Tucked deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains is an architectural masterpiece well worth your time. Losing yourself for a full day on the Biltmore Estates is a very easy thing to do, especially if you are toting little people. This is partly, because the house and landscape are so incredible and because it is different every time! With different, exquisite decor for every season and endless exhibit installations, you need to go! “But how do you tour things with small children?” You just need patience and a plan.
Planning Your Biltmore Estates Visit
One great part about visiting Biltmore
Allow yourself about two hours per tour. They aren’t all that long, but you will want some time to soak in all of the new information you are learning, ask questions, and break for food and the bathroom. There are a lot of stairs in the Vanderbilt Mansion. But, there is elevator stroller access, which can reach most of the levels. Your experience will be richer by taking the stairs. The staircase itself is a marvel and the information delivered by tour guides while climbing is worth hearing. A baby carrier may be a better option than a stroller.
Although, the tour guides will answer every single question you have with class and tact; try watching a documentary or reading a book before going. The tour guides treat guests as if they have basic knowledge of the family history so they don’t insult anyone. Names and dates can get very confusing very quickly.
Planning Your Visit to Include the Kids
The majority of the tour options are kid-friendly. Some tour guides really cater to kids, but all will gladly answer the children’s questions. A favorite for children is the Roof and Rafter tour because you get to see the call bells of the servants, the original electrical guts, and the exterior roof walks. Science-loving kids will think this is pretty cool. It is also a more specialized tour. Therefore, the tour was smaller than the very popular (and crowded) main-level, handheld tour.
If you are on the fence about spending money on an extra tour that your children may or may not enjoy, err on the side of skipping it. You can do a general tour, which includes the basement, kitchen, and two main floors. This tour alone will take about two hours and it includes a handheld audio guide. The kids can have an audio guide as well, which helps them feel included in the experience.
If you do not want to go into the house at all with the kids, then you can spend your day exploring the grounds and gardens of the Biltmore Estates. There are endless trails, gardens, greenhouses, fountains. When you are finally hungry, hit the stables. The original horse stables have been converted into a beautiful shopping area with plenty of restaurants. You’ll find an ice cream parlor, toy store, and Christmas shop! Yes, these were well-treated horses.
A Biltmore Estates Vacation
Whether you are planning on spending the day or the week, you are going to have a wonderful time exploring. The estates are approximately 20 square miles. From the roof of the mansion, the Vanderbilt family owns everything the eye can see. Also on the grounds, you’ll find a hunting reserve, numerous restaurants, two hotels, a golf course, and private fishing tours. If you want to spend a week on the estates you can do so without ever needing to leave the grounds. The cost of your trip can fit any budget. Regardless of how you vacation, you are certain to have a wonderful experience. You and your children will consider it time well spent.
Want more to explore in North Carolina? Don’t miss all the ways you can Live Like a Local in Fort Bragg.
Photo Credits: Lydia Bradbury