The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, can be a formidable place to tackle with a family, but with fore thought and planning it is possible to make it a fun and affordable family adventure.
We planned our historic Biltmore adventure with three kids- a teen, a seven year old and an over-active five year old Houdini- the ultimate escape artist. Our friends thought we were nuts. Kids and historic stately homes just do not mix, but hah, we had an advantage- the adventuring mom: I grew up with parents who dragged me through Ringwood Manor, Skyline Manor in New Jersey/New York, then onto to the Flagler House in South Florida and various historic homes along St. George’s Street in St. Augustine. I remembered the boring bits, the cool stories and what it was like to be a traveling kid, so with those weapons in mind, we armed ourselves for the Biltmore.
With the expansive grounds and steps galore, strollers are not really an option, but our children loved the long lawns to roll and tumble on and the garden paths with the wisteria- cave like path by the walled garden. The green house is hot in the summer, so we stuck to the outside paths and were rewarded with a surprised groundhog visit.
Inside the house, I remembered that ghost stories (not for the faint-hearted child) are what held my attention, and those secret servant doors in the walls. Skip the official tour and have a secret door hunt as you go through the rooms at your own speed. Read the guide book before or after on your own leisure time. The Biltmore does offer audio tours for adults and kids- you know your child best. And for the teen- iPods/mp3 players with their own music are a good bet and save arguments.There is an ice-cream shop in the stables for that after the house tour treat!
The Farmyard offers kid friendly fun with places to play, climb and release all of that youthful energy before you tackle the winery. Oddly enough, our girls remembered the winery as their favorite, when they got to sip grape juice as we did a little wine tasting. Go figure. If you do indulge in the fermented grapes with kids in tow, the very next room is full of very large wine displays- so keep an eye on the kids!
The vegetable garden is a great place to meander- where they grow the veggies that they serve in the restaurant- cool for us farming folks. The Barn nearby houses artisans-wood workers, iron workers and other craftsmen. We missed it, as they closed earlier.
All in all, Our Biltmore Adventure with kids proved to be a success (no melt downs!) We retired to our room at the Double Tree Hotel by the entrance for a swim and their yummy complimentary chocolate chip cookies and headed out across the street to the Biltmore Village for dinner options.
Tips to Remember:
1. Reserve an entire day for your Biltmore Adventure.(8,000 acres is a big yard!)
2. Keep water and small snacks handy.
3. A garden nap does not go amiss!
4. You can always leave the site for an affordable food option and return later.
5. Get that family pic at the beginning of your adventure!