Located in Ashville, North Carolina the famous Biltmore Estate remains the United States’ largest private house almost 120 years after it was finished. This 250 room, 178,926 square foot mansion was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt, as his summer estate over six years. The architecture of the home resembles the great estates of Europe and was designed by architect Richard Hunt. To complete the European feel, Vanderbilt went on trips to Europe to buy furniture and fixtures for the entire house.
The house was not the only thing built on the property. The house is accompanied by a small village that includes a school, hospital, church, rail station, shops and dairy farm, now converted into a winery.
The Biltmore was occupied by the Vanderbilt family until 1956 when it became a full time tourist attraction. Today over 1 million visitors flock to the house each year. There is a two hour audio tour that will guide you through over 40 rooms open to the public including the indoor swimming pool, two-story library, bowling alley, and workout room which features early 20th century exercise equipment.
If you are looking for a more interactive tour, there are specialty tours with guides available for an additional cost. Most people don’t know that the house was used to hide artwork from the National Gallery of Art during World War II.
Outside of the house, the gardens are world famous and are maintained all year long. At the location of the original dairy farm is the Biltmore Winery which offers self-guided tours and complementary wine tasting.
If you are looking for a longer stay you can check into the Biltmore Inn for a relaxing vacation on a world class property. There are many great dining options on the grounds and you will never be without something to do or explore. You can do everything from fly fishing or off road driving on the 8,000 acres. The whole Biltmore Estate has been declared a US National Historic Landmark by the Department of Interior.
If you are driving to the estate, it is located in south central Ashville just off interstate 40. On the estate you can drive from different points of interest, or take the shuttle bus. Out of state visitors can fly into the Ashville airport and stay at one of the many hotels nearby.
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