete the gargantuan project. On view are the antiques and art collected by the Vanderbilts, including notable paintings by Renoir and John Singer Sargent, along with 75 acres of gardens, a conservatory, and formally landscaped grounds. You can also see the on-site winery, the most-visited in America. Candlelight tours of the house are offered at Christmastime. Also on the grounds are a deluxe hotel, many restaurants, and an equestrian center. A section called Antler Hill Village, with holds shops, restaurants, farm buildings, and crafts demonstrations. Each summer, Biltmore Estate hosts music concerts with nationally known entertainers. Most people tour the house on their own, but guided tours are available. Note that there are a lot of stairs to climb, but much of the house is accessible for guests in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. At busier times, self-guided visits of the interior of the house now require a reservation, so call in advance or book online. Pricing is complex, varying by month and day of the week, and not inexpensive, but a visit is well worth the price. The lowest rates are January–March. Save money by buying tickets online rather than at the gate, with the lowest prices for tickets purchased seven or more days in advance.The best deal is the annual pass, allowing unlimited admission for a year and sometimes costing only a little more than one-day admission.

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